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FRANTIC THEATRE COMPANY - HISTORY

FOUNDED IN 1990, FRANTIC STARTED AS A THEATRE COMPANY DEDICATED TO NEW WRITING
but after a couple of exciting critical successes on the fringe (The Story of Finbar, and The Great Escape) that didn’t lead on to any further glory - and also after one critically unsuccessful avant garde experiment at the ICA (Possible Worlds) - we started in 1992-3 to devise little passionate ‘entertainments’ which pooled our resources (we had very mixed backgrounds of writing, directing, straight acting, performing in rocks bands, folk bands, stand-up & revue comedy, contemporary and classical dance) and which could be performed literally anywhere, from street theatre to day centres, and effectively gave us something to do while new plays were being written that would change the world and make us rich and famous!

After a year or two of perfecting this highly satisfying, mostly 'outreach' work to people normally excluded from live professional theatre (often people with serious health & mental health problems), we realised that this form of theatre was in fact our calling, our vocation, we were good at it, passionate about it - and yes, we'd still write full length plays and put them on but we didn't want to have to worry about each play making or breaking us. And also when we did do that we'd rather do it for arts sake than relentlessly searching for a new audience for each new play that often ends up potentially compromising the work itself (if the definition of a modern artist is one who can artfully write their own business plan and fit all the funding categories then we were a bit more romantic than that in our approach anyway).

However, we'd always had the notion of performing plays or 'entertainments' in peoples houses or other odd places from the start, and had heard of inspiring examples of where this intimate type of theatre has kept people going in times of historical duress (e.g. the Rhapsodic Theatre in Nazi-occupied Poland - illegally performing Polish classic plays in people's front rooms, endangering players' and audiences' lives by doing so). Although our slapstick comedy and musical melting pot is not as revolutionary or dangerous to life and limb as that, we feel too that we are preserving, re-interpreting and, crucially, handing on, cultural ideas which are necessary, inspiring, and don't get much of a look-in in other forms such as on TV or in the West End.

If culture is the key to survival of all good, beautiful and true ideas then the huge, unprecedented burgeoning of musical comic songs in particular in Britain from 1850-1950 (loosely known as the era of the Music Hall) deserves to be kept alive, handed on for future use and simply enjoyed for what it is. It also provides the interpretative key to much modern theatre and comedy, and we enjoy exploring and exploiting the common ground between all these forms whilst adding our 'own' touches for good measure (poetry, classical music, folk music, etc).

Nearly 10,000 performances later we have also mastered the arts of performing, touring, teaching our methodology to fellow performers, fusing our own genre - 'new-time music hall', and generally spreading the word about how a live performance, particularly musical theatre, performed with grace, truth, humility, intelligence and good taste, is a thousand times more enriching, real and necessary than a whole year's worth of staring at a television screen. We visit all parts of the UK and Ireland, spending a week in each geographic area (see our touring areas) with a new show every six months


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