Coming Up: Civil Unrest

Coming Up: Civil Unrest

By NellFrizzellIdeasTap 07/01/11

With six weeks to go, we thought we'd give you lucky people a sneaky peek at the six projects that make up Coming Up. First up, it's Spike Laurie with Civil Unrest...

With his Coming Up project Civil Unrest, Spike Laurie is taking on the Debut tunnels with all guns, riot shields and camera lenses blazing.

Not only will Civil Unrest play host to the premiere performance of a specially commissioned play by Ben Ellis, it will also include an exhibition of photojournalism from artists such as Marc Vallee and Brian David Stevens, talks and seminars from left-wing activists, a film screening and even a pop-up restaurant by rising food star Mark Jankel serving up pseudo-slammer cuisine. Book tickets now.

We caught up with Spike to find out what’s been happening behind the scenes:

Spike Laurie

I’ve just come from a meeting with Verso Press. They’re a left-wing publishing house and will be holding political talks and seminars over the four days.

We’ve done a little bit of building work already; the art collective KennardPhillips wanted to come in and do a whole wall down there, so we’ll see what happens with that.

The biggest challenge will be over the next few days, when we’ll be casting and rehearsing the play. It’s going to be nuts. Ben Ellis, who wrote it, has been very involved all the way through. Once we’ve cast the play – which is about a family breakdown in the midst of London’s political chaos – we’re going to workshop the script for a while. The first draft landed on our desks yesterday. It was absolutely fantastic, I’m really happy about it.

When I applied for Coming Up, I already had the title of Civil Unrest in my head. We decided to do it on the Millbank Riots. Originally it was going to be on G20 and Ian Tomlinson’s death, but we felt that we could apply that framework to what was happening at the moment.

As an actor, I’m a bit bored of theatre, to be honest. I wanted to combine the dinner with theatre, with an exhibition and with film to create one whole experience. It’s not just the sort of show where you sit down, read your programme, have an ice cream in the interval and have a jolly time. Nowadays it’s important that we try to capture people three-dimensionally.

The audiences are in for a few surprises. There will quite a strong “security” force, with dogs, ushering people in on the night. Once they’ve been divided into those who are eating and those who aren’t, the security officers will guide the audience through the tunnels. Half the area will be set up for the photojournalism, the film and new artwork, and the audience can go through it at their own pace.

If someone had told me at 16 that I would be doing this when I was 24, I would have been really surprised. At 16 I was gearing up for a career in the army as an officer. I didn’t do anything to do with drama or English; I did Physics, Maths and Psychology.

With hindsight, I might have gone even bigger on this show, if that had been possible. You only live once; you might as well go nuts while you’re here.


Spike Laurie was talking to Nell Frizzell.

Book tickets to Civil Unrest.

Civil Unrest will take place in The Old Vic Tunnels from 2 - 4 March. To find out more about Civil Unrest, visit the blog. Join the Coming Up Group here. Image courtesy of John Godwin.

Go to the Coming Up page for more interviews and information.

Closing Update

5171 Page views

Most popular
Our past collaborators