Friday, 18 December 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

2009 is very nearly over and done and a new decade is almost here. Thank you to everyone who has supported the company this year. As a way of thanks we thought we'd give you some exclusive tasters on what to expect from Belt Up in 2010.

This will be the first in a series of clues to whet your appetite...

Copy and paste these into your browser - some clues are more literal than others:

More clues will follow. Keep an eye out for Belt Up in 2010, you never know where we might turn up.

Merry Christmas

Monday, 7 December 2009

Immersive theatre already over? Certainly not!

RE: Charlotte Higgins on the guardian blog -

James Wilkes here, one of the four directors of Belt Up

I think this article raises a lot of very interesting points.

Running an immersive theatre company may make me somewhat biased in disagreeing with the idea of immersive theatre ending. Bring back the fourth wall? It hasn’t gone anywhere. Though more and more theatregoers are regularly coming into contact with work that chooses to disregard it and this can only be a good thing. Artists are increasingly asking the question of what theatre is. Is it a bank of seats pointing towards a raised platform? The answer is no. The fourth wall isn’t the default form of theatre and it would disregard the majority of work to think so.

The Trial may not be a perfect show, some people leave it terrified, others leave it bored but it has been a vital part of the company’s development in terms of learning how audiences engage with some things and not others, creating atmospheres, that sort of thing. The company is moving on though and currently in R+D for a number of new projects for the new year. Immersive theatre tired and hackneyed? That’s a welcome challenge to show you otherwise. Personally I believe immersive theatre has a very long life span ahead of it and isn’t just an experimental trend. If it doesn’t offer you as much satisfaction as an audience member as ‘the fourth wall’ then the onus is on the artist to push the genre further so that it does. Belt Up is only just starting out but we are committed to questioning theatre and creating work that does challenge the role of the audience.

The second interesting debate introduced is the responsibility balance between cast and audience. Whilst down in London, we hosted an open forum at BAC to discuss the actor/audience contract (coverage of which can be found in Matt Boothman’s column here: This mainly focussed on the role of the audience and the stipulations this brings with it. To disregard the fourth wall throws all conventional rules of the actor/audience relationship up in the air. This can be hugely liberating but only when it is properly respected. We do a lot of work with improvisation to ensure we’re ready for any situation. This can make things incredibly exciting as long as there is control and the actors are prepared to take whatever offers are given by the audience. It may have seemed like the power relationship was unbalanced in The Trial but in reality the audience had as much agency as they would outside the theatre. We take the ethic that the audience can do what they like and at no point would we come out of character or break the fictional world to stop them. This is a hugely interesting area, one that we don’t profess to experts in by any means but something we intend to explore and again something that can be pushed a lot further.

To respond to the initial idea that immersive theatre could already be over - the very concept of theatre is being interrogated at the moment and there is a lot more of play to be had. Questions are being asked that can’t be answered behind a fourth wall and this is something that should be encouraged. If ‘immersive’ theatre feels predictable and hackneyed then this shouldn’t see people getting the nails out for its coffin, expecting and asking more of artists can fuel new and innovative work.

To reiterate, The Trial isn’t a perfect piece but it asks the questions that are interesting to ask – it may not answer them but certainly plays with them. Immersive theatre has a long way to go as does Theatre as a whole medium. Already over? It’s only just begun.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Tartuffe

A selection of footage from the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe run of 'The Tartuffe'

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

TakeOver and out

TakeOver finished just over a week ago and Belt Up are currently relaxing before starting rehearsals again for the Southwark Playhouse runs (tickets available now from We’ve also been settling in to our new office as part of our new residency at York Theatre Royal.

Talback session after Tartuffe

TakeOver was a massive success, both for the people who made it and the people who saw it. It was great to see so many young people at the YTR and we hope that this is a sign of things to come. As for our shows, we couldn’t be happier with how they went – ‘The Trial’ sold out entirely and both shows of ‘The Tartuffe’ finished with 500 person standing ovations. Was great to see the shows translating to their new venues so comfortably. We’re now in the planning stages for our next projects at YTR so watch out around York over the next few months; you never know where we might appear.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Belt Up in York

Belt Up's run of the Trial as part of York Theatre Royal's TakeOver09 is nearing its end. If you've missed us up in the North then do not worry, we have recently taken up a residency at the York Theatre Royal and so will be sticking around over the next year. We're not fully sure what will be produced over the next year but that's all part of the excitement. Keep an eye out!

Of course we'll still be appearing around the country. Tickets are now available for our run at the Southwark Playhouse and can be booked online at We'll also be appearing around the UK throughout 2010 so again keep an eye out

Monday, 28 September 2009

York to London

Belt Up are currently up in York where the TakeOver festival is going amazingly. Such a good atmosphere around the York Theatre Royal with a hugely exciting programme from some of the country's most exciting companies all being managed by under 26s.

We're currently in rehearsal for The Tartuffe and The Trial which are both getting a makeover (for the takeover) so expect some quite consdierable changes from the Edinburgh runs.

Tartuffe is being scaled up massively from the 50 seater immersive environment that was The Squat to inhabit the 830 seater Proscenium arch theatre that is the York Theatre Royal. The cast is getting bigger, the sets, the props are getting more ridiculous. All in all its going to be a total remixing of the show with the same meta theatrical chaos.

Trial is equalling getting a remix. Being performed in a secret location in York again with some considerable changes but we wouldn't want to spoil the surprises. The show is sold out but extra dates may well be added.

Following York Theatre Royal we will be around and about till the end of October in various places so keep your eyes peeled, you don't know what you might find.

In November we're heading down to London ready for a three week run at the Southwark Playhouse with both Trial and Tartuffe. Again they'll be developed further so expect different shows from both Edinburgh and York. The space is in the beautifully atmospheric arches under London Bridge so dress warmly and wear comfortable clothes. Tickets are available from

So that's the heads up on where Belt Up will be over the next two months. For more information email us at