Dido's Bar to run at The Factory and tour

Set in a music club, teetering on the edge of belonging, Dido's Bar is a new immersive theatre and music production opening at The Factory in London’s historic Royal Docks on 23 September (Press Night 28 September) before touring to Manchester, Leicester, Portsmouth, and Oxford.

Dido’s Bar is an epic retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid, created and performed by a multilingual international ensemble of actor-musicians, bringing to life the classic myth of migration, love, and assimilation, through the eyes of refugees today. Nightly, divine bar managers, Juno and Venus, welcome world-class artists onto their stage and around their performances, the drama unfolds. The work is inspired by director Josephine Burton’s encounter with Kurdish Iranian refugees and now Finnish resident, and composer Marouf Majidi and is written by Hattie Naylor.

The London production takes place in a disused offshoot of the Tate and Lyle factory overlooking the Thames, a site of immigration for hundreds of years, and forms part of Royal Docks Originals, a programme of new work made in the Royal Docks. Dido’s Bar will be staffed by local community members, include nightly guest slots by Newham artists, and be complemented by a community engagement programme.

Director Josephine Burton, Artistic Director of Dash said, ‘The ancient myth of Aeneas, a refugee from the war-torn East who travels across the Mediterranean to seek sanctuary and build a new home in Europe, is truly a tale for our time. We are bringing it hurtling into the present - setting the drama in a music club on the edge of town, where the heroes of old are now the great music stars of today, with a little jazz and world music thrown in!.” 

Director Josephine Burton is an artist and director of over 80 new pieces of award-winning cross-art-form work nationally and internationally over the last 18 years. Recent highlights include the Great Middlemarch Mystery, part of Coventry City of Culture, creation and direction of Dash Arts Dacha, Dash Eurosquat and Dash Arts Forum (Dash Arts' unique immersive installation and performance spaces), new work with Hofesh Shechter and Olivier-Award-winning Babel by Sidi Larbi Cherkoaui; the installation Lyrical Alliance, an ensemble of rappers from across the Arabic speaking region and Renegade Orchestra with an ensemble of musicians and performers from across the Post-Soviet States. She is co-founder and Artistic Director of Dash Arts, a music adviser for PRS Foundation and a professional vocalist.

Playwright and Librettist Hattie Naylor’s UK credits include The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Going Dark with Sound&Fury (Fuel/Young Vic). Ivan and the Dogs (Soho Theatre/ATC) was nominated in the Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre and won the Tinniswood Award in 2010. Her work as a librettist includes Picard in Space with Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) for Southbank 2012 and BBC Radio 3. She has written extensively for BBC Radio 4 including The Aeneid, nominated for Best Radio Adaptation, BBC Audio awards 2013. Hattie studied Fine Art at the Slade School of Art specialising in sound and performance and is a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

Composer Marouf Majidi is a Persian classical musician and composer. He studied Persian Classical music at the Tehran Sureh University in 2000 and Turkish Folk Music in Isparta, Turkey. After seeking asylum and settling in Finland, Majidi attained a BA in Finnish Folk Music from the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki and went on to study Turkish Folk Music at Codarts Rotterdam University of the Arts, returning to Helsinki to attain a Masters in Global Music from the Sibelius Academy. He is an accomplished Kurdish Tanbur, Persian Tar and guitar player. As a composer, musician, and singer his work combines and crosses cultural influences from all over the world.  His recent project Marouf has roots in Middle Eastern tradition but is inspired by the Scandinavian Jazz influence of his new homeland.

Dido’s Bar is produced by Dash Arts with imPOSSIBLE Producing.

 Dido's Bar is co-produced in the UK with the Royal Docks Team, OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music) and Journeys Festival International and co-commissioned by OCM, with additional support from  Arts Council England, Backstage Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Projekt, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, The London Community Foundation, Genesis Foundation, Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland, The Marchus Trust, TINFO – Theatre Info Finland, Austin and Hope Pilkington, Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, The Leche Trust and individual donors.

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