Metta Theatre – one of the UK’s leading mid-scale touring theatre companies – has six new British musicals in progress, all being developed and showcased around the UK throughout the first half of 2020. Established in 2005 by Poppy Burton-Morgan and Motley trained Designer William Reynolds, Metta Theatre is at the forefront of new work - with a strong focus on the development of new British musical theatre, and a commitment to highlighting climate justice and sustainability; disability and deaf integration and inclusion (both from a political perspective and in order to artistically enrich the work); queering mainstream and family theatre - writing characters that represent and normalise (rather than problematise) the diverse range of queer experiences and identities; re-gendering protagonists in order to give girls strong female role models.
Artistic Director Poppy Burton-Morgan, who recently won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for musical theatre book writing for In the Willows – The Hip Hop musical (which toured the UK in 2019), is currently directing Opera Up Close’s new touring production of Madam Butterfly, for which she has also written the new English libretto. Poppy has written the book and lyrics for all six new Metta musicals.
COLD FRONT – with music by twice Tony award nominated composer Jason Carr, and starring Anna Francolini (Strictly Ballroom, West End; Wonder.Land National Theatre) and Robbie Curran, in the role of Jamie. Robbie is an actor and writer who has written about his own experience of growing up with Asperger’s in his play ‘Thomas'. Cold Front will play at the Turbine Theatre 10 – 12 February as part of MT Fest 2020.
Rosemary and James. Every month the same park bench. The same sandwiches made by her mother washed down with the same thermos of tea. The same manual tasks to keep the park in order. But as the seasons change an unlikely romance slowly blossoms between an autistic weather analyst and a tattooed park attendant.
LITTLE PRINCE – a new circus musical with Antoine De Saint Exupery’s much loved story reimagined with cyr wheel, juggling, acrobatics, aerial hoop, and spellbinding songs, and a re-gendered protagonist, with music by Candida Caldicot – with a workshop / rehearsal room showcase on 13 March.
A WW2 pilot has crashed in the middle of the desert. If she doesn’t find water soon she’ll die. But instead of water she meets a mysterious child - the Little Prince whose acrobatic adventures and tales of far off planets quench a deeper thirst.
WASTERS / THE RHYTHMICS - to be presented on 26 & 27 March respectively at the BEAM showcase at Royal & Derngate, Northampton.
THE RHYTHMICS - a feelgood new British musical exploring the crisis of masculinity via a collection of oddballs belting their way through a thrillingly catchy Brit pop score. With music & lyrics from Stiles&Drewe award winner Ben Glasstone (Reanimator) and choreography from Mark Smith (Artistic Director or Deaf Men Dancing). A second London based workshop is planned for the end of June - specifically exploring the integration of BSL and rhythmic gymnastics - and a studio album is planned for release in August.
WASTERS – a heart-warming new musical - composed by Stiles&Drewe award winners Kit Buchan and Jim Barne (The Season) - that invites us into the lives of three very ordinary people over one extraordinary summer.
HOUSEFIRE – a climate crisis family musical, with music by award winning American Composer Ben Toth. Part gig-theatre, part song cycle – Housefire unpacks some of the complexities around the climate crisis through a series of songs sung by a quartet of endangered animals, with a workshop showing at The Birmingham Rep on 28 May, The Other Palace on 29 May, and another workshop showing in London on 17 July.
Metta will perform songs from HouseFire at the next Extinction Rebellion uprising in April.
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” Greta Thunberg 2019
IN THE WILLOWS – rehearsal room showing, dates TBC
The extraordinary new British Musical, with music from award winning composer Pippa Cleary (Adrian Mole) and Keiran Merrick which toured the UK in 2019 is being revamped ahead of a new production in 2021. The show also features integrated BSL, and a fusion of BSL and hip-hop choreography from Zoo Nation choreographer Rhimes Lecointe.
The Wind in the Willows is brought leaping into the twenty first century. Featuring ballads, beats and backflips this fresh new musical is fun for the whole family.
Metta Theatre are also committed to the fight for climate justice and sustainability takes a high priority in all their personal and professional activities. They will be curating 6 events at the Young Vic in Feb/March to engage artists with the climate and ecological crisis, are working with UK Theatre to promote sustainable practices across the sector and are part of the ACE/Julie's Bicycles' Accelerator Programme – working with a group of venues & companies including Lyric Hammersmith, New Adventures, Improbable, Storyhouse (Chester), and Blackpool Grand in order to make touring theatre carbon neutral and sustainable.
Previous Metta partners and collaborators include the Soho Theatre, Southbank Centre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Oxford Playhouse, Manchester Royal Exchange and York Theatre Royal. Metta were artists in residence at the V&A 2017-2018 and an Associate Company at Exeter Northcott Theatre 2016-2019.
Poppy Burton-Morgan said, “we've got an extraordinarily busy spring season and I'm delighted to be developing so many diverse and inclusive projects over the next 6 months - bring on the West End transfers!”