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‘Dido’s Bar’ begins rehearsals in London’s Royal Docks

‘Dido’s Bar’ begins rehearsals in London’s Royal Docks

Dash Arts presents


Conceived and Directed by Josephine Burton

Written by Hattie Naylor

Composed by Marouf Majidi with additional composition by Riku Kantola

Set and Costume Design by Bryan Woltjen

Sound Design and Music Arrangement by Riku Kantola

Movement Direction by Ayse Tashkira

Music Director Ben Sutcliffe

Lighting Design by Peter Small

Cast – Gemma Barnett, Priscilla Grace, Tuukka Leppänen, Lola May, Lahcen Razzougui and Georgina White. 

House Band -Simon Edwards, Marouf Majidi, Ben Sutcliffe, Philip Williams

Produced by Charlie Bunker for Dash Arts with imPOSSIBLE Producing

Co-produced with the Royal Docks Team, OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music), and Journeys Festival International and co-commissioned by OCM

23 September – 15 October 2022

at Unit F, The Factory, Factory Road, Royal Docks, London, E16 2HB

Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30 pm

Saturday Matinees – 1, 8 & 15 October at 2pm

BSL performance by Deborah McLeod and Hyacinth Powell on Saturday 8 Oct at 2 pm

Prior to touring to Manchester, Leicester, Portsmouth, and Oxford

Press Night – 28 September at 7.30 pm

at Unit F, The Factory, Factory Road, Royal Docks, London, E16 2HB

Rehearsals have begun for Dido’s Bar, a new immersive theatre and music production opening at The Factory, a creative facility in London’s historic Royal Docks on 23 September (press night 28 September) before touring to Manchester, Leicester, Portsmouth, and Oxford.

Set in a music club, teetering on the edge of belonging, Dido’s Bar is an epic retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid, created and performed by a multilingual international ensemble of actor-musicians. Full of original songs, Dido’s Bar brings 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 including composer Marouf Majidi, now resident in Finland, and is written by award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor.

Part of Royal Docks Originals, a programme of new work made in the Royal Docks. Dido’s Bar takes place in a disused warehouse, at The Factory, adjacent to Tate and Lyle’s famous sugar refinery overlooking the Thames. A site of immigration for hundreds of years, the Royal Docks is now home to one of the youngest and most diverse communities in the UK. 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.  

Created through a series of residences over more than two years, Dido’s Bar has been influenced by the language and backgrounds of its international cast. Marouf Majidi’s own personal story began at the music conservatoire in Tehran before he was forced to leave Iran as a refugee. He was later resettled in Finland where he eventually studied Finnish folk music at the Sibelius Academy. His journey has inspired the character of Aeneas and its musical influences. Other cast members are from Morocco, Madagascar, Germany, Finland, and Eritrea.

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!’.

Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE said: ‘I’m delighted that this all-new immersive theatre production will be premiering in the Royal Docks this autumn. Dido’s Bar gives Londoners and visitors to our city alike a chance to enjoy an incredibly unique experience in a historical area that is fast becoming a cultural hub’.

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 DachaDash 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 co-produced 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.

Listings Information

23 September – 8 October and 14 & 15 October

at Unit F, The Factory, Factory Road, Royal Docks, London, E16 2HB

Tickets £7.50 – £25

See Also

11 & 12 October

at Sonata Piano and Cabaret Lounge, St. Ann’s Alley, Greater, Manchester M2 6AJ

Tickets £15  

18 & 19 October

at The Y Theatre, 7 East St, Leicester LE1 6EY

Tickets £15

22 & 23 October

at Staggeringly Good Brewery, Unit 10, St George’s Industrial Estate, Rodney Road

Southsea, Portsmouth, PO4 8SS

Tickets £15

27 – 29 October

at OVADA Warehouse Gallery, 14 Osney Lane, Oxford OX1 1NJ

Tickets £10 – £26 plus PWYD (Pay What You Decide)