PHOENIX BY MIKE BARTLETTAS PART OF SIGNAL FIRESNew Mike Bartlett audio-drama read by Bertie Carvel in rapid response to the present moment, marking the beginning of a new lockdown.

ETT (English Touring Theatre) today announces Phoenix, an audio drama written by Mike Bartlett and read by Bertie Carvel, Olivier Award winners, who previously collaborated on the BBC’s Doctor Foster. The production is part of Signal Fires, a project conceived by ETT and Headlong to bring together over forty of the UK’s leading touring companies to tour an idea at a time when traditional touring isn’t possible. Phoenix is released on Thursday 5 November on ETT’s website and social media channels ahead of a release on iTunes and Spotify.

Released on Bonfire Night, Phoenix is a story about fire, destruction, and rebirth; about the impact an individual’s choice can have on the national psyche; about the breakdown of collective trust. This is a story of someone in power who breaks the rules. 

A searing exploration of Britain’s relationship to its government, Phoenix is a beautifully written, sharply comic and darkly provocative piece that interrogates the tension between our collective responsibility and individual desires. 

Richard Twyman, Artistic Director and Sophie Scull, Executive Producer of ETT, said today, “As we head into a second lockdown, we’re delighted to be able to offer this short story by Mike Bartlett that looks at how the trust of the first was broken. We were originally due to produce a live storytelling event for an audience gathered around a fire, as part of Signal Fires. But as we’re unable to gather in person, Mike wrote a new piece, set by a fire, for audiences to enjoy at home. Performed by the extraordinary Bertie Carvel we hope audiences can sit back, light a candle or a fire and listen to this offering for Bonfire Night and the dark evenings ahead.”

The audio drama has sound design by Ben and Max Ringham.

Mike Bartlett is a multi-award-winning stage and screen writer. He has won three Olivier Awards for his plays Cock (Royal Court Theatre – Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), King Charles III (Almeida Theatre/Wyndham’s Theatre – Best New Play; also winner of Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play), Bull (Young Vic – Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre). He also won the UK Theatre Award for Best New Play for Love, Love, Love, which transferred to the Royal Court Theatre. Other plays include Snowflake (Kiln Theatre), Albion, Game (Almeida Theatre), Wild (Hampstead Theatre), 13, Earthquakes In London (National Theatre) and many others. He has previously been Writer-in-Residence at the Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre and Paines Plough. His television work has also won national acclaim, including hit BBC One series Doctor Foster, which won BAFTA, National Television, Royal Television Society and Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. Other TV credits include Press (BBC), Trauma, The Town (ITV – BAFTA nominated) and the TV adaptation of King Charles III and Albion (BBC).

Bertie Carvel’s theatre credits include Ink (Almeida Theatre/Duke of York’s Theatre/Samuel J. Friedman Theater – Winner of the Best Featured Actor in a Play Tony Award), The Hairy Ape (The Old Vic), BakkhaiRope (Almeida Theatre), Damned by DespairThe Man of ModeThe Life of GalileoCoram Boy (National Theatre), Matilda the Musical (RSC/Cambridge Theatre/ Shubert Theatre – Winner of the Best Actor in a Musical Olivier Award), The Pride (Royal Court Theatre), The Circle (Chichester Festival Theatre/UK tour) and Parade (Donmar Warehouse). His television credits include The SisterThe Pale HorseBaghdad CentralDoctor FosterJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and Babylon; and for film, Macbeth and Les Misérables.

Ben and Max Ringham’s previous theatre credits for Sound Design include BlindnessTeenage DickBerberian Sound StudioCyrano de BergeracPinter at the PinterBetrayal (West End), The Seven Ages of PatiencePass Over (Kiln Theatre), Ugly Lies the Bone (National Theatre), PygmalionDial M for Murder (UK tour), Party Skills (Shoreditch Town Hall), The Meeting (Chichester Festival Theatre), Machinal (Almeida Theatre), Love and Information (Sheffield Theatres), and Gloria (Hampstead Theatre).

Maybe We Should All Be Less Afraid of the Dark,an open-air fireside storytelling event written and performed by Alissa Anne Jeun Yi, was due to run at Betteshanger Park, Deal on Saturday 7 November as part of Signal Fires 2020. Due to national Coronavirus lockdown measures, the performance has been cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as possible.