Set in a music club, on the Edge of Belonging, Dido’s Bar is a new immersive theater and musical production that will open at The Factory in London’s historic Royal Docks on September 23 (Press Night September 28) ahead of a tour in Manchester, Leicester, Portsmouth, and Oxford.
Dido’s Bar is an epic retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid, created and performed by an international multilingual ensemble of actor-musicians, bringing to life the classic myth of migration, love and assimilation, through the eyes refugees today. Every night, divine bar managers Juno and Venus welcome world-class artists to their stage and around their performances, the drama unfolds. The work is inspired by director Josephine Burton’s encounter with Iranian Kurdish refugees and now Finnish residents, and composer Marouf Majidi and is written by Hattie Naylor.
The London production takes place in a disused annex of the Tate and Lyle factory overlooking the River Thames, a site of immigration for hundreds of years, and is part of Royal Docks Originals, a program of new works made in the Royal Docks . Dido’s Bar will be staffed by members of the local community, will include nightly guest slots by Newham artists and will 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 refuge and build a new home in Europe, is truly a tale for our time. We bring it full speed into the present – setting the drama in a music club on the outskirts of town, where the heroes of yesteryear are now the big music stars of today, with a little more jazz and world music! »
Director Josephine Burton is an artist and director of over 80 nationally and internationally award-winning multifaceted new works over the past 18 years. Recent highlights include the Great Middlemarch Mystery, part of Coventry City of Culture, the creation and direction of Dash Arts Dacha, Dash Eurosquat and Dash Arts Forum (Dash Arts unique immersive installation and performance spaces ), a new work with Hofesh Shechter and Olivier-Award-Babel winner from 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 all post-Soviet states. She is co-founder and artistic director of Dash Arts, music advisor for PRS Foundation and professional singer.
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 for the Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Theater and won the Tinniswood Award in 2010. His 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 Slade School of Art specializing 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 Sureh University in Tehran in 2000 and Turkish Folk Music in Isparta, Turkey. After seeking asylum and settling in Finland, Majidi obtained a BA in Finnish Folk Music at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and later studied Turkish Folk Music at Codarts University of the Arts in Rotterdam, before to return to Helsinki to earn a Masters in World Music from the Sibelius Academy. Sibelius Academy. He is an accomplished Kurdish tanbur, Persian tar and guitarist. As a composer, musician and singer, his work combines and intersects cultural influences from around the world. His recent project Marouf draws its roots from the 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 – Theater Info Finland, Austin and Hope Pilkington, Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, The Leche Trust and individual donors.