China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz present

A Family Business

A show about how not to blow up the planet.


Age: 14+

Content warnings: Strong language, flashing lights and haze and the themes of nuclear warfare.

A man sitting at a coffee table, holding a mug, with a yellow teapot on the table with smoke escaping.
Two people sitting on the floor, looking at one another, in front of a large pile of yellow, black, and blue wires. The woman appears to be holding her hand out to shake the man’s hand. His hand is lifted upwards.

A Family Business

Written by Chris Thorpe
Developed with Rachel Chavkin and Lekan Lawal
Directed by Claire O’Reilly

We don’t really talk about nuclear weapons much.

Even though they accompany us everywhere.

Invisible guests in cafés, on the shelves of supermarkets, in line at the cash machine.

Guests that could destroy all of that and more in a second.

A Family Business explores this hidden threat and looks at the people who do talk about them. How do ordinary people communicate about extraordinarily  important issues? And what if those ordinary people were us?

For a further explanation about the show, Chris did an interview with Louis Reitmann for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, available on Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website here.

Chris was also interviewed by Staatstheater Mainz’s Chief Dramaturg Jörg Vorhaben, which is available to read on our News & More page here.

Supported by Warwick Arts Centre and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Images © Rebecca Lupton & Ivan Pieri Gonzalez – picture in frame by Ahmed ElHassan [Top] Andreas J. Etter [Left]

Book Now

  • 2nd December 2022 - 9th January 2023 at Staatstheater Mainz

    Book now
  • 1st March 2023 - 2nd March 2023 at Warwick Arts Centre

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Following the performance of A Family Business on Wednesday 1st March at Warwick Arts Centre, there will be a post show discussion.

Chris Thorpe will discuss the themes of the show with special guests Véronique Christory – Senior Arms Adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Delegation to the United Nations and Dr Patricia Lewis – Research Director for Conflict, Science and Transformation and Director of the International Security Programme at Chatham House and Zainab Rauf Tramboo – Young Ambassador on the UN’s #Youth4Disarmament programme. Chaired by Professor Jonathan Heron – Director of the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning at the University of Warwick.

More information about the panel…

Véronique Christory is the Senior Arms Adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Delegation to the United Nations.

Since 1997, she promotes and develops laws regulating (and prohibiting) the use of weapons, including conventional and nuclear weapons as well as new technologies e.g autonomous weapons systems (AWS) and cyberwarfare. She participated in all the negotiations related to weapons issues at the UN in the last two decades, notably the Arms Trade Treaty (2013), all the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences since 2000 (NPT) as well the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW in 2017). The historic importance of the Treaty has been highlighted by the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons (ICAN)’s 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr Patricia Lewis is the Research Director for Conflict, Science and Transformation and Director of the International Security Programme at Chatham House. Prior to joining Chatham House, Dr Lewis was Deputy Director and Scientist-in-Residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She also previously served for over ten years as the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva, Switzerland and as Director of VERTIC, the Verification Research and Training Centre in London, UK.

The show premiered at Staatstheater Mainz on 2nd December 2022, followed by performances on the 5th, 7th & 8th December, and 8th & 9th January 2023. The UK premier will be held on 1st March at Warwick Arts Centre, followed by a performance on 2nd March – tickets are currently on sale via our ‘Tickets’ tab.

The main UK & international tour taking place from Spring 2024. We are looking for collaborators on the project, so if you would like to come onboard as a partner, or book the show as part of its tour, please contact our producer Susan Wareham.

Like Confirmation & Status, A Family Business is built around the idea of the real-world effects on individual and social decision-making of the cognitive biases and stories we carry unconsciously within us. Confirmation investigated this at the level of the individual, Status at the level of the national – A Family Business expands to look at what happens when those constructed stories of nationality have to communicate with each other at a global level and at the diplomats tasked with doing that.

Confirmation and Status both won Fringe First Awards at the Edinburgh Festival (2014 & 2018) and were both selected for the British Council Edinburgh Showcase (2015 & 2019). Between them Chris has completed 6 UK tours, 4 Edinburgh Festivals, 4 London runs and international tour dates including: Berlin, Mannheim, Mainz, New York, Vienna, Athens, Porto, Brisbane, Bucharest, Beirut, Nuremberg and Luxemburg.

This is the final show in a trilogy of plays examining the intersection between our individual humanity and our politics. A Family Business will see the development of a more ambitious design concept and, for the first time, an exploration of co-creating work with audiences. The audience will play a key role in the performance of the show, with the design involving two actors performing from within a glass box with their dialogue re-laid to certain audience members through headphones. Certain parts of this dialogue will then be re-laid to the audience as a whole through these audience members.

Creative Team

A man singing into a microphone, against a projected backdrop.

Chris Thorpe

A critically acclaimed writer & performer; developing the final show in his trilogy with Rachel Chavkin.

Read more
  • Writer & Performer | Chris Thorpe
  • Director | Claire O’Reilly
  • Dramaturg | Rachel Chavkin & Jörg Vorhaben
  • Casting Director | Jatinder Chera
  • Designer & Costume Designer | Eleanor Field
  • Sound Designer | Anna Clock
  • Lighting Designer | David Neumann
  • Production Manager | Rob Athorn
  • Performer (James) | Sebastián Capitán Viveros
  • Performer (Layla) | Efé Agwele
  • Performer (Veronique) | Andrea Quirbach

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