China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz present

A Family Business

A show about how not to blow up the planet.


Age: 12+

A man sitting at a coffee table, holding a mug, with a yellow teapot on the table with smoke escaping.
Nuclear Missiles With Warhead Aimed at Gloomy Sky.

A Family Business

Written by Chris Thorpe
Developed with Rachel Chavkin and Lekan Lewal
Directed by Lekan Lewal

A Family Business links the global to the local.

We live in a world so connected we can access ongoing conflicts, and their implications, in real time – and even then nuclear weapons still seem to exist in an untouchable space, controlled by political and diplomatic forces our everyday lives don’t connect with. But the people who manage these existential threats are still just that – people. And the nuclear issue is embedded in every aspect of our lives, even if we find it hard to notice.

The show is about diplomats, activists, and the global threat of nuclear weapons – but it’s also a journey into what matters to us in this room, right now. How do we even start to deal with the global, when so much in our everyday needs fixing? And should we even separate the two?

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

Supported by Warwick Arts Centre and Eclipse Theatre 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] Victority, Shutterstock [Left]

Show Information

The show is currently in development and will premiere at Staatstheater Mainz on 2nd December 2022, followed by UK dates in March 2023. Dates to be announced soon.

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.

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  • Writer & Performer | Chris Thorpe
  • Director | Lekan Lawal
  • Dramaturg | Rachel Chavkin & Jörg Vorhaben
  • Casting Director | Jatinder Chera
  • Designer | Eleanor Field
  • Sound Designer | Anna Clock
  • Lighting Designer | David Neumann
  • Costume Designer | Eleanor Field
  • Production Manager | Rob Athorn

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