China Plate present

A Family Business

A show about how not to blow up the planet.

Nuclear Missiles With Warhead Aimed at Gloomy Sky.
Atomic bomb in Bunker 42 Museum of the Cold War.

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. In a world with so much opportunity to connect, it’s still easy to see to see global issues, like nuclear proliferation, as happening in an untouchable space, governed by political and diplomatic forces we don’t have access to. But the people who manage these existential threats on a daily basis are still just that – people. At a time when Britain has recently announced an increase in our nuclear arsenal, the show looks at what it means to be an ordinary person tasked with representing a huge group of other ordinary people, and asks us to think about where an individual’s humanity needs to exist within that to do the job effectively.

The show is about diplomats, activists, the global threat of nuclear weapons – but it’s also about the audience who show up on any particular night. It’s not about educating us to be anti-nuclear activists or diplomats – it’s about examining the very particular experiences of representing other people that come with those roles. In every performance we put new audience members in the position of representing others, and think collectively about how that affects our attitude to the power imbalances in our own countries and communities, who we represent, globally and locally, and what we might want to do with that.

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

© Pavel L Photo and Video, Shutterstock

Show Information

The show is currently in development and will premiere at Staatstheater Mainz in December 2022, followed by UK dates in early 2023 and 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 | Chris Thorpe
  • Director | Lekan Lawal
  • Dramaturg | Rachel Chavkin
  • Production Manager | Rob Athorn

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