Guest Blog: Not Talking by Mike Bartlett @ Arcola Theatre


Not Talking by Mike Bartlett

“Not Talking” by Mike Bartlett

Arcola Theatre

April 25th – June 2nd 2018

Not Talking is a Co Production between The Arcola and Defibrillator Theatre

Movement Director – Jack Murphy

April 17th 2018

What drew me to the project:

The passion and clarity of James Hillier. When I met with him for the first time he sold me the project

Movement Director, Jack Murphy with Gemma Lawrence & Lawrence Walker

within a matter of minutes. I got the feeling it was going to be collaborative and that I would not be working in a vacuum. I‘m a great fan of the work of Mike Bartlett and to be given the opportunity to create the movement on a play of his that has never been staged before is thrilling for me. Also, to work, I have to work, I have to move, I have to be in the rehearsal room with actors: grappling with ideas that work and those that don’t – it’s when I feel I have a voice in theatre, it’s when I feel I’m breathing and that my twist is still vital!

My process:

Is very similar to any other creative team member: Prior to the rehearsals, read the play, several times so that it sinks in to my imagination so that I start to dream it ( I see a play), discuss these ideas with the director and then in rehearsals to physically release the actors so that they can explore the corporate potential of any given moment. To find a style that supports the vision of the director but stays connected to the text, ironically – our piece is all about disconnection!

Jack Murphy, Movement Director

I worked at The Arcola on Ghost in a Perfect Place and had such a wonderful experience I was very keen to come and work here again.

Jack Murphy, Movement Director


Performance Designer – Amy Jane Cook 

April 11th 2018

Not Talking Model box showing

I was asked to be a part of the production by the director James Hillier. James and I have worked together before, most recently on a production of Insignificance in New York. I really love James’ taste in plays and so was very excited to read Not Talking.

I loved the idea that this piece had never been performed before on stage and that we had the chance to give it its first life.

When you approach a play from this perspective, you are freed from the burdens of comparison and can be totally instinctual in your response.

James and I worked together on the design concept. We wanted to create a space where the characters existed in close proximity and yet simultaneously in total isolation. The piece is a memory play and therefore has no fixed location point. The design needed to reflect this and created a liminal environment, where the audience could go on a journey with each character. Lighting plays a key role in this, and I am very excited to see how the mechanics of the design play out once we get the set into the space.

Not Talking Costume plan for Kika Markham
Not Talking Costume plan for David Horovitch










Amy Jane Cook, Set and Costume design

The beginning of a new production

April 3rd 2018

Just over one week ago a rehearsal room at The Arcola Theatre in Dalston, East London began to fill with new faces, faces that were about to go on a 3 month journey together. A group of people that had mostly, never met before.

It’s always a nerve raking moment, as this is after all our first day in a new job, a job we love and are keen to be our best at.

These faces were actors, designers, directors, producers and of course, the author of the piece, who in this case is Mike Bartlett, probably better know for King Charles III and TV’s Doctor Foster.

“Not Talking” is Mike’s first ever play, written for Radio back in 2005. It’s a gripping and lyrical drama about relationships where it has become impossible to talk. A system that protects abuse of power. How do you speak out?

James Hillier (director), Mike Bartlett (author)

 We all know how the first week goes, a meet and greet, a read through of the play and time to get to grips with the design and of course the text. But no matter how often we have entered these rooms or the longevity of our career, for me at least, it is the most exhilarating part of the process. Putting names to faces, in this case some very famous names to faces and getting down to the bones of a piece of work that you have been reading over, on your own in the kitchen, for weeks now and bringing it to life… putting it on it’s feet.

The Cast – Gemma Lawrence, David Horovitch, Kika Markham, Lawrence Walker



The cast and company










We have had a wonderful start to our rehearsal period. We have already been visited by our movement director, Jack Murphy and Simon Slater, our Composer/Sound Designer. This gave us a real treat to hear two of the cast members playing Chopin, as they will be for our audience.

Enough of me now, I will leave it to the skilled craftsmen and women we have on our team to share with you their own views on the production during the forthcoming weeks of our blog. We’re very much looking forward to sharing our journey with you.

Angela Bull – Epsilon Productions, Associate Producer

Over the next 8 weeks the cast and creative team of Mike Bartlett’s Not Talking aim to share with you their views and thoughts on this gripping play, how they got involved and the process they have taken within the roles they each play in the production.


All rights on copy and images reserved to the Not Talking production team only