PROFILE Fusion Prodigal Theatre copyright Matthew Andrews
Fusion - Photo Matthew Andrews

Artistic Director(s)

Miranda Henderson

Contact details

Alister O'Loughlin
Co-Director & Company Manager

113 St James' House,
High St,
Brighton,
BN2 1QY

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Prodigal Theatre's Urban Playground Team

The Urban Playground Team is the world's first performance-parkour (or 2PK) company, coining the phrase to describe the fusion of contemporary and urban dance with authentic French parkour. Since 2006 one of Parkour’s co-creators Malik Diouf has been a principle company member. Performances include theatre tours, outdoor and site-specific work.

Awards and Commissions include work for and with South East Dance, Pavilion Dance South West, Without Walls, Newcastle Gateshead’s Juice Festival, the Brighton Festival, The Caravan Assembly, The Dublin Fringe, The National Theatre Watch This Space, Serbia's INFANT Festival, the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, the Barbican and the British Council.

Alongside performances the team works with young people in particular, especially those at risk. Open workshops allow audiences into the work, residencies include the creation of "Participant Performances." Professional development opportunities include mentoring emergent 2PK organisations, with the support of the Arts Council of England, through their international 2PK Network.

The UPG Team designed and launched the UK’s first permanent Parkour Training Area, two additional sites and contributed to the designs of many more. Their design work follows a system of consultation bringing together potential users with local authorities, residents and stakeholders. The UPG Team ensures all parties approve a design and share ownership of the resulting site. 

In the 2014 PLAY THE PLAZA residency for Transit : Baltimore, Washington EUNIC cluster and Station North Arts & Entertainments Inc. the UPG Team will bring together Parkour and other street based disciplines (skating, BMX, streetdance) with sculptural and architectural artists through a six week residency supporting the regeneration of a major city site through performances, teaching, and installations. This pioneering new project aimed at capturing young people in the design process and animation of public spaces forms a blueprint for future work.

Their producers are DepArts - ben@departsltd.com 

  • Image: A Day in the Life Photographer: Matthew Andrews
    A Day in the Life Prodigal Theatre cMatthewAndrews2011
  • Image: Teaching in Belfast
    Teaching in Belfast Prodigal Theatrecopyright prodigal theatre

Productions

Run This Town
Duration: 52 Number of people on road: 7
Freight: Freight
Freight details:
The set tours in the UPG van across Europe (Donegal to Naples currenty the longest journey). If travelling beyond central Europe or trans-Atlantic it is cheaper to duplicate the set, which is almost entirely created from standard steel builder’s scaffold
Description:

Our Inner City workers jostle for promotion before they get the push - this long format in theatre show features film by Sacha Powell alongside the live action of dance at speed and height.  Requires 10m x 10m x 6m stage. Co-Commissioned by two UK regional dance agencies.

The Inner City
Duration: 18 minutes Number of people on road: 5 performers and if playing at night 1 technician.
Freight: Freight
Freight details:
The set tours in the UPG van across Europe (Donegal to Naples currenty the longest journey). If travelling beyond central Europe or trans-Atlantic it is cheaper to duplicate the set, which is almost entirely created from standard steel builder’s scaffold
Description:

High rise city workers jostle for position, fight for promotion, embark on an office romance and slide down the slippery slope of success in a slapstick outdoor performance playing to 300 – 500 people outdoors. Has performed in Oman, Kuwait and Qatar for the British Council and at several UK festivals. 

The Next Level
Duration: 25 Number of people on road: 7 by day, 8 if playing at night (under lights)
Freight: Freight
Freight details:
All our set travels in a medium wheel base, hi-top transit van which also forms one of our stages for this show. We can drive anywhere in Europe - Donegal to Naples is currently our longest single trip. If the van cannot drive there, the set would have to
Description:

Co-Commissioned by Brighton Festival, Juice Festival and WIthout Walls in 2010 it toured the UK for two years. In 2013 Without Walls re-commissioned the show which again toured (and continues too). Pure movement: urban soundtrack, parkour, breakdance, contemporary dance and electronic beats. Featured in BBC1's Blue Peter.

Wrap-around work

Teaching

From open workshops in the fundamentals of Parkour through to expert tuition for experienced professionals, the UPG Team have taught participants ranging in age from 3 to 83. Over 50s groups, all female groups (for example in the Gulf states), parent and child groups, students of architecture, of dance, of design and so on.

The team’s teaching is inclusive, accessible, and holistic backed by over 15 years experience of teaching in schools, colleges, for local authorities and professional training centres and Malik Diouf’s 24 years of experience in developing and refining the discipline of Parkour. Three of the company are currently undertaking CPD through the Laban Conservatoire’s Diploma In Dance Teaching and Learning - a post graduate specialist degree level 6 qualification.

Participant Performances

The Micro-Choreographies Project ranges in length but each day results in a new 5 minute site-specific performance played by the workshop’s participants. Over the course of a few days the micro-choreographies form a trail through a festival, venue or city, and audiences are invited to observe both the creation of the pieces and the polished result. Award winning for their innovation, the Micro-Choreography project has toured from the Dublin Fringe to London’s National Theatre, from Newcastle’s Juice Festival to Belfast’s MAC, from the INFANT festival of Novi Sad to the AWESOME festival of Western Australia.

Design

The Urban Playground itself was the world’s first Parkour specific touring stage. The second version was created with vehicle set experts Walk the Plank and includes the van it tours in as one of the stages for performance. With Crawley Borough Council the team designed the UK’s first permanent site and there are now three UPG sites across the country. Duplicate sets have been created for performances and passed to local parkour communities in Botswana, Australia, Serbia, Oman and New Caledonia.

2014 project PLAY THE PLAZA will include design with parkour and other street based disciplines forming the catalyst for a wide ranging public discussion about the ways in which a public space is and can be used. The 6 week residency will effect the final architectural design for Baltimore’s Penn Station Plaza.

Discussions

For 8 years the co-directors of the UPG Team ran a development venue where they mentored the creation of over 100 new pieces of theatre and dance. Scratch Nights, industry showcases and post-performance discussions proved an excellent training ground in provoking, chairing and engaging voices for discussions.

UPG residencies can include discussions on Parkour and Architecture, Education and Performance, and more broadly on the means of engaging young people in the arts, their community and design of facilities aimed at them.

2PK Network Events

The first 2PK Network symposium took place in 2013 at Pavilion Dance South West with support from ACE who also support the ongoing development of the network. Bringing together dance-makers, parkour practitioners, teachers, academics, students and the public to exchange ideas, showcase work and contribute to the ongoing development of this new performance language. Further symposium events can be planned in collaboration with residencies and performance events, festivals and academic institutions.

Press Comments & Testimonials

"…Extreme sport and cutting edge theatre. This is free-running as you’ve never seen it before, amazing… I had the time of my life"

BBC 1 Television (Blue Peter)

“…Rapid vaults, synchronised tumbles and gravity-defying spins… performers alternated between show-off virtuosity and the unexpected stateliness of dancers at a barre…”

The Irish Times

"Shifts in pace and mood make the piece far more than a demonstration of physical skills (excellent though these are) – it has an ebb and flow of rhythms and resonances that tell a myriad of stories."

Total Theatre Magazine