Based in Coventry, and founded by Julia Negus and Chris O’Connell in 1992, Theatre Absolute is a multi award winning theatre company. Our work is entirely driven by our relationship to the contemporary and the urban. We have developed a body of work with the company’s writer and artistic director Chris O’Connell, whose plays for Theatre Absolute include the Time Out Live and double Edinburgh Fringe First winning Street Trilogy (Car, Raw, Kid). Other works for the company inclued Zero, Arcade, Breathe, and Choke.
Equally, we commission new work for the theatre in a variety of ways, and collaborate with numerous artists to explore how we can make narrative with artists who may not be ‘writers’ per se, but who can tell amazing stories. Thus working with artists across discipline, (dancers, poets, visual artists, and more), we strive to make relevant and experimental work that shows in our Shop Front Theatre space.
Through both our Writing Gym and @38 development and mentoring programme, we pursue our passion for developing the work of writers and artists at all levels, whether they be amateur, graduates, emerging, or mid career. We have toured our work across the UK many times, and into Europe and America.
We also have another pre-occupation, our Shop Front Theatre (SFT) space, in the heart of Coventry city centre created in partnership with Coventry City Council.
A one time fish and chip shop restaurant, now a uniquely low-fi flexible theatre with a capacity of approx. 60, the SFT is the only professional space of its kind in the UK. After spending so many years on the road, never having had our own space, the SFT is a huge creative spur for the company. It has become central to how we think about and currently make our work, and since 2009, we have created some thrillingly intense pieces in the space that has been highly rewarding for both artists and audiences. It’s not like any regular theatre, but that’s the point. It is very limited in terms of what it offers, but the limitations are what attracted us to the space in the first place. These are the parameters under which we encourage other artists who use the space to work, we are not interested in people trying to alter the space so it offers MORE, we want people to work with less.
Theatre Absolute and the Shop Front Theatre are one and the same, it is our brain, it is our nervous system, and it is our soul.
We welcome other users into the space, and alongside us making our own work, the SFT sees a multitude of activities created by these other users – across dance, music, community agencies, and many more. We say yes to most people who see a possibility of how to utilise the safe space of the SFT. By default, for many of it has become their brain, their nervous system and their soul.
This is the story of Theatre Absolute, and the Shop Front Theatre.
We hope in the not too distant future, that you get a chance to visit and see some of our work.