A photo essay


Man walking through a doorway to stage


The Factory is one of many innovative theatre groups around the world. They use no costumes, no stage sets, and mostly no stage. Casting is gender blind, and the actors learn several parts and discover more or less on the night which role they will play. At the first rehearsal I observed, in a hired rehearsal space above a pub in north London, Macbeth was played by a pregnant woman; at a later production, she, now heavily pregnant, played Macduff; she is now at home, with her newborn, learning the part of Cleopatra. The Factory performs Shakespeare—each line of verse the measure of a breath—and the actors are faithful to and honour the text. Theatre is a live, collaborative practice across playwright, director, actors, and audiences. The Factory likes to engage with its audience, which is why it holds ‘open door’ rehearsals of the kind you see here. WORDS BY NICOLA LIU


Stage with people acting

Man putting mask on

two people sitting

Man talking to a room of people

Woman in shadows


Woman sitting on stage

Alex, the director, cross-legged, arms open

With thanks to Alex Hassell and Carter Bellaimey at The Factory. Photos © Ivan Maslarov, Sofia.