London is a world leader in theatre production, and this winter has seen the arrival of one of the boldest shows in the capital in recent years.

The National Theatre, one of the UK’s most prominent theatrical institutions, has worked in collaboration with international touring company Complicite to put on Bryony Kimmings' innovative musical A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer. Adopting a fresh and fearless approach to a challenging subject, the production offers an unforgettable contemplation on life, death and ‘the scariest word we know’. 

Writer and director Bryony Kimmings is a live performance artist, who creates what she describes as ‘mind-blowing, multi-platform artworks to provoke social change’. In the interview below, she gives further insight into her work on the show and the ideas behind it. 

Co-producing the play alongside the National Theatre is Complicite, a London-based company founded in 1983.

The company is famed for its research-based collaborative productions, drawing on voices from diverse backgrounds. The devising process for A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer invited contributions from experts such as Dr Aarash Saleh, who discusses his work diagnosing and treating cancer in the interview video below.

To bring authenticity of experience to the work, the creative team decided to seek advice from real-life cancer patients with each individual enlightening the team to their own unique perspective of cancer. In the interview below, collaborator Lara Veitch discusses her relationship with cancer and her role in the musical.

You can follow even more of the creative process through Complicite’s series of behind-the-scenes videos, in which cast members invite us into the rehearsal room and give you a sneak preview of their favourite moments. In the video at the bottom of the page, actor Gareth Snook gives a sneak preview about his favourite dance move and discusses his favourite moment of the week.

A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer addresses a challenging subject with humour, musicality and up-front honesty, and in doing so encapsulates the unique possibilities of theatre on the London stage.

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