Barrel Organ is a multi-award-winning touring company, consisting of theatre makers Ali Pidsley and Rosie Gray and produced by Ellie Claughton. Using a co-creative process, they make work that invokes meaningful change by challenging existing preconceptions of what theatre is and can be.
Barrel Organ began as a group of eleven university students looking to make work outside of the existing structures and status quo. Their first show, Nothing (written by Lulu Raczka, made by the company), was a series of monologues that focused on experiences of isolation as a young person. The process enabled them to develop an ensemble based practice, co-created by multiple artists working towards a shared idea. The piece also sparked their interest in the audience acting as their 12th collaborator, and they continue to make work with the audience at the centre of the process. Nothing was performed in car parks, houses and in theatre spaces and adapted in multiple mediums including film and via phone calls.
Barrel Organ’s second show, Some People Talk About Violence (written by Lulu Raczka, made by the company), explored every day violence and mental health in young women and was shortlisted for the
Amnesty International Freedom of Expression of Award in 2015. Their third show, Anyone’s Guess How We Got Here (written by Jack Perkins, made by the company), focused on the human cost of debt and premiered at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. All three shows went on to tour nationally. In 2019, Barrel Organ won the Untapped Underbelly & New Diorama Theatre for CONSPIRACY (written by Jack Perkins, made by the company), a show about conspiracy theories and the concept of truth.
Their previous work has established a commitment to theatrical experimentation whilst also ensuring the work is made collaboratively with a diverse range of participants and audiences. Barrel Organ are currently working with English Touring Theatre to workshop an adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles with fifteen young people from across the UK. The Company are also co-creating a new verbatim piece, Common Ground, about loneliness between generations with York based collective, Thunk It.
“This young company are the future” - The Guardian.