INNOVATIVE Leeds company Imitating The Dog are linking up with Leeds Playhouse for a unique shot-for-shot stage re-creation of George A. Romero’s 1968 zombie movie Night Of The Living Dead™ “for today’s theatre audiences”.
Directed by Imitating The Dog’s co-artistic directors Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks, Night Of The Living DeadTM – Remix will run in the Courtyard Theatre from January 24 to February 15 before a British tour.
In 1968, Night Of The Living Dead started out as a low-budget, independent, politically charged horror movie, telling the story of seven strangers taking refuge from flesh-eating ghouls in an isolated farmhouse. As the night draws in, their situation becomes desperate, hope turns to despair and the picket-fence American dream is smashed apart.
Fifty years on, seven performers enter the Courtyard stage armed with cameras, a box of props and a rail of costumes. Can they recreate the ground-breaking film, shot-for-shot before our eyes, using whatever they can lay their hands on?
Meeting the challenge of 1,076 edits in 95 minutes will be a heroic struggle. “Success will require wit, skill and ingenuity and is by no means guaranteed” for the cast of Laura Atherton; Morgan Bailey; Luke Bigg; William James Holstead; Morven Macbeth; Matt Prendergast and Adela Rajnović.
Playing a key role too will be Quick and Brooks’s production team of Imitating The Dog’s projection and video designer Simon Wainwright; designer Laura Hopkins; lighting designer Andrew Crofts and composer James Hamilton.
George A. Romero’s 1968 film presented an apocalyptic vision of paranoia, the breakdown of community and the end of the American dream. In 2020’s stage production, digital theatre practitioners Imitating The Dog compose a love-song to the cult movie in a re-make and remix that “attempts to understand the past in order not to have to repeat it”.
The new Leeds-stamped version is in turns humorous, terrifying, thrilling, thought-provoking and joyous. Above all, in the retelling, it becomes a searing parable for our own complex times.
Imitating The Dog’s Andrew Quick says: “Looking at the state of the world today, it seems so appropriate that we are going back to this seminal story, the original zombie movie. Rehearsals have been great fun so far and it’s amazing how scary and relevant Romero’s Sixties’ vision still seems.”
Playhouse artistic director James Brining enthuses:“We’re thrilled to be working with Imitating The Dog for this momentous project. They’re a fantastic local company who brilliantly fuse together technology with live action. I can’t wait for us to work with them to be able to breathe new life into this well-known classic that has been celebrated for many years.”
Russ Streiner, who produced and appeared as Johnny in Romero’s film, says: “Before Night Of The Living Dead™ became the classic film it is, it started as a collection of ideas and story points; story points that are timeless in their reflection of the human condition.
“The common link between [film production company] Image Ten long ago and Imitating The Dog and Leeds Playhouse today is a genuine love of the productions we present to the public, and we’re absolutely thrilled that they have teamed up to present their own authorised fresh and exciting retelling of the story that began over 50 years ago for us.
“This retelling goes back to the roots of where ‘Night’ started with experimental ideas and a new imagining of the story – this time coupled with the dynamic of live actors performing to a live audience.”
Tickets are on sale on 0113 213 7700 or at leedsplayhouse.org.uk.
Did you know?
LEEDS company Imitating The Dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for 20 years, fusing live performance with digital technology. Among their past productions are A Farewell To Arms, Hotel Methuselah and Heart Of Darkness, the latter two playing York Theatre Royal in 2010 and 2019 respectively.