Breathing New Life into a Theatre Classic.
The Lyric Theatre, also known as the Lyric Hammersmith, is a theatre on Lyric Square, in Hammersmith, London. Billed as the civic and creative heart of West London, the organisation believes that everyone deserves to experience the life changing impact of theatre.
In support of a new production of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist (by Tom Basden & directed by Daniel Raggett), I was asked to design a new poster for the show, and materials for the wider campaign.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist first premiered in 1970. Considered a classic of 20th-century theater, it has been performed across the world in more than forty countries. The play is based on the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing and on the death of Giuseppe Pinelli while being interrogated by the police.
This new production updates the story for present-day London, in the process serving as part satire and part critique on the metropolitan police as an institution.
Artwork & production
The Jumping-Off Point.
The brief called for creative that was disruptive, edgy and modern, though clearly positioned the play as a comedy.
My initial approach to the poster, was conceptualised by the image of a falling man. This was inspired by the a line in the show description, ‘… did he jump or was he thrown?’
My thinking was to visually blur the line between this distinction, by creating a composition that was somewhat ambiguous, and produced a level of intrigue.
These initial concepts were taken forward, and the key-art photography was shot by Jennifer McCord.
Creating an Arresting Design.
Following the shoot, the Lyric and the production team felt the creative needed an angle that spoke to the theme and context of the play. Specifically, the police station setting that drives the story.
The objective was to create a visual that suggested this context, but with a modern sensibility and a comedic tone.
In response, I created a concept that features a visual identity inspired by ephemera associated with the metropolitan police in Britain. From the diagonal stripes (also known as livery) displayed on police vehicles, to crime-scene tape (which speaks to the key inciting incident within the play).
This creative approach enabled us to be bold and disruptive, while also conveying some of the thematic content of the play.
Combined with fantastic photography of the play’s main performer (Daniel Rigby as ‘the Maniac’), I created the key art, poster adapts, social media graphics and supporting campaign materials.
Energetic, dynamic and fresh, the show marketing subverts what audiences might expect from a theatre campaign, and feels aligned with the energy of the show itself.