Led by choreographer and Artistic Director Lloyd Newson since its inception, DV8 Physical Theatre was formed in 1986 by a group of independent dancers who had become frustrated and disillusioned with the preoccupations and direction of (most) contemporary dance. Early members of the company included Michelle Richecoeur, Nigel Charnock and Wendy Houstoun.
DV8’s work sought to take risks, aesthetically and physically, breaking down barriers between dance and theatre and, above all, tried to communicate ideas and feelings clearly and unpretentiously. Reflecting Newson’s personal interests in social, psychological and political issues, DV8 largely rejected the abstraction that had permeated most contemporary dance and sought to find meaning in movement through narratively driven work. DV8 constantly challenged preconceptions of what dance can, and should, address.
Straddling dance, text, theatre and film, Newson’s work refused to be defined. Determined to be radical yet accessible DV8 presented work to as wide an audience as possible, and over a period of 30 years produced eighteen highly acclaimed stage works which toured internationally, as well as four films adapted from the stage productions, winning over 50 national and international awards. Productions include Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men, Strange Fish, Enter Achilles (which was later reworked in 2020 for Rambert & Sadler’s Wells), Can We Afford This/The Cost of Living, To Be Straight With You, Can We Talk About This? and JOHN (the latter works were consistently co-produced by Théâtre de la Ville and Festival d'Automne, Paris and the National Theatre, London.
In 2013 Newson was cited by the Critics Circle as being one of the hundred most influential artists working in Britain during the last hundred years and was awarded an OBE for services to contemporary dance. DV8’s legacy continues to have a dynamic impact on contemporary dance and theatre.
What the collection holds
The archive contains mixed media documentation relating to DV8 productions, including video and film documentation, photographs, marketing and publicity print, press cuttings, tour administration and schedules.
A full catalogue of DV8’s archive is being prepared and will be available in the spring of 2023. The Theatre Collection is pleased to answer enquiries relating to the collection in the meantime and items from the collection requested in advance may be viewed in the Reading Room. Please contact us for further details.