Imitating the dog bring a deliciously dark outdoor performance to the Belgrade ahead of Halloween

Trick or treating might be off the cards this year, but that needn’t mean missing out on Halloween altogether. On Friday 23 and Saturday 24 October, imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse will be keeping the spooky spirit alive in Coventry with a raucous and deliciously dark new tale in Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show.

Specially created in response to ongoing covid restrictions, this innovative outdoor production will be the first theatre show to be staged live at the Belgrade Theatre since lockdown began in March. Each performance will have a limited capacity and socially distanced audiences, in line with current government guidelines.

Inspired by classic horror movies and the long traditions of carnival and medicine shows, this story of mischief and immorality sees Dr Blood and his motley crew explore the costs of pursuing ambition, hypocrisy and greed.

Developed by Leeds Playhouse and imitating the dog, this new production follows the success of their critically acclaimed collaboration Night of the Living Dead ™- Remix, a stage adaptation of George A. Romero’s classic zombie movie.

Live performance will be combined with video projection in this unique outdoor experience, drawing on imitating the dog’s wealth of theatrical and technical acumen. Well-known for fusing digital technology with traditional theatre, the company has been creating groundbreaking shows in theatres and other spaces for 20 years. Other recent productions include Hotel Methuselah, A Farewell to Arms and Heart of Darkness, the last of which ran at the Belgrade last year.

Written and directed by imitating the dog’s Co-Artistic Directors Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks, the show will feature design by Laura Hopkins (Black Watch and Peter Pan, National Theatre of Scotland, The Divide, Edinburgh International Festival and The Old Vic), projection and video design by Simon Wainwright (Night of the Living Dead ™- Remix, imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse and The Kid Stays in the Picture, Royal Court), lighting by Andrew Crofts (Night of the Living Dead ™- Remix, imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse and Trash Cuisine, Belarus Free Theatre and The Young Vic); original music composed by James Hamilton and models by Matthew Tully. Casting will be announced over the next couple of weeks.

Imitating the dog Co-Artistic Director Andrew Quick said: “It’s a strange time to be making a new show but we are really looking forward to meeting the new challenges of creating work in the present conditions. We felt it was important to keep going and create a piece that was not only magical and entertaining but will abide by social distancing guidance and be COVID 19 safe.

“It will be a challenge to make but it is a hugely entertaining production that is scary in parts but also full of fun, with some deep and dark themes running through it. We’ll be using screen and camera technologies for which we are known and I just can’t wait for us all to come together again and experience all the joys of live theatre outdoors.”

Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “We are working together with all our theatre partners to make sure that everyone who is coming back to watching live theatre does so in a safe environment. It is fantastic to see artists and theatre companies grabbing the opportunity to create new work and explore different ways to entertain an audience. We are thrilled to be working once again with imitating the dog who are constantly looking at new ways to create theatre.”

Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show will take place outside the Belgrade Theatre on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 October. Tickets will be available to book soon.