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UK’s Theater Co. Improbable Arrives for World Premiere

UK’s Theater Co. Improbable Arrives for World Premiere

Tue, Feb 24, 2009

“Improbable is one of the brilliant faces of British theatre.”—The Observer

The ever-inventive London-based theater company Improbable is back in Columbus this week for the world premiere of Panic from March 4 to 7, 2009, the culmination of two creative residencies supported by a Wexner Center Residency Award. This show highlights Improbable's clever stagecraft and trademark balance of humor and keen insight as it examines the eternal romantic struggles of men and women with dramatic intercessions by the Great God Pan. Panic, which will tour internationally after its Wexner Center debut, marks the group’s return to intimate-scale work. It will feature Improbable co-artistic director Phelim McDermott surrounded by a supporting cast of women

Here's how Improbable sets the scene for Panic:

"Come into the forest. Away from civilization. Where wild things are. Where nymphs bathe and play. Where Pan sleeps. Careful not to wake him, he is the bringer of Panic. The Great God Pan: goat horns, goat’s legs, goatee beard, and goaty penis, chasing his nymphs. But Pan is dead. Since AD 33 so the story goes. The only god to die in our time. So that can’t be him you saw through the window of a South London flat or running after a mugger near Brick Lane or sporting a cowboy hat in a bar here in Columbus. Because the Great God Pan is dead. Or is he? Drawn from personal stories and current obsessions, Panic is Improbable with brown paper and projections, a lot of self-help books, and some very chaseable nymphs."

EVENT INFORMATION: The world premiere of Improbable's Panic will be presented Wednesday through Friday, March 4–6 at 8 pm and Saturday, March 7 at 2 and 8 pm in the Wexner Center's Performance Space, 1871 N. High St. A special reception for Wexner Center members and the cast of Panic follows Friday’s performance. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $17 for members, and $10 for students. For tickets, call (614) 292-3535, or visit or Panic is intended for mature audiences.] Charles Helm, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center, notes, “Panic is the second project of Improbable’s that we’ve supported with our creative residency program, after having launched the development of their show The Hanging Man here in 2002. I’m pleased to see that our relationship with Improbable has grown close over the years, and that our audience enjoys the outcome of their work so much and eagerly look forward to their return here each time. That an international company such as Improbable considers Columbus to be a second artistic home—based on their reception from local fans and the support they feel from our staff—speaks to the success of our residency program to engage the best artists to produce good work here.”


The residency—which included an initial development session in November 2007 and an additional on-site stint for the next two weeks—marks Improbable’s third creative development session at the Wexner Center (they also completed The Hanging Man here with the support of a 2003 Residency Award and developed Coma here prior to that). From Improbable: “We were mightily pleased and grateful that the Wexner Center again offered us space and time to support our process in its early stages. So in November 2007 we found ourselves here in Columbus turning inklings into notions, and by golly some of them turned into ideas.”

In addition, Improbable has performed two other works at the Wex (70 Hill Lane in 1999 on the group’s first U.S. tour and Spirit in 2001), and Co-artistic directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch of Improbable were also the creative minds behind the international hit Shockheaded Peter, which made its U.S. debut at the Wexner Center in 1999 before two critically acclaimed runs in New York City.

In the coming days, Improbable will have discussions with students from Ohio State’s Department of Theatre about Panic as well as their approach to stage design. The Wexner Center offers these kinds of opportunities year-round for students and faculty to interact with artists visiting from around the world.

More information about the Wexner Center Residency Award program can be found here or at



Panic is commissioned by the Wexner Center, Barbican BITE09, and Sydney Opera House. Additional supported provided by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Major support for the Wexner Center’s 2008–09 performing arts season is generously provided by Huntington Bank and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Accommodations are provided by The Blackwell Inn.

All performing arts programs and events also receive support from the Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation and Wexner Center members, as well as from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council.


OTHER UPCOMING THEATER AT THE WEX • The Builders Association examines our accelerated culture through multimedia in CONTINUOUS CITY April 16-18. • May 14-16, Hugh Hughes from the Welsh theater group Hoipolloi presents the U.S. premiere of Story of a Rabbit.

PARKING UPDATE: Construction at 15th and High. For more information click here.

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