ASYLUM Arts Announces 2024 Programme Including A UK Tour Of Papatango Prize Winner's Show SURFACING

Sammy Trotman's critically acclaimed comedy That's Not My Name will also complete its biggest tour to date.

By: Feb. 22, 2024
ASYLUM Arts Announces 2024 Programme Including A UK Tour Of Papatango Prize Winner's Show SURFACING
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Asylum Arts has announced its 2024 programme including two UK tours: Surfacing, a new play by Papatango Prize winner Tom Powell, directed by Asylum Arts Artistic Director STEPHEN BAILEY, tours after a sell-out preview run at VAULT Festival 2023. Sammy Trotman's critically acclaimed comedy That's Not My Name “masterpiece of mess” will complete its biggest tour to date.

STEPHEN BAILEY appointed Artistic Lead of Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation Vital Xposure after Bailey's work with ASYLUM Arts and the Sir Peter Hall RTST Award-winning The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man.

Commenting on the announcement, ASYLUM Arts Artistic Director STEPHEN BAILEY said:

“2023 was an incredible year for ASYLUM where we produced more shows to larger audiences. We worked with a range of artists with successes including Surfacing's performance, presenting at international conferences, continuing our mentoring and FlawBored's "complete and utter triumph" It's a Motherf**king Pleasure at the Edinburgh Fringe. We're delighted to take a revamped version of Surfacing on tour, responding to the incredible support of the neurodivergent community and retaining our commitment to marrying art and access. 

We also introduce new associate artists Covered in Jam whose madcap, performance-piece deconstruction of diagnosis is balanced by a thoughtful and empathetic Deconstructing the Disorder facilitation after many shows. A company that completely self-started, they are proof of how this industry doesn't do enough to enable disabled and neurodivergent talent in existing structures. Touring is incredibly challenging right now and ASYLUM will be spending its reserves to enable these productions, but we fully believe that they are vital to be seen and heard in a time of crisis.”

Following a sell-out, Origins Award-nominated preview at VAULT Festival 2023, ASYLUM has announced that Surfacing will tour nationally with a returning creative team. 

Surfacing opens at Blackpool Grand Studio in May 2024, touring to Mercury Theatre Colchester and Nottingham Playhouse before running for three weeks at Clapham Omnibus from May 14th and finishing the tour at the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford.

Surfacing's press night is on May 16th at Clapham Omnibus. ASYLUM welcomes local reviewers earlier in the tour. 

Cast to be announced. Programme playtext is published by Methuen/Bloomsbury.

What if you came up for air and the world you knew was gone? NHS therapist Luc is fine. Honest. She's definitely not overwhelmed by meeting Owen, a new client, definitely not freaked out by what she's started seeing, definitely doesn't think her reality has been punctured and something else is leaking in. 

Luc feels a hand dragging her down to the bottom of the lake… When she surfaces, her reality is different.

She's haunted by tormented mice, shape-shifting shadows and her own sardonic thoughts. As she hunts for answers through this upside-down world, she comes dangerously close to the secret she tried to bury. 

Tom Powell's breath-taking new thriller examines hallucinations, neurodivergence, and the state of mental health care. With innovative creative captioning and haunting music, the production uses new motion sensor technology to create responsive light and sound, evoking a very real and lived experience of disassociation. Directed by STEPHEN BAILEY (The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man). 

Presented by ASYLUM Arts. All performances are presented in a relaxed environment, captioned and have integrated audio description.

Surfacing has been developed in collaboration with neurodivergent communities and medical research professionals:

"It was moving, strange, uncomfortable, yet somehow life-affirming with it. Important, brave work. It's a thrill to see the hardest part of the human experience, and my experience, treated so elegantly and with this delicate compassion." Lived Experience Audience Member."

“Completely skewers the alienating culture of so much of the NHS mental health system. We obsess about the systems that are in place and forget about the patient. This play, with its focus on what the patient is actually going through, is a completely necessary corrective.”

Design is by Victoria Maytom (she/her), Video and Captions by Ben Glover (he/him). Lighting by Abi Turner (they/them) and Composition by David Denyer (he/him). 

Surfacing's preview run was an Evening Standard Top Pick of VAULT and earned it an Origins Award nomination, and it's previously been shortlisted for New Diorama Theatre's Untapped Award. 

Writer Tom Powell commented on the announcement, “Reality can feel like a Murakami novel. After spending several years writing for TV and radio, I wanted to put that on the stage, and write something that could only be live.  

I was delighted that our work in progress run at Vault festival last year sold out, and that within the week we had repeat audiences, people with lived experience of what the show depicts coming back and bringing friends. I can't wait for this new version to meet audiences around the country.”

Director STEPHEN BAILEY added, “In Surfacing we wanted to show the lived experience of mental health and neurodivergence and their crises as they're rarely seen. These are human experiences, not simply tragic stories or flaws to be 'fixed'. Surfacing presents those experiences as vivid, thrilling and surprising: an underrepresented spectrum of human experience. We're proud to have developed this project with a set of incredible neurodivergent creatives over several years reflecting the untapped talent in the industry.”

Sammy Trotman's critically acclaimed That's Not My Name is to tour, after a sell-out run at Camden People's Theatre (CPT) last year.  After opening with more dates at CPT, it tours to Bristol, York, Brighton as part of the Brighton Fringe, before closing at the Millenium Centre in Wales. 

Created by Covered in Jam and written and performed by Sammy Trotman, That's Not My Name is supported by Arts Council England. It's directed by Jake Rix with light and sound by Scott Ward.

That's Not My Name is 75 minutes of ‘complete carnage' in the form of stand-up, sketch and musical comedy speaking to the insanity of Psychiatry, labels and our mental health system.

Commenting on the announcement, writer and performer Sammy Trotman said: “I struggle with the idea of preaching to people to rid themselves of what can be validating explanations for our experience. But from where I'm standing, I see us all being scapegoated for falling outside the behavioural remit of what a capitalist-based system classes as conducive to itself. I'm fed up of the unjustness of that. So I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to tackle what I believe is a human rights issue in the best way I know how - with theatre.”

About Asylum Arts


ASYLUM Arts is a company focused on improving the representation of neurodiversity and disability in the arts. Founded by STEPHEN BAILEY in 2021 ASYLUM produces work, delivers training on neurodiverse inclusion and reinvests its profits in training for early career disabled and neurodivergent practitioners. ASYLUM is a Barbican Open Lab resident company and was shortlisted for New Diorama's Untapped Award 2022. They've been commissioned by Lewisham Borough of Culture and London Liberty Festival. Arts Council England funded their first training program for disabled artists.