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York Theatre Royal & Pilot Theatre to Premiere New Adaptation of E.M.Forster's THE MACHINE STOPS

Following the critical success of their recent co-productions of In Fog and Falling Snow and Blood + Chocolate, York Theatre Royal will once again join forces with Pilot Theatre, this time to stage the world premiere of The Machine Stops, Neil Duffield's exciting new adaptation of E.M. Forster's chilling short story predicting and exploring our increasingly intricate relationship with technology in our lives.

Directed by York Theatre Royal's Associate Director Juliet Forster and featuring a brand new soundtrack composed by John Foxx, pioneer of electronic music and founder of Ultravox, and analogue synth specialist, Benge, The Machine Stops will premiere at York Theatre Royal from 13 May till 4 June and then tour to Eastleigh, Portsmouth and the Platform Shift + festival in Budapest.

In a dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground, Kuno alone questions their now total dependency on technology to live and communicate with each other, but in his struggle to break out can he reach the Earth's surface before the Machine stops?

British novelist, essayist, and social and literary critic E.M. Forster is best known for his exquisite novels of A Passage to India and Howard's End which were both made into Oscar winning films, but his short story masterpiece published in 1909 is astoundingly prophetic and poignant in 2016, provided a chilling warning of the dangers of isolation, reliance on computer technology and the effects upon society. Its prescient notions that exist today included instant messages, televisual messages and the internet.

The Machine Stops cast will feature Caroline Gruber (2000 Years, National Theatre), Karl Queensborough (Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith), Maria Gray (Car Story, Box Clever) and Gareth Aled (The Magic Flute, Complicite/ENO and War Horse, National Theatre).

The production is designed by Rhys Jarman (The Time of your Life - Live from Television Centre, BBC), lighting by Tom Smith (See How They Run, York Theatre Royal) and movement by Philippa Vafadari (Brideshead Revisited, The Legend of King Arthur, York Theatre Royal). The production also features a specially composed soundtrack by John Foxx and Benge. John Foxx is best known as the original lead singer of the group Ultravox and as an electronic music pioneer.

Director Juliet Forster said about the new adaptation:

"I first came across the story in the late 1990s and became interested in staging it in 1999, as a response to the panic at the time around the Millennium Bug, and the fear that everything would breakdown and stop. I thought it would be an interesting way to explore our own reliance on technology, especially as the piece had such obvious dramatic potential; but I didn't manage to get the idea off the ground at the time and the moment came and went. The classic short story never really left my mind as a possible stage adaptation, and year on year I have been amazed to see how much more our world resembles Forster's - not just in the way technology has developed, but also in our human response to it.

In Forster's world human beings are separated and isolated by technology, as much as they are connected through it, so theatre - which is primarily about individuals gathering to share a live experience together, seemed a highly appropriate medium in which to explore the story. I am a real lover of science fiction and speculative fiction - I find alternative realities a really useful lens through which to examine our own dilemmas. I am very excited that through Neil Duffield's beautifully written new adaption and John Foxx's soundtrack, a new and imaginative piece of theatre set in the wonderful dystopian worlds of Forster's imagination will be created for a new generation."

Composer John Foxx added:

"I first read E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops in 1964, when I was at school. It struck me then as prescient and original. When I started discussing the music for this production with Benge, I read it again. In the intervening years the internet had happened, and of course the world had changed dramatically, yet the story was still ahead of it all - an amazing feat of predictive imagination for something written in 1909. I'm quietly pleased to be able to collaborate with such an astounding piece of seminal sci-fi."

The Machine Stops will open at York Theatre Royal from the 13 May to 4 June and then tour to The Point, Eastleigh, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth and the Platform Shift + festival in Budapest. The play will then be re-staged for an extensive tour in 2017.

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