Absolute Theatre – Andrew Harries

Absolute Theatre was the result of director Andrew Harries (Pratt)’s desire to champion European writing, explore new work and actively encourage engagement with live theatre. Set up with actor Anne Chauveau, the company acquired a reputation for its innovative, highly visual style, staging a string of well-received productions in London fringe venues.

These included Ibsen’s ‘When We Dead Awaken’, ‘The Misanthrope’ by Moliere – “A feast for the senses” (What’s On) and plays by Federico Lorca – ‘Dona Rosita the Spinster’ (London premiere), ‘Yerma’ – “Highly visual, “atmospheric and very moving” (Capital Gay), ‘The Shoemaker’s Wondrous Wife’ and ‘Don Perlimplin’ – “Absolutely theatrically excellent” (Theatreworld).

The latter two formed part of the programme of the 1998 Festival de Almada in Portugal and marked Simon Fraser’s first work with the company.

Absolute also staged ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at the Brewhouse Theatre Taunton in the same year.

One of the many highlights of Andrew’s career was ‘Queen Christina’ by Pam Gems, described on BBC Radio 4 as “one of the year’s most exciting productions” and nominated for a Time Out award. ‘Queen Christina’ premiered at the Man in the Moon Theatre in 1992, had two revivals and was toured to the Labyrint Theatre in Prague. Pam Gems was a patron of Absolute Theatre until her death in 2011.

An inspirational and gifted teacher, as many of his former students would attest, Andrew Harries took charge of the Young Actors Theatre in 2004, steering it through some difficult periods, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and creating many memorable productions including ‘Islington The Opera’, ‘The Man Of Mode’, ‘Blood Wedding’, ‘Machinal’ and Caryl Churchill’s ‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’.

Absolute commissioned a new translation of Dürrenmatt’s ‘Play Strindberg’ which was given a rehearsed reading at the Swiss Embassy in London by a cast that included Kika Markham and Malcolm Tierney. The company has championed the work of Austrian playwright Felix Mitterer, presenting readings with live music of his monologue ‘Siberia’, featuring Dudley Sutton, and staging the UK premiere of ‘Spiel Im Berg’. The possibility of adapting Leon Garfield’s novel ‘The Pleasure Garden’ was explored by the company, as well as developing the tale of ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ as an opera.

Andrew also created the libretto for a three-part soap opera opera called, unsurprisingly, ‘Opera Soap’ (score by Simon Fraser), produced with the support of ENO and staged at the Battersea Arts Centre.

The creative team, led by Andrew Harries with designer Jessica Worrall https://www.jessicaworrall.co.uk/, worked on a series of productions in collaboration with the Theatre Royal Bath.
These included ‘Twelfth Night’, Wedekind’s ‘Spring Awakening’, ‘The Rivals’ (Sheridan), a large-scale outdoor version of ‘Electra’ (a new version by Steve Fraser), ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore’ and an adaptation of Jules Verne’s ’20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ for the TRB youth theatre.

Fiercely pro-European throughout his life, Andrew’s views on Brexit were largely unprintable. His last directing credit for Absolute was ‘Os 4 Clowns do Apocalipse’ in 2018, a co-production with Portuguese company Teatro do Montemuro.

Premiered at the Auditório Municipal de Cinfães on February 17th 2018, ‘4 Clowns’ was warmly received in several countries with one critic describing the piece as “International Theatre at its best”.

Discussions about new collaborations and work, including two new operas, were sadly cut short by Andrew’s sudden passing on February 25th 2022 at the age of 57.

The title of Artistic Director of Absolute Theatre remains his in perpetuity.

Get in touch

    Absolute Theatre
    20 Inderwick Road
    London N8 9LD

    +44 (0) 7773 393196