Company history and artistic policy
Told by an Idiot sets out to explore the human condition by celebrating and revelling in a style of theatre that is bigger than life. The company seeks to acknowledge the artifice of theatre and makes no attempt to put reality on stage. We remain, however, fascinated by the fine line between comedy and tragedy that exists in the real world. Through collaborative writing, anarchic physicality and a playful but rigorous approach to text, the company is committed to creating a genuinely spontaneous experience for the audience. Using a wealth of imagery and a rich theatrical language, we aim to tell universal stories that are accessible to all.
Told by an Idiot was founded in 1993 by Hayley Carmichael, Paul Hunter and John Wright and has built a reputation for producing work that is moving, comic and utterly theatrical. The company’s first production was On the Verge of Exploding, which premiered at the 1993 Edinburgh Festival, where it was nominated for the Independent Theatre Award, followed by a run at the London International Mime Festival. Since then, the company has produced a wide range of work, both on the small and middle scale with a variety of partners including the Royal Court, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the RSC, National Theatre Wales, Unity Theatre, Barbican, Royal Exchange and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
We have performed throughout the world, worked with celebrated artists, including Michel Faber (The Fahrenheit Twins), Carol Ann Duffy (Casanova), Zoe Rahmen (I'm a Fool to Want You), Philip Pullman (The Firework-maker's Daughter) and Richard Wilson (Playing the Victim) who subsequently became our patron.
In 2001, as part of the Theatre Review, Arts Council England brought the company onto the RFO portfolio. In 2006, Paul Hunter and Hayley Carmichael took on the dual roles of Co-Artistic Directors and Sebastian Warrack was appointed Executive Producer the following year. In 2012 Told by an Idiot was awarded NPO status as part of the Arts Council's regular new funding programme.
In 2012, after five years with the company, Sebastian Warrack stepped down as Executive Producer following his appointment as Executive Director at Salisbury Playhouse. Told by an Idiot were delighted to appoint Jenni Grainger as their new Executive Producer. Jenni joined the company in November 2012.