AB Project and Charlottesville

AB Project and Charlottesville

Blog written by Finn Boyle

Umberto Eco closed his immortal and resonant essay Eternal-Fascism by declaring; “Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the street somebody saying ‘I want to reopen Auschwitz’… Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and point the finger at any of its new instances – every day and in every part of the world.”

​What Eco means by ‘Ur-Fascism’ is the potential, almost-fascism that exists in every society and epoch, the kind that resides “in plainclothes”. It’s often difficult to fight Ur-Fascists, physically or otherwise, simply by virtue of the fact that one could say ‘but they’re not real fascists!’, as if the only qualifier for being bad is being a Nazi.
​This protection-by-No-True-Scotsman has allowed Ur-Fascist groups to grow and Ur-Fascists to become increasingly prominent in recent years. Ur-Fascism could be seen manifest in Anders Behring Breivik in July of 2011, and in the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of 2017.
​But, unlike Breivik, it wasn’t the demonstrators and white nationalists themselves who embodied Ur-Fascism. They were proud and open Nazis, “real” fascists. No, Ur-Fascism could be seen in the reactions outside of Charlottesville. Ur-Fascism could be seen in the media and government officials who tried to deflect blame from the (I feel the need to stress this) literal Nazis to the counter-protesters; the victims of the Nazi violence.
​Ur-Fascism could be seen in the White House, when President Trump initially condemned “many sides” for the violence that occurred, only to eventually bow to pressure and specifically condemn the Nazis (only to then later renege and again blame “both sides”). Ur-Fascism could be seen in Breitbart, which quickly published articles claiming that the Governor of Virginia refused to condemn “leftist political violence” and that the organizer of the rally in question was an Obama supporting Occupy activist.

​The Nazis in question, a group called Vanguard America, are particularly relevant to the project due to their tactics. Nary a year old, Vanguard America’s members are young, with most reportedly in their early 20s. This is no accident; Vanguard America recruits predominantly from University campuses, searching for young, disenfranchised men in search of a purpose. Men who are, in our current socio-economic system, disposable.
​What Vanguard America has done with these men is a business transaction. They pledge to Vanguard America their loyalty and lives, participating in its so-called ‘cult of death’ and ‘contempt for the weak’ (hallmarks of Fascism and its Ur- counterpart), and in return, Vanguard America gives them something the modern world can’t – an identity.

​This is where the AB Project can act as a powerful force for good. For while Nazism and Ur-Fascism endow in their vessels identity, art does as well. The difference being that art doesn’t require death and subjugation. Rather than let these men become potentially dangerous to large groups of people, their minds twisted by hate and a fetish for power, they can be reached out to and made into that most dangerous of persons: artists.
​One of the reasons why Eco might’ve thought of Ur-Fascists and their ilk to be eternal is because that suits the Powers That Be. Far-right groups have always received less attention from governments simply because those far-right group’s ideology often hold that the current power structure must be maintained, by any means necessary. In that way, groups like Vanguard America are merely acting as an extreme extension of Washington, keeping down all those who pose a threat, especially the young and artists.
​One of the reasons artists are so threatening to traditional power structures is precisely the fact that many of their numbers include these young and disaffected men. And of course, one more artist means one less Ur-Fascist – one less soldier for the powerful. The AB Project, by actively engaging in themes of youth disenchantment, can directly threaten the powerful and engage in these at-risk people.

​I would like to refer back to the quote from Umberto Eco regarding Ur-Fascism. He is right, in that it is our duty “to uncover it and point the finger at any of its new instances”. When he said “our”, he meant all humankind. However, we, as artists, are in a unique position to combat Ur-Fascism. Because unlike those in the White House, we can actually do something.

AB Project begins in Canada

AB Project begins in Canada

AB Project: Revelstoke
Phase One

By Finn Boyle


​The abbreviation of Revelstoke’s province unveils its true character: BC. While the second and third letter of the alphabet technically stand for the Canadian province of “British Columbia”, in Revelstoke’s case it could also mean “Before Christ”. Revelstoke isn’t an anachronism per se, rather it’s confused as to what era it belongs to. It is simultaneously a frontier town, surrounded by dense forest and oppressive forest fires and an isolated 1990s murder village a la Twin Peaks, not to mention its diverse immigrant population spanning several continents making it a model post-contemporary society. It is, in more concise terms, an ideal place to develop the AB Project.

​The local theatre group in Revelstoke, Flying Arrow Productions, is one of the younger troupes the project has to offer. Discussing the group beforehand, David told me about a mature actress around the age of 12. Going in, I had expected this to be the exception, and not the rule. Never have I, in my short experience with the AB Project, been one of the oldest members in the room. While Flying Arrow does involve people of all ages in their various productions, the AB Project seems to have attracted a younger demographic. This observation, that the members are young, is not meant to disparage them: on the contrary, these are some of the sharpest and most mature young people I have met in a good long time.

​Having conversations with the devisers outside of Project hours displayed the creativity and sense of community that the AB Project requires. Discussions ranging from late-20th century politics to the use of the golden hour to gender and racial dynamics in modern society to (of course) the life of Anders Breivik, displayed the intellectual and artistic depth shared by the devisers. Their discussions of such topics outside of devising also presented the positive influence art and, in particular, Flying Arrow Productions has had on them. Walking amongst such an active and engaged group conjured the vision of a Utopian world in which all could think and act like those that surrounded me.

​The fact that the AB Project is being tackled by such interesting and artistic youth speaks wonderfully to its goal. Several of the Project’s key themes include youth opportunity and alienation. By engaging young artists such as those in Revelstoke, Flying Arrow is tackling the central thesis of the AB Project with a sense of praxis sadly lacking in much of the modern theatrical world.

Flying Arrow’s Founding Director and the AB Project: Revelstoke regional director, Anita, embodies the spirit of Revelstoke. She co-ordinates the workshop with a timeless, distant yet ever-present quality that fosters a great creativity: she is always there to help, but will take a step back to let the devisers continue unabated. One example is her “Astonishment” exercise, wherein she wrote the aforementioned word on a whiteboard and got the group to come up with events they found astonishing. Her input was direct, but she allowed the group to develop and devise autonomously, which in turn fostered teambuilding and independence. A friendly, safe and free atmosphere was created from her style – a typically Revelstokian style. This, in turn, lent the AB Project a distinctly Revelstoke flavor, aiding in its further development.

​If the AB Project, in its final phase, is to be an international youth play then it has to be just that – international. Revelstoke is the ideal place to begin the Project’s first phase, with its timeless quality and eclectic mesh of peoples. And its youth – sharp and irrepressible – set a high standard for the project to come. Flying Arrow Productions and the David Glass Ensemble’s combined efforts in Revelstoke, BC, present a fortuitous dawn of the next three years. And they couldn’t have picked a better place to begin. After all, as stated earlier, “BC” technically stands for “British Columbia”, but it is also the inevitable continuation of AB.

City of Darkness

City of Darkness

Theatre Ash and David Glass Ensemble have begun to research, develop, devise and produce a spectacular piece of physical, visual and verbatim theatre. The piece will express the extraordinary vitality of life and astronomical levels of overpopulation found within Kowloon Walled City.

In 1994, with tears in her eyes, the nine-year-old Alice Cheung watched as her childhood home Kowloon Walled City was torn down and its residents sent to find new homes across Hong Kong and beyond. Alice went on to become a successful actress, world-class puppeteer and theatre maker.

Kowloon Walled City and Alice become the main characters in a piece of extraordinary physical and visual theatre piece about home and longing. Heartbreaking and hilarious, Theatre Ash brings together some of the finest talent in physical, dance and devised theatre from Hong Kong and beyond, to perform a heart-stopping elegy to a world long disappeared.

Theatre Ash’s Artistic Director Lok-Kan Cheung – who lived in Kowloon Walled City during her childhood – will collaborate with David Glass. Together they will develop the piece for a powerful six member ensemble of East Asian performers, including renowned and award-winning choreographer/dancer Martinus Miroto and Mui Cheuk-yin, and Hong Kong’s talented actor Chu Pak-Hong and dancer Max Lee. The team will be completed with award-winning theatre designer and hypnotic video artist Jinyao Lin, and a newly commissioned sound and music/percussion score composed by Alain Chiu.

City of Darkness will explode onto the international stage beginning with its premiere in Hong Kong in autumn 2018. With intense physicality combined with breathtaking visuals, the performance will be hilariously comic, touching and epically poetic – truly a theatre work for the 21st century.



Mortgage: Part 2 of The DEvine Trilogy

Mortgage: Part 2 of The DEvine Trilogy

Created a Monster and David Glass Ensemble present


The second part of The DEvine Comedy Trilogy: Purgatory


“Theatre’s not dead. It just smells funny.”

~ Antonin Artaud

A furiously visceral show, Mortgage tells the story of the painfully abused and miserable short and boring life of Beatrice Gunta Mortgage – Stage Manager. Mortgage has allowed the last theatre on earth, Hell, to burn down. Unless she rebuilds it, Theatre will officially be dead. She lures actors into fake casting calls so she can rebuild the theatre with their blood, skin and bones, naming the new theatre Hell 2. Beset by an incalculable number of mental and physical health issues, Mortgage will attempt a brutal stream of failed suicides with furious abandon – some slapstick, some poetic, some assisted by the audience. She can’t even kill herself. She will either bury herself alive, or – instead of an attempt at death – make an attempt at life and save theatre from the grim reaper of history.

From this provocation will grow a piece of dynamic new performance that explores a culture of managing art, hopelessness and the will to overcome all. Inspired by Peter Brook’s notion of living and deadly theatre, Artaud’s ‘Theatre of Cruelty’, magic and sacrifice, Mortgage will confound all expectations.

Mortgage is the centre piece of The DEvine Comedy Trilogy. The first part of The DEvine Comedy Trilogy, Hell, is a collaboration with Mark Ravenhill entitled Boredom which will be developed at Bath Spa University in late 2017. The last piece of the Trilogy, Heaven, is a two hander entitled Delusion, to be made in 2018/19.

We have already undertaken residencies to develop the show at Associazione Culturale Topi Dalmata, Siena; Theatre Delicatessen, London; and The Bikeshed, Exeter, as well as performed at Pleasance Theatre, London as part of HeadFirst Productions festival; Sex, Love and Death.

We will be performing Mortgage at Omnibus Theatre, London on 30th and 31st March 2018. Watch this space for ticket information…

Director – David Glass
Producer – Briony O’Callaghan
Assistant Director – Hester Welch
Performer/devisers – Briony O’Callaghan, Derek Elwood, Simon Gleave and Silvia Bruni

Created a Monster website

Gavin’s blog on life in Chengdu

Gavin’s blog on life in Chengdu

With two and a half months left before I return to the UK to work alongside David on Bleak House, I have become reflective of my time spent here on behalf of the Ensemble. Since arriving in Chengdu over 3 months ago, the staff at Marphy’s Play House and Marphy herself have been the most welcoming, warming and fun group of what I can now call friends. I have gained a family that I know I could return to anytime, and that is something quite special, humbling and unexpected of my time here.

Since March, I have been devising an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel. This has been a project I have been working on with the other teachers at the Play House. The aim is that from the end of this month they will be touring it around schools here in Chengdu, as well as conducting workshops to aid the children’s learning. These teachers have little experience in devising, so it goes without saying that this was a difficult task- yet they have all grown in confidence and have become positive risk takers. They understand that the story and the telling of it is the most important. Their skills are developing weekly and their dedication to their work is inspirational.

This week the older children I teach (9-11 year olds) got to perform Halibu, a story about the Mongolian nomads. Having only had 12 weeks and under 40 hours with them, it is phenomenal what they have achieved. When I started with this class, one of the children didn’t even want to perform! His (as well as everyone’s) progress has been huge, and he got up on stage and performed amazingly! His mum even said to me afterwards, “drama has helped him so much, he’s much more confident and positive now thanks to drama class”. Hearing that and seeing this growth myself has been a highlight of my time here so far.

I now move my attention to the 6-8 year olds performance of The Journey to the West and summer camp, whilst continuing my weekly classes at the weekends. It’s an understatement to say I’m busy – however as much as I am seeing others learn and develop, I too can feel a development in myself. I always thought I was a good listener, but my time here so far has taught me how to REALLY listen. How to listen to others needs and learning abilities, listen to cultural differences and understand how this effects our creative outlet and communication. I’ve learnt how constricted we are by TIME. Learning, development, growth, understanding, exploration and progress all takes time. When we teach or direct, time is our enemy – there is never enough of it!

However, what I now fully understand is that creativity is endless, as are our dreams. There is never a finished piece or project because there is no bottom or top to it. Creativity is continuous, creativity has no boundaries – that is why stories are retold, because it is different every time. When my time here comes to an end, I will be happy to have had my share of the story at Marphy’s Play House, and I will continue to stay in touch and watch on as the story and adventure continues to unfold here.

In light of the recent electoral results, the future is uncertain and we have witnessed many other crazy political movements, and not just in our own country. As a young artist I feel empowered to be part off the Ensemble, I feel as if my voice can be heard. But so can everyones, if you are feeling oppressed, frustrated or angry – get together, create art and theatre to express, if nothing else it will give you a voice! We are stronger together than apart!

– By Gavin Richards

The Brides

The Brides

12 Brides. 1 Room. 0 Grooms. 4 Seasons.
Co-produced by Collettivo Teatro Siena and David Glass Ensemble

Devised by the company and directed by David Glass.


The Brides is a visually ravishing, provocative and hilarious evocation of ‘the female principle’. Twelve Brides awaken in ‘The Palace of Survival’- they dance, fight, love and hope through the four seasons watched over by The Bride of Death. The expressive approach, rooted in the visceral exploration of emotion and imagination, unveils the intense research carried out during the creative process and communicates the strength, desperation and beauty of ‘femininity’.

After it’s debut this spring in the beautiful Teatro dei Rozzi of Siena in 2017, Brides Reloaded will be performed on the 23rd January 2018 again at Teatro dei Rozzi.

Tickets can be bought HERE.


The show will tour throughout Italy in late 2018 before embarking on an international tour in 2019.

SHINING: An immersive evening of horror

SHINING: An immersive evening of horror

Inspired by Stephen King’s novel ‘The Shining’ and Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same name, David Glass’s breathtaking immersive production wowed sold out crowds on it’s first outing in 2017. Due to a hugely successful first run, Shining will Return to Bournemouth between February and March 2018.

“Take a closed, out-of-season hotel, a classic horror story, one of the world’s most exciting directors and we were swept into the increasingly crazed world of Jack Torrance. Stunning, scary and unmissable.”
Fine Times Recorder



“The young will take back what was taken from them; the future.”
David Glass, Director of the AB Project

On July 22nd 2011 Anders Breivik, a known far right extremist, shot dead 69 young people of a Workers Youth League summer camp on the Island of Utoya. It was to become the biggest European homeland terrorist attack in recent times.

Although these 69 young voices have passed, their memories and stories will live on through arts engagement, creative discourse, and ultimately, celebration. The AB Project is an extraordinary three year International Youth Arts Participation Project where this real life tragedy will be explored as a source for positive expression and renewal. Between 2017 and 2020 the project will be developed through a series of seminars, workshops and devising processes and in 2020 the project will culminate in an International Youth Production, based loosely on the book ‘One Of Us’ by Asne Seierstad. The contemporary themes of political polarisation, social justice and hope will be interrogated through the form of performance and the digital arts.

Building on the David Glass Ensemble’s ground breaking The Lost Child Project (which created a platform for the voices of thousands of street children across 22 countries), the AB Project will use creative skill learning and critical reflection in order to train the artists and leaders of the future.

Countries involved so far include; England, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Norway, Serbia, Canada, Singapore and China.

Legacy through creative citizenship

A legacy of creative learning and peer to peer education will become a lasting resource to help prevent radicalization and polarization amongst the young world wide.

AB Project Values

  • Intergenerational and artistic learning
  • Collaboration
  • Creative engagement and dialogue through the arts
  • Youth empowerment and leadership
  • Creative citizenship and legacy
David Glass, Artistic Director

David Glass, Artistic Director

David Glass has performed, directed and taught in over seventy countries. Trained at the Lecoq school in Paris he has also studied with Augusto Boal, Growtowski, Peter Brook, Alvin Ailey and Mike Alfreds.

David worked as a soloist performing in forty countries before establishing the David Glass Ensemble in 1990 and winning international awards including TMA award for best director for his adaptation of Gormenghast. In 1998 he established the Lost Child Project using theatre to create a platform for street children around the world to voice their stories. Taking place in 22 countries The Lost Child Project, helped establish a highly creative approach to Arts In Development. In 2000 he established the Centre For Creative Development in Cambodia training aid agencies in Creative Practice in partnership with VBNK (Cambodian learning organization). Here he developed a five stage practical Creative Process that is now used across the world. Through his forty years of work he has been one of the founders of the Physical/Visual, Devised and Applied Theatre movements.

David continues to write, direct and teach around the world. He established the Centre for Creative Practice (CCP) with Professor Lynn McDonald, which trains creative workers, development agencies and education organizations to deliver higher quality work. Through this he has become lead trainer in creativity for the International Labour Organization working for the UN. He is a Visiting Tutor in the UK at LAMDA, East 15, Bath Spa University, Surrey University as well as the Kami Haque Centre in Singapore and DPAC in Malaysia. He is also writing a book with Director Mike Alfred’s on ‘Directing, Theatre and Life’.

David has now relaunched the Ensemble as a platform to help establish young people in the arts and theatre internationally. David continues to work nationally and internationally and mentors 16 young artists around the world. He believes passionately in the power of art and creativity and it’s ability to positively transform the world.

Past students of David include Emma Thompson, Stephen Daldry (Billy Eliot) Simon McBurney (Theatre de Complicite), Amit Lehav (Gecko Theatre), Jim Chim (Theatre Ensemble Hong Kong), Tina Ellen Lee (Opera Circus), Tom Morris (Warhorse) and Adam Sunderland (Sticks Theatre).