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The Cost of Living announced with National Theatre Wales

National Theatre Wales’ new three-part production at Swansea Grand puts two fingers up to the cost of living crisis

From 17 - 25 March National Theatre Wales’ ambitious new three-part production The Cost of Living will take place at Swansea Grand featuring Anthony Matsena and Kel Matsena. Our Co-Artistic Directors will both perform and Co-Direct the production, alongside Lorne Campbell.

An evening of three parts beginning with Part 1: Counting the Cost of Living directed by Mathilde Lopez and curated by Shirish Kulkarni in partnership with Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) and Grange Pavilion Youth Forum. A unique opportunity for the audience to share their experiences of the cost of living crisis with politicians, police chiefs, council leaders and commissioners.

Journalist and activist Shirish Kulkarni says “rather than answering the questions these people will instead be asking you: the audience. You get to explain your experiences of the cost of living crisis to the people and institutions who define our lives, and let them know the daily price you pay. National Theatre Wales wants to show that it doesn’t have to be this way and we can make a difference by starting somewhere.”

Part 2 stages Joseph K and the Cost of Living directed by Lorne Campbell, Kel Matsena and Anthony Matsena. A bold and visionary adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial by writer Emily White weaves the nightmare of an innocent man’s arrest and trial into an exciting, contemporary performance that highlights the high price we all pay when we are at the mercy of arbitrary and unaccountable power.

Writer Emily White says: ‘The cost of living crisis has been caused in the main part by the greed and corruption of the main pain of our society. In order to divert our attention from the real source of our problems, we are seeing a frightening resurgence of fascist rhetoric being used by government officials scapegoating and blaming poor people, immigrants, asylum seekers, LGBTQ+ people, women, unions, protestors, etc. There are many ways to interpret the story of The Trial, but my adaptation: Joseph K and the Cost of Living is about the nature of state-led persecution, the individuals the system chooses to persecute and why.”

Co-director Kel Matsena said: “I'm incredibly excited to be working on such a relevant and live piece of theatre. Kafka's work is monstrous, incredibly rich and speaks so clearly to the world we currently live in. It's an honour for me to be bringing this work to Swansea, the city I grew up in, the city I call home. To create a space where the people I grew up with can come and see themselves reflected in a powerful, dynamic and high-quality piece of theatre is a real honour.

People can expect the unexpected. My pre-conceptions have been challenged at every step of the process. Emily White has done an incredibly funny and emotional adaption and humour is something I never expected in work like this. Also getting to direct alongside Anthony Matsena and Lorne Campbell is a real treat. We have a stellar cast of actors and a creative team who have special connections to Wales.

This is no ordinary piece of theatre. At times I find myself asking "what on earth are we doing?" but I mean that in the best way possible. Because there really is nothing out there like it.”

NTW Artistic Director Lorne Campell, recently named as one of The Stage’s 100 most influential people in British theatre, said “There’s definitely a spirit of protest in the air. After years of living with austerity then Covid-19, a relentless series of legislative attacks on the right to protest and to strike, rolling scandals of corruption and cronyism in the corridors of power, people are asking themselves: ‘Where does this end? How do we organise? How do we resist? ‘Am I part of this? What should I do?’

That’s the spirit we want to capture in Joseph K and the Cost of Living. Jo K is subjected to the violence of the state but is also deeply complicit in its systems and oppressions. It is a profoundly recognisable crisis for us all and I am hugely excited to be working with this incredible team to bring this story to the stage in partnership with communities in Swansea and Cardiff.”

The evening concludes with Part 3: F**k the Cost of Living, in partnership with Grand Ambition. A gig of music full of joy and catharsis to empower and inspire you. The perfect protest music for the moment. With Minas, Ayoub, and HMS Morris

Audiences can choose to be there for some of the evening, or all of it.

Together with many other theatre companies across Wales and further afield, National Theatre Wales are using the Theatre Green Book as a guide to make our productions more sustainable. From calculating the carbon footprint of materials, to reusing and recycling.


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