Waves - National Theatre - video design by Leo Warner / 59 Productions


Director: Katie Mitchell

Designer: Vicki Mortimer

Lighting Designer: Paule Constable

Video Designer: Leo Warner for Fifty Nine Productions

Music: Paul Clark

Sound Designer: Gareth Fry


Kate Duchene

Michael Gould

Anastasia Hille

Kristin Hutchinson

Sean Jackson

Liz Kettle

Paul Ready

Jonah Russell


Cottesloe, National Theatre

About this project

Waves at the National Theatre is that rarely sighted beast, a performance where theatre and video come together so seamlessly and complement each other so exquisitely it is as if Mitchell, her actors and video artist Leo Warner have created an entirely new art form.



A work devised by Katie Mitchell and the Company, from the text of Virginia Woolf's novel, The Waves, featuring cineamtography and video design by Leo Warner for Fifty Nine Productions.

'A tale of friendship, loss, identity and love, Waves is an exploration of human consciousness, tracking a band of friends from childhood to old age and death.

Told through a digital medium, the fragmented, dreamlike narrative of Virginia Woolf's novel is exquisitely evoked using live film and musicians.'

Selected Reviews

'This exquisite feat of illusion is art of the highest order... an intellectual and aesthetic pleasure.'

***** Sam Marlowe, THE TIMES

London has seen three pieces of British theatre this millennium that have felt like breakthroughs in theatre poetry: Matthew Bourne's Play Without Words, Theatre de Complicite's The Elephant Vanishes, and this, a sensuously many-layered response to Virginia Woolf's 1931 novel The Waves, devised by director Katie Mitchell and her company of actors and musicians. An absorbingly multi-media performance work, it pours forth meanings: we can follow it as an analysis of consciousness and as the construction of a work of art.

***** Alastair Macaulay, THE FINANCIAL TIMES

'Ingenious and incrementally moving... the overhead camera angles, the twitchy life-of-their-own surrealism of the shots of epitomising objects reminded me of the work of the great Czech film maker Jan Svankmeije.'


'In Waves, the National Theatre gives us the most poetically imaginative staging that London has seen in many months. This, a sensuously many-layered response to Virginia Woolf?s 1931 novel The Waves, is an absorbingly multi-media performance work that involves characterisation, narration, reading, music live and recorded, live sound effects, and, above all, the live close-up filming and blown-up projection of detailed action and imagery...Waves casts a rich spell.'


'Imagine the miracle of encountering a production like Katie Mitchell?s, which flirts wittily with the fractured preoccupations of the modernist mindset... Film cameras project onto a screen emotionally vivid images, set up with self-conscious artifice on stage. So while, for example, on stage a man in black flaps a board in front of an actress, on screen she?s standing, hair blowing in the breeze, and suddenly it?s possible to feel all her fears and desperation... Here Woolf pushes both the use of language and characterisation to its limits. Mitchell brings that intellectual quest to exquisite theatrical life.'

***** TIME OUT

'Ingenious... this couldn't be better done.'


'This is an extraordinary show: spellbinding, sophisticated and moving.'


'Mitchell's production yields striking images... a celebration of technical ingenuity.'


'[I was] fixated by this brilliant adaptation... Performers sit, stand and move around a lamp-lit table and its environs. They are constantly filmed on video cameras, which, on a screen above, reveals how each shot becomes something more than what our innocent eye has observed: a clever replication of the illusory techniques of 1940s movie-makers... Leo Warner's video design helps heighten the powerful mood and sense.'


''The whole live performance, powerfully played, exactly captures the dreamy magic of the literary original, an experience that should repay more than one visit.'


'The visual images projected on screen have the polished appearance of mini-films, often to stunning effect... A quick glance away from the screen reveals the 'how do they do that' workings.'


Video trailer