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TNT - The New Theatre

Lessons, techniques and ideas for making new theatre for a changing world from the most widely travelled theatre that ever packed a bag

Paul StebbingsPhil Smith 

"This long-awaited new book is an extraordinary, wide-ranging, funny, clever account of  40 years in the life of the most successful touring theatre company of all time.


The authors dance between magical storytelling... offering a masterclass on the skills and practice of acting, directing and writing for theatre... considering the role of theatre in different countries and continents... and offering a eye-opening history of TNT"

buyers can get the book for £15 instead of the listed £22 at the Triarchy website. If you use the promotional code TP20 at checkout, you can get it for £12. 

click on video below for book extract

click on video below for book extract

"TNT started with nothing but three unemployed actors in my mum’s little car. Decades later TNT has become the most popular touring theatre in the world. How that came about, and maybe why, is the subject of this book. "

In 1980, ​The Guardian newspaper described TNT as “the most interesting development on the current theatrical scene". 40 years later it still is “the world’s most popular touring theatre company.”  (China National TV)


TNT gives more performances in more countries in a single year than any other theatre company in the word.


"I've known TNT since 2003, and I took them to China for the first time in 2005 for performance. The first play was 'Macbeth' and it was very successful. Since then, Paul has been invited to Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center and other theatres in China to direct plays. We had a very happy cooperation with him. TNT is also very famous in China now, they have a large audience in China and are loved by them."   

Nick Rongjun YUArtistic Director, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center

"A glorious mix of fine, precise detail and broad sweep commentary and reflection on the last four decades.  A model of writing which allows for feeling and passion to co-exist alongside and become intertwined with ‘cold’ consideration and incisive scrutiny of how to position TNT within the cosmology of theatre and performance both within Europe and beyond. ... If categories matter this book is impossible to position: part travel writing, part (auto)biography, part political and cultural history, part philosophy, part theatre and performance studies, part poetry and always story-telling."  

Read the full review

Simon Murray, Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies at Glasgow University; ​author of Physical Theatres (Routledge)

"This extraordinary memoir of a theatre company is actually many stories. It is the story of the impact of a university lecturer, Edward Braun, on two young men in the 1970s. It is the story of their location in theatrical lineages and genealogies that include Vsevolod Meyerhold and Music Hall, Jerzy Grotowski and Jonathan Pryce. It is the story of one of the few small-scale British touring companies of the 1980s to survive into the 21st century through a combination of happenstance and pragmatic utopianism. It is the story of adaptation and assemblage resulting from open-ended journeys, encounters and the crossing of borders between what was once known as East and West. But perhaps more than anything, it is a love story – and the object of love is theatre itself."  


Roberta Mock, Professor of Performance Studies, University of Plymouth

“During my tenure at the Manoel I always endeavoured to include TNT Theatre in my annual programmes. As helmed by Paul Stebbings their productions always featured intelligent scripting coupled with honest performances that stimulated our audiences.
I also appreciated the enthusiastic manner in which cast and crew remained available after the shows to discuss the presentations with the interested members of the audience.”

Tony Cassar Darien, Former Artistic Director, The Manoel Theatre (the National Theatre), Malta Current Artistic Director, The Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta

'Munich has no shortage of cultural gems.  But TNT is one that you may not have heard of.  Brilliant productions, imaginatively directed, acted with flair and precision by gifted young actors, and infused from all directions with an infectious love and understanding of theatre.  Right up there with the Staatsoper!'

David Womersley DLitt FBA, Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature
University of Oxford

TNT is a crucial resource for China. First, Shakespeare was a relatively late import and, although academics and theatre-makers revere him, few feel confident with the material. TNT shows its packed houses how Shakespeare is meant to be played—bold, brassy, bawdy, and at blistering, exhilarating speed. Second, although large companies and lavish costumes are standard in China, TNT proves that even the grand and intimidating Shakespeare works brilliantly with skeleton casts and minimal props. This opens up myriad opportunities for young Chinese writers, directors, and producers to create tight, flexible shows that can tour the country, from state-of-the-art venues to village stages, making theatre truly universal. In bringing Western classics to China (where they were illegal for years), and in showcasing alternate forms of theatre, TNT’s contribution has been invaluable.


Nancy Pellegrini, author of The People’s Bard: How China Made Shakespeare Its Own (Penguin, 2016)

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