Press release

Wellcome Collection raises curtain on its first major theatrical production

Wellcome Collection is thrilled to announce the presentation of its first major performance arts production. ‘Pressure Drop’, starring the legendary singer-songwriter Billy Bragg and his band, is the latest play from On Theatre and will be taking place in Wellcome Collection’s largest gallery space.

This passionate drama from acclaimed writer and theatre director Mick Gordon, with new music and songs written by Billy Bragg, is directed by Christopher Haydon with a limited run, 19 April-12 May, 19.30 (excluding Sundays). Press night is 22 April 2010.

As part of the Wellcome Trust's Identity Project, an ambitious season of activities focused on the endlessly fascinating topic of human identity, 'Pressure Drop' at Wellcome Collection asks a central question: what makes me who I am? It explores the individual, familial, social and political reference points that make a person definable and recognisable to themselves and others.

Part play, part gig, part art installation, 'Pressure Drop' prompts the audience to consider which are the pressured groups in society today - an increasingly topical issue as the general election approaches.

It presents three generations of a white, working-class English family struggling to define themselves both in relation to one another and within a changing social landscape. At the heart of the event lies a paradox. Our identities are continually in flux; but at the same time, we need a firm sense of rootedness, of belonging to something stable.

The collaboration between Mick Gordon and Billy Bragg came about when Gordon read 'The Progressive Patriot' by Bragg and became intrigued by the singer-songwriter's exploration of what it means to be English in contemporary Britain. In the book, Bragg reflects on his family and their history. He revisits the music that originally inspired him and challenges versions of patriotism proposed by the far right.

Billy Bragg said: "I have never done anything like this before; mixing songs with theatre is a totally new experience for me. Given that music makes a significant contribution to many people's sense of who they are, I am very excited to be working with On Theatre and Wellcome Collection as part of The Identity Project."

Mick Gordon commented: "Defining what makes us who we are is no easy task. It is a fluid preoccupation that dwells in us all. On Theatre's collaboration with Billy Bragg, marking the culmination of Wellcome Collection's extraordinary 'Identity' exhibition, is our contribution to the continuing debate."

Clare Matterson, Director of Medicine, Society and History at the Wellcome Trust, added: "In 'Pressure Drop', Mick Gordon and Billy Bragg raise topical questions about human identity in contemporary Britain. The subject of Identity is also tackled by the Wellcome Trust in its Identity Project - a season of activities on the topic - so we're delighted to welcome Mick, On Theatre and Billy Bragg and his band. 'Pressure Drop' is a thought-provoking production. It will undoubtedly be a highlight of The Identity Project and a milestone for Wellcome Collection as its first major theatrical production."

'Pressure Drop' at Wellcome Collection
19 April-12 May, 19.30 (excluding Sundays)
Press night: 22 April 2010
£20/£15 concession
Tickets now on sale via the box office: 0844 412 4318 or online.

NB 'Pressure Drop' is a promenade production with a duration of 90 minutes. Seating is not provided. Spaces for wheelchair users are available by arrangement.
Post-show discussions will be held on Thursday 29 April and Thursday 6 May (free to same day ticket holders).

Written by Mick Gordon
Music and songs by Billy Bragg
Produced by On Theatre and Wellcome Collection
Directed by Christopher Haydon
Designed by Tom Scutt
Lighting design by Mark Howland
Sound design by Mike Furness
Sound for the band by Grant Showbiz
Casting by Nadine Rennie
Starring Billy Bragg and his band

Cast to be announced.