The Gate Theatre announces casting for Trainers by Sylvan Oswald

Hester Chillingworth directs Nicki Hobday and Nando Messias in Sylvan Oswald’s radical new work Trainers… a queer, visionary adventure story, which asks what separates us from each other, our bodies, and ourselves, and how we might complete one another.

Set in a post gender future, Trainers… is part essay and part play. It follows a struggling writer who falls in with a group of depressed queer revolutionaries during a future civil war. Inspired by an essay by the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne and the story of his intellectual love affair with political thinker Etienne de la Boetie, the text explores what it takes to challenge the politics of one’s time and how we can train for a revolution.

Sylvan Oswald is a US based, award-winning interdisciplinary artist who creates plays, texts and video. His language driven work uses meta-theatricality and formal irreverence to challenge structures of identity. Recent work includes a phantasmagorical western High Winds (X Artists’ Books) and the lo-fi web series Outtakes exploring trans identity ( He is currently assistant professor of playwriting at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television, an affiliated artist at Clubbed Thumb and an alum of New Dramatists.

Hester Chllingworth is a director and artist based in London. They are Thinker-in-Residence (Young People, Gender & Live Art) at the Live Art Development Agency and a Fellow of the Centre for Contemporary Theatre at Birkbeck University. Directing work includes That Night Follows Day (co-directed with Tim Etchells) for Forced Entertainment at The Southbank Centre (as well as versions in South Korea and China), the national tour of the trans-positive pantomime A Pair of Pantos (as writer and director), and Ten Plagues (Mark Ravenhill’s song cycle for Marc Almond). They also curated the exhibition In Visible Ink – Queer Heroes for the National Theatre, and Queer Upstairs (with Mark Ravenhill) for The Royal Court, where they are currently under commission as a 2020 Jerwood New Playwright. Hester has been collaborating with internationally renowned performance company Forced Entertainment since 2009 and established the company’s Participation strand, founding their young company Art Breakers.

From 2008-18 Hester was Artistic Director of GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, before starting up Hester Chillingworth Company in 2019 for their own work, which includes a trilogy of shows currently in progress to premier in 2021.

Nicki Hobday is a contemporary theatre maker and performer. She currently works with renowned experimental performance company Forced Entertainment, with whom she tours nationally and internationally. Shows for Forced Entertainment include: Out of Order, And on the Thousandth Night, Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare, Speak Bitterness and The Last Adventures. Other collaborations include Tim Etchells, SHUNT, Michael Pinchbeck, Sarajevo War Theatre, ODA Theatre Kosovo and Chung Ying theatre, Hong Kong. Nicki is also a qualified personal trainer.

Nando Messias trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. His work straddles performance art, dance and theatre, combining beautiful images with a fierce critique of gender, visibility and violence. As well as a practitioner, Nando is movement director and a researcher of queer theory and performance with a number of publications in the field. Nando completed a national tour of The Sissy’s Progress in 2015/16, followed by a tour of Shoot the Sissy in 2016/17 and a one-off performance of Death and the Sissy in 2017. His latest performance, The Pink Supper, was presented in November 2019 in London.

Trainers… is playing at the Gate Theatre from Thursday 27 February – Saturday 21 March. 


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