All posts by Matthew Hahn

About Matthew Hahn

Matthew Hahn is an independent creative producer, playwright, theatre director and theatre for development facilitator specialising in creating theatre for social change, for examining behaviour and for improving communication skills. He works with emerging and established theatre makers and finding new ways for audiences and communities to access art through partnerships. He works both nationally and internationally and has produced work in the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana, and South Africa. As a theatre for development practitioner, he facilitates interactive and participatory theatre projects focusing on social cohesion, peace-making and conflict resolution. His play, The Robben Island Shakespeare, has been performed in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa; he regularly facilitates 'Ethical Leadership' Workshops in South Africa based on his interviews with former South African political prisoners and selections from 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.' From 2008 to 20018, he was a Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s University, London specializing in theatre for development. From 2006 to 2016, he was a training facilitator with Theatre for a Change, a UK charity which utilizes interactive theatre to train teachers and facilitators on the topics of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health in the United Kingdom and Malawi. Matthew has degrees in Political Science & Journalism from Indiana University (1995) in the United States and is a graduate of the Goldsmiths College Masters in Theatre Directing programme (2002) in the United Kingdom. He trained with the SITI Company in New York (2000) and with Anne Bogart in Dublin, Ireland (2005). He has also trained with the Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company (2005) in London in their Forum Theatre / Joker Training Programme.

The New Writing / New Normal International Theatre Festival 2 – 4 October 2020

We are happy to announce the next New Writing / New Normal International Theatre Festival from 2 to 4 October 2020.

This event, based on the successful inaugural New Writing / New Normal Theatre Festival in July 2020, will expand its horizons to include more contributors from around the world.  

To that end, we are currently looking for actors, directors and playwrights based outside of the United Kingdom to be a part of the festival: Over a thirty-six hour period, new plays will be written, rehearsed and performed via a digital platform.  If you based outside of the UK and are interested in participating, please email us at HAHN@HOTMAIL.CO.UK with a CV and state if you would like to be considered as a director, playwright or actor for this festival.  We are also looking for one or more stage director.
All contributors will be paid via a profit-share of the box office.

Brief Outline of Event:
Friday – At the opening event for all participants, a single theme will be chosen at random from a range of topical themes submitted by the participants; based on that theme, the playwrights will create a play over the next 24 hours.  Production teams including a playwright, a director and actors will also be randomly selected.   From Friday, the playwright writes to the theme within the parameters of number of actors and Zoom rehearsal / performance. 

Saturday – Pieces are submitted to the directors and the rehearsal process begins.Sunday –  On Sunday afternoon, the pieces are premiered.  After the performance, we all head to the [virtual] pub.

The Rivonia Trial Audio Recording with John Kani & Jack Klaff

Today, the wonderful South African actors, John  Kani & Jack Klaff recorded over  Zoom powerful extracts from The Rivonia Trial Tribunal play.  This forms the very early stages of developing a full play:


Walter Sisulu:  ‘I wish you could live like us just for one day. Then you wouldn’t say how good things are for us. ‘

[Please note, racist language is used in this extract from the Rivonia Trial Tribunal Play]

And here is another audio extract from after we finished recording.  It gives the listener a bit of background and colour to the Rivonia Trial and its importance today.



For more information about the play and the R & D behind the play, please visit here.

New Normal / New Writing Theatre Festival, 17& 18 July 2020.

The Common Air Theatre Company is producing the New Normal / New Writing Theatre Festival, a 24 hour festival of new writing under the new normal of virtual creation and performance.

Over a twenty-four hour period, new plays will be written, rehearsed and performed via a digital platform. If you are interested in participating, please email us with a CV and state if you would like to be considered as a director, playwright or actor for this festival. We are also looking for one or more stage director.

Brief Outline of Event:

Friday – At the opening event for all participants, play themes will be chosen out of a virtual hat alongside production teams including one playwright, one director and one or two actors.

From Friday night to Saturday morning, the playwright writes to the theme within the parameters of number of actors and Zoom rehearsal / performance.

Saturday –
Pieces are submitted to the directors and the rehearsal process begins.
On Saturday evening, the pieces are premiered.
After the performance, we all head to the [virtual] pub.

Sunday –
Debrief

The Peacock Theatre Festival of Civil Liberties

I am producing a virtual theatre festival, The Peacock Theatre Festival of Civil Liberties, as part of wider solidarity against any such authoritarian creep in the UK and abroad.  The name of the festival derives from the phrase that is used to describe the creep currently occurring in Hungary under Viktor Orban.  As he explains, the Peacock ‘Dance’ is his choreographed negotiations carefully executed which is intended to fool his counterparts across the table.His ‘dance’ posits that after removing 100% of our freedoms, gaining back 80% of these freedoms will feel like ‘normalcy’ with scant realisation that the goalpost have moved.


For the online festival, I am seeking new or previously produced work that addresses this or other such authoritarian creep from the past.  As part of the festival, I am co-facilitating a workshop at Monobox with actors that will explore this subject matter from a performer’s perspective.

Please be in touch if you would be interested in being involved in this project.

Is 2020 the new 1984? Making Theatre in a ‘New Normal’

As part of The Peacock Theatre Festival of Civil Liberties, I will be co-facilitating the Monobox Maker’s Workshop entitled ‘Is 2020 the new 1`984?’ where we will be creatively discussing and actioning artistic responses to the ongoing [and future] limitations on our civil liberties due to Corona Virus measures.

For more information, please visit:

https://monobox.as.me/schedule.php?appointmentType=13901781

imPEACHable @ the South by Southeast Festival, Gulbenkian Theatre 13 February 2020

On Thursday 13 February 2020, at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury, imPEACHable, my latest tribunal play based on the private and public transcripts of the ongoing impeachment trial of the President of the United States, will be performed as part of the South by Southeast Festival.
The play examines the central tenet of the trials, that is, whether there was a ‘Quid Pro Quo’ offer in a telephone conversation with the US President and the Ukrainian President in July 2019.  Donald Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that his conversations with the Ukrainian President were ‘perfect.’  But the play hears from the others in his administration about how perfect the phone call might have been.
In an age of fake news, witch hunts, spin and short news cycles, tribunal theatre is a tremendous platform on which to examine and illuminate the context and causes of trust and leadership and the potential of both to breakdown.The play is edited from congressional testimony from October & November 2019. imPEACHable is ripped from the headlines theatre.
The play opens with a recording of the ‘perfect’ phone call between the United States President Donald Trump & the Ukrainian President Zelensky followed by the edited  testimony of several witnesses: Ambassador Sondland, Marie Yovanovitch and others from October & November 2019.  The transcripts were released in early November of over 900 pages which have been edited to 30 pages.  As the play progresses, upstage the hearings are being broadcast in real time to add to the metatheatrical nature of the trial itself [Donald Trump live tweeting during the trial and the Chairman of the committee commenting on said tweets to the witness].
Now that Donald Trump has become the third president to be impeached and the trial in the Senate begins, the script can be regularly updated to give audiences access to a trial with international ramifications.

imPEACHable a [very] new play by Matthew Hahn

On Tuesday, 19 November 2019, at the Eleto Chocolate Cafe in Folkestone, I presented my latest tribunal play based on the private and public transcripts of the ongoing impeachment trial of the President of the United States.

The play examines the central tenet of the trials, that is, whether there was a ‘Quid Pro Quo’ offer in a telephone conversation with the US President and the Ukrainian President in July 2019.  Donald Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that his conversations with the Ukrainian President were ‘perfect.’  But the play hears from the others in his administration about how perfect the phone call might have been.

In an age of fake news, witch hunts, spin and short news cycles, tribunal theatre is a tremendous platform on which to examine and illuminate the context and causes of trust and leadership and the potential of both to breakdown.

The play is edited from congressional testimony from October & November 2019.

imPEACHable is ripped from the headlines theatre, to be presented on a regular basis throughout the entire congressional hearing.

The play opens with a recording of the ‘perfect’ phone call between the United States President Donald Trump & the Ukrainian President Zelensky followed by the edited closed-door testimony of two witnesses, Ambassador Sondland and Marie Yovanovitch, from October 2019.  The transcripts were released in early November of over 900 pages which have been edited to 30 pages.  As the play progresses, upstage the live hearings are being broadcast in real time to add to the metatheatrical nature of the trial itself [Donald Trump live tweeting during the trial and the Chairman of the committee commenting on said tweets to the witness].

The Rivonia Trial Tribunal Play

I am in the early developmental stages of a first draft of a tribunal play based on the Rivonia Trial court transcripts.  Referred to as “the trial that changed South Africa,”in Oct 1963, opponents of Apartheid including Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki & Walter Sisulu went on trial for sabotage.
A ‘tribunal play’ is a verbatim play edited from transcripts of court proceedings.  Tribunal theatre offers an immediacy & proximity to important events that few witnessed originally in ways that film or print could never do.
Following the completion of this early draft,there will also be a reading of the play in Cape Town, South Africa by Educape Trust.
I want to do this project now because I believe that this internationally significant trial has been overlooked.The ethical leadership qualities of those defendants are still relevant.  In an era of autocrats & politicians buoyed by cults of personalities,there is a demand to examine a different type of leadership – ethical leadership by consensus.  These 13 men exemplify a selflessness that is rarely apparent in today’s politicians.I hope the play can contribute to the current debate on leadership styles.
As part of the development process, John Kani & Jack Klaff have recorded extracts from the trial – specifically the electric exchanges between Walter Sisulu and Bram Fischer, Defence lawyer and Walter Sisulu and Percy Yutar, Prosecuting lawyer.

John Kani [centre] with Atandwa Kani and Omphile Moulusi [2009], reading of The Robben Island Shakespeare.
Jack Klaff reading extracts from The Robben Island Shakespeare [2017].