October 2014 – May 2015


Early Days (of a better nation) is a piece of playing theatre which explores the possibilities of nationhood and democracy, drawing inspiration from the 2011 England riots, Arab Spring, Iceland’s crowd-sourced constitution and the rise (and fall) of Occupy.

The war is over and the nation lies in ruins. You and your fellow survivors must build the beginnings of a new country. What are the rules you’re going to live by? And can you avoid the mistakes of the past?

It all began with a simple playtest at Stoke Newington International Airport which led to one ambitious coalition taking the crown. Two scratches were supported by National Theatre Wales, Battersea Arts Centre and Chapter, and then in 2012 Coney took game elements to Berlin for PlayPublik Festival, playing This Land is Your Land with an audience of 60 and experimenting with political groups and independents. We then led workshops with students from the MFA Theatre Directing and the MA Creative Producing at Birkbeck University to explore political models and game mechanics with them and playtest what was made with an invited audience. The next stage of development was played by an audience of 120 at In Between Time 2013. The final period of development has seen the narrative and model of the show shift to encompass debate, political engagement and political theory. It has been supported by Cultural Institute at King’s College London and Warwick Arts Centre, where Coney worked with academics from the Department of Political Economy at KCL and academics at Warwick University to develop the narratives of the show. Scratch performances took place at Battersea Arts Centre in November 2013, Warwick Arts Centre in February 2014 and Frascati Theater Amsterdam in March 2014.

Use #earlydaysCHQ on Twitter to be part of the conversation.

Co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, National Theatre Wales and Battersea Arts Centre.
Production development supported by Cultural Institute at KCL.
Funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Unity Theatre Trust.
Supported by Ovalhouse.
Coney is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

With thanks to the 115 backers who pledged to support Early Days on Kickstarter.


“It’s both profoundly depressing and exhilarating in equal measure. If you ever thought you’d do a better job of running the country, this is your chance.”

Lyn Gardner – The Guardian

★★★★ “A fascinating piece of immersive theatre where the audience drives the show, voting on crucial issues, electing representatives and generally role-playing as if they had a nation’s limited budget, and not the weekly housekeeping, to provide power, food and health-care.”

Mary Brennan, Herald Scotland




12 - 15 May 15

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

8 May 15

Unity Theatre, Liverpool

5 - 6 May 15

The Point, Eastleigh

1 - 2 May 15

The MAC, Belfast

28 - 29 April 15

The Arches, Glasgow. Apart of the Behaviour Festival.

21 - 25 April 15

The Four Thieves, with Battersea Arts Centre. Apart of the Take a Stand Season.

14 - 16 Nov 14

Oval House as part of UK Parliament Week

19 Oct 14

King's Arts & Humanities Festival 2014: underground, 3pm

14 - 16 Nov 13

Scratches at Battersea Arts Centre, 7pm

17 Feb 13

Scratch at In Between Time at Arnolfini, 3.30pm

11 Aug 12

This Land is Your Land (game) at PlayPublik Festival, Berlin

17 May 12

Scratch at Chapter Arts Centre, 7pm

11 May 12

Scratch at Battersea Arts Centre, 7.30pm


Written By – Tom Bowtell
Directed By – Annette Mees
Producer – Rosalind Wynn
Assistant Directors – Joe Ball, Laura Gilbert and Benjamin Camp
Design – Jeannine Inglis-Hall
Lighting Design – Cis O’Boyle
Sound Design – Richard Hammarton
Video – Ben Harvey
Ear – Tassos Stevens
Concept by Annette Mees & Tom Bowtell
Research & development: Annette Mees, Jason Sutton, Mink ette

Devising Performers:
Dymond Allen
Angela Clerkin
Michael Cusick
Dominic Garfield
Milton Lopes
Linda Hargreaves

Image credit: Ryoko Uyama

Creative teams through development stages included: Alex Rowse, Bethan Mary James, Chiara Montgomerie, Edmund Harcourt, Elouise Farley, Emma MacLennan, Georgina Bednar, Jamie Zubairi, Joost Bos, Kiel DeValera, Laura Jeffs, Laurence Clark, Madeleine Kludje, Matt Odell, Matthew Bulgo, Michael Ager, Michael Cusick, Michelle McMahon, Molly Taylor, Nigel Barrett, Rachel Helena Walsh, Richard Evans, Richard Popple, Ros Howes, Sam Howey-Nunn, Simon Morgan-Thomas, Teifi Emerald, Fran Moulds, Sarah Thomas-Lane, Alex Donnachie.

Working with us on the documentation of the process, the show and the nations created by the audiences are: Maddy Costa,Naresh Kaushal, Francesca Clark and Astrid Breel

Thanks to Andrew McKinnon, Fintan Walsh, Louise Owen, Rob Swain and all the students who took part in the development at Birkbeck University.

Co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, National Theatre Wales and Battersea Arts Centre.
Production development supported by Cultural Institute at KCL and Stichting Doen.

Funded by:

Supported-by-Unity-Theatre-Trust-Web      GarfieldWeston_Logo

Supported by Ovalhouse.