Pilot Theatre is an international touring theatre company based at York Theatre Royal. The company was formed in 1981 by a group of students from Bretton Hall College, but in 1994 underwent a structural change and it was then that the current Artistic Director, Marcus Romer took the post. From this moment the company focused on developing a national touring circuit, creating exciting and innovative work for young people. They soon established themselves as leaders of cutting edge theatre that spoke to young people in a way other theatre companies didn't. Pilot still pride themselves on creating pieces of theatre that challenge and don't shy away from important questions or patronise young audiences.
In 1998 Pilot Theatre embarked on their first mid-scale UK tour with their production of Lord of the Flies, which went on to win the company numerous awards and great critical acclaim. Since then the company has developed links with theatres around the country, in particular York Theatre Royal where they are now residents. In 2009 they became the UK partner for the European project, Platform 11+ which engages 13 theatres in 12 European countries to create new pieces of theatre for 11 to 15 year olds. This has opened the door for international touring and collaborations. In 2011 the company toured to Milan, Dresden and Argentina and in 2012 hosted companies from around the EU at a week long event in York as well as visiting the Czech Republic.
Pilot Theatre have also become strong advocates for using digital technologies within the arts. This has grown through their annual hosting of the Shift Happens conference, which explores new digital technologies and possible uses for them within the arts sector. In 2011 Pilot Theatre hosted the first ever TEDx York event in conjunction with Science City York. Working with online video experts Kinura, Pilot Theatre delivered the multi channel livestream of the world-famous York Mystery Plays in August 2012 as part of their involvement in the BBC and Arts Council funded project The Space.
Their dedication and commitment to exploring new ways of engaging young people in the arts and new ways to use technology in the arts has allowed the company the ability to adapt to the changing world and constantly offer a product that is relevant and exciting for their audiences.
Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal presented Alan Sillitoe's, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner adapted for the stage by Roy Williams which premiered in York before a national tour in Autumn 2012. In 2014, we worked with Roy Williams again on an adaptation of Antigone in co-production with Derby Theatre and Stratford East.
In the same year we began a large scale cooperation project funded by the European Commission under their European Culture Funding Stream Creative Europe. This project, entitled PLATFORM shift+, consists of 11 partners from 9 countries - ten theatres and a university - all working towards meeting the new challenges of producing theatre for young people in the digital age. As one of the UK's most renowned companies in delivering performance work for young people and exploring innovative approaches to making and sharing work, Pilot Theatre is the leading organisation.
Continuing Pilot's history of International work, in 2014 we began work on the 'Boomerang - Documents of Poverty and Hope' project. This is one of 12 successful projects being run by the European Commission under their Cooperation project with Third Countries - European Culture Funding Stream. Pilot Theatre are working with five other theatres; the Australian Theatre for Young People, Sydney; Dynamo Theatre, Montreal; Presentation House Theatre, Vancouver; Elsinor Theatre, Milan; and O Bando Theatre, Portugal, on the issue of migration and its impact on young people across continents.