Blog: Amit Lahav

The artistic director of the physical theatre group Gecko on the shared language of movement

Hero image

A Gecko show is visual, visceral and ambitious.

One of our aims is to create world-class work that inspires, moves and entertains our audiences. We always put the audience at the heart of every performance and allow them to interpret and resonate with the show based on their own personal experiences.

As the artistic director of Gecko, I have spent the last 15 years devising a rigorous and productive process of developing shows over a period of two years. This includes what I call a “creation tour”, where we take the show on tour and allow it to change and progress with each performance. This demanding method has seen six successful shows produced over a decade, including The Overcoat and Missing.

Institute, one of our best-loved shows, is currently touring the UK as part of a new autumn tour. The show originally premiered in Derby in 2014 but since then has evolved massively. No Gecko show ever holds the same shape for very long, which isn’t an indication that the show isn’t working – it’s just how we work! As the tempo and journey of the show start to play out, it becomes clear which elements need to change or be cut to accommodate the show’s new form.

The characters in Institute speak in multiple languages yet we don’t give a translation to the audience

The central idea of the show is that the audience will place themselves into the narrative and therefore it is by its nature re-authored every night, by hundreds of different authors. This makes the show unique and very personal. People have been back to see Institute several times because of the complexity and richness of the world that the show creates – they end up seeing elements they’d previously missed or had interpreted very differently. I love that this leads to the interpretations of the show being very diverse – it’s exactly why I make Gecko shows the way I do. If ever I found that a show was generating the same interpretations across the audience, I would look to change it immediately.

Another aspect to the show which I think is important is that the characters in Institute speak in multiple languages yet we don’t give a translation to the audience. I have never been that interested in a verbally communicated world. By that I mean that I don’t want the audience to intellectually discover the show by verbal interaction as the core tool for understanding. I want to bypass this level of interaction and engage the imagination and the emotions. But I do want the performers to speak because I think speaking is very human and the performers/characters should be human. The speaking then becomes just another layer, another flavour rather than the key ingredient.

Institute has toured all over the world including Kazakhstan, Georgia and Romania, not to mention the Edinburgh Fringe. Next year we are taking the show to Australia. I think it’s important to put the show to very different audiences. Kazakhstan was particularly interesting – they had not seen anything like it before.

Our style is unique to many audiences. It is something that requires the whole of a person’s expression – physicality, mental approach, imaginative approach, spiritual approach and emotional approach. It’s the bringing together of all of those things so that it’s running at the same time, altogether.

We perform very physical, epic pieces, which highlight the complexity of human nature. I have now spent 15 years making work, developing a style of exploring physicality on stage. This style is very athletic and honest.

Gecko is extremely collaborative and works with an ever expanding ensemble of international performers. We like to create new work through experimentation and play and the process is always between the team as a whole: actors, writers, directors and production.

We believe that choreography, lighting, design, sound and performing style are all equally important and have an equal responsibility in telling the story. I suppose Gecko’s most powerful storytelling device is the ability to pull all these elements together in every single moment of a show.

Gecko is now touring its Institute, playing Liverpool Playhouse, 16-19 November. More info at To buy tickets visit

Interact: Responses to Blog: Amit Lahav

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.