Gaudete is OBRA’s stage version of Ted Hughes’ poetic novel of the same name, performed by an international ensemble of 8 performers. The performance was presented in two Acts with an interval and premiered in Yorkshire, March 2017. We are sorry to state that Gaudete is unavailable for further touring, for any enquiries, please write to us directly.

An Anglican clergyman is abducted by spirits into the other world. The spirits make an exact duplicate of him to take his place in this world, during his absence, and to carry on his work. This changeling interprets the role of minister in his own way. The narrative recounts the final day of events which lead to his cancellation by the powers of both worlds. The original man reappears in this world, but changed. ( Argument, Ted Hughes 1977)

The life of a Yorkshire village is shattered when elemental spirits replace the parish priest with his double. Alternative realities collide as this changeling interprets the gospel of love in his own alarming fashion. What goes on at the Women’s Institute?

OBRA’s eight strong international ensemble interweave the visceral language of Hughes’ seminal work with intimate physicality and dynamic choreography, accompanied by a cinematic soundscape and live junkyard percussion.

This is theatre that embraces the transformative power of language and the body; dark, complex and touching, Gaudete is a physical and lyrical feast of ensemble theatre.



The story follows Nicholas Lumb, an Anglican minister from the North of England who is abducted, duplicated and returned to the world as a changed man. OBRA combine ensemble storytelling, a rigorous approach to language and a dynamic physicality with an aural landscape of live and recorded music and voices to bring Hughes’ visceral language to life.

Act 1 Prologue – The Abduction and Duplication of Lumb begins with the abduction of Anglican minister Nicholas Lumb and plunges the audience into the unwitting protagonist’s macabre journey. The chorus of changing characters transform themselves and the environment, manipulating all the elements of theatre to take Lumb and the audience deeper into the story. The eight performers interweave Hughes’ language with a precise physicality, dynamic choric dance and evocative images accompanied by original live music.

This first instalment climaxes with the creation of a duplicate Lumb in order to take the priest’s place in the real world. The original Lumb remains in the ‘other world’ while the changeling undergoes a bloody baptism in an abattoir before being sent out to fulfil Lumb’s duties in his small English parish.

Gaudete Act I The prologue won the Jury prize for best dramaturgy at the BE festival Birmingham 2012

Act II Gaudete – The Last Day follows the events of the last day in the life of Lumb’s changeling in the Yorkshire village where he has interpreted the role of ‘ministering the gospel of love’ in his own way.The duplicate has organised the women of the W.I. into a love society with the purpose of fathering a new messiah.

The audience witness the collision of multiple worlds as the duplicate’s grip on his new life deteriorates and the elemental and earthly powers begin exerting their forces. Action shifts between moments of intimate and precise physical characterisation and explosions of energy as the lines are blurred between the present and other possible realities.

OBRA have worked with two Yorkshire actors, a male and female, to narrate the multiple characters of the village. The piece entwines these recorded voices with live text and physical actions to immerse the audience in the rich imaginative world and complex currents of the characters’ lives evoked by Hughes’ text. The company have incorporated an original recorded score and film foley techniques to complete the aural landscape.

This central Act climaxes when the undercurrent of violence and suspicion boils over into a manhunt to eliminate the changeling Lumb.

Cast and Creatives:

Directed by Kate Papi
Dramaturgy by Kate Papi and Oliviero Papi

The Ensemble:
Rachel Alexander
Eilon Morris
Oliviero Papi
Ed Richards
Caitlin Rose Smith
Gemma Rowan
Ixchel Rubio Martinez
Fabian Wixe

Voice Artists: Neil Hurst and Kate Hampson

Music: Eilon Morris
Sound: Design Matt Smith
Lighting: Yves Marie Corfa
Set Design: OBRA
Stage Manager: Hannah Jakeman
Technician: Alex Fernandes
Costumes: Jane Perry
Head Dress Design: Eleanor Hooper, Pif-Paf
Producer: Rhian Desborough
Press: Mobius Industries, Elin Morgan

For all further information or to obtain a full dossier of Gaudete please write to