On September 4 the first national tour of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III opens at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre; the play continues its progress across the country until 27 November – including weeks in Basingstoke, Bracknell, Westcliff and Ipswich. Starring Simon Ward as George III and Susan Penhaligon as Queen Charlotte, the presentation is a co-production between six of our region’s theatres and the companies closely associated with them.

Blackeyed Theatre Company has been an associate company of the South Hill Arts Centre in Bracknell since 2009. It was originally established in 2004 with the aim of creating exciting opportunities for both artists and audiences and to offer challenging, high-quality theatre to the mid-scale touring circuit. The company specialises in reviving modern classics and staging established titles in innovative ways, including using small ensembles of actor-musicians. Productions have included Alfie and the world première of Steven Berkoff’s Oedipus.

Icarus Theatre Collective is unique as a mid-scale theatre company by functioning as a collective. A team of highly qualified artists lead the company under the artistic direction of company founder Max Lewendel. Each acts part-time on each project and has set tasks and responsibilities, so many projects can happen simultaneously and the company maintains a clear, strong artistic vision. It explores the harsh, often brutal side of modern and classical drama, creating a contemporary Theatre of the Absurd while maintaining a cohesive, evocative story.

Original Theatre Company has also been in existence since 2004, touring extensively all over the UK. It started out as an outdoor touring company, picking up London University’s Max Cary Award for Enterprise and Innovation in 2005. The company now focuses on indoor venues of all sizes; past shows including Shakespeare’s R&J, Vincent in Brixton and Othello. Its award-winning creative director Alastair Whatley has produced major revivals of Journey’s End and The Importance of Being Oscar. Original Theatre is an associate company for Basingstoke’s Anvil Arts as well as South Hill Park.

Producer Adrian McDougall says that: “this is a tremendously exciting time for the companies involved in The Madness of George III. To embark upon the first tour of the play since the original 1991 production is both a challenge and a tremendous privilege. We are fortunate to have two fantastic leads, an incredibly talented supporting cast, and a wealth of experience throughout the design team. As a collaboration between three emerging UK theatre companies, it will further our commitment to offering high quality theatre on the mid- to large-scale touring circuit.”