Inside ArcolaLAB: Invisible Man R&D

ArcolaLAB is a residency and development programme to support BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) artists and theatre-makers. Each year Arcola support the equivalent of 26-weeks worth of R&D, readings, rehearsal and development space, ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks. 

From Monday 4th to Friday 8th September 2017, ArcolaLAB supported the development of  Invisible Man,  a brand new stage reimagining of the prologue to the celebrated African-American novel The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, exploring displacement and rejection within the Harlem Renaissance in 1950s America. The company led by director Tinuke Craig sought to investigate how music and text can co-exist to give a poignant new perspective on race, cultural identity, belonging, and visibility in the twenty first century.

As part of the process, the company kept a blog recording the process, an extract of which is found below, with the full blog available at the end.

If you are interested in applying to ArcolaLAB, you can find out more here:


 “I am an invisible man…

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”


THE INVISIBLE MAN is a novel written by Ralph Ellison. Published in 1952, it explores the psyche of an African American man whose colour renders him invisible. Set in Renaissance Harlem, this National Book Award-winning piece forces readers to face difficult truths about a long historical lineage of white-on-black oppression.

It seems fitting, possibly now more than ever, that we breathe new life into Ellison’s text by exploring its theatrical potential. In pairing the novel’s charged, surreal, and deeply moving narrative with live cello and percussion, we are embarking on a process of bringing The Invisible Man to the stage.

Generously funded by Arts Council England and supported by ArcolaLAB, we spent a week researching and developing our piece, capped off with an invited industry sharing. We documented the entire process with a daily blog, giving you exclusive insights into our wonderful creatives, their approaches and personal insights into the piece.

Click the link below to check out our blogs and find out how we got on!