Ridiculusmus has been producing seriously funny theatre for over 20 years.
The company is led by David Woods and Jon Haynes, who write, direct and perform.
Ridiculusmus’ origins are in the shadowlands of theatre and comedy. We began as a rabble of graduates from the Poor School in London adapting comic novels for the London fringe and have evolved over the last quarter century into a robust double act. Driving and leading as author-actors, the company’s co-artistic directors David Woods and Jonathan Haynes have established the company as a flagship UK performance group touring nationally and internationally with works passionately wrought from minimal resources, and with an oxymoronic aim: to be both serious and funny.
Ridiculusmus was founded in 1992. David Woods and Jon Haynes, together with their fellow Poor School student Angus Barr, started busking comic songs from the music hall era on the London underground. They ventured into comedy clubs then started their own Dadaist version of one called “The Tomato Club”. The audience was given tomatoes to throw at acts who considered themselves “bad enough to appear”. Kicked out in a river of fetid tomato seeds the three newly graduated performers thought they could avoid the unimaginative boxing of the commercial theatre scene by making their own work, specifically “something or anything” for the Canal Café Theatre, who had had a show cancelled and were looking for a last minute fill-in. Boldly, David suggested doing Three Men in a Boat with a smattering of their comic songs. In one week the “something” was duly delivered and the theatre company – now christened “Ridiculusmus” after a line from one of Horace’s epistles – was born.
Three exciting and turbulent years later, in which two Flann O’Brien adaptations – The Third Policeman and At Swim Two Birds – were toured to an ever-expanding network of mostly unconventional venues, the group was down to Dave and Jon. It had become based in The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry and was unencumbered by anything like an artistic policy, funding or a sustainable working method.
It took another five years of living out of boxes in our own office to get to the point where we were able and confident enough to make our own work and were capable of articulating our methods for doing so:
We called them: ARSEFLOP, standing for: Attitude, Reality, Sensitivity, Edge, Focus, Listen, Open (your heart) and Play.
By 2000 we had a body of original works – Say Nothing, The Exhibitionists and Yes,Yes,Yes – that was touring internationally from a new base at BAC in London.
Revenue status with the Arts Council of England, superlative producing and administrative collaborators followed.
We proudly continue our efforts to make work driven by our passions of the moment with a flowing pool of like-minded collaborators.
We have initiated a development programme that aims to share the understandings we have made – Independent Futures – and that we hope will secure the future of the art form that we have strived to champion: a theatre that has a seriously funny imagination and is delivered as if every performance we give is our last.
‘Parturient montes nascetur ridiculus mus’
(‘Mountains heave in childbirth and a silly little mouse is born’: Horace, Ars Poetica, Ep.II.3, 139)