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Contagion is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

The casualty count of the First World War was immense – but it came to be dwarfed by the deadly Spanish flu pandemic 
that swept through the world during the conflict’s final year. The virulent flu strain that emerged in 1918 infected up to 500 million people around the globe, its effects dramatically amplified by huge wartime troop movements. It eventually killed as much as five per cent of the world’s population.

Contagion is inspired by the nature and rapid spread of the flu virus – the unseen enemy that mankind was battling within, while engaging in more conventional warfare in the world outside. The striking work of the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, one of many who fell victim to the Spanish flu, forms a visual footnote to the piece.

Set to an atmospheric soundscape and presented in promenade style with striking digital visuals, Contagion is presented in unusual venues, many with connections to the First World War. The work will be accompanied by an innovative digital installation and learning programme, bringing the public closer to a subject that remains relevant today.

National tour, Autumn 2018
Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, 15 – 16 September
The Great Hall, Winchester, 22 – 23 September
St Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland,
18 – 19 October
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester,
21 October

An extensive Learning programme will accompany this production.

Suitable for ages 12+

Contagion - research and development

Creative Team

Shobana Jeyasingh / Concept, Choreography & Direction Merle Hensel / Set & Costume Design Yaron Abulafia / Lighting Design Nina Dunn / Video Design Graeme Miller / Composer


Design by Spy Studio. Original photo by Chris Nash.

Research and development photography and footage taken at Studio Wayne McGregor

Digital partner Flying Object

Contagion is co-commissioned by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Supported by The Deborah Loeb Brice Donor Advised Fund at CAF America, Garcia Family Foundation, Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundation, Oak Foundation, Wellcome and our Creative Circle supporters.

Research and development photos taken by Foteini Christofilopoulou

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