28 June 2021

Justin Treadwell Interview - Anarchy Division

Anarchy Division is a brand new production company set up and run by theatre producer, editor and writer Justin Treadwell. Their current production of Stray Dogs is running at The Bread and Roses Theatre in London until June 30th 2021. I spoke to Justin all about the role of a producer and setting up a new production company.

Beyond The Curtain: Firstly for those who don't know, what does the role of a producer on a show entail?

Justin: The actual duties change a lot from show to show, depending on what’s required, what form I’m working in, who the audience are and so on – so it can be difficult to summarise! If I’m allowed to be a bit highbrow about it, I tend to see producing as a mix of two things – facilitation and translation.

Facilitation in the sense that it’s providing the conditions for artists to make and show work (finding spaces, recruiting collaborators, marketing), and translation in the sense of turning an artist’s idea into a grant pitch, or a press release, or an investment pitch.

Day-to-day, it depends on who I’m working with – I tend to develop different working methods with different collaborators based on where they might need support most. But I’ve still not really answered the question! So some of the most common specific duties would include: financial administration/budgeting, hiring spaces and equipment, planning marketing campaigns, writing up contracts and the like. It’s great fun if you like spreadsheets… 

BTC: How has it been setting up a company during this recent time with the pandemic?

Justin: Interesting, is probably the word! Of course plenty of people have spoken more eloquently than I can about the challenges that the industry has faced over the last year-and-however-much now, and it’s not necessarily the ideal environment for launching a new venture. And of course I’m privileged to have the kind of personal situation that allows me to keep working and keep building these things given everything that’s going on – plenty of people haven’t, of course.

One thing I will say, though, is that the introduction of digital working methods has opened up a few avenues for collaboration that I maybe hadn’t considered before – or more accurately, made me realise they’re a lot easier than I might otherwise have thought. For example, I’ve ended up working a lot more internationally than I had previously, with artists from the US, Lithuania, Romania and Denmark, among others. That’s been particularly interesting as well in the way that it reveals some of the assumptions UK theatre (and arts in general) make, some of the differences in working method and so on.

BTC: What are the aims for the company going forwards?

Justin: I’m planning to focus on being a production company first and foremost – not limited to a specific art form, but instead facilitating and enabling artists across whatever artform they’re working with! Obviously there’s a degree of specialisation just in terms of what I’m more familiar with (I started as a theatre artist, and that will remain the main focus), but over the pandemic I’ve had the chance to work on audio, film and even some visual art, and I’d like to keep that going!

In terms of the kind of art you can expect from Anarchy Division – I want to keep it diverse and fresh (again, focusing more on being a production company with a wide portfolio, rather than a specific artistic line).  But I am keeping a few guidelines in mind for the work I’m interested in, the main one of which I’d say is urgency; work that needs to be a part of the current artistic conversation, whether that’s for its stylistic innovation or accessibility or the messages it brings.

I’d also, however, like to have the company think just as radically offstage as it does onstage – just as much in terms of administration, working methods and so on. I think there’s a lot of concrete targets for reform across the arts that aren’t just about the stories we tell and who’s telling them, but things like – how can we make ticket prices more accessible, how can we increase the reach of our productions to areas that don’t often get to see them, how can we think about blurring borders between art forms and the like – it’s exciting stuff!

Anarchy Division Logo.


BTC: How does it feel to launch the company with this production of Stray Dogs?

Justin: It feels great! It’s the moment where I get to take this thing out of my head and actually make it real – and I’m doing it alongside an incredibly talented and skilled team, which is always a privilege. 

Everyone who’s worked on it has been brilliant, and it’s been great to have them. With this piece in particular, it exemplifies that feeling of urgency I talked about – at least, in my opinion! There are some practical considerations, of course; it’s a two-hander, one hour long, which allows us to give it the
proper focus and development needed working within a new company budget. But it’s also a piece I’ve been working on for a while and one I really strongly believe in – I wouldn’t want to launch with anything less.

BTC: How did you come about working on the production?

Justin: In a twist which is either ironic or a little embarrassing (or both,) I actually met Matt through rejecting another piece he’d written for a scratch night I was running! We got to talking and he pitched a few pieces, including a short version of Stray Dogs – it really caught my attention, and with me acting as a sort of editor/sounding board he developed it into a full piece. After various rounds of workshopping and dramaturgy we were originally planning to stage the production at the 2020 Brighton Fringe – of course that had to be cancelled, but the Warren Festival generously re-scheduled us to this year. I pulled together the final creative team, and the rest is history, really!

BTC: Why should audiences choose to come see this piece?

Justin: I mean, I produced it, so I’m probably biased, but because it’s really, really good! It’s got a great reception every time we presented it so far, and I certainly don’t plan for this to be the last you’ll see of the show – so definitely keep an eye out for it to return later down the line. But as a show – it’s a very well put together piece of theatre, with a timely, important message, featuring incredibly talented performers and great direction. All the good stuff!


I'd like to thank Justin for his time and his interesting insights. I wish him and Anarchy Division every success.

Stray Dogs runs at Bread and Roses Theatre until June 30th 2021 with remaining tickets available from https://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/ 

To find out more about Anarchy Division visit https://anarchydivision.co.uk/ or to find out more about Justin you can follow him on Twitter.

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