Beautiful Burnout

By Bryony Lavery

2010 and 2012

Beautiful Burnout


A Frantic Assembly and National Theatre of Scotland production.

First performed on 7th August 2010 at Pleasance Forth, Edinburgh.

Wide shot of referee and two boxers in a ring; one has just punched the other who is reeling backwards
This post is written by: Scott Graham Artistic Director

This was inspired by a friend taking Steven Hoggett to a boxing gym in New York.

They did not tell him where they were taking him and before he knew it he had gone through the unassuming doors and found himself among the sights, sounds and smells of one of the world's most iconic boxing gyms; Gleason's in Brooklyn.

Close-up view from below of two boxers in action

The sensory overload had a lasting impression and he told me all about it when he got back from New York. I then told him about my love and knowledge of boxing history.

It struck me that he had known me for twenty years and did not know this about me because it was my secret. My relationship with boxing was complicated and conflicted.

I remembered watching a thrilling match where a boxer was seriously brain damaged and I somehow felt complicit in this as I was, up until that point, as enthralled and excited as any viewer.

Performers jump in the air - legs tucked-up into their bodies – in rehearsals for Beautiful Burnout

We decided we wanted to make a show about that conflict, looking with an open mind about the attraction of boxing to those who partake and exploring their feelings about the potential for damage. Again we collaborated with Bryony Lavery.

Steven, myself and the cast all trained vigorously over the course of the rehearsals and we have never had a fitter or more energised company.

The process changed how we rehearse work from that point as the circuits, fitness and strength work really focussed the team.