What is Paper Tiger?

pā’per tī’ger


n., from the Chinese zhǐlǎohǔ — a nation, institution, etc., that appears powerful but is in fact weak. "He reminded Mao that the paper tiger had nuclear teeth"

To us, a paper tiger symbolises contradiction. Paper is culture, thought, social order. Tiger is force, instinct, the wild. A paper tiger is simultaneously delicate and immense, fragile and ferocious, beautiful and with a bite.

How we work

We are an emerging collective of theatre and film makers, working collaboratively and autonomously. We started off as two (Omar El-Khairy and Tanya Singh), and now we're four (with Carissa Hope Lynch and Afsaneh Gray). Between us we have backgrounds in theatre, film, performance, literature, dance, art, design, education and participatory practice.

As a collective, we work together in many different configurations. Sometimes a few of us will collaborate with outside producers, other times it's just us. We like to mix up roles depending on the project – a director on one occasion might perform in another, a writer might also play music. We often co-write, co-develop, co-direct, and co-produce. And we love new people as much as new ideas – don't be shy! Every project is unique, so every Paper Tiger configuration agrees its own collaborative method.

We feel that being inventive with 'form' is not only about pushing the boundaries of style or media or technique, but also about questioning forms of authorship. (Sometimes we like anonymity.)

What we make

Our practice is informed by our varied disciplinary backgrounds, and has involved: site-responsive promenade, new writing, physical theatre, multimedia, archival work, and radical adaptations. Our aesthetic, stories, and roles are not codified or fixed, but instead responsive to ideas. Narrative and performance are at the core of every Paper Tiger project, whether it takes place on a stage, a screen, the street or the web.

Our projects are a lot of things: strange, beautiful, tender, sharp, absurd, lyrical, fresh, diametric, dialectical, quixotic, chaotic, minimalist, intimate, magical, actual, playful, zingy, mischievous, peculiar, dystopian, Romantic, wistful, punchy, hypnotic, mysterious, unsettling…