Bush Theatre announces 2018 season – Meet the Writers

The Bush Theatre has announced 8 plays as part of its 2018 season – including 2 new commissions, 3 world premieres and 1 UK premiere

  • This season sees the launch of Passing the Baton –a 3-year programming initiative dedicated to revivals of work by BAMER artists beginning with Winsome Pinnock’s Leave Taking and including a mentoring scheme to nurture the next generation of BAMER writers
  • The season continues the theatre’s commitment to producing the best new playwrights and speaking up for diversity in all its forms 
  • Announcement includes portraits of the season’s writers in collaboration with photographer Bronwen Sharp
Madani Younis © Richard Davenport

Madani Younis © Richard Davenport

The Bush Theatre today announced their 2018 season with Artistic Director Madani Younis affirming their commitment to discover, nurture and produce the best new playwrights from the widest range of backgrounds, in a bold season of plays for year two in its recently refurbished home.

The theatre’s new building, designed by Haworth Tompkins, opened in March and since then over 20,000 people have seen a show there, 56% of whom were first-time visitors.  Shows such as Black Lives, Black Words and Hijabi Monologues London have brought international movements to the immediate community and have been met with capacity audiences. The revitalised building has also enabled the theatre to broaden its talent development work, which includes the continuation of the Associate Companies, schemes Project 2036 and Up Next, as well as the Bush Theatre’s community work – including young people’s new writing initiative NT Connections and the theatre’s Community Associate Companies scheme.

Artistic Director Madani Younis said,

‘I am so proud to be announcing yet another season of bold new plays for our newly revitalised home, with the new initiative of ‘Passing the Baton’ at its heart. ‘Passing the Baton’ is a yearly commitment by the Bush Theatre to celebrate and put centre-stage one play a year from the extraordinary body of work of British writers of colour from the 20th century.

 This is not simply about reviving a play we think is important. This is about confronting the fact that this work has often been relegated to the footnotes of the theatrical canon. It’s about saying we’re going to take this play and make it new again. And at the same time, we’re looking forward – by introducing a play to new audiences and inspiring the next generation of writers to pick up the baton. That’s why the initiative includes a mentoring scheme that launches alongside it.

 I’m honoured that this year we will be introducing new audiences to Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock, a playwright on whose shoulders we now stand and who paved the way for many of the writers and performers who will appear in our 2018 season. I’m so excited by the dialogue this will create between artists, audiences and within the industry.’

Elsewhere in the season artists include: theatre-maker Javaad Alipoor, who pushes boundaries in both subject and form; local actress and first-time writer Monica Dolan, who will appear in her one-woman play The B*easts, which premiered at the Bush before a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe and winning an Edinburgh Stage Award; actor-turned-writer Arinzé Kene, whose new play Misty straddles music, spoken word and performance; and writer Vinay Patel, whose epic play An Adventure crosses both time and continents to tell a story of technicolour romance.

2018 season

Javaad Alipoor presents

THE BELIEVERS ARE BUT BROTHERS written and performed by Javaad Alipoor

Co-directed by Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housely

Stage and Lighting Design by Ben Pacey

Dramaturgy by Chris Thorpe

Sound Design by Simon McCrorry

Video Design by Jack Offord and Adam Radolinski

Produced by Luke Emery

Associate Director Natalie Diddams

Assistant Director Heather Knudtsen

24 Jan – 10 Feb

Press Night 26 Jan

Writer and theatre maker Javaad Alipoor presents his 2017 Scotsman Fringe First Award winning play. Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres, and an Associate Director of Theatre in the Mill, his work comes from discussions and workshops with communities that don’t usually engage with mainstream theatre.

An electronic maze of meme culture, 4chan, the alt-right and ISIS

We live in a time where old orders are collapsing: from the postcolonial nation states of the Middle East, to the EU and the American election. Through it all, tech savvy and extremist groups rip up political certainties.

Amidst this, a generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment, without the money, power and sex they think they deserve. This crisis of masculinity leads them into an online world of fantasy, violence and reality.

The Believers Are But Brothers envelops its audience in this digital realm, weaving us into the webs of resentment, violence and power networks that are eating away at the structures of the twentieth century. This bold one-man show explores the smoke and mirrors world of online extremism, anonymity and hate speech.

Suzanna Rosenthal for Something For The Weekend, in association with the Bush Theatre, presents

THE B*EASTS written and performed by Monica Dolan

Directed by John Hoggarth

Designed by James Button

Lighting Design by Tom Clutterbuck

Produced by Something For The Weekend

12 Feb – 3 Mar

Press Night 15 Feb

BAFTA-winning actress Monica Dolan has starred in W1AAppropriate Adult, The Witness For The Prosecution and Strike: The Silkworm. She brings her first play, The B*easts, to London following a hit run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it won a Stage Edinburgh Award 2017.

A searing ‘What If?’ exploration of the pornification of our culture and the sexualisation of our children.

Setting the modern obsession with putting your own child first against our responsibility as a society towards our children as a whole, this dark tale, written by and starring Monica Dolan, explores how far one mum will go to give her child what she wants.

A Bush Theatre production

MISTY written and performed by Arinzé Kene

Directed by Omar Elerian

Designed by Rajha Shakiry

Dramaturgy by Kirsty Housely

Sound design by Elena Peña

Lighting design by Jackie Shemesh

15 Mar – 21 Apr

Press Night 21 Mar

Arinzé Kene is a star in the making, whose accolades as an actor for stage and screen include Girl From The North Country at the Old Vic and One Night In Miami at the Donmar Warehouse. He is best known as Simba in The Lion King, for BAFTA-nominated film The Pass alongside Russell Tovey, and as Connor Stanley in EastEnders. Arinzé’s writing credits include good dog (Watford Palace Theatre, UK tour) and God’s Property (Soho Theatre, The Albany).

“Here is the city that we live in

Notice that the city that we live in is alive

Analyse our city and you’ll find that our city even has bodily features

Our city’s organs function like any living creature

Our city is a living creature

And if you’re wise enough, you’ll know not all of us are blood cells…

Some of us are viruses.”

 Arinzé delivers an epic, lyrical journey through the pulsating heart and dark soul of inner city London. An inventive blend of gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, Misty confronts the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story.

Misty is directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (NASSIMOne Cold Dark Night, Islands) and will feature an original musical score performed live during the show.


A Bush Theatre production

Passing the Baton

LEAVE TAKING by Winsome Pinnock

Directed by Madani Younis

24 May – 30 Jun

Press Night 31 May

Winsome Pinnock is ‘the godmother of Black British playwrights’ (The Guardian) who defined and inspired a generation with her work for the stage. She won the George Devine Award for Leave Taking in 1991 and was the first black British woman to have a play produced at the National Theatre. She has written numerous, award-winning plays that put black experiences centre-stage. In 2017, Winsome’s short play The Principles of Cartography opened the newly refurbished Bush Theatre as part of Black Lives, Black Words.

“That girl heading for big trouble. I try to warn her but she won’t take telling. She think she know everything. Think she a woman.”

A single mother travelled to England determined to make a good life for her family. Now Enid and her two daughters search for a way to feel rooted in a land where they’re invisible.

With one daughter prepping for university happy to lead “a quiet life” and the other doing anything but, what’s a mother to do except call upon the local ‘obeah’ woman for some traditional Caribbean soul healing. Family secrets are soon revealed and tragedy rekindles Enid’s longing for home.

Leave Taking is a beautifully observed, moving account of a second generation immigrant family navigating the familial conflicts between generations and cultures. The play was first produced at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1987. Bush Theatre Artistic Director Madani Younis (The Royale) directs the contemporary revival of this classic, award-winning play.


A Bush Theatre production

AN ADVENTURE by Vinay Patel

Co-directed by Madani Younis and Omar Elerian

6 Sep – 20 Oct

Press Night 11 Sep

Vinay’s recent BBC drama Murdered by My Father was one of the smash-hits of 2016. Having broken onto the scene with the critically acclaimed True Brits, An Adventure is his biggest and boldest play yet. A drama of unprecedented scope and heart, spanning seven decades and three continents, inspired by the experiences of his immigrant grandparents.

A borrowed suit. A half-remembered film. A life of homecomings.

“I’m not much now, I know, but I will be. So pick me Jyoti and I swear I will make us the greatest adventure you ever have.”

On a stormy night in 1954, a woman doomed to marry one of five men discovers the wildcard choice might just be the person she’d been hoping for all along. An Adventure follows headstrong Jyoti and her fumbling suitor Rasik as they ride the crest of the fall of Empire from the shores of post-Partition India to the forests of Mau Mau Kenya onto the industrial upheaval of 1970s London.

But what happens when youthful ambitions crash hard against reality? When you look back at the story of your time together, can you bear to ask yourself: Was it all worth it?

Witty, charming and full of fearless historical insight, An Adventure is an epic, technicolour love story from one of the country’s most promising young writers about the people who journeyed to our shores in hope and shaped the country we live in today. This world premiere will be co-directed by Bush Artistic Director, Madani Younis (The Royale) and Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (NASSIM, One Cold Dark Night, Islands).

An Adventure has been made possible by a lead gift from Charles Holloway and the generous support of the Peter Wolff Theatre Trust.



Mark Cartwright, in association with the Bush Theatre, presents

JELLYFISH by Ben Weatherill

Directed by Tim Hoare

26 Jun – 21 July

Press Night – 29 Jun

Ben Weatherill is winner of the Pitch Your Play Award and Curve Theatre Leicester Playwriting Competition. He established the Old Red Lion Writers’ Group, was part of the National Theatre’s New Views Programme and acted as dramaturg at Curve Theatre Leicester. Ben’s new play Jellyfish has its world premiere at the Bush Theatre in 2018.

“What about people who can’t make friends? Or who don’t laugh and are full of no love? They’re the real disabilities. I think.”

Agnes and her daughter Kelly have walked the same stretch of Skegness beach every day for fifteen years. They devour ice cream, hunt for crabs and watch as things mysteriously vanish along the shoreline. But when Kelly meets Neil, their cosy world soon begins to unravel.

With her mum struggling to understand the needs of a maturing daughter with Down’s Syndrome, Kelly and Neil have to fight for their right to be together.  While Agnes and her daughter drift further and further apart, an event is coming that will change all of their lives forever.

Jellyfish is the story of a first kiss, chips by the beach and coming of age in modern Britain. It’s a unique romance across unchartered waters which asks; does everyone really have the right to love as they choose?


A co-production with the Institut Français du Royaume Uni as part of its Cross Channel Theatre and En Scène! programmes

GOING THROUGH by Estelle Savasta

Translated by Kristen Hazel Smith

Directed by Omar Elerian

3 Oct – 3 Nov

Press Night 5 Oct

Writer and director Estelle Savasta runs ‘Hippolyte a mal au cœur’, a company creating ground-breaking bilingual work based in France. Her first play Seule dans ma peau d’âne received acclaim at the 2008 Molière awards. Going Through (originally Traversée) premiering at the Bush Theatre is her second play.

The little box is on the shelf. She is allowed to look at it and to touch it.

I am not allowed to open it.

She is not allowed to open it.

                I  promised.

She promised.

 For as long as she can remember, Nour has lived with Youmna. Youmna is beautiful and gentle and good, and she smells like the wind. She’s also deaf. But Youmna is not Nour’s mother, even though she wishes she was.

Youmna’s journey begins without warning. The men come to drive Nour to a new life faraway, in a better place for girls like her. All she can take with her is a little box and the memory of Youmna’s loving hands.

Going Through is a poetic and touching story of one girl’s journey through adolescence, across borders and through a well-guarded secret. This bilingual production seamlessly mixes English and British Sign Language and is directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (NASSIM, One Cold Dark Night, Islands).

Thank you to the Dorsett Shepherds Bush for their support in-kind.

A Bush Theatre and Antler co-production

LANDS by Antler

Created by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart with Sophie Steer and Leah Brotherhead

Directed by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart

Cast includes Sophie Steer and Leah Brotherhead

Additionally devised with Richard Perryman and Nasi Voutsas

13 Nov – 8 Dec

Press Night 15 Nov

Jaz Woodcock-Stewart is co-artistic director of Bush Associate Artist company Antler who tell stories through theatre and film. Antler are winners of an IdeasTap Underbelly Award, winner of Pulse Festival Suitcase Prize, nominees for The Stage Best Ensemble Award, and winner of Best Short Fiction at BFI Future Film Festival. They have transferred shows to the Bush, Soho Theatre and toured the UK.

Leah and Sophie have been together, here, for a long time. They are happy here.

But there’s a problem. There’s a fucking massive problem and soon they’re going to have to talk about it. From their own lonely lands, Leah and Sophie seek to help each other, without quite knowing how.

The award-winning Antler return with a playful, intimate dissection of a relationship teetering on the edge of collapse. Lands is an absurd tragicomedy, exploring the impossibility of relationships and our inability to understand one another. This moving play arrives at the Bush following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017.

Bush Associate Artists are kindly supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.


Ticket prices

Count Me In: £10 (Theatre)

Adult: From £20 (Theatre) and £10 (Studio)

Count Me In tickets are just £10 and are available for performances in the Theatre. These are unreserved tickets which will be allocated to a seat on the day of performance. Audience members might not be sitting next to the people they booked with but will be guaranteed a seat.

Concessions: Bush Locals, Senior Citizens, Disabled and Unemployed patrons, and Bush Connect (Students and U26) members will be eligible for concession prices.


Phone                   020 8743 5050

In person             Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ

Online                  bushtheatre.co.uk