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The Almeida Theatre announces Sky Arts broadcast of Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn.

Hymn

Following acclaimed, sold-out live-streamed and on-demand runs, Hymn will be broadcast on Sky Arts on Sunday 18 April 9pm. The world premiere production is directed by Blanche McIntyre and features actors Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani.
World Premiere 
HYMN 
by Lolita Chakrabarti

Directed by Blanche McIntyre; Set and Costume: Miriam Buether; Lighting: Prema Mehta; Sound: Gregory Clarke; Musical Director: D.J. Walde; Movement Director: Robia Milliner  

“Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself” 

Miles Davis

Two men meet at a funeral.

Gil knew the deceased. Benny did not.

Before long their families are close.

Soon they’ll be singing the same tune.

Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfil his potential. They form a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realise that true courage comes in different forms.

Featuring music from Gil and Benny’s lives, Lolita Chakrabarti’s searching, soulful new play asks what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre (The Writer), Hymn features Adrian Lester (Red VelvetHustle) and Danny Sapani (Killing EveLes Blancs).

Lolita Chakrabarti is a playwright and actor. Her plays include Life of Pi (WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play 2019, UK Theatre Award for Best New Play 2019 – transfers to West End later this year); Invisible CitiesRed Velvet (Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright); Message in a Bottle for ZooNation/Sadler’s Wells for which she was dramaturg; The Greatest Wealth – a series of monologues curated by Chakrabarti, including her own monologue titled Speedy Gonzalez; and Last Seen (an Almeida Theatre production with Slung Low). As an actor, her theatre credits include Fanny and Alexander (The Old Vic); Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company); Last Seen (Almeida Theatre); Free Outgoing (Royal Court) and John Gabriel Borkman (Donmar Warehouse). For screen, her credits include Criminal; RivieraBorn to KillBeowulf: Return to the Shieldlands and The Casual Vacancy.​ She can be seen on television later this year in Wheel of Time and Vigil, and on stage in Calmer, her new play at Birmingham Rep.

Blanche McIntyre returns to the Almeida having previously directed The Writer. Her other credits include Botticelli in the Fire (Hampstead Theatre); Tartuffe (National Theatre); Bartholomew FairA Winter’s Tale, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre); Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC); Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse); Welcome Home, Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse); The Oresteia (HOME, Manchester); Arcadia (English Touring Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group); Accolade (St James’ Theatre); Tonight at 8:30Women in Power and The Nutcracker (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Ciphers (Out of Joint, Bush Theatre and Exeter Northcott); The Birthday Party (Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Seagull (Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Derby Theatre – winter of Best Director at 2013 UK Theatre Awards); Foxfinder and Accolade (Finborough Theatre).

Adrian Lester plays Gil. His theatre work includes Cost of Living (Hampstead Theatre); Othello (National Theatre – winner of Evening Standard Award for Best Actor); Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre, West End and New York – Winner of Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actor); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (West End); Henry VSweeney Todd (National Theatre); Hamlet (Theatres des Bouffes du Nord); Company (Donmar Warehouse – Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical); As You Like It (Cheek By Jowl) and Six Degrees of Separation (Royal Court). For television, his work includes the National Theatre’s production of Romeo and JulietLifeThe RookCurfewTraumaRivieraUndercoverLondon Spy and Hustle. His film work includes Mary Queen of ScotsGrey LadyEuphoriaJimi: All Is by My Side; The Day After Tomorrow and Primary Colors. Directing work includes Of Mary (Winner of Best Short Film at PAFF); Hustle and Riviera on television and The Greatest Wealth (The Old Vic) and the forthcoming Calmer (Birmingham Rep). He was recently made a CBE.

Danny Sapani plays Benny. He previously appeared at the Almeida in Big White Fog. His other theatre credits include Invisible Cities (Manchester International Festival); Les BlancsMedeaHomeMoon on a Rainbow ShawlThe OverwhelmingHis Dark MaterialsAntony and CleopatraThe Machine Wreckers and Richard II (National Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Young Vic); Anderson’s English (Out of Joint); Wig Out and Neverland (Royal Court); The Green Fields Beyond (Donmar Warehouse) and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare’s Globe); For television, his work includes HaloKilling EveHarlotsMother Father SonBlack Earth RisingTraitorsBrokenThe CrownChewing GumBastard ExecutionerPenny DreadfulThe FearThe TownBlackout and Misfits. His recent film credits include Black Panther and Trance.

Almeida Theatre: New Socially Distanced Season

Almeida Theatre

Almeida Theatre Artistic Director Rupert Goold announced a socially distanced season of three world premieres for Christmas 2020 and into 2021:

  • Running over Christmas 2020:

– Nine Lessons and Carols: stories for a long winter – a new production devised by Chris Bush, Rebecca Frecknall and a company of six actors and musicians.

  • Opening in early 2021:

– Hymna new play by Lolita Chakrabarti, featuring acclaimed actors Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani, directed by Blanche McIntyre.

– The Maladies, a new play by Carmen Nasr, performed by the Almeida Young Company, directed by Diyan Zora.

  • Also announced today:

 – Digital screenings of productions.

– The second year of the Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme.

– Two recent Almeida productions – Albion and The Duchess of Malfi – made available digitally exclusively for schools.

 Rupert Goold said, “Having gratefully received a grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, we are very pleased to be offering a season of work playing through Christmas and into 2021. The theatre has been reconfigured for social distancing, with a reduced capacity of 120 – about a third of our usual size. Acknowledging the context and timing of our re-opening, we decided that it was imperative to produce new work this winter: to provide employment to staff and freelancers, to welcome our audiences, supporters and local community back into the building, and to reunite our young artist groups. Considerable work has gone into ensuring that the theatre is safe for audiences and more information on those measures can be found on our website. For those audiences who can’t make it to the Almeida, we will also be offering digital screenings for people to watch at home.

“In December, we welcome playwright Chris Bush to the Almeida for the first time to work with our Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall and a company of six actors and musicians to devise a new play titled Nine Lessons and Carols: stories for a long winter. It will reflect on a year of separation and the power of contact.

“After Christmas, we present two world premieres: Carmen Nasr’s The Maladies, about a break-out of unexpected mass hysteria, directed by Diyan Zora and performed by the Almeida Young Company, and Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn, a play about masculinity and ambition, featuring two of the UK’s great stage actors Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani and directed by Blanche McIntyre who returns to the Almeida following her production of The Writer in 2018.

“On top of this, we are delighted to be able to offer schools exclusive access to films of two recent Almeida productions – Albion and The Duchess of Malfi – in the hope that this will help to fill the void of school theatre trips. We are also launching the second year of our Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme – a group of seven brilliant, inventive and imaginative playwrights who will be with us for the next twelve months, attending masterclasses with creatives and developing their own commission for the Almeida.

“Lastly, a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us with encouraging messages and generous donations over the last seven months. Without them, we wouldn’t be in a position to present this season today.”

World Premiere

NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS

stories for a long winter

Created by Chris Bush, Rebecca Frecknall and the company.

Wednesday 2 December 2020 – Saturday 9 January 2021

Press performances: Wednesday 9 December, 2pm and 7pm

“In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing.

About the dark times.”

(Bertolt Brecht)

This is not a Corona play.

This is a play about connection and isolation, about lighting a candle to see us through the longest night, about what we hold on to when we cannot hold each other.

Almeida Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall (Summer and SmokeThe Duchess of Malfi), playwright Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky’s EdgePericles) and a company of six performers devise a new production reflecting on a year of separation and the power of contact.

Cast: Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Caroline or Change – West End; Measure for Measure – Shakespeare’s Globe); Katie Brayben (Beautiful: the Carole King Musical – West End, winner of Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical; King Charles III – Almeida); Toheeb Jimoh (Anthony – BBC One; A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Sheffield Crucible); Elliot Levey (Three Sisters and Mary Stuart – Almeida); Maimuna Memon (Jesus Christ Superstar – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Ghost Quartet – Boulevard Theatre) and Luke Thallon (Albion – Almeida; Leopoldstadt – West End).

Chris Bush is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and theatre-maker. Her recent plays include Standing at the Sky’s EdgeFaustus: That Damned WomanThe Last NoëlThe Assassination of Katie HopkinsPericles and Steel. Her other plays include The Changing RoomScenes From The End Of The World; A Declaration From The PeopleA DreamThe Sheffield MysteriesDickensianGoodwill To All MenWe’re All In This Together and 20 Tiny Plays About SheffieldLarksongCards On The TableTony! The Blair Musical; Sleight & Hand. She has won awards at the UK Theatre Awards two years in a row, the National Young Playwrights’ Festival, Perfect Pitch, Sunday Times Edinburgh Competition, and a Brit Writers’ Award.

Rebecca Frecknall is Associate Director at the Almeida Theatre. For the Almeida, she has directed The Duchess of MalfiThree SistersSummer and Smoke (also West End and winner of two Olivier Awards including Best Revival) and worked as Associate Director on Ink at the Almeida/Duke of York’s Theatre and Movement Director on Albion. She was previously on the Almeida’s Resident Director programme. Away from the Almeida, her credits include Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop) and Chris Bush’s Steel (Sheffield Crucible Studio). She was Resident Director at Northern Stage from 2015-2016 after winning the acclaimed RTYDS Bursary. During this time she directed IdomeneusWhat Are They Like? and Julie. She has also worked with the National Theatre, RSC and Young Vic. She was the 2012 recipient of the National Theatre Studio’s Resident Director Bursary and was awarded one of the Young Vic’s Jerwood Assistant Director Bursaries in 2011.

World Premiere

THE MALADIES

by Carmen Nasr

Directed by Diyan Zora

Monday 18 January – Friday 22 January 2021

Press night: Tuesday 19 January

Performed by the Almeida Young Company (18-25)

I’m tired.
I’m tired of living in a world that’s not mine.

  1. Strasbourg. A woman dances compulsively, soon hundreds join her.
  2. Tanzania. A schoolgirl’s laughing fit spreads from village to village.
  3. USA. Cheerleaders are overcome by uncontrollable twitching.
    2023. London. A group of women suddenly lose the ability to speak.

When a group of women in London mysteriously fall silent, no one can figure out why. The team at an all-female podcast decide to investigate and end up on a journey of discovery, uncovering more than they bargained for.

The Maladies is a new play by Almeida Genesis Writer Carmen Nasr (Dubailand), directed by Diyan Zora (Chronicles of a City We Never Knew/Gather Ye Rosebuds) and has been devised with the Almeida Young Company (18-25).  

 Carmen Nasr is a British-Lebanese playwright. In 2017 she was awarded the Channel 4 Playwright’s Scheme alongside a year-long residency at the Finborough Theatre, where she remains a playwright in residence. Her first play The House of my Father was long listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2015. Her other plays include Dubailand, which was produced at the Finborough Theatre in 2017. Let Kilburn Shake was produced in 2019 at the Kiln Theatre, written for their Young Company. Her latest play The Climbers will premiere at Theatre by the Lake, directed by Guy Jones. She has been a member of the Orange Tree Theatre’s talent development programme, the Writers Collective, and the Royal Court’s Playwriting group.

Diyan Zora is a theatre director and writer. ​Her directing work includes Chronicles of a City We Never Knew (Gate Theatre); Ms Y (Young Vic 5 plays); Gather Ye Rosebuds (Theatre503 and tour); Waiting for Summer (Old Red Lion and tour) and Twelfth Night (Cockpit). As an Assistant/Associate Director, her work includes Faith, Hope and Charity and Evening at the Talkhouse (National Theatre); LOVE (National Theatre and Théâtre de L’Odéon, Paris); The Ferryman (Gielgud); Wolf From the Door and Fireworks (Royal Court). She is an Iraqi–born, London-based theatre director and writer. She is an associate artist of Manara Theatre Company. Her play Gather Ye Rosebuds won best new play at the Brighton Fringe Festival.

The Almeida is grateful to the individuals, companies, trusts and foundations that support the Almeida Young Company and wider Participation programme.

World Premiere

HYMN

by Lolita Chakrabarti

Directed by Blanche McIntyre

Friday 29 January – Saturday 27 February 2021

Press night: Thursday 4 February 7pm

 “Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself”

Miles Davis

Two men meet at a funeral.

Gil knew the deceased. Benny did not.

Before long their families are close.

Soon they’ll be singing the same tune.

Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfil his potential. They form a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realise that true courage comes in different forms.

 Featuring music from Gil and Benny’s lives, Lolita Chakrabarti’s searching, soulful new play asks what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre (The Writer), Hymn features Adrian Lester (Red VelvetHustle) and Danny Sapani (Killing EveLes Blancs)

Lolita Chakrabarti is a playwright and actor. Her plays include Life of Pi (WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play 2019, UK Theatre Award for Best New Play 2019); Invisible CitiesRed Velvet (Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright); Message in a Bottle for ZooNation/Sadlers Wells for which she was dramaturg; The Greatest Wealth – a series of monologues curated by Chakrabarti, including her own monologue titled Speedy Gonzalez; and Last Seen (an Almeida Theatre production with Slung Low). As an actor, her theatre credits include Fanny and Alexander (The Old Vic); Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company); Last Seen (Almeida Theatre); Free Outgoing (Royal Court) and John Gabriel Borkman (Donmar Warehouse). For screen, her credits include Criminal; RivieraBorn to KillBeowulf: Return to the Shieldlands and The Casual Vacancy.​ She can be seen on television next year in Wheel of Time and Vigil, and on stage in Calmer, her new play at Birmingham Rep.

Blanche McIntyre returns to the Almeida having previously directed The Writer. Her other credits include Botticelli in the Fire (Hampstead Theatre); Tartuffe (National Theatre); Bartholomew FairA Winter’s Tale, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre); Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC); Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse); Welcome Home, Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse); The Oresteia (HOME, Manchester); Arcadia (English Touring Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group); Accolade (St James’ Theatre); Tonight at 8:30Women in Power and The Nutcracker (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Ciphers (Out of Joint, Bush Theatre and Exeter Northcott); The Birthday Party (Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Seagull (Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Derby Theatre – winter of Best Director at 2013 UK Theatre Awards); Foxfinder and Accolade (Finborough Theatre).

 Adrian Lester plays Gil. His theatre work includes Cost of Living (Hampstead Theatre); Othello (National Theatre – winner of Evening Standard Award for Best Actor); Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre, West End and New York – Winner of Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actor); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (West End); Henry VSweeney Todd (National Theatre); Hamlet (Theatres des Bouffes du Nord); Company (Donmar Warehouse – Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical); As You Like It (Cheek By Jowl) and Six Degrees of Separation (Royal Court). For television, his work includes LifeThe RookCurfewTraumaRivieraUndercoverLondon Spy and Hustle. His film work includes Mary Queen of ScotsGrey LadyEuphoriaJimi: All Is by My Side; The Day After Tomorrow and Primary Colors. Directing work includes Of Mary (Winner of Best Short Film at PAFF); Hustle and Riviera on television and The Greatest Wealth (The Old Vic) and the forthcoming Calmer  (Birmingham Rep). He was recently made a CBE.

Danny Sapani plays Benny. He previously appeared at the Almeida in Big White Fog. His other theatre credits include Invisible Cities (Manchester International Festival); Les BlancsMedeaHomeMoon on a Rainbow ShawlThe OverwhelmingHis Dark MaterialsAntony and CleopatraThe Machine Wreckers and Richard II (National Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Young Vic); Anderson’s English (Out of Joint); Wig Out and Neverland (Royal Court); The Green Fields Beyond (Donmar Warehouse) and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare’s Globe); For television, his work includes HaloKilling EveHarlotsMother Father SonBlack Earth RisingTraitorsBrokenThe CrownChewing GumBastard ExecutionerPenny DreadfulThe FearThe TownBlackout and Misfits. His recent film credits include Black Panther and Trance.

GENESIS ALMEIDA NEW PLAYWRIGHTS, BIG PLAYS PROGRAMME

The Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme is an annual programme that supports emerging and mid-career writers to develop new plays for larger stages giving them the space and time to experiment with form and scale. Each writer on the programme is commissioned to develop one new play and will be given dramaturgical support from the Almeida’s Literary Manager and artistic team. During the year the writers will also attend twelve masterclasses led by established British and international playwrights, directors, designers and other creatives, and be given a five day R&D workshop to develop their commission.

The Genesis Almeida Writers Programme is made possible by the support of the Genesis Foundation.

The Genesis Almeida Writers for 2020/21 are:

Zia Ahmed

Emma Dennis-Edwards

Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Yasmin Joseph

Carmen Nasr

Molly Taylor

Temi Wilkey

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years, the Foundation has donated a total of more than £20 million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience. The Foundation’s main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional. In 2020, it launched the Covid-19 Artists Fund, an Emergency response to help freelancers facing hardship, and the £1 million Genesis Kickstart Fund, to create future-facing projects for outstanding freelance talent in the creative sector across the UK.

FOR SCHOOLS

Released digitally exclusively for schools, are films of the Almeida productions of Mike Bartlett’s Albion, directed by Rupert Goold and Rebecca Frecknall’s production of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.

 Albion was filmed in front of a live audience in February 2020, and aired on BBC Four in August. It was produced for the BBC jointly by the Almeida Theatre and Illuminations for The Space in association with BBC Television.

 The Duchess of Malfi was filmed in front of a live audience, during its run at Almeida from 30 November 2019 – 25 January 2020. It was filmed and produced by Robin Fisher.

The films will be made available on request. Please contact: participate@almeida.co.uk for more information.

 

The Almeida Theatre announces SHIFTING TIDES – a new digital festival exploring the intersection between art and the climate crisis

Almeida Theatre

Aimed at and created with 14 – 25 year olds, the festival takes place from Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 July via the Almeida’s digital platforms, and features brand new audio dramaworld premiere film screeningspanel discussions with artists and creatives, and online exhibitions.

At the centre of the festival is the world premiere of Ben Weatherill’s new audio drama As Waters Rise, performed by members of the Almeida Young Company.

The full programme includes:

• The world premiere of Ella Road’s short film Something Will Disappear, performed by a cast including Paterson JosephAnjana Vasan and Annie Firbank alongside Almeida Young Company actors.

• Two panel discussions, exploring the role of the arts and the impact of the pandemic on the climate crisis, with panellists including Culture Declares Emergency co-founder Kay Michael, activists Daze Aghaji and Noga Levy-Rapoport, playwright April De Angelis and rapper Louis VI.

• New plays, poetry and visual art created by young activists, following masterclasses with playwright Evan Placey, artist and designer Katherina Radeva and poet Selina Nwulu.

• A screening of Jack Cooper Stimpson and Sam Haygarth’s short comedy film Extinction, with a cast including Emma Thompson.

All events will be available for free via almeida.co.uk/shifting-tides. Attendees are required to register online beforehand.

 Almeida Artistic Director Rupert Goold said, “Although it has been suggested that the current pandemic may be having some positive environmental impacts, it’s vital the virus and its aftermath does not divert attention from the continuing climate emergency. Shifting Tides will further awareness and understanding and demonstrate the crucial role the arts can play in tackling this climate crisis. It will also shine a light on our extraordinary Participation department. During lockdown, while much of the organisation has lain dormant, our Participation team has been as busy as ever and this festival will provide further proof of the incredibly important work they do with young people and our local community.”

AUDIO DRAMA

World Premiere

AS WATERS RISE

By Ben Weatherill

Directed by Alex Brown; Sound: Martha Littlehailes; Music: Fizz Margereson

Thursday 16 July 5pm: Episode 1 – The Other Side of the River

Friday 17 July 5pm: Episode 2 – Near the Surface

Saturday 18 July 5pm: Episode 3 – Coming Up for Air  

Each episode will be available from the Almeida’s Soundcloud from 5pm on the day of release.

Performed by members of the Almeida Young Company (aged 14-18).

It’s rising. I know that sounds…but it’s the truth. It’s getting higher. And I remember saying if the rain doesn’t stop…then…

It’s summer and London is underwater.

In a broken world that was broken long before they were born, a group of young people grapple with the aftermath of the flood. When everything changes, what does it take to keep afloat no matter what?

As Waters Rise is a new audio drama about friendships and anarchy, resilience and anger. About the consequences of our actions, and who really pays for them.

A Q&A will take place at 7pm following the release of each episode with members of the company and creative team.

Ben Weatherill’s play Jellyfish ran at the Bush Theatre before transferring to the National Theatre. His other plays include Chicken Dust and Chronic.

Composer Fizz Margereson is part of the Almeida’s Resident Designers Programme, supported by a generous individual donor and Universal Music.

FILM SCREENINGS

EXTINCTION

Friday 17 July 2:30pm

The film will be streamed via the Almeida website.

“So the question is, how do we stop this?”

“The protests? Or the potential extinction of the human race?”

Extinction Rebellion has taken control of the streets. In the midst of this city-wide protest, a group of climate activists meet with a senior MP to discuss their demands.

Directed by Jack Cooper Stimpson and co-written by Cooper Stimpson and Sam Haygarth, with a cast including Gary BeadleWill BrownTom Glynn-CarneyCharlotte HamblinFrancis MageeNicholas RoweRakhee Thakrar and Emma Thompson.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and creative team.

World Premiere

SOMETHING WILL DISAPPEAR

 Saturday 18 July 2:30pm

The film will be streamed via the Almeida website.

The world premiere of this new short film written by Ella Road is a powerful call to arms to find a new way of living.

Cast: Maymuna AbdiRwan AsdeDylan CarrAnnie FirbankPaterson JosephAnjana Vasan.

Ella Road’s debut play The Phlebotomist premiered at the Hampstead Downstairs in spring 2018, and transferred to the Main House in spring 2019. The play was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate theatre, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and creative team.

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

 Thursday 16 July 2:30pm (1 hour)

The discussion will be streamed via the Almeida website.

 As global emissions come crashing down in the face of the coronavirus lockdown, what does it mean for the climate emergency?

Leading figures from across the climate crisis movement – activists, commentators and artists – discuss where the movement is now, what we have learnt during the pandemic and how we move forward.

Panellists include: Daze AghajiSharlene Gandhi, Noga Levy-Rapoport and Louis VI.

ART AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS

Friday 17 July 1pm (1 hour)

The discussion will be streamed via the Almeida website.

Artists, creatives and environmentalists discuss how the stories we choose to tell and the art that we create can shape and inform public understanding, engagement and action in response to the climate crisis.

Panellists include: Farah AhmedApril De AngelisKay Michael.

READINGS AND VIEWINGS

ART MATTERS – ART VIEWING AND PANEL DISCUSSION

 Thursday 16 July 4pm (1 hour)

The viewing will be streamed via the Almeida website.

Following an online masterclass with visual artist Katherina Radeva, a group of young activists reveal their artistic responses to the climate crisis. Radeva will be joined by artist Hayley Harrison whose work examines our disconnection with ‘nature’ via discarded materials.

Katherina Radeva is an award-winning set and costume designer, visual artist and creative collaborator. She has designed for theatre, performance, contemporary dance, site specific events, interactive installations and outdoor shows and her designs tour extensively in the UK, Europe and the wider world. She is also the Co-Artistic Director of Two Destination Language, an award-winning theatre company which tours around the UK and internationally.

POETRY OF PROTEST – READING

Friday 17 July 4pm (1 hour)

The readings will be streamed via the Almeida website.

Following an online masterclass with poet Selina Nwulu, a group of young activists reveal their artistic responses to the climate crisis.

Selina Nwulu is a writer and former Young Poet Laureate for London. She has written for outlets including The Guardian, Red Pepper, Sable Litmag, The Arts Society Magazine and the New Humanist. She was previously co-editor for women’s news portal, Women’s Views on News. As a poet, her work has been featured in Vogue, Blavity, i-D and ES Magazine. She has toured with her poetry nationally and internationally, including at Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe and StAnza Poetry Festival, as well as in Northern India with the British Council. In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and published in the anthology, New Daughters of Africa.

WRITING THE CLIMATE – PLAY READINGS

 Saturday 18 July 4pm (1 hour)

The readings will be streamed via the Almeida website.

Following an online masterclass with playwright Evan Placey, a group of young activists reveal their artistic responses to the climate crisis.

Evan Placey’s work for adults and young audiences has been produced internationally and translated into multiple languages. He won the Brian Way Award for Holloway Jones, while Girls Like That won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young Audiences, the Scenic Youth Prize and the Orpheon Bibliotheque Prize for Contemporary Theatre for Young Audiences in France and the Jugend Theatre Preis Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany. He teaches playwriting for the National Theatre and in prisons. 

Almeida Theatre announces the full cast for its revival of Mike Bartlett’s Albion, directed by Rupert Goold

Almeida Theatre

This is our little piece of the world, and we’re allowed to do with it, exactly as we like. Yes?

In the ruins of a garden in rural England.

In a house which was once a home.

A woman searches for seeds of hope.

Following a sell-out run in 2017, Albion returns to the Almeida for four weeks only.

Joining the previously announced Victoria Hamilton (awarded Best Actress at 2018 Critics’ Circle Awards for this role) and reprising their roles are Nigel BettsEdyta BudnikWil CobanMargot LeicesterNicholas Rowe and Helen Schlesinger. They will be joined by Angel CoulbyDaisy Edgar-Jones, Dónal Finn and Geoffrey Freshwater.

 Mike Bartlett’s plays for the Almeida include his adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s VassaGame and the multi-award winning King Charles III (Olivier Award for Best New Play) which premiered at the Almeida before West End and Broadway transfers, a UK and international tour. His television adaptation of the play was broadcast on BBC Two in 2017. Other plays include Snowflake (Old Fire Station and Kiln Theatre); WildAn Intervention; Bull (won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre); an adaptation of MedeaChariots of Fire13Decade (co-writer); Earthquakes in LondonLove, Love, LoveCock (Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre); Contractions and My Child Artefacts. His writing for television includes Sticks and Stones; PressTraumaDoctor FosterKing Charles III and the forthcoming Life.

Rupert Goold is the Almeida’s Artistic Director where he has previously directed The HuntShipwreck, Albion, Ink (also West End and Broadway), Richard III (broadcast live to cinemas around the world), MedeaThe Merchant of Venice, King Charles III (West End, Broadway, UK and international tour) and American Psycho (also Broadway). He was Artistic Director of Headlong from 2005 until 2013 where his work included The EffectENRON, Earthquakes in London and Decade. Other theatre credits include Made in Dagenham (West End); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Almeida); Macbeth (Chichester Festival Theatre, West End and Broadway) and No Man’s Land (The Gate, Dublin and West End). He has twice been the recipient of the Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Director. He was Associate Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2009 to 2012 and was Artistic Director of Northampton Theatres from 2002 to 2005. His feature film Judy is currently in cinemas and his other work on film includes the BAFTA nominated Richard II, part of The Hollow Crown; Macbeth for the BBC; True Story starring James Franco and Jonah Hill and a television adaptation of his production of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III for BBC Two. He was awarded a CBE for services to drama in 2017.

Artistic director Rupert Goold announces the Almeida Theatre’s new season for spring 2020

Artistic director Rupert Goold announces the Almeida Theatre’s new season for spring 2020:

  • The return of Mike Bartlett’s acclaimed Albion for a four week run, with Victoria Hamilton reprising her award-winning performance.
  • The UK Premiere of“Daddy”, byJeremy O. Harris (Slave Play), directed by Danya Taymor.
  • The World Premiere ofBeth Steel’s new play The House of Shades, directed by Blanche McIntyre.

Also announced today:

  • The launch of the Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme, a new annual scheme that supports emerging and mid-career writers to develop new plays for larger stages. The first cohort of seven writers is Kendall FeaverSami IbrahimCharley MilesAmy NgIman QureshiSam Steiner and Ross Willis.
  • A new Resident Designers scheme to run alongside the Resident Directors programme, now in its fourth year.

Rupert Goold said, “When we first produced Albion a year after the EU referendum, it caught a moment fraught with uncertainty about the future direction of the country. Now, two years later, we face a new moment of juncture, with our country and national identity fracturing along the fault lines of that fateful vote in new ways every week. Returning to the garden of Albion, I find Mike Bartlett’s play resonates with an entirely different tone and, with Victoria Hamilton, whose performance as Audrey is one of the finest in my tenure at the Almeida, agreeing to return, it feels important to bring it back, the first production we have revived.

“Alongside Albion, we present two new voices to Almeida audiences – Jeremy O. Harris has been generating major waves on Broadway with Slave Play and now makes his UK debut with “Daddy”, his brave and brilliant exploration of intimacy and power, mentorship and identity in the glamorous retreats of the LA art world. And Beth Steel, already recognised as one of the country’s most ambitious political writers, gives us her new play The House of Shades, whose ghost-filled story charts the journey of a single family over half a century of social and economic change, as the Labour movement they inherited crumbles and reforms around them.

“As we announce these two new plays, it feels fitting to also announce the brand new Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme, featuring seven writers who have all demonstrated their ability to think big, engaging with unusual, imaginative and formally innovative ideas. We can’t wait to guide them over the next year and to see what they produce and are hugely grateful to the Genesis Foundation for giving us this opportunity.”

John Studzinski, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation said, “One of the great gifts of life is to be challenged continually and never to stop learning. The Genesis Foundation works with its partners to identify areas in arts philanthropy that aren’t being fulfilled. Experienced artists wishing to develop their creative work are too often overlooked for support and commissions and don’t get the mentoring they need. It’s important that we support the creation of the Genesis Almeida Writers Programme. By identifying and supporting writers who will benefit most from working with the team at the Almeida we are helping to ensure that they continue to develop their work in new and exciting ways.”

ALBION

by Mike Bartlett

Direction: Rupert Goold; Design: Miriam Buether; Light: Neil Austin;

Sound: Gregory Clarke; Movement Director: Rebecca Frecknall

 Monday 3 February – Friday 28 February 2020

Press night: Wednesday 5 February 7pm

 Cast includes: Victoria Hamilton.

 ★★★★★

“The play that Britain needs right now”

The Telegraph

 This is our little piece of the world, and we’re allowed to do with it, exactly as we like. Yes?

In the ruins of a garden in rural England.

In a house which was once a home.

A woman searches for seeds of hope.

Following a sell-out run in 2017, Albion returns to the Almeida for four weeks only.

Mike Bartlett’s plays for the Almeida include his adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s VassaGame and the multi-award winning King Charles III (Olivier Award for Best New Play) which premiered at the Almeida before West End and Broadway transfers, a UK and international tour. His television adaptation of the play was broadcast on BBC Two in 2017. Other plays include Snowflake (Old Fire Station and running at the Kiln Theatre this Christmas); WildAn Intervention; Bull (won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre); an adaptation of MedeaChariots of Fire13Decade (co-writer); Earthquakes in LondonLove, Love, LoveCock (Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre); Contractions and My Child Artefacts. His writing for television includes PressTraumaDoctor FosterKing Charles III and the forthcoming Life.

Rupert Goold is the Almeida’s Artistic Director where he has previously directed The HuntShipwreck, Albion, Ink (also West End and Broadway), Richard III (broadcast live to cinemas around the world), MedeaThe Merchant of Venice, King Charles III (West End, Broadway, UK and international tour) and American Psycho (also Broadway). He was Artistic Director of Headlong from 2005 until 2013 where his work included The EffectENRON, Earthquakes in London and Decade. Other theatre credits include Made in Dagenham (West End); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Almeida); Macbeth (Chichester Festival Theatre, West End and Broadway) and No Man’s Land (The Gate, Dublin and West End). He has twice been the recipient of the Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Director. He was Associate Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2009 to 2012 and was Artistic Director of Northampton Theatres from 2002 to 2005. His feature film Judy is currently in cinemas and his other work on film includes the BAFTA nominated Richard II, part of The Hollow Crown; Macbeth for the BBC; True Story starring James Franco and Jonah Hill and a television adaptation of his production of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III for BBC Two. He was awarded a CBE for services to drama in 2017.

Victoria Hamilton plays Audrey Walters. She previously appeared in The Doctor’s Dilemma at the Almeida. Her other theatre credits include Love, Love, Love (Royal Court); Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse at Wyndham’s Theatre); Once in a LifetimeSummerfolk and Money (National Theatre); Suddenly Last Summer (Donmar Warehouse and UK Tour); Sweet PanicHome & Beauty and The Master Builder (West End); A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Roundabout Theatre, New York and in the West End); The Country Wife and As You Like It at (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield); King Lear, The Provoked Wife and The Seagull (The Old Vic) and Troilus And Cressida and As You Like It (RSC). Her  television work includes the forthcoming Mike Bartlett series LifeDeep StateThe Crown; Doctor Foster; Our Ex-WifeThe CircuitCall the Midwife Christmas SpecialThe GameWhat RemainsToastLarkrise to CandlefordTime of Your LifeTrial and RetributionWide Sargasso SeaThe Shell SeekersA Very Social SecretaryJerichoSpine ChillersTo the Ends of the EarthThe BrontesGoodbye Mr ChipsBaby Father – I & IIVictoria & AlbertThe SavagesKing LearThe Merchant of VenicePersuasion and Pride and Prejudice. Films include French; Scoop; Before You Go and Mansfield Park.

 UK Premiere

“DADDY”

A Melodrama

by Jeremy O. Harris

Direction: Danya Taymor; Design: Matt Saunders

Monday 30 March – Saturday 9 May 2020

Press night: Thursday 9 April 7pm

 I will be your father figure. Put your tiny hand in mine.

I will be your preacher teacher. Anything you have in mind.

 A young black artist meets an older white art collector.

A gospel choir emerges from an infinity pool.

A mother stops at nothing to save her son’s soul.

When it’s summer every day…when even is it?

In this Bel Air tale of love and family, intimacy is a commodity and the surreal gets real.

Danya Taymor directs the UK premiere of “Daddy”, an explosive and blistering melodrama from Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play) – “one of the most exciting new voices of his generation” GQ.

Jeremy O. Harris’ plays include Slave Play (Golden Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Winner of the 2018 Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences); Xander Xyst; Dragon: 1 and WATER SPORTS; or insignificant white boys. In 2018, he co-wrote A24’s upcoming film Zola with director Janicza Bravo. He is the eleventh recipient of the Vineyard Theatre’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, a 2016 MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Orchard Project Greenhouse artist, a resident playwright with Colt Coeur, and is under commission from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons. He is a graduate of the Yale MFA Playwriting Programme.

 Danya Taymor’s previous directing work includes Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Playwrights Horizon); Daddy (New Group/Vineyard); Pass Over (Lincoln Center/Steppenwolf); Familiar (Steppenwolf); queens (Lincoln Center Theater); Esai’s Table (Cherry Lane Mentor Project); The Sensuality Party (The New Group); Christina Martinez (Juilliard); Cygnus (Women’s Project); Wyoming (Lesser America); My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer and The Place We Built (The Flea). Her translations include Alejandro Ricaño’s We Are Getting Better at Saying Goodbye, Luis Enrique Guitierrez Ortiz Monasterio’s I Hate Fucking Mexicans and Ettore Scola’s Working on a Special Day. She is a 2014-2016 Time Warner Directing Fellow at Women’s Project, a 2050 fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, an Artist in Residence at Theatre for a New Audience, a member of Ensemble Studio Theater, an Associate Artist at The Flea Theater, New Georges Affiliated Artist and a semi-finalist for the Lange-Taylor prize with Dominic Bracco.

 World Premiere

THE HOUSE OF SHADES

by Beth Steel

Direction: Blanche McIntyre; Design: Anna Fleischle

 Monday 18 May – Saturday 27 June 2020

Press night: Tuesday 26 May 7pm

 Nothing cuts into us like the family knife.

The Webster House.

  1. 1979. 1985. 1990. 2016.

Death silences no one, least of all the dead.

Blanche McIntyre (The Writer) directs the world premiere of Beth Steel’s (Wonderland) revelatory new play which spans five decades of the lives, and deaths, of the Webster family.

Inside their home, set against the ever-changing industrial landscape of working-class Britain, some chase dreams of a brighter future and others are haunted by the nightmares of the past.

 Beth Steel’s plays include LabyrinthWonderland and Ditch. She was awarded the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2014.

Blanche McIntyre directs. She returns to the Almeida having previously directed The Writer. Her other credits include Botticelli in the Fire (Hampstead Theatre); Bartholomew FairA Winter’s Tale, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre); Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC); Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse); Welcome Home, Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse); The Oresteia (HOME, Manchester); Arcadia (English Touring Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group); Accolade (Finborough Theatre); Tonight at 8:30 and The Nutcracker (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Ciphers (Out of Joint, Bush Theatre and Exeter Northcott); The Birthday Party (Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Seagull (Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Derby Theatre – winter of Best Director at 2013 UK Theatre Awards); Foxfinder and Accolade (Finborough Theatre). She was the winner of the 2011 Critics’ Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award.

GENESIS ALMEIDA NEW PLAYWRIGHTS, BIG PLAYS PROGRAMME

The Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme is an annual programme that supports emerging and mid-career writers to develop new plays for larger stages giving them the space and time to experiment with form and scale. Each writer on the programme is commissioned to develop one new play and will be given dramaturgical support from the Almeida’s Literary Manager and artistic team. During the year the writers will also attend twelve masterclasses led by established British and international playwrights and be given a five day R&D workshop to develop their commission.

The Genesis Almeida Writers Programme is made possible by the support of the Genesis Foundation.

The Genesis Almeida Writers for 2019/20 are:

Kendall Feaver

Sami Ibrahim

Charley Miles

Amy Ng

Iman Qureshi

Sam Steiner

Ross Willis

Established by John Studzinski, the Genesis Foundation works in partnership with leaders of prestigious UK arts organisations such as the Almeida Theatre, LAMDA, the National Theatre, The Sixteen and the Young Vic. Its largest funding commitment is to programmes that support directors, playwrights, actors and musicians in their career development.

Almeida Theatre: World Premiere of The Doctor announced

Almeida Theatre

The Almeida Theatre today announced a new play written and directed by Robert Icke called The Doctor, freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 play Professor Bernhardi.

 The production opens on Tuesday 20 August, with previews from Monday 12 August, and runs until Saturday 28 September. It will feature Juliet Stevenson and Ria Zmitrowicz, with further casting to be announced soon.

The production follows Icke’s other acclaimed work at the Almeida including, most recently, The Wild Duck in 2018 as well as Hamlet, Mary StuartOresteiaUncle VanyaMr Burns and 1984. It will be Icke’s final production in his role as Associate Director of the Almeida as he departs to pursue freelance projects.

Artistic Director Rupert Goold said today, “Robert’s contribution to the Almeida is immeasurable. His emergence from our time working together at Headlong to international renown through his work for this theatre has been a privilege to be part of. He has been a friend and a visionary and we wish him well on the next stage of his artistic journey and look forward to him making other Almeida productions in the future.”

Robert Icke said, “The Doctor will be my final show in my role as Almeida Associate Director. I’ve had a fantastic six years here, but it’s become impossible to give the building the attention it deserves alongside my other work for theatre and for the screen. I’m grateful to all my supportive and talented colleagues over that time, on stage and off, including so many wonderful actors, and to all of the wider Almeida team, some of whom I first met as an Almeida assistant director a decade ago. I look forward to returning in the future.”

World Premiere

THE DOCTOR

very freely adapted from Professor Bernhardi by Arthur Schnitzler

by Robert Icke

Design: Hildegard Bechtler; Light: Natasha Chivers; Sound: Tom Gibbons

Casting: Julia Horan

 Cast includes: Juliet Stevenson, Ria Zmitrowicz.

Monday 12 August – Saturday 28 September 2019

Press night: Tuesday 20 August 7pm

 First, do no harm. 

doctor

(noun) one who mends or repairs; in popular current use, applied to any medical practitioner. Also a traditional healer or diviner.

(verb) to treat so as to alter the appearance or character of; to falsify, tamper with, disguise.

Almeida Associate Director Robert Icke and Juliet Stevenson reunite at the Almeida for their third collaboration, following Mary Stuart and Hamlet. 

Almeida Theatre: Initial casting announced for The Hunt

The Hunt initial casting
The Hunt initial casting

The Hunt initial casting

We are a small community. The happiness of our children is everything. Our hopes and dreams rest in these tiny souls.

 In a small town in northern Denmark, the children celebrate Harvest Festival.

In the forest by the water the men of the lodge stand naked in the cold. This is their country. This is their song.

In the shadows a lonely child gives a strange man her heart.

The hunt begins.

Almeida Artistic Director Rupert Goold directs The Hunt by David Farr (The Night ManagerSpooks), based on the critically acclaimed Danish film thriller Jagten, by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm.

The cast includes: Michele AustinDanny KirraneTobias Menzies and Howard Ward, with further casting to be announced soon.

Also announced today is Botis Seva as Movement Director. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Far From The Norm, a dance collective renowned for experimenting with hip hop form whilst tackling socio-political concerns. Seva’s show BLKDOG which ran at Sadler’s Wells in 2018 has been nominated for Best New Dance Production at the Olivier Awards.

Rupert Goold is the Almeida’s Artistic Director where he has previously directed Shipwreck Albion, Ink (also West End and Broadway), Richard III (broadcast live to cinemas around the world), MedeaThe Merchant of Venice, King Charles III (West End, Broadway, UK and international tour) and American Psycho (also Broadway). He was Artistic Director of Headlong from 2005 until 2013 where his work included The EffectENRON, Earthquakes in London and Decade. Other theatre credits include Made in Dagenham (West End); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Almeida); Macbeth (Chichester Festival Theatre, West End and Broadway) and No Man’s Land (The Gate, Dublin and West End). He has twice been the recipient of the Laurence Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Director. He was Associate Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2009 to 2012 and was Artistic Director of Northampton Theatres from 2002 to 2005. On film, he directed the BAFTA nominatedRichard II, part of The Hollow Crown; Macbeth for the BBC; feature film True Story starring James Franco and Jonah Hill; a television adaptation of his production of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III for BBC Two, and the forthcoming feature film Judy. He was awarded a CBE for services to drama in 2017.

David Farr’s plays include The Heart of Robin Hood, The UN Inspector, and adaptations of The Odyssey and Kafka’s Metamorphosis. His writing for television includes an episode of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams (also director); The Night ManagerSpooks and the forthcoming series Hanna, based on his 2011 film of the same name. His film writing work includes Hanna and The Ones Below (also director).  He has previously been Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and he was also Associate Director at the RSC where he directed several Shakespeare plays and Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

Almeida Theatre announces full casting for Three Sisters

Three Sisters. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz. Photo - Nadav Kander.
Three Sisters. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz. Photo - Nadav Kander.

Three Sisters. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz. Photo – Nadav Kander.

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we could live our lives all over again but be fully conscious of it the second time? 

 I bet we’d try to do everything differently, or at least would know to create a different world for ourselves.

In a room in a house in a provincial town, three sisters wait for their lives to begin.
Olga, the eldest. Masha, the middle child. Irina, the youngest.

The clock strikes. A candle is lit.
The clock stops. Something catches fire.
The clock strikes. They wake up.

Following her critically acclaimed production of Summer and Smoke, Almeida Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall directs Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, in a new adaptation by Cordelia Lynn (One For SorrowLela & Co).

Joining the previously announced Pearl Chanda and Patsy Ferran are Lois ChimimbaAlexander ElliotAnnie FirbankElliot LeveyEric MacLennanFreddie MeredithPeter McDonaldSonny Poon TipShubham SarafAkshay SharanAlan Williams and Ria Zmitrowicz.

Rebecca Frecknall is Associate Director at the Almeida Theatre and was previously on the Almeida’s Resident Director programme. For the Almeida, she previously directed Summer and Smoke (transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre) and worked as Resident Director on Ink at the Almeida/Duke of York’s Theatre and Movement Director on Albion. Her production of Steel by Chris Bush ran in the Sheffield Crucible Studio in 2018.  Prior to the Almeida, she was Resident Director at Northern Stage from 2015-2016 after winning the acclaimed RTYDS Bursary. During this time she directed IdomeneusWhat Are They Like?, Educating Rita (for Durham Gala) and Julie by Zinnie Harris. Before taking up this role, she worked as a freelance director in London and has worked with the National Theatre, RSC and Young Vic. She was the 2012 recipient of the National Theatre Studio’s Resident Director Bursary and was awarded one of the Young Vic’s Jerwood Assistant Director Bursaries in 2011.

Cordelia Lynn’s plays include One For SorrowBest Served ColdLela & CoBelievers Anonymous and After The War. Her opera writing credits include Miranda and other vocal work includes HeaveThe White Princess and you’ll drown dear.  She was the recipient of the Harold Pinter Commission 2017.

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David Eldridge, Playwright Interview: “If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write.”

 Playwright David Eldridge

David Eldridge ( Picture credit – Keith Pattison/Royal Court Theatre 2012)

START
Questions: Carl Woodward
Answers: David Eldridge (Obviously)
David Eldridge is a prolific playwright. His work has been seen on our country’s biggest stages (The National, Donmar Warehouse, Hampstead theatre and The Royal Court to name a few.
He was busy marking essays but agreed to talk to me for a few minutes.
Just don’t get him started on cooking…

Hello! Where are you and what are you up to? 
Right now it’s 8.30am and I’m at home in north London. I’ve just had a bowl of porridge and I’m catching up on a few emails before I head to my office to crack on for the day. Not a writing day today though. I’ve a pile of plays to grade as I teach part-time at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Your work has been commissioned by the National, The Royal Court, Bush, Hampstead, Almeida theatres and many more. Do you ever pinch yourself? 
All the time. I always remember vividly a time in my early twenties when I was living at my mum and dad’s after Uni and working in the evening in the hotchpotch old extension at home. As I was writing I could hear the sound of my dad outside in the garden shed tapping heels in to women’s shoes at 10p or 20p a pair a time to earn a bit more extra money for him and mum and by extension me. I always think about that when I’m struggling with what I’m writing. I never want to be that writer that signs a card to a friend “David Eldridge”. In a sense Dominic Dromgoole is right about me in his book. I’m incredibly serious about what I do and totally committed. But there’s another part of me that could not give a fuck. Having a play on at one of those theatres is great but it’s always the audience that makes the play, wherever it’s on and much of a writer’s life is quite lonely and boring. I’d be quite happy cooking full time (I write now on a laptop on the kitchen table) and the best days are days spent cooking and writing. Last May I spent a Sunday when my girlfriend was away making a Dal Makhani (which has to be cooked very slowly and with real care) and writing. It was perfect. Being a parent is the most important and fulfilling thing in my life. What’s making a play compared to raising a child and trying to be a good dad?

 I was chatting to a writer recently and she said that a lot of the writing process is about when the planets align, when that perfect moment comes along. Do you work to that principal or do you have a knack to force the planets into alignment?
I can see a bit of truth in that. Just this autumn I had an unexpected gap partly because a film company couldn’t get together a meeting for a few weeks to give notes on a draft of a screenplay I’ve written. My fingers were itchy and I couldn’t sit still and I wrote a play I’d been wanting to write for ten years, but never found the right moment until then. On the other hand I think when we talk about planets aligning it makes me cringe a bit. No disrespect to the other writer but I believe more in screenwriter William Goldman’s approach “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.” Its work, writing. I think you get the first draft out. And then you rewrite until its ready to share. Managements never see anything less than my third draft. I think a lot of young and new writers are crazy to show managements their first drafts. Your third or fourth draft should be the managements first draft. It’s play-WRIGHT. Do the graft. That’s not to say you don’t collaborate and often you rewrite a lot more. But do your job first.

Which other writers would you recommend at the moment?
Oh God. There are so many brilliant playwrights, we’re very lucky in the UK. I think Penelope Skinner, debbie tucker green and Annie Baker are the bees knees. Anna Jordan and Chris Urch both wrote wonderful Bruntwood Award winning plays. Gary Owen has had a great year as has Jack Thorne, both of whom I admire hugely. How does Caryl Churchill still do it? I said to someone recently she’s “our Picasso, our Pankhurst, our Bowie, our Orbach” and I believe that. Robert Holman is a great playwright and fortunately not such a secret pleasure any more after the last few years. But my mind is full this morning of Leo Butler’s “Boy” which I saw last night. It’s fantastic and brave and true and unlike anything else. He’s not always had a great luck (his Royal Court downstairs debut premiered on 9/11) but this play is a reminder he’s one of our best and most thoughtful playwrights painting on a big canvass. Really Rufus Norris should commission him to write for one of the big spaces at the NT. While Rufus is at it he should try and persuade screenwriter Sarah Phelps to write for theatre again. She’s ace.

What would be the worst way to die?
My paternal great-grandmother was burned alive in a house fire. I don’t want to go that way and I don’t want any of my nearest and dearest to go that way.

Easy question: what’s the best play ever written?
Yeah, right do one mate. Seriously you’ve got to be kidding. I’m a play geek. You could get a dissertation length answer. For me, this morning it’s Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. I don’t think that can ever change for me because it’s the play that turned me on to theatre aged 17.
What word do people incorrectly use to describe your work?
Naturalistic.
It seems that you’re quite ambitious in terms of wanting your work to make an impression. 
If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write. If I was running a theatre I would not programme or commission writers that are merely wanking or getting the next play on the shelf.
If for some reason I had to ban you from making theatre is there something else you’d like to do?
Well I’d write for TV or film (as I am already) or write a novel which I want to write, or I might get to spend enough time on some of my poems so they’re good enough to actually show someone one day. But as I say I’d be happy cooking. I’d be happy being a full time dad.
Anything you’d like to add? 
Writing for performance is an odd endeavour as its all collaboration in the end. But you have to be independent (and absolutely not dependent on others) and do your job and know yourself and your work as much as possible to be the best you can be in that collaboration. A collaboration that often starts with you alone one morning, wasting time on social media in your PJ’s and ends several years later in a little theatre above a pub in W12 with an audience. You don’t make the best work if the writer gets lost along the way.
END