Gate Theatre Announces 40th Anniversary Season

Gate Theatre 40th Anniversary Season

Six new productions announced: four world premieres, two UK premieres, international partnerships and £5 tickets, programmed as a part of the Gate Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Season, led by a Manifesto for our Future and an Archive Project:

  • UK premiere of MEPHISTO [RHAPSODIE], by Samuel Gallet, a searing contemporary response to the cult Klaus Mann novel, translated by Chris Campbell, and directed by Kirsty Housley. Thursday 3 – Saturday 26 October

  • UK premiere of LAND WITHOUT DREAMS in association with award-winning Copenhagen-based theatre company Fix&Foxy, (director and writer Tue Biering, director (London) Lise Lauenblad). Thursday 14 November – Saturday 7th December

  • World premiere FACES IN THE CROWD, based on Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli’s astonishing award-winning debut novel, directed by Ellen McDougall. Thursday 16 January – Saturday 8 February

  • World premiere of TRAINERS, OR, THE BRUTAL UNPLEASANT ATMOSPHERE OF THIS MOST DISAGREEABLE SEASON: A THEATRICAL ESSAY by Sylvan Oswald, a queer revolutionary adventure story. Thursday 27 February – Saturday 21 March

  • World premiere of OMEROS, the epic poem by Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, directed by Elayce Ismail and developed with Paterson Joseph. Thursday 7 May – Saturday 30 May

  • PRAYER by Gate Associate Artist Rosie Elnile. A new piece that reimagines our relationship with nature, our bodies, and public spaces. Summer 2020

  • MANIFESTO FOR OUR FUTURE: an open statement setting out our values and ambitions for the future. Full text can be read here

  • Gate Theatre Archive: 40 Years in 40 Weeks: a celebration of trailblazing artists who have made work at the Gate Theatre from Sarah Kane to Katie Mitchell to Sophie Okonedo, the theatre is unpacking its history with a weekly release from their archive. In partnership with Royal Holloway University, curated by Madhia Hussain and Yunique Enim Adusei.

  • New Associates: The Queer House, run by Charlotte Boden and Yasmin Zadeh, to become an Associate Company, and Jean Pierre Baro (Suzy Storck, Gate, 2017), Artistic Director Theatres D’Ivry,becomes International Associate. They join Associate Artists Jude Christian, Rosie Elnile and Anthony Simpson-Pike.

  • New Partnership: Gate Theatre announced as the UK partner for the Fabulamundi Playwriting Europe: Beyond Borders – a project among 15 cultural organisations from 10 European countries producing new plays from across the continent

  • Audio described performances: Every play at the Gate Theatre will now include a dedicated audio described performance, including touch tours, in addition to captioned performances and live-captioned post show discussions.

  • Open Rehearsals: for each new production at the Gate Theatre audiences are invited into the rehearsal room to get an insight into the early stages of making each show.

  • ‘High Fiver’ ticket scheme allowing under 30s to show up on the night and secure a ticket for £5 (availability dependent); a continued commitment to making theatre ever more accessible.

Ellen McDougall, Artistic Director, says:

“Programming a season that celebrates the formidable and trailblazing 40 year history of the Gate is a challenging and exciting prospect. Throughout its existence the Gate has been forward looking and anti-establishment. It has always looked outwards, working with international artists and stories, and it has always supported artists at an early stage of their careers. So the most appropriate way to celebrate our history seems to me to be to look forward. Our MANIFESTO FOR OUR FUTURE is a way to share the thinking that underpins our work.

“All the shows in this season consider the past, and imagine possible futures – they are rooted in the idea of time travel. We open with MEPHISTO [RHAPSODIE], a searing new play inspired by Klaus Manns’ visionary 1930s cult novel, directed by Kirsty Housley. Immediately after that, I am delighted to be introducing the award-winning Danish company Fix&Foxy and their piece LAND WITHOUT DREAMS, that tackles our deepest anxieties about the future with humour and hope. In the new year, I am directing an adaption of Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli’s award-winning novel FACES IN THE CROWD, a shapeshifting story about identity and transformation. That is followed by brand new play TRAINERS, OR, THE BRUTAL UNPLEASANT ATMOSPHERE OF THIS MOST DISAGREEABLE SEASON: A THEATRICAL ESSAY by Sylvan Oswald, a queer adventure story about gender non-conformity, transition, set in the 1500s and the future. Paterson Joseph returns to the Gate for the first time since Emperor Jones (1995), to develop a brand new adaptation of Derek Walcott’s epic poem OMEROS directed by Elayce Ismail – a redemptive and powerful retelling of Homer’s Iliad set in his native St. Lucia. Rosie Elnile is creating PRAYER, reimagining our relationship to nature, our bodies, and public spaces. I’m particularly thrilled that we can celebrate our role as the home of the Jerwood Designers Programme with this designer led project.

“There’s lots of other ways to engage with our work too: our Archive Project – 40 Years in 40 Weeks; Open Rehearsals; a brand new partnership across Europe; audio described shows, and a new ticket scheme making our work more accessible than ever.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be announcing two new associates to join our team – The Queer House – run by Yasmin Zadeh and Charlotte Boden – are our first ever Associate Company – and Jean Pierre Baro (Suzy Storck) joins as our International Associate.

“When Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell celebrated the Gate’s 30th birthday they described it as ‘the eternal teenager’, because of its youthful, rebellious attitude. And today’s teenagers are more active and progressive than ever: they are on the front line of the climate crisis, they are redefining our perceptions of identity, they are forcing the adults to sit up and listen. In these extraordinary times let’s come together to imagine the possibility of change, of transition, of transformation.”


By Samuel Gallet

Translated by Chris Campbell

Directed by Kirsty Housley

Adapted from the novel by Klaus Mann

Designed by Basia Bińkowska

Thursday 3 – Saturday 26 October

Press Night 8 October

Fascism. Resistance. Apathy. In the town of Balbek the far right are about to seize power. At the local theatre Aymeric dreams of celebrity; Lucas longs for a liberal revolution; Michael is seduced by the extremists. Juliette Demba is in fear for her life.

As this political earthquake convulses society Aymeric must make his choice: resist the forces of hatred or harness them for his own success.

Mephisto [Rhapsodie] is a searing contemporary response to Klaus Mann’s banned, and fiercely political cult novel. It is based on the real life story of Gustaf Gründgens whose dreams of fame led him to betray everything, and at the peak of his career, perform Faust for Hitler. Samuel Gallet’s urgent new play asks, what would you sacrifice to do the right thing?


created by Fix&Foxy

Director and writer Tue Biering

Director (London) Lise Lauenblad

Thursday 14 November – Saturday 7th December

Press Night 19 November

This is a play about the future (and climate change. Not insomnia).

A woman walks on to the stage. She says she is from the future. She says that we have stopped dreaming. She says we can change everything. She says that she can help end all our dystopian nightmares. But we know plays don’t change the world. Right?

This is the UK premiere of Land Without Dreams, a hopeful, funny and courageous new show by multi-award winning Copenhagen-based theatre company Fix&Foxy. Their previous works include radical versions of Pretty Woman, Twin Peaks, and Friends.


By Valeria Luiselli

Novel translated by Christina McSweeney

Directed by Ellen McDougall

Designed by Bethany Wells

Thursday 16 January – Saturday 8 February

Press Night 21 January

Leave a life. Blow everything up. Or better still: leave empty chairs at the tables you once shared with friends. What few people understand is that you leave one life to start another.

In Mexico City, a mother begins writing her novel. She is constantly interrupted.

In New York, a woman is haunted by the ghost of a Mexican poet. She can’t keep out the past.
100 years earlier, a poet is troubled by visions of a woman on the subway. She lives decades in the future.

As a mother tries to remember the faces from her past, the lines between her and them blur, time folds in on itself and ghosts appear everywhere.

Based on Valeria Luiselli’s internationally-acclaimed, award-winning novel, Faces in the Crowd beautifully intertwines three narratives in unexpected ways. Pushing the boundaries of storytelling, this dizzying, fluid and haunting adaptation suggests our identities are more permeable than we imagine.



By Sylvan Oswald

Thursday 27 February – Saturday 21 March

Press Night 3 March

France. Sometime in the 1500s. Boy meets boy.

Etienne and Montaigne spend six hot years together. Hot like intellectually hot. Or other Hot. Which is my preference. Then, because it’s the late 1500s and public health was not yet a thing, Etienne falls gravely ill with dysentery and dies aged 33. Montaigne is just 30 at that point. He lives for another 30 years and never feels that passion again.

Hundreds of years in the future the Second American Civil War has transformed the country.

And two queer radicals meet in the fallout. But can their desire survive a revolution?

Trainers… is a brand new play by Sylvan Oswald that asks what separates us from each other, our bodies and ourselves and how we might complete one another. This queer visionary adventure story explores the different ways we can be lovers and activists and humans and what it takes to train for a revolution.


By Derek Walcott

Directed by Elayce Ismail

Creative Consultant Paterson Joseph

Thursday 7 May – Saturday 30 May

Press Night 12 May

I sang our wide country, the Caribbean sea;

Like Philoctete’s wound,

this language carries its cure.

Helen is pregnant, but doesn’t know who the father is. Desperate to impress her, Hector leaves his fishing community and moves to the big city, while Achille, heartbroken, is taken on a spiritual journey to his homeland. Meanwhile, Philoctete spends his days in the NO PAIN CAFE, longing for his ancient wound to heal.

Nobel Prize-winning poet, Derek Walcott, reimagines the characters of Homer’s Iliad as fishermen on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Set against a backdrop of encroaching tourism and commercialism, this epic drama explores the community’s historical wounds of slavery and the redemptive power of culture and heritage.

Directed by Elayce Ismail (Nanjing, Shakespeare’s Globe), Walcott’s masterpiece is beautifully re-imagined for the Gate.


By Rosie Elnile

Summer 2020

Rehearse (v.): …literally “to rake over, turn over” (soil, ground)…

Gate Associate Artist Rosie Elnile is creating a new piece of work that reimagines our relationship with nature, our bodies, and public spaces.

Prayer is about making something as a communal and hopeful act, about creating a space that needs to be cared for, a space to imagine new futures.