Casting announced for landmark revival of British musical The Hired Man

Lauryn Redding & Oliver Hembrough - The Hired Man

Lauryn Redding & Oliver Hembrough – The Hired Man

Full casting has today been announced for the landmark revival of the award-winning British musical The Hired Man, co-produced by the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Hull Truck Theatre in association with Oldham Coliseum Theatre. This epic heroic tale of love, betrayal and loyalty opens in Hornchurch (27 April – 18 May), transfers to Hull (23 May – 15 June) and concludes in Oldham (20 June – 6 July).

 The cast includes Jon Bonner (The Commitments, UK tour); Lloyd Gorman (Sunny Afternoon, Harold Pinter Theatre); Oliver Hembrough(Insignificance, Arcola Theatre); TJ Holmes (Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare’s Globe & Liverpool Everyman); Lucy Keirl (The Crucible, UK tour); Lara Lewis (Daisy Pulls It Off, Charing Cross Theatre); Sufia Manya (Miss Littlewood, Royal Shakespeare Company); Samuel Martin (The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe); Lauryn Redding (Oliver Twist, Hull Truck); Tom Self (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch) and James William-Pattison (Once, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch / New Wolsey Theatre).​

 The Hired Man is directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul (In BasildonMade in DagenhamThe Crucible), with design by Jean Chan, musical director Ben Goddard, movement by Jane Gibson, lighting design by Prema Mehta and sound design by Chris Murray.

 Based on the stirring novel by Melvyn Bragg first published in 1969, The Hired Man was turned into a musical in 1984. The production features a superb score of rousing foot stomping rhythms and soaring choruses by the award-winning composer Howard Goodall (Bend It Like BeckhamLove Story).

 Howard Goodall says, ‘I am absolutely thrilled about this revival: three brilliant regional theatres, a wonderful creative team and a chance for a new generation of theatre-goers to see this piece that Melvyn Bragg and I first put in front of an audience 35 years ago.’

 For more information about the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch visit

Cast announced for Bristol Old Vic co-production Princess & The Hustler

Cast of Princess & The Hustler
Cast of Princess & The Hustler

Cast of Princess & The Hustler

Bristol Old Vic today announced the full cast for Princess & The Hustler, a new production from Eclipse Theatre, which has been co-produced with Bristol Old Vic and Hull Truck Theatre. The play is set against the backdrop of one of the most pivotal moments of the Black British civil rights movement – the 1963 Bristol bus boycott. The production will have its world premier in Bristol Old Vic’s Weston Studio from 9 Feb – 23 Feb,before touring venues nationally until 13 Apr.

Following last year’s acclaimed sell-out production of Black Men WalkingPrincess & The Hustler is the second hidden historic Black British story to come out of Revolution Mix, an Eclipse movement that is spearheading the largest ever delivery of new Black British writing.

Written by Bristol-based Chinonyerem Odimba (Medea), Princess & The Hustler, which was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, will be directed by Eclipse Theatre’s artistic director Dawn Walton, who also directed Black Men Walking. The play is designed by Simon Kenny (Black Men Walking, Sweeny Todd), with lighting design by Aideen Malone (A Monster Calls, Jane Eyre) and sound design by Richard Hammarton (The Mountaintop, Ripper St.).

Leading the cast as Phyllis ‘Princess’ James is Kudzai Sitima (Sonnet Sunday for The Globe, RANDOM/GENERATIONS for Chichester Minerva Theatre), with Romayne Andrews (Hamlet, King Lear, Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company) as Leon, Donna Berlin (Of Kith and Kin for Sheffield Crucible/The Bush, Anna Karenina for the Royal Exchange/West Yorkshire Playhouse) as Mavis, Emily Burnett (The Dumping Ground for CBBC, The Snow Queen for Bristol Old Vic) as Lorna, Seun Shote (Black Mirror for Netflix, Unforgotten for ITV, Routes for Royal Court) as Wendell ‘The Hustler’, Fode Simbo (Young Marx for Bridge Theatre, Summer Of Rockets for the BBC) as Wendell ‘Junior’, and Jade Yourell (Absolute Hell for the National Theatre, Country Girls for Chichester Festival) as Margot.  

Despite the 1963 Bristol bus boycott being a major turning point for Black British civil rights, the story is barely known outside of the South West. The boycott, which led to the first Equalities and Discrimination laws, occurred when eighteen-year-old Guy Bailey was refused a job interview by the Bristol Omnibus Company because of the colour of his skin. Set in this time, Princess & The Hustler is a family drama that tells the story of loveable protagonist Princess, a cheeky 10-year-old with a plan to win the Weston-Super-Mare Beauty Contest. Whilst Princess explores what it really means to be black and beautiful, her brother, a budding photographer, represents the beginning of an incredibly important moment in the documentation of Black British culture.

Dawn Walton said, “The fact that we have assembled such a fantastic cast for this new play is another indication of the growing excitement that is being generated in theatre through the Revolution Mix movement. The history matters. There were colour bars openly operating in the UK so recently in Britain, but it isn’t widely known. The actions and bravery of those involved in this protest should be celebrated across the country, and it’s incredibly important that we shine a light on the rich seam of material that completes the British story.”

Chinonyerem Odimba said, “To be writing a Bristol show in my local theatre that I am very much a part of feels like an absolute honour. I don’t think many playwrights get to write stories that are set fully in a city that they know and love very dearly.”

Through a series of workshops, the Eclipse team will also be looking for members of the Black community from each of the towns and cities on the tour to be part of the community chorus and play an important part in the final production. Those who are interested are encouraged to keep an eye on for more information on how to get involved or to email [email protected]uk with any questions.

Princess & The Hustler
The production will tour venues in England from Sat 9 Feb – Sat 13 Apr 2019 as follows:

Bristol Old Vic: 9 – 23 Feb
New Wolsey, Ipswich: 27 Feb – 2 Mar
Hull Truck Theatre: 5 – 16 Mar
Nuffield Southampton Theatre: 19 & 20 Mar
Oxford Playhouse: 22 & 23 Mar
Liverpool Playhouse: 2 – 6 Apr
Live Theatre, Newcastle: 9 – 13 Apr

Press nights:
Bristol Old Vic – Thurs 14 Feb
Hull Truck Theatre – Wed 6 Mar

Listings Information:
Princess & The Hustler
The Weston Studio
9 – 23 Feb, 8pm (3pm Thu & Sat Matinees)
Ages 12+
From £16

UK Premiere of The Suitcase, presented by The Market Theatre Johannesburg, to open at Hull Truck Theatre before touring the North of England

James Ncgobo
James Ncgobo

James Ncgobo

The Suitcase brings together a unique partnership of venues in the North of England and the Market Theatre Johannesburg, marking the internationally renowned theatre company’s return to the UK after a five year absence. This partnership, the first of its kind, enables international work to be performed across five northern cities, sharing programming and strengthening audience development. The tour has been made possible through National Lottery Funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme.

It’s a story never more relevant to our time, exploring issues of identity, migration, exile and celebration of the human spirit. The show will have its UK premiere at Hull Truck Theatre (31 August–9 September) as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017’s Freedom season before touring to Newcastle (14-16 September), Derby (20-23 September), Lancaster (27-29 September) and Liverpool (4-7 October).

1950s South Africa. A young newly married couple leave their rural village and disapproving family for the city of Durban. Their goal: to return home rich and free. But, alienated in the city, unemployed and poor, Timi starts to lose his moral compass. Desperate to provide for his pregnant wife, he steals a suitcase left on a bus not knowing what might be inside; an act which brings frightening consequences, dramatic twists and unexpected turns.

Based on a true story, The Suitcase has been nominated in the New Director category in the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards for The Rosalie van der Gucht Prize. Director James Ngcobo saw enormous theatrical potential in this poignant and emotive story and so adapted it for the stage. The production – evocative, visual and moving – encompasses African storytelling and lyrical music at its very best.

The Market Theatre Johannesburg, known internationally as ‘Theatre of the Struggle’, challenged the apartheid regime and dared to stand up against social injustice, acting as a vital and powerful voice for freedom and emancipation. Its 21 international and over 300 South African theatre awards bear testament to the courage and artistic quality of its work. Today, the Market Theatre remains at the forefront of South African performance, actively encouraging new productions to reach international stages.

The decision to tour The Suitcase in the UK was inspired by Hull Truck Theatre’s visit to South Africa in 2015. Hull Truck Theatre Mark Babych (Artistic Director) and Jill Adamson (Director of Engagement and Learning) visited as part of a group of delegates to promote artistic exchange between the North East of England and the Eastern Cape of South Africa, funded by the Swallow Foundation.

Playwright Es’kia Mphahlele is among South Africa’s greatest writers, thinkers and critics. Respected worldwide as a literary luminary, he has published many short stories, essays and novels dealing with issues of race and South Africa’s changing society.

Composer Hugh Masekela is a legendary Grammy Award-winning South African musician, best known for writing anti-apartheid songs including Soweto Blues and Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela).

Director James Ngcobo became the first black artistic director of Market Theatre Johannesburg in 2013, and continues to enhance the theatre’s worldwide reputation for artistic greatness. He has a passion for working with undiscovered actors, young designers and artists to tell new South African stories.

Mark Babych, Artistic Director at Hull Truck Theatre, says:

‘It’s been a long-held ambition to work with the Market Theatre Johannesburg. As a young director, they opened my eyes to the power of theatre as they battled with the human tragedy of the apartheid years – inspired by the work of Athol Fugard, Barney Simon and the breath-taking power of performers like John Kani, Winston Ntshona, Percy Mtewa and Mbongeni Ngema.

 The Market Theatre still holds a special place in my heart. It’s a dream come true to welcome this wonderful company to our city as part of our 2017 programme, and to share the UK premiere of The Suitcase across five great cities.’

James Ngcobo, Artistic Director at Market Theatre Johannesburg, says:

‘We are so excited that we are about to visit the UK with a story set in South Africa – yet anyone can relate to this universal tale of a man who wants to change his life. Whenever we perform this piece, people have always said that there are clear parallels with their own lives when they witness how Timi’s life unfolds.

This tour is happening this year all because of the buckets of passion that Mark Babych has brought to the idea of a piece from South Africa coming to Hull in such a landmark year.

We are looking forward to bringing the story by the prolific Professor Eskia Mphahlele to Hull and the Northern tour after that – this visit is the gateway to the beginning of a relationship with Hull Truck Theatre, a relationship that will carry on past this tour.’

Praise for The Suitcase:

“Once you’ve seen this production once you just have to go and see it again” – Time Out, Soweto

“It’s pure theatre at its best” The Star Tonight Review (South Africa)

Tour listings:

Thur 31 August – Sat 9 September, 7.30pm
Sat 9 Sept, 2pm
Tickets: Pay What You Can – Thur 31 August
£12 – £22.50

Thur 14 Sept, 6pm
Fri 15 Sept, 7.30pm
Sat 16 Sept, 2pm & 7.30pm
Tickets from £10

Weds 20 – Sat 23 September
Evenings: 7.30pmSaturday Matinee 2.30pm
Tickets: £15.50 – £26.50

Weds 27 Sept – Fri 29 Sept at 7.30pm
Tickets: £15.50 – £19.50

Wed 4 – Sat 7 October
Eves: Wed, Fri, Sat at 7.30pm
Mats: Thur at 5.30pm, Sat at 2pm
Tickets: £10 – £30