Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse announces the first season by Suba Das
- Three world premiere productions
- The 40th-anniversary production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls
- New collaborations with celebrated UK Theatre companies
Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse today announces its new programme of work, the first under Creative Director Suba Das. It confirms the venues’ commitment to artistic innovation, talent development, and social change, whilst reflecting and entertaining the people of Liverpool and beyond. The programme boasts world premieres from local creatives developed by the Everyman & Playhouse, co-commissions with some of the foremost arts companies in the UK, and two productions directed by Suba Das; the 40th-anniversary production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls and the return of the Everyman’s celebrated rock ‘n’ roll panto presented by a new creative team comprising many of theatre’s most exciting practitioners.
Also announced are collaborations with a host of UK theatrical organisations who will work with local artists, share knowledge and produce work that is more representative of the world in which we live. The first isA Billion Times I Love Yousupported by Liverpool’s Homotopia and in 2023 a bold new musical version of Alice in Wonderland with Stockroom, and High Times and Dirty Monsters produced with 20 Stories High and Graeae. Full details will be announced later this year.
Suba Das, who comes to the city having led the acclaimed theatre company HighTide, said:
“The Liverpool Everyman, together with the Playhouse, have long held one of the greatest reputations in the world as powerhouses of new writing and talent development – it’s what drew me to this incredible role and opportunity. I’m unbelievably privileged to have joined a team who are committed to change and transformation, and ensuring we’re a theatre that now leads the way in developing an even wider array of voices and stories that reflect our city and the world we live in.
It’s challenging for us all right now as we emerge from a pandemic and into a cost-of-living crisis, so it’s been a joy to spend my first three months in my new home connecting with old friends and making new ones. It’s through these partnerships and projects that I hope we can ensure that even in tough times, our audiences and artists continue to choose our theatres as their home too – a place where they know their stories and experiences are valued and celebrated.”
Keith Saha, Artistic Director of 20 Stories High said:
“We are proud to be deepening our relationship with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and are feeling so excited to work with Suba Das and the rest of the team. We’ve been on a journey together over the past two years, exploring what anti-racism and allyship looks like and what this means for participants, audiences, and emerging artists from the Global Majority. We know that with this partnership, we will find new ways to make work that truly reflects the cultural diversity of our city. Together, we will make new work that is bold, joyous, and empowering.”
The theatres confirm their commitment to young people and the development of talent from the Liverpool City Region with their first production, A Billion Times I Love Youby Patrick Maguire, a graduate of the award-winning Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) programme, which is celebrating its 10th year. A Billion Times I Love Youopens at the Everyman Theatre on Tuesday 27 September (press night 29 September) and is supported by Homotopia, the longest-running LGBTQIA arts festival in the UK (happening every November), who support and platform local, national, and international LGBTQIA artists. The play won the Homotopia Writers’ Award 2021, with the Everyman and Homotopia selecting director Jess Meade, herself a YEP graduate and alumni of Homotopia’s own talent development programme Queercore, to bring the play to life in a scripted reading at the Everyman in May. The reaction to this new ‘queer love story’ was so powerful, it has been instantly propelled to the main stage, with Jess Meade now directing her first main house show. Speaking about the show, director Jess Meade said:
“I feel really honoured to be opening Suba’s season with this bold, brave and beautiful queer love story and incredibly grateful to be supported by Suba and the team at the Everyman & Playhouse in this exciting next step of my career. My relationship began with their young director development programme, YEP Directors, so this opportunity is particularly special to me. It all feels very full circle!”
Suba’s first directing role at the theatres, opening on 25 November (press night 29 November) will be the legendary Everyman rock ‘n’ roll panto, which for 2022 will be a new version of Red Riding Hood. He has assembled a diverse and multi-award-winning creative team, blending the brilliance of past shows with inventive new voices. Writer Peter Rowe has written eleven record-breaking rock‘n’roll pantos and returns to Liverpool having previously been Artistic Director at the Everyman and most recently at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Designer Grace Smart is a LIPA graduate, with credits including The Globe, Curve Leicester, and Nottingham Playhouse. Musical Director and Arranger Rob Green is a singer, songwriter, performer, and musical director who has performed as a solo artist, supporting the Whitney Houston Hologram Arena Tour and Earth, Wind and Fire. Choreographer Lucy Cullingford has worked extensively for the RSC, National Theatre, and on numerous West End and Broadway shows. For the first time, the rock ‘n’ roll panto will have a dedicated Circus Director in Jack Horner, who has worked with Cirque Du Soleil and Disney, as well as Moulin Rouge! The Musical in London’s West End. The theatres’ resident Sound Designer Ian Davies and Costume Supervisor Jacquie Davies return.A recent open call for actor-musicians has reaped an array of diverse musical talent, with the full cast to be announced in September.
In March 2023 at the Everyman, Suba will direct the 40th anniversary of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s seminal play examining what it means or takes for a woman to succeed. He said:
“I’m blown away to have Caryl Churchill’s permission to create what we hope will be a landmark revival of one of the most incredible, important plays ever written. I’m profoundly aware of the responsibilities I have as a man leading this production and I hope more than anything to give space and opportunity to a fully inclusive all-female identifying creative team and company. In the 40 years since the play was written there has been so much progress, but as abortion rights are rolled back in America, and the “culture wars” around gender grow ever more toxic, it’s clear there are still battles to fight. This production is the small contribution I can make towards more conversation and understanding. And I’m so excited that in the roles of Marlene and Joyce especially, two sisters who have made very different choices for their lives, I’ll hopefully have the opportunity to bring some of Liverpool’s legendary female acting talent back on to our stage.”
Top Girls will go on sale in November, along with a new version of Alice In Wonderland in a co-production with Stockroom at the Playhouse in Summer 2023. Kate Wasserberg, Artistic Director of Stockroom said:
“We are delighted to be coming to Liverpool Playhouse next year with our adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. It’s very exciting to be working with Suba and the team on this modern musicalriff on a timeless classic. I am very proud of our diverse team of writers who have created a fun, cool, and contemporary interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s novel that should be just as appealing to teenagers and young adults as it is for the whole family.”
Another big literary title re-imagined for the Playhouse stage in 2023, will be The Beekeeper of Aleppo, adapted by Nesrin Alrefaai and Matthew Spangler from the acclaimed novel by Christy Lefteri. Winner of the Aspen Words Award, Runner up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and one of The Times top three bestselling books of 2020, this compassionate and beautiful play is a story of connection – between friends, families, and strangers. Directed by Miranda Cromwell (Death of a Salesman), this co-production, in association with Nottingham Playhouse and UK Productions reunites the production partners behind the hugely successful stage adaptation of The Kite Runner, which recently opened on Broadway. The Beekeeper of Aleppo runs at the Playhouse from 1 to 11 March and is now on sale.
Building relationships with exceptional UK Theatre companies is vital to Suba’s developing creative vision. This includes a strong collaboration with 20 Stories High as this autumn the Everyman plays host to their State of Mind Symposium on 3 November. The culmination of four years’ work, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, State of Mind has allowed 20 Stories High to explore how, as an arts organisation, they can place mental health and wellbeing at the heart of the company – what it means for the young people they work with, the professional artists they co-create with, the audiences that see their work, and also the team that makes it all happen! The symposium is a chance to come together to celebrate the process, discuss the outcomes and broaden the conversation about well-being.
Alongside the symposium will be the opportunity to enjoy TOUCHY + ANTHOLOGY, a double bill of live music, hip hop, film, and poetry, from Liverpool’s finest. TOUCHYis a collection of award-winning short films on the theme of touch, while ANTHOLOGY is a raw piece of gig theatre that promises to raise the roof! Bursting at the seams with originality, scouse humour, and grit, TOUCHY + ANTHOLOGY are at the Everyman on 3 to 4 November and are now on sale.
The Everyman & Playhouse’s collaboration with 20 Stories High continues into 2023, with the announcement today of a further partnership with Graeae Theatre Company, as their Artistic Director, Jenny Sealey explains:
“We’re excited to be collaborating with the Everyman & Playhouse and 20 Stories High on a new production currently in development – High Times and Dirty Monsters. We’re also building a young company of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists, and funding permitting, there will be more announcements later in the year.”
As well as its own productions and collaborations, ensuring the best in UK theatre and entertainment comes to the city, the theatres also announce further additions to their autumn visiting programme. This includes supporting Liverpool-based Paperwork to take their digital project Deep Blue from its original digital incarnation onto the Everyman stage (20 to 22 October).
At the Playhouse Frantic Assembly return with Othello(4 to 8 October), English Touring Theatre re-imagine The Importance of Being Earnest (11 to 15 October), and Pilot Theatre bring a stage adaptation of Noughts & Crosses (22 to 26 November). For younger children, there’s The Smartest Giant in Town (25 to 29 October) and at Christmas, the global hit musical SIX is back for an extended run (6 December to 8 January) after its previous sell-out visit.
Comedy nights include Joanne McNally: The Prosecco Express (22 October, Playhouse), Kiri Pritchard-McClean: Home Truths (17 September, Playhouse), David O’Doherty: whoa with me(11 November, Playhouse) Flo & Joan: Sweet Release(12 November, Playhouse), Mark Thomas: Black & White (16-17 November, Playhouse), Jon Culshaw withLes Dawson Flying High(19 November, Playhouse) and podcasts and Brown Girls Do It Too (4 November, Playhouse) and Drunk Women Solving Crime (10 September, Everyman).
Music events include the Choir With No Name (9 September, Everyman) and RUSH Theatre Company’s The King of Reggae (16 September, Playhouse). The Everyman will also play host to Melanie C in Conversation as she launches her new memoir (14 September, Everyman) and a very special Audience with The Scaffold; as Mike McCartney, Roger McGough and John Gorman are reunited for two very special performances of comedy, poetry and music back where they first performed in 1964 (29 October, Everyman).
Aside from the on-stage programme, the theatres are committed to further opening up their spaces to meet, be creative and feel connected. Most notably at the Everyman with the return of Life Rooms (a partnership, developed pre-pandemic with NHS Mersey Care), an Artist in Residence programme in collaboration with dot-art and supporting The Comedy Trust with Laughter After Loss. With regular comedy, music, spoken word, drag cabaret nights and backstage tours too, the Everyman continues to strive to be a welcoming and safe space for all.
Further information and tickets are available now at www.everymanplayhouse.com or by calling the information line on 0151 709 4776.