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40th Anniversary Year Season Announced at the Finborough Theatre

Finborough Theatre

2020 is the Finborough Theatre’s 40th anniversary year and they have announced another season of vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries that you can’t see anywhere else. This season they introduce London audiences to one of Northern Ireland’s most acclaimed recent dramatists; rediscover an award-winning play from 1980, the year that they opened; a phenomenally successful comedy-drama from Canada; and a stunning early play from 1938 by a pioneer female playwright.

The season opens with the English premiere of On McQuillan’s Hill, a vicious black comedy by the late Joseph Crilly, a playwright The Guardian called “Ulster’s Martin McDonagh”, playing 4-29 February 2020. When proud IRA man Fra Maline is released from prison, his daughter throws a welcome home celebration at the local community hall. But with the Good Friday Agreement in a precarious state, it’s not long until bitter memories and secrets from the past are calamitously exposed. On McQuillan’s Hill confronts the horrors of abuse and absurdities of sectarian violence, with insight and coruscating humour.

Commissioned to celebrate their 40th anniversary year, they present the first new UK production for 40 years of Paul Kember’s award-winning 1980 comedy-drama Not Quite Jerusalem which plays 3-28 March 2020. It’s 1979, and Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave have fled grim, divided England for the sun, sex, beer and bagels of a Israeli kibbutz. But they soon find that what was supposed to be a working holiday, turns out to be more like hard labour in 100-degree temperatures. A play about what it means to be young, conflicted, English and a very long way from home, Not Quite Jerusalem won first-time playwright Paul Kember the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.

The season continues with the European premiere of Michael Melski’s smash-hit Canadian play Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, playing 31 March-25 April 2020. Teddy and Donner are two lonely working-class single parents who meet at their children’s minor league ice-hockey match. Love, violence and sport collide in this tender, uproarious, and occasionally disturbing story about competitive obsession and what it means to be a (single) parent. Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad was named one of the ‘Top Ten Plays of The Year’ by The Toronto Star, was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award (Toronto’s Olivier Award), has toured Canada twice, and received over forty professional productions.

The season comes to an end with a classic Finborough Theatre rediscovery – Women Without Men – a stunning early play by pioneer Irish female playwright Hazel Ellis, which plays 28 April-23 May 2020. When enthusiastic young teacher Jean Wade arrives at Malyn Park Private School, her high ideals and friendly manner bring her into conflict with the sharp-tongued staff, whose cloistered existences are consumed by jealousy and petty feuds. A frank, affecting picture of working women in a man’s world, Women Without Men was originally produced at the Gate Theatre, Dublin in 1938, and now receives its long-overdue UK premiere.

Two major playwriting competitions also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020:
The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson says:
“The first season of our 40th anniversary year features our usual inspiring and eclectic selection of world drama with plays from Northern Ireland, England, Canada and Ireland.  As always, our programme is focused on vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries, and continues our commitment to never presenting work that has been seen anywhere in London during the last 25 years. In celebration of our 40th anniversary year, we have also undergone a major rebrand with a new logo, new designs for all our publicity, and – coming shortly – a brand new website.

Finborough Theatre  would like to thank Bill Kenwright for his very generous donation to them. His support has made this year’s work possible.

Do please consider celebrating our 40th birthday with us by becoming a Friend of the Finborough Theatre. We are a registered charity, and receive no public funding of any kind, so your membership plays a vital role in supporting one of London’s most acclaimed Off West End theatres. There are four categories of Friends, each named after a theatrical figure resident in nearby Brompton Cemetery, and each offering you a wide range of benefits in return for your support.

I look forward to welcoming you.”

February – May 2020 | Press Nights and Photocalls
Tuesday, 4 February – Saturday, 29 February 2020
The English premiere
ON McQUILLAN’S HILL
by Joseph Crilly. Directed by Jonathan Harden.

Press Nights: Thursday, 6 February and Friday, 7 February 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 4 February 2020 at 1.00pm-1.30pm

Tuesday, 3 March – Saturday, 28 March 2020

The first new UK production for 40 years

NOT QUITE JERUSALEM

by Paul Kember. Directed by Peter Kavanagh.

Press Nights: Thursday, 5 March 2020 and Friday, 6 March 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 3 March 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Tuesday, 31 March – Saturday, 25 April 2020

The European premiere
HOCKEY MOM, HOCKEY DAD

by Michael Melski. Directed by Jimmy Walters.

Press Nights: Thursday, 2 April 2020 and Friday, 3 April at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 31 March 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Tuesday, 28 April – Saturday, 23 May 2020

The UK premiere after more than 80 years
WOMEN WITHOUT MEN

by Hazel Ellis. Directed by Laura Jayne Bateman.

Press Nights: Thursday, 30 April 2020 and Friday, 1 May 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 28 April 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Playwriting Competitions:
The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Performance Times and Prices
Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.00pm.

For On McQuillan’s Hill, Not Quite Jerusalem, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, and Women Without Men

Prices for Weeks One and Two – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews £14 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.
Prices for Weeks Three and Four – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

11th year of Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights

Curated by Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson
Produced by Ben Chamberlain
Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, 16 June-4 July 2019
The eleventh consecutive year

Plays by Melis Aker, Albert Belz, Sharmila Chauhan, Hannah Morley, Colleen Murphy, Stewart Pringle, Athena Stevens, Palestinian Political Prisoners and Einat Weizman and the winner of The 2019 ETPEP Award

Directed by Liz Carruthers, Melissa Dunne, Claire Evans, Tommo Fowler, Matthew Iliffe, Hannah Jones, Rory McGregor, Fidelis Morgan, Georgie Staight

Now in its eleventh consecutive year, the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre presents Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, its annual explosion of new writing, running between 16 June-4 July 2019.

This year’s highlights include the winner of this year’s ETPEP Award in association with the Finborough Theatre, an £8000 prize for a new play by a new playwright who works in another job in theatre, alongside stunning new plays from many Finborough Theatre favourites.

Concentrated solely on full length works for the stage, Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights continues to introduce you to some of the fascinating diverse vibrant voices we have discovered, developed and championed.

A unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at one of the UK’s most exciting theatres as we continue to discover and develop tomorrow’s plays today, brought to life by some of the UK’s most talented actors and directors.

Since our first festival in 2009, our Vibrant festivals have included well over one hundred new plays, twenty four of which have gone on to be produced in full productions at the Finborough Theatre including Mirror Teeth by Nick Gill, The Man by James Graham, And I And Silence by Naomi Wallace, Black Jesus by Anders Lustgarten, Carthage by Chris Thompson, Nona Shepphard and Craig Adams’ musical version of Thérèse RaquinThis Heaven by Nakkiah Lui and Booby’s Bay by Henry Darke. Plays that went on to be produced by other theatres have included Bull by Mike Bartlett at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, The Stock Da’Wa by David Eldridge, and Acceptance by Amy Ng at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, and Lost At Sea by Morna Young, which has just completed an acclaimed Scottish tour.

Despite remaining completely unsubsidised, the Finborough Theatre has an unparalleled track record of discovering new playwrights who go on to become leading voices in British theatre. Under Artistic Director Neil McPherson, it has discovered some of the UK’s most exciting new playwrights including Laura Wade, James Graham, Mike Bartlett, Chris Thompson, Jack Thorne, Alexandra Wood, Al Smith, Nicholas de Jongh and Anders Lustgarten; and directors including Blanche McIntyre, Robert Hastie, Kate Wasserberg and Sam Yates.

Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights is again curated by Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson, winner of The Writers’ Guild Award for the Encouragement of New Writing, and twice winner of the OffWestEnd Award for Best Artistic Director.

THE PLAYS

Week One – 16-20 June 2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 7.30pm

PRISONERS OF THE OCCUPATION

by Palestinian Political Prisoners and Einat Weizman. Directed by Tommo Fowler.

Banned in Israel where it caused a huge public controversy and could not be performed, Prisoners of the Occupation focuses on the most hidden victims of the Israeli state: Palestinian political prisoners.

Narrated by sixty-year-old Ibrahim, himself an ex-prisoner who spent thirty years in Israeli prisons, Prisoners of the Occupation takes the audience on a journey into the shrouded confines of prison life including the reception process, investigations, tortures, hunger strikes, solitary confinement, the day-to-day routine, the transitions from prison to prison, and family visits.

The play is based on unprecedented access to verbatim testimonies from both current and former prisoners, who have actively contributed at every stage of the play’s creation.

 

Playwright Einat Weizman is based in Tel Aviv, and is an actor, director, playwright and political activist. All her plays, performances and events are focused on documentary theatre as an investigative tool into the hidden spaces of the Israeli reality. Her works include I, Dareen T. (Tmu-na Theater, Tel Aviv; Human Festival, Oslo, Norway; Materia Prima Theatre Festival, Florence, Italy), House 113: A Lesson in Political Construction (Tmu-na Theater, Tel Aviv), Palestine, Year Zero (Tokyo Theatre Festival and Kerala Theatre Festival, India), Prison Notebooks (Jaffa Theatre), Shame (Avignon Theatre Festival; MoFo festival, Oslo, Norway; ITI conference, Segovia, Spain; and Mosaic Theater, Washington DC.) Einat received the Writer’s Guild of Norway’s Solidarity Grand Award 2019 for her documentary based plays, giving voice to marginalised groups.

Director Tommo Fowler returns to the Finborough Theatre where he directed JamI Wish to Die Singing and Obama-ology, and was a Resident Assistant Director where he assisted on Harajuku Girls and Sommer 14. Direction includes The Strip, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (Oxford School of Drama), Comet (Pleasance London), Griff Rhys Jones: Jones and Smith (UK Tour), Mumburger (Archivist’s Gallery and Old Red Lion Theatre). Assistant Direction includes Passin’ Thru(Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith) and A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (Coronet Theatre). Dramaturgy for text and production includes Inside Voices, winner of the Origins Award (Vault Festival) and Griff Rhys Jones: Where Was I? (International Tour). Tommo is co-founder of RoughHewn, a script-reading and dramaturgy service working internationally with emerging writers, and also works with Literary Departments at the Bush Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and Theatre503.

Monday, 17 June 2019 at 7.30pm

THE WOODEN MEADOW

by Stewart Pringle. Directed by Fidelis Morgan.

Jim’s run this pub theatre for as long as anyone can remember. It might be held together with gaffer tape and hope, but then so is Jim. It’s got charm, anyway. It’s got history. Punters used to queue thirty deep at the box office. To watch the deaths of kings and the fall of empires in a room above a pub. Play and a pint! Magic.

But while Jim’s been keeping the lights on, the world’s rolled on beneath him. Numbers are drying up and creditors are closing in. What Jim needs is one big hit to keep the wolf from the door, but the cupboard’s bare. Well, it’s almost bare…

Playwright Stewart Pringle makes his Finborough Theatre debut with The Wooden Meadow. His plays include the Papatango Award winning Trestle (Southwark Playhouse), You Look Tasty!(Pleasance Edinburgh) and The Ghost Hunter (Old Red Lion Theatre and National Tour). Stewart is a Dramaturg at the National Theatre, and previously worked as Associate Dramaturg at the Bush Theatre, where he worked on shows including Misty (Bush Theatre and West End) and Nassim(Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and World Tour). Prior to that, he spent three years as Artistic Director of the Old Red Lion Theatre, for which he received an OffWestEnd Award for Best Artistic Director in 2015. He co-founded the London Horror Festival in 2011. He has also worked as a theatre critic for publications including The StageTime Out and Exeunt.

Director Fidelis Morgan returns to the Finborough Theatre where she directed Drama At InishBut It Still Goes On, and The Piper as part of Vibrant 2011, and wrote the sell-out adaptation of Hangover Square.

Fidelis has played leading roles in classics from Massinger to Coward, Goldoni to Brecht, at theatres such as the Citizens Theatre Glasgow, Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. She was both player and assistant director at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre and has directed classic plays at the major drama schools and the King’s Head Theatre, and St James Theatre. In 2014, she was Artist-in-Residence at the University of California where she directed The Gambling Lady. Television as an actor includes Jeeves and WoosterAs Time Goes By and Goodbye to Love. Film includes A Little Chaos. Her twenty published books include the ground-breaking The Female Wits: Women Playwrights on the London Stage and the Countess Ashby de la Zouche crime novels.

Thursday, 20 June 2019 at 3.00pm

FIELD, AWAKENING

by Melis Aker. Directed by Rory McGregor.

After ten years of self-imposed estrangement from her country, Turkey, Rana reunites with three of her old friends on a soccer field in Istanbul on 15 July 2016 (the eve of the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey), only to realize what it was that really drove them apart. Spanning across the surreal events of one evening, Field, Awakening is an anti-homecoming: a tale of a stranger in a strange land, searching in vain for a home that is lost in a landscape of fleeting familiarity and heightened political surveillance.

Playwright Melis Aker is a writer, actor, and musician from Turkey. She is a 2050 Playwriting fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, and a member of Ars Nova’s Play Group. She was recently commissioned by the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York to develop her one-act Scraps and Things for their Middle Eastern Mixfest, which included the work of Hannah Khalil, Heather Raffo, Mona Mansour and Kareem Fahmy. Melis’ plays include Field, Awakening (2018 Sundance Theatre Lab final-round, 2018 Berkeley Rep Ground Floor final-round and Lark’s 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellowship finalist) which was workshopped at Golden Thread’s New Threads series and Corkscrew Festival; Manar (2017 Columbia@Roundabout finalist) which was at The New Group’s New Works series; LaMaMa (Golden Thread’s 2017 ReOrient Festival, LPAC’s 2017 Rough Draft Festival); 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter (Lark’s 2018 Jerome NY Fellowship finalist); Azul, Otra Vez, a play with music which was workshopped at the BRICLab Residency; Dragonflies (2019 Sundance Theatre Lab finalist); When My Mama was a Hittite (2018 Columbia@Roundabout finalist, forthcoming readings at the Park Theatre in September 2019) and Gilded Isle (which received readings at New York Theatre Workshop). Acting includes The Blacklist: Redemption (NBC), Love in Afghanistan (Arena Stage and Roundabout), Daybreak (Pan Asian Rep), We Live in Cairo (New World Stages) and Proof(Edinburgh Festival). Melis’ screenplay ARI (Bee) will be taking production meetings at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival as part of Maison des Scenaristes, and her television pilot of Manar will be developed at Transatlantic Partners and the Orchard Project’s Episodic Lab. Melis also gave a TEDx talk in Ankara for youth empowerment in performance, and works as Ayad Akhtar’s assistant. Training includes MFA Playwriting (Columbia), Acting (RADA) and BA Drama/Philosophy (Tufts).

Director Rory McGregor returns to the Finborough Theatre where he directed The Great Divide.

He is currently based in New York City, where recent direction includes NEW HERE (Dixon Place), Building Pain (Origin Theatre) and Macbeth (Connelly Theatre). He has developed work at New York Theatre Workshop, Target Margin, 59E59 Theaters, Rising Sun Theatre Company, La MaMa E.T.C and The Tank. Associate Direction includes Ink (Broadway), Sea Wall/A Life (Public Theater and forthcoming Broadway transfer) and M. Butterfly (Broadway). He has taught at Columbia University, mentors undergraduate directing students at NYU/Playwright’s Horizons Theatre School and has been a guest director at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is currently a Directing Fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club, a script reader at Roundabout Theatre Company and was previously the Artistic Associate of Classic Stage Company and Artistic Apprentice at Roundabout. He holds an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University.

Week Two – 23-27 June 2019

Sunday, 23 June 2019 at 7.30pm

GEOGRAPHY OF FIRE / LA FURIE ET SA GÉOGRAPHIE

by Colleen Murphy. Directed by Matthew Iliffe.

Part One of Geography of Fire / La Furie et sa géographie takes place in 2019 and dramatises the collision of British and French during the Battle on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec during the Seven Years War.

On 13 September 1759, world history changed in twenty-five minutes. Though often portrayed as nothing more than a dust-up between two generals – James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm – the Battle on the Plains of Abraham is actually a magnificent, tragic resistance against the land-grabbing, corporate idea of empire that changed the face of North America for all time.

Summoned by the call of a red-throated loon, 33 fictional and non-fictional characters emerge from their graves with bits of clothing from 1759 still clinging to their burial shrouds. For the next two hours, they relive their experience in an effort to challenge history’s interpretation of this tumultuous time.

The full play is in two full-length parts. We present Part One which stands alone in its own right.

Playwright Colleen Murphy is the former Canadian Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre where her previous productions have included The December Man (L’homme de decembre)The Goodnight BirdThe Piper, Beating Heart CadaverPig Girl and Armstrong’s War.

Murphy’s recent works are The Society Of The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius (Rumble Theatre), The Breathing Hole (Stratford Festival), I Hope My Heart Burns First (University of Alberta) and an opera, Oksana G., with composer Aaron Gervais (Tapestry Opera). Since 2010, Murphy has been guest playwright at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada, Playwright-in-Residence at The Factory Theatre in Toronto in 2011-2012, the Lee Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Alberta in 2014-2017 and, most recently, Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick. Murphy’s play, Pig Girl won the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and The December Man (L’homme de décembre), won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award. Both plays were awarded the Carol Bolt Award for Outstanding Play. Murphy is also an award-winning filmmaker. Forthcoming work includes two new plays (Bloodsucker Waltz and To Grieve Is To Be An Animal), a new play with Itai Erdal, a libretto with composer Ian Cusson for the Canadian Opera Company, a feature film of Armstrong’s War (Solo Productions – Canada) and revised productions of The Breathing Hole.

Director Matthew Iliffe returns to the Finborough Theatre following his acclaimed production of Lionel Bart and Alun Owen’s musical Maggie May this spring.

Direction includes the European premiere of The Burnt Part Boys which was nominated for the OffWestEnd Award for Best Director and Best Musical Production (Park Theatre), Side By Side By Sondheim (The Piano Bar, Bristol Hippodrome),Thoroughly Modern Millie (Landor Theatre), Precious Little Talent (The Albany), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol) and The Way Things Weren’t (The Room Above, Bristol). Assistant Direction includes Brass(National Youth Music Theatre at the Hackney Empire) and Romeo and Juliet (Eastville Park, Bristol). Matthew graduated from the University of Bristol with a first class honours degree in Theatre and Performance Studies, and trained on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Programme, in association with The Albany.

Monday, 24 June 2019 at 7.30pm

BE BETTER IN BED

by Sharmila Chauhan. Directed by Hannah Jones.

Focused and always ready for a challenge: Layla, doctor-married-three kids, is trying to ‘fix’ her relationship. Signing up to a ‘Be Better in Bed’ women’s sex workshop, she meets three women each with widely different lifestyles.

Exploring polyamory, Shibari and pornography, these four women must navigate together what sexuality means to them. They are led by the enigmatic Sapphire, who tells them there isn’t anything they can’t learn about sex, if they just pay attention and practice, practice, practice…

Physical, brutally honest and funny, Better In Bed explores contemporary sexuality and intersectional feminism: asking bold questions around female empowerment, desire and the male gaze.

Playwright Sharmila Chauhan is a playwright, screenwriter and prose writer. Her work is often a transgressive meditation on love, sex and an exploration of the diasporic experience, and she is particularly interested in the intersection of sex, power and gender. Her plays include The Husbands(Soho Theatre and UK Tour for Kali and Pentabus Theatre), Born Again/Purnajanam (Southwark Playhouse for Kali Theatre) and 10 Women (Avignon Festival). She was shortlisted for the Asian New Writer Award in both 2009 and 2012. She has had two short films produced and written two features – most recently, her short film Oysters was commissioned by Film London; and her feature Mother Land is currently being developed by Cinestan International and was long-listed for the Sundance Writers’ Lab. Sharmila’s short stories have been published widely in print and online. She is also currently working on her novel Seven Mirrorswww.sharmilathewriter.com

Director Hannah Jones returns to the Finborough Theatre where she was Resident Assistant Director in 2013 assisting on The PrecariatFishskin TrousersThe White Carnation and Carthage. Direction includes Geist and Smile (TalentLab, Luxembourg’s International Writing Festival), Numb (Barons Court Theatre) Cold CallSquare One (Little Pieces of Gold Festival) and The Ticket (Theatre 503: Rapid Writer’s Night). She recently completed her MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck University, where she undertook a Residency at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre as Resident Assistant Director. During her placement, she assisted on Woyzeck (Birmingham REP), Penguins (The REP and UK Tour), Fred Jeffs: The Sweet Shop Murder (The REP and Quinton Libraries) and I Knew You (The REP and Barry Jackson Tour).

Thursday, 27 June 2019 at 3.00pm

ASTROMAN

by Albert Belz. Directed by Claire Evans.

New Zealand in 1983 and it’s on like Donkey Kong!

‘Jimmy’ Te Rehua is the king of the Whakatāne Astrocade Amusement Parlour. But while there’s no limit to his domination of the video arcade and the Pac-Man high-score charts, this Māori boy genius hasn’t yet worked out how to beat the game of life.

A touching story of family, friendship and courage filled with heart, charm and hilarity.

Playwright Albert Belz returns to the Finborough Theatre where his first play Awhi Tapu was seen in the very first Vibrant in 2009, and Te Karakia, seen in Vibrant 2015.

A multi-award-winning New Zealand playwright, his unique voice has crossed many datelines and divides having been performed internationally including London, Paris, New York, Melbourne and Sydney. Issues ranging from class, ethnicity and sexual politics, to Gothic serial killers and religion resonate through his words. Belz has held writing residencies in Les Quesnoy, France, also Waikato, Victoria (N.Z.) and Canterbury (N.Z.) Universities. Astroman has been produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company, Court Theatre and most recently Auckland Theatre Company. Belz was creator and head-writer on the Māori comedy series Tongue Tied which screened on television in 2018. Belz is currently completing his Masters while lecturing in performing arts, writing for stage and screen. He also writes for New Zealand television drama Shortland Street.

Director and Producer Claire Evans returns to the Finborough Theatre where she produced Me and Juliet and Bed and Sofa.

She read English and Drama at Royal Holloway College and has worked as director, producer and theatrical agent.

Direction includes Belle Fontaine (Vault Festival), three years for Paul Taylor Mills’ summer play festivals (Theatre Royal, Windsor, the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield and the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth), and, most recently, a play-reading of LAZYeye by Nicholas McInerny (Above the Arts, Leicester Square). Producing includes King John and Renaissance comedy Fair Em (Union Theatre), two musical compilations, both of which she also devised and directed (Edinburgh Festival), Bette Davis On The Edge, co-producing with The Thelmas (UK Tour), Ladylogue (Tristan Bates Theatre for the Camden Fringe) and producing Brunton finalist Laura Stevens’ By My Strength(Women and War Festival, London). Earlier this year, she was Co-ordinator for the MTFestUK Festival of New Musical Theatre (The Other Palace).

Week Three – 30 June-4 July 2019

Sunday, 30 June 2019 at 7.30pm

THE WINNER OF THE ETPEP AWARD 2019

Directed by Liz Carruthers.

The winning play will be announced shortly from the final shortlist of:

Fence by Abigail Andjel

Haste Ye Back by Conor Carroll

Dark Faces in the Night by Sid Sagar

The ETPEP Award 2019 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP).

The Award’s purpose is to find and nurture a playwright who has worked in theatre for two years or more (but not in a literary department setting or as a paid script reader), who is looking to further their ambitions and skill in the art and craft of playwriting.

The winner will receive a prize of £8,000, a development relationship with the Finborough Theatre including one-to-one dramaturgy with Finborough Theatre Artistic Director and playwright Neil McPherson; a rehearsal workshop with actors and a director to develop the play; and a staged reading performance of the winning play as part of Vibrant 2019.

The judges for the 2019 Award are playwright Winsome Pinnock; Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Neil McPherson; Literary Manager of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Sue Healy; Actor, playwright and activist Athena Stevens; and Clive Webster of the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust, which founded the award. The competition was judged anonymously until the shortlist stage.

Director Liz Carruthers returns to the Finborough Theatre where she directed Iain Heggie’s The Tobacco Merchant’s LawyerLost at Sea by Morna Young as part of Vibrant 2015, King David as part of Vibrant 2016 and Morningland as part of Vibrant 2017. She also directed the Scottish tour of the Olivier Award nominated It Is Easy To Be Dead which received its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre.

Born in Edinburgh, she was Scottish Arts Council Trainee Director at Perth Theatre, Staff Director at Chichester Festival Theatre and Artistic Director at Cumbernauld Theatre. She has directed plays at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling, Dundee Rep, Perth Theatre, the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, as well as middle and small-scale touring venues all over Scotland and England. In London, her work has been seen at the Purcell Rooms, Gate Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Duke’s Head Theatre, Richmond. She has directed 45 world premieres including work by Kieran Hurley, Stephen Greenhorn, Tom McGrath, Iain Heggie, Bernard MacLaverty, Jackie Kay, Louise Welsh, John McKay and Robert Llewellyn. Recent productions include Quality Street (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Cranhill Carmen (Óran Mòr, Glasgow), The Straw Chair (Hirtle and Borderline), Talking Heads (Glasgay Festival), Perfect Days (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), MacBheatha (Made in Scotland Showcase), a one-person version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Gaelic (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), and Para Handy (Pitlochry Festival Theatre). Her previous productions have won the Guinness Pub Theatre Award, the LWT Plays on Stage Award and been nominated for the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland for Best New Play and Best Production for Children and Young People.

Monday, 1 July 2019 at 7.30pm

SCROUNGER

by Athena Stevens. Directed by Georgie Staight.

On the streets of Elephant and Castle, everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. She needs help, she must not be aware of the complexities of the world, she is sent from the demons to torture her mum… at least according to her Nigerian Uber driver.

Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen.

That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair.

Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens herself, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

Playwright Athena Stevens returns to the Finborough Theatre where she is a Playwright on Attachment, and wrote and performed in the world premiere of Schism which has just received an Olivier Award nomination. She is an associate artist at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. She is currently writing the book for a new musical, and is under commission for BBC Radio 3 and National Youth Theatre. She was the first actor in a wheelchair nominated for an OffWestEnd Award for her performance in Schism, as well as appearing at the Barbican Theatre as Juliet last year. Stevens is also a spokesperson for the UK’s Women’s Equality Party.

Director Georgie Staight returns to the Finborough Theatre where she directed Into The Numbers and Dubailand which was nominated for an OffWestEnd Award.

Direction includes D-Day 75 (Watermill Theatre and Corn Exchange, Newbury), CHUTNEY, nominated for four OffWestEnd Awards (Bunker Theatre), Section 2 (Bunker Theatre), Dreamless Sleep (Arts Theatre), Flood (Tristan Bates Theatre), White Light (Arcola Theatre), Thank You For Your Patience (Hackney Showroom), and Roosting (script accelerator at Park Theatre). Assistant Direction includes Sweet CharityOur Town (Watermill Theatre, Newbury), and Legally Blonde: The Musical (Bernie Grant Arts Centre). Georgie is Joint Artistic Director of new writing company Flux Theatre.

Thursday, 4 July 2019 at 3.00pm

ROUGH MUSIC

by Hannah Morley. Directed by Melissa Dunne.

Vi lives in a mobile library parked on the hill beyond the ring-road of a northern market town. Apart from her young employee Isaac, the only person who visits is an eleven year old girl, come to hear Vi’s extraordinary tales. Just the three of them is how Vi likes it. But when she wakes up to see a man hanging from the hornbeam tree outside, Vi struggles to keep her past hidden between the books. In a town where public shaming has become the norm, the library becomes a refuge. But as the water levels rise and the town descends, it’s harder to see who’s worthy of saving.

Rough Music explores the power of shame and the stories that we tell about each other.

Playwright Hannah Morley is currently Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre where her first play Petrichor, written as part of the Writer’s Lab course at Soho Theatre, won the Radius Playwriting Award, and was performed as part of Vibrant 2018 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Born in Doncaster, Hannah trained as an actor at Guildford School of Acting.

Director Melissa Dunne returns to the Finborough Theatre where she directed Just to Get Married, named in The Observer’s ‘Best Theatre Of 2017’ list, and Sarah Daniels’ Masterpieces. She also directed Hannah Morley’s first play Petrichor in last year’s Vibrant.

She is Artistic Director of Papercut Theatre. Theatre includes Lola and Dangerous Lenses (Vault Festival 2019). She founded and continues to creatively manage the acclaimed XY Playwriting Festival which has been produced at Hackney Showroom, Latitude Festival, Pleasance Edinburgh and Theatre503. She has worked for the Literary Departments of the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, the Verity Bargate Award and Soho Theatre. She is Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Vibrant 2019  A Festival of Finborough Playwrights

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Book online here.

No booking fees on online, personal or postal bookings

Box Office 01223 357851. (Calls are free. There will be a 5% booking fee.) Lines are open Monday – Saturday 10.00am-6.00pm

Sunday, 16 June – Thursday, 4 July 2019

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Thursday matinees at 3.00pm.

Tickets £5 all seats.

Week One – 16–20 June 2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 7.30pm – Prisoners of the Occupation by Palestinian political prisoners and Einat Weizman. Directed by Tommo Fowler.

Monday, 17 June 2019 at 7.30pm – The Wooden Meadow by Stewart Pringle. Directed by Fidelis Morgan.

Thursday, 20 June 2019 at 3.00pm – Field, Awakening by Melis Aker. Directed by Rory McGregor.

Week Two – 23-27 June 2019

Sunday, 23 June 2019 at 7.30pm – Geography of Fire / La furie et sa géographie by Colleen Murphy. Directed by Matthew Iliffe.

Monday, 24 June 2019 at 7.30pm – Be Better In Bed by Sharmila Chauhan. Directed by Hannah Jones.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 at 3.00pm – Astroman by Albert Belz. Directed by Claire Evans.

Week Three – 30 June–4 July 2019

Sunday, 30 June 2019 at 7.30pm – ETPEP Prize Winner. Directed by Liz Carruthers.

Monday, 1 July 2019 at 7.30pm – Scrounger by Athena Stevens. Directed by Georgie Staight.

Thursday, 4 July 2019 at 3.00pm – Rough Music by Hannah Morley. Directed by Melissa Dunne.

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New season announced at the Finborough Theatre

Blue Print by Julia Pascal
Blue Print by Julia Pascal

Blue Print by Julia Pascal

The Finborough Theatre’s summer season features two world premieres from female playwrights – a new play written and directed by the first woman ever to direct at the National Theatre, and a debut play from a brand new American dramatist – alongside another classic Finborough rediscovery from one of the greatest theatrical figures of the 19th century, unseen in London for over 120 years. We also bring you the eleventh consecutive year of our annual celebration of new writing, Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, giving us a chance to share with you just a few of the exceptional writers we have developed, nurtured and championed over the last year.

The season opens with the world premiere of playwright and director Julia Pascal’s award-winning Blueprint Medea, a gripping new drama loosely inspired by Euripides’ Medea, which connects the classical to the contemporary to explore eternal questions of passion, war, cultural identity, women’s freedom, sex, family and love. Blueprint Medea plays 21 May-8 June 2019.

In its first London production in over 120 years, our season continues with After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life by Dion Boucicault, based on Les Oiseaux de Proie by Eugène Grangé and Adolphe d’Ennery. Written in 1868, the year that the Finborough Theatre’s building was constructed, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life is a classic Victorian melodrama, but is also startlingly contemporary with a thrilling climax on the London Underground, and its sympathetic portrayal of London’s homeless community. It plays 12 June-6 July 2019.

Playing alongside After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life, our annual celebration of new writing Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights returns for its the eleventh consecutive year, playing on Sunday and Monday evenings and Thursday matinees between 16 June-4 July 2019. This year’s Vibrant includes the winner of this year’s ETPEP Award in association with the Finborough Theatre which has awarded £8000 to a new playwright who works in another job in theatre, alongside stunning new plays from many Finborough Theatre favourites.

Rounding off our summer season is another world premiere, Lunatic 19’s – A Deportational Road Trip, by a new American playwright, Tegan McLeod, playing 9 July-3 August 2019. With coruscating humour and caustic observation, Lunatic 19’s captures the human stories at the heart of the current debate about migration and refugees.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson says: “Our new season features two world premieres alongside another of my rediscoveries from Victorian drama – with a play written in 1868, the very year that the Finborough Theatre building was constructed. And Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, our annual festival of new writing, returns for its eleventh consecutive year.

The Finborough Arms, our pub home, was taken over by an entirely new management and extensively refurbished at the end of last year, and now offers a wide menu of traditional pub favourites, all cooked on the premises. We both look forward to welcoming you.”

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk – Neil McPherson, Artistic Director

May to August 2019 | Press Nights and Photocalls

Tuesday, 4 May – Saturday 8 June 2019

The world premiere

BLUEPRINT MEDEA

Written and Directed by Julia Pascal.
Press Nights: Thursday, 23 May 2019 and Friday, 24 May 2019 at 7.30pm.

Photocall: Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm.

Wednesday, 12 June – Saturday, 6 July 2019

The first London production in over 120 years
AFTER DARK; OR, A DRAMA OF LONDON LIFE

by Don Boucicault. Based on Les Oiseaux de Proie by by Eugène Grangé and Adolphe d’Ennery. Directed by Phil Wilmott

Press Nights: Wednesday, 19 June 2019 and Thursday, 20 June 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 9 July 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm.

Tuesday, 9 July – Saturday, 3 August 2019

The world premiere

LUNATIC 19’S – A DEPORTATIONAL ROAD TRIP

by Tegan McLeod. Directed by Jonathan Martin.

Press Nights: Thursday, 11 July 2019 and Friday, 12 July 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 9 July 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm

Prices for Blueprint Medea

Prices for Week One – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. Previews £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.

Prices for Weeks Two and Three – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

Prices for After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life and Lunatic 19’s – A Deportational Road Trip 

Prices for Weeks One and Two – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. Previews for After Dark (11-18 June) £15 all seats. Previews for Lunatic 19’s (9 and 10 July £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.

Prices for Weeks Three and Four – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

Prices for Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Thursday matinees at 3.00pm.

All tickets £5.

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Finborough Theatre, Neil McPherson: ‘Fringe theatre is undergoing a lasting change… I don’t want it to become a rich kid’s playground.’

The Finborough Theatre has had a remarkable year; acclaimed sell-out productions, London and New York transfers, the tenth Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme Playwright in Residence Bursary, nominations for The Stage Debut Award and an Olivier Award.

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Neil McPherson

Since 1998, Neil McPherson has been artistic director of the Finborough pub theatre. It’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing on the theatre front and if you’re in the market for a chat about that then today is your lucky day.

Anyway I hopped on the phone with Neil to find out what he’s got to say for himself.

In 2018, the Finborough celebrates 150 years of the Finborough Theatre building with the FINBOROUGH150 series, an anniversary selection of the best plays from 1868. McPherson may be approaching twenty years in post but he shows no signs of losing enthusiasm. “Next year is the 150 Anniversary of our building so we are going to be doing an anniversary selection of the best plays of 1868 – our new season, for example, features one play from 1868 alongside five pieces of new writing,” he says, excitedly.

Last week, Lyn Gardner wrote about the state of play of the London fringe, saying: The days when the London fringe was a place where the penniless and the radical could find a nook of cranny, where they could thrive, have long gone. Does he agree? “Sadly, Lyn is absolutely right.  Fringe theatre – as it is now – is on the cusp of a massive change,” he says. “Almost as big as the shift of print media vs the internet. For many years in London – the number of fringe theatres stayed constant – then suddenly over the last five or six years – a dozen theatres or more popped up. And that brings its own challenges for a 50-seat venue paying market rent,” McPherson says.

He continues, “I’ve never been a subscriber to the belief that “fringe” means amateurish. I’ve always tried to take the best of the fringe – the ability to find new and exciting writers, directors, designers, actors theatre; the ability to respond to events quickly; and to be radical and controversial; and marry that with the best of the commercial theatre’s values – a respect for training, and high production values, for example,” he says.

“It’s got to be good – just because it’s a fringe theatre doesn’t mean it can’t be world class.”

We talk about the renewed discussion of masculinity in crisis and the constant developments around sexual harassment. “I think the best thing we can do is shut up, listen – with humility – and do and be better. It’s time for a big change. And, it goes hand in hand with bullying which also needs to be addressed,” says McPherson emphatically.

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What steps has he taken to ensure that he is doing all that he can within the organisation? “Just this very last week we’ve altered our production manual we give to companies’ clear guidance. We also have the Royal Court code of conduct on display in working areas. The awareness is all, and, as my favourite teacher at drama school used to say “N.T.T.” which stands for “Nobody’s That Talented,” he says, laughing.

Earlier this year McPherson was nominated for an Olivier Award for his play Is It Easy to be dead – a play is about a remarkable WWI poet, Charles Hamilton Sorley. The play received solid reviews and transferred to Trafalgar Studios. McPherson is realistic about the sustainability. “In terms of critical acclaim and commercial sales – we could transfer 1 in 3 of our shows; however, we only transfer 1 in 7. And perhaps not always the most deserving ones. I always go back to the Noel Coward quote “Just do what you like and believe in and just hope to God other people like it too,” he says.

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Alexander Knox in It Is Easy To Be Dead. Photo: Scott Rylander.

McPherson is deeply aware of the importance of seeking out diverse voices and not being dependent on playwriting competitions. “I’ve judged some playwriting competitions in the past and personally I think it’s best to just do the new writing development work I’m doing anyway and then put on the plays when they are ready,” he says.

“I’m not altogether convinced by decision by committee, and I think quite often with competitions, we know something has to win and so we pick one that is the least bad,” he tells me, before adding, “They can be a good thing and an important thing but it should only be part of it the process, not the whole process for getting new voices discovered.”

What are the biggest challenges for the Finborough in 2017? “The Equity low pay – no pay campaign is hugely important, and we’re doing all we can to do our part. But nothing happens in a vacuum, and the campaign does have serious knock-on effects which in the long run may mean a lot less opportunities for actors and creatives,” says McPherson, adding that 9 out of 12 Finborough main shows paid at least Equity Fringe Agreement minimum this year.

“It’s slow progress, but we’re not being lazy,” he says. “The people now putting on shows are coming from a much more moneyed background than, say, five years ago. But, as an example, one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with – a female working class director/producer – she should be having a really successful career now but she’s more or less had to give up because she can’t work in the current climate as she is terrified of being sued if she was to do another fringe show.”

Is there anything that he’d like to add, I ask. “Fringe theatre is undergoing a massive and lasting change and I don’t know where it’s going to go yet, and we’re confronting those new challenges on a daily basis. I don’t want it to become a rich kid’s playground,” McPherson replies.

The Finborough’s 2018 season is now on sale 

 

Coverage of the above interview in The Stage

Coverage of the above interview in The Stage