Soho Theatre presents Jasmine Lee-Jones’s curious World Premiere

Jasmine Lee-Jones in curious. Photography by Helen Murray

Soho Theatre’s world premiere production of curiouswritten and performed by the award-winning Jasmine Lee-Jones, opens 16 September – 16 October. Press nights on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 September with BSL interpreted, audio-described and captioned performances Saturday 25 September, Monday 4 and Wednesday 6 October respectively.

curious is Lee-Jones’ second play following her critically-acclaimed seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Royal Court), for which she won the Evening Standard Award 2019 and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright. Set against the sprawling backdrop of urban London across centuries, curious is a frank, funny and moving excavation of the lives of two actresses who are young, Black, queer and trying to find out who they are.

Jasmine Lee-Jones, curious playwright and performer said: ‘To me, curious is a deeply personal story of excavation past and present. Words can’t express how excited I am to be sharing it with Soho audiences in the coming months.

I was still at drama school when I first shared the play with an audience nearly three years ago. I always sensed the show needed a second life and as such it feels like an immense privilege to be putting it out into the world again. After debuting as a writer with my first play seven methods of killing kylie jenner in 2019, it feels super exciting to be coming to this production as a performer too.’

Directed by Anna Himali Howard (Inside, Orange Tree Theatre and I Wanna Be Yours, Paines Plough/Bush Theatre), Soho Theatre’s production brings together a hugely talented creative team including Co-Set and Costume Designers Camilla Clarke (La Traviata, Nevill Holt Opera,  and La bohème, ENO: Drive & Live) and Rosie Elnile (Prayer, Gate Theatre and [Blank], Donmar Warehouse), Sound Designer Xana (…cake, Theatre Peckham and Fairview, Young Vic), Composer Dominique Le Gendre (Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Waris Hussain’s Sixth Happiness) Assistant Director and Dramaturg Myah Jeffers (Hope Project, Clean Break Theatre and Really Real Teenz, The Yard Theatre), Production Manager Seb Cannings (The Last Five Years, Southwark Playhouse and The Entertainer, UK Tour) and Producer Ameena Hamid (Death Drop, Garrick Theatre and Shedding a Skin, Soho Theatre)

David Luff, Soho Theatre’s Creative Director, said: Jasmine is a phenomenal talent and her writing is extraordinary: sophistication, wit, guile and power.

I’m so delighted that Soho Theatre is producing curious this autumn and we’re so excited to support her stage debut as a performer.

We’re also thrilled to welcome a fresh, new creative team to Dean Street, with multiple creatives making their Soho Theatre debuts.’

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Guest Blog – The Mono Box: “Our industry cannot and will not evolve without investment in new talent.”

The Mono Box has always prided itself on supporting freelancers creatively – providing opportunities that are lacking or less accessible in the industry. For 8 years, we have run workshops and events for actors, directors and writers as well as, more recently, designers and movement directors. Training never stops but we also prioritise the importance of community in an industry that can feel incredibly lonely and inaccessible. 

This became more crucial than ever from March 2020 as we watched our industry fall to its knees. We were forced to re-evaluate our careers and our lives, to step back and notice all the gaping problems we’d let slide for so long. Tweets, articles and blog posts were thrown around about a utopian post-pandemic vision for theatre. Promises were made that have yet to come to fruition…

photo credit Helen Murray  

We have always championed new voices and formalised this through a new writing scheme called PLAYSTART which has run for 3 successive years (2017-2019). After the events of last summer, and in response to the lack of opportunities for emerging talent during Covid-19, we got to work. We invested in 7 ethnically diverse writers from PLAYSTART, offering them what we knew was crucial in building a career: a commission, mentorship and a platform for their work. It is notoriously hard to crack that ceiling without someone paying you to do what you do best, and someone else who is several steps ahead of you career-wise providing a guiding light. Our industry cannot and will not evolve without investment in new talent. 

We were keen to not only keen to put our money where our mouth is in terms of supporting emerging creatives, but also to discover a way to adapt theatre-making to the current global restrictions and advancing marriage of theatre and film. As we were locked in our homes, theatre had to adapt and enter people’s living rooms and kitchens. Amidst the “it’s not the same” grumbles, we also quickly realised that this format was providing access to audience numbers we only dream of. 

And so RESET THE STAGE was born. A collection of 7 filmed monologues responding boldly to where we are as an industry and where we could be, if we committed to platforming – nationally and internationally – more diverse voices, bodies and stories.

In addition to the mentorship from leading playwrights including Duncan Macmillan, Alice Birch, Lucy Prebble and Theresa Ikoko, we provided the writers with actors, a theatre and a film crew to help realise their vision. All in lockdown, when the theatres were empty.

The pieces have been directed by Roberta Zuric (part of The Mono Box’s PLAYSTART 2018) and was mentored by Ned Bennett

CYNTHIA by Vivian Xie Stills ; Starring Isabella Laughland ; Directed by Roberta Zuric ; Director of Photography: Fẹ́mi Awójídé ; First Camera Assist: Stephen Ofori ; Sound Recordist: Luise Guertler ; Stills Photographer: Helen Murray ; Gaffer: TC Thomas ; Producer: Joan Iyiola & Alison Holder ; Co-Producer: Miles Sloman Reset The Stage ; Monobox ; Soho Theatre ; London, UK ; 30th March 2021 ; Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

7 stellar actors jumped on board with all guns blazing and delivered mesmerising and incredibly nuanced performances: Shane Zaza, Ken Nwosu, Thalissa Teixeira, Danny Kirrane, Isabella Laughland, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and our own co-AD Joan Iyiola. We paired them up with one of our partner venues – Arcola, Almeida, Bush, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Soho Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Young Vic – all who passionately committed to the project’s ethos and offered invaluable support.

The films within RESET THE STAGE have been achieved to an exceptionally high standard, by a small but mighty team. We are so excited to share them with the world and to show what can happen when new voices are given a platform to showcase their work.

The films launched on 17th June to outstanding feedback and a brilliant 4* review from WhatsOnStage lauding the project’s beautiful outcome and bold response to our industry’s perilous state. 

Screening repeated 1 to 3 July and tickets are on sale now