Casting announcement for the world première of the stage adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Room

Theatre Royal Stratford East and Abbey Theatre Dublin today announces the full cast for the world première of Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel Room. Previously adapted by Donoghue for the screen, winning multiple awards, she now brings the story to the stage featuring songs by Scottish songwriter Kathryn Joseph and Cora Bissett. Bissett directs Stephen Casey(Grandpa/Doctor), Fela Lufadeju (Big Jack), Liam McKenna (Old Nick), Lucy Tregear (Grandma) and Witney White (Ma). The role of Little Jack will be shared by Darmani Eboji, Taye Kassim Junaid-Evans and Harrison Wilding. Opening on 10 May, the production previews from 2 May and runs until 3 June. Following its run in Stratford, Room will then play at Abbey Theatre, Dublin and Dundee Rep.

Kidnapped as a teenage girl, Ma has been locked inside a purpose-built room in her captor’s garden for seven years. Her five-year-old son, Jack, has no concept of the world outside and happily exists inside Room with the help of Ma’s games and his vivid imagination where objects like Rug, Lamp and TV are his only friends. But for Ma the time has come to escape and face their biggest challenge to date: the world outside Room.

Emma Donoghue is an award-winning writer, living in Canada with her family. Donoghue is an accomplished playwright with her plays being performed both sides of the Atlantic. Theatre credits include I Know My Own Heart, Trespasses, Don’t Die Wondering, Ladies and Gentlemen. She also wrote a monologue for Signatories, a play of monologues commissioned by University College Dublin to celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising and her play Trespasses is currently being developed as an opera. Her first full-length feature film, Room (adapted from her international bestselling novel of the same name which was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes), won Donoghue Best Adapted Screenplay nominations for the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Awards and the BAFTAs. The film starred Brie Larson who received the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress. Currently Donoghue is adapting her novel Frog Music into a feature film for Monumental Pictures Limited and her latest novel, The Wonder about a ‘fasting girl’ in 1850s Ireland, was shortlisted for Canada’s Giller Prize. Her first novel for children The Lotterys Plus One, will be published on 20 April 2017. Other novels include The Sealed Letter, Life Mask, Slammerkin, Landing, Hood and Stir-fry. Short-story collections include Astray, Three and a Half Deaths, Touchy Subjects, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, and Kissing the Witch; and literary history includingInseparable, We Are Michael Field, and Passions Between Women.

Cora Bissett is a director, actor, musician and Artistic Director of Pachamama. She returns to Theatre Royal Stratford East after last year’s production of Glasgow Girls. Following a career in music, she has worked extensively in theatre, television and film including the Palme D’Or-winning feature Red Road. She won the Arches Award for ‘New Directors’ in 2008 and devised and directed her first piece Amada, which went on to tour nationally. Pachamama was launched with Roadkill at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe garnering 9 major awards. It toured to Glasgow, London, Paris, Chicago and New York, winning an Olivier Award for Outstanding Production. Her collaborative music/theatre project with The Arches, Whatever gets You through the Night, was a sell-out success at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and won the Theatre Award in the Creative Scotland Awards in 2012. She recently directed other Music-Theatre project GRIT-The Martyn Bennett Story and Janis Jopin-Full Tilt which garnered 5 star reviews in its 2 Festival and London runs. She is currently Associate Director at the National Theatre of Scotland for whom she directed Rites about the sensitive issue of FGM in 2015.

Kathryn Joseph is a Scottish songwriter. Her debut album, Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled, won Scottish Album of the Year award. Previous credits for writing for theatre include The Ballad.

Stephen Casey plays Grandpa/Doctor. His theatre credits include Mametz and Silly Kings (National Theatre Wales), Animal Farm (Peter Hall Season at Bath Theatre Royal), Journey’s End, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Tempest (UK tour) Of Mice And Menand As You Like It (Old Vic), Andorra (Young Vic), Henry V, Comedy Of Errors, A Jovial Crew, Two Shakespearean Actors, King Lear, The Pretenders, Richard II, Don Juan, The Odyssey, Tamburlaine, and The Changeling (Royal Shakespeare Company); and for television, Mount Pleasant, Love and Marriage, Jericho and Da Vinci’s Demons.

Fela Lufadeju plays Big Jack. For theatre his credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (Curve, Leicester & Birmingham Rep), Kiss Me Kate (Theatre Du Chatalet), Beautiful (Aldwych Theatre) and Dessa Rose (Trafalgar Studios).

Liam McKenna plays Old Nick. For theatre his credits include Flowering Cherry (Finborough Theatre), Asking Rembrandt (Old Red Lion), Hamlet (Rose Theatre Kingston), Magpie Park and Tender Dearly (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Money, SummerFolk, The Merchant of Venice, The Villian’s Opera and Peter Pan (National Theatre). For television his credits include The Bastard Executioner, Hustle, Battlefield Britain, Dirty War, The Greatest Heist, Ultimate Force, Stick With Me, Kid, Elington and Kiss & Tell; and for film, The Riot Club, Maleficent, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Metamorphosis, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Eastern Promises, Venus, Like Minds, Chromophobia, The Libertine, Vanity Fair, To Kill A King, Uprising and The Ice House.

Lucy Tregear plays Grandma. Her theatre credits include The Middlemarch Trilogy, Seven Year Twitch, The Conspirators, Lips Together Teeth Apart, Flora The Red Menace (Orange Tree Theatre), The Country Wife (Haymarket Theatre), Coriolanus, A Woman Killed With Kindness, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Royal Shakespeare Company), By Jeeves (Scarborough/Duke Of York/Lyric) and Three Sisters (Chichester Festival Theatre); and for television, The Robinsons, Peak Practice and Between The Lines.

 Witney White plays Ma. Theatre credits include wonder.land (National Theatre), Dusty (Charring Cross Theatre), Snow White (Fairfield Halls) and Loserville (West Yorkshire Playhouse & Garrick Theatre).

The Abbey Theatre is Ireland’s national theatre. It was founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory. Since it first opened its doors in 1904 the theatre has played a vital and often controversial role in the literary, social and cultural life of Ireland. Room will be part of Neil Murray and Graham McLaren’s first season as new directors of the Abbey Theatre.

Room plays at Abbey Theatre, Dublin, from 24 June – 22 July 2017