Full casting announced for Sheffield Theatres’ production of Nina Raine’s play Tribes, directed by Kate Hewitt

Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres Robert Hastie today announced full casting for Kate Hewitt’s production of Tribes by Nina Raine. Kate Hewitt, winner of the inaugural RTST Director Award Scheme, directs Ciaran Stewart (Billy), Emily Howlett (Sylvia), Simon Rouse (Christopher), Lindy Whiteford (Beth), Oliver Johnstone (Dan) and Louisa Connolly-Burnham (Ruth).  The production opens on 3 July, with previews from 29 June, and runs until 22 July.

‘This is the first time you’ve ever listened to me properly and it’s because I’m not speaking.’

Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. Until he meets Sylvia, he never felt he wasn’t being listened to. Kate Hewitt directs this regional première about the need we all feel to belong, and to be understood.

Originally commissioned for the Royal Court Theatre, Tribes was directed by Roger Michell, and enjoyed a sell-out run and won an Offie Award for Best New Play. It was also nominated for both Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best New Play. It had its North American première at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York in 2012 where it won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award. It has also been produced in Hamburg, Budapest, Sao Paolo, Zargreb, Wellington and Melbourne. There are thirteen upcoming productions in the USA including at the Steppenwolf, Chicago.

Nina Raine’s plays include Rabbit (Old Red Lion, Trafalgar Studios – Charles Wintour Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, Critics’ Circle Award for most Promising Playwright), and Tiger County (Hampstead Theatre – also directed). She dramaturged and directed Unprotected (Liverpool Everyman, for which she won both the TMA best Director Award and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award for an Outstanding Production on a Human Rights Theme). She has also directed for the Royal Court Theatre – Shades and Jumpy (also Duke of York’s Theatre); and Longing (Hampstead Theatre).

Ciaran Stewart plays Billy. Recent theatre credits include Junkyard (Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Theatr Clwyd and Rose Theatre) and Dr Johnson Goes to Scotland (Òran Mór and Traverse Theatre). For film, his credits include Arabesque, A Love Divided, Un Malentundue, and Stargazer.

Emily Howlett plays Sylvia. Her theatre work includes People of the Eye (Yard Theatre). For television, her credits include Inside No 9 and Give Out Girls.

Simon Rouse returns to Sheffield Theatres to play Christopher – he previously appeared in Anything Goes (also UK tour) and The Full Monty (also UK tour and Noël Coward Theatre). Recent theatre credits include The Dresser (Duke of York’s Theatre and UK tour), Hangmen (Royal Court and Wyndham’s Theatre), The Bomb, Tactical Questioning (Tricycle Theatre) and When We Are Married (Garrick Theatre). For television, his credits include Moving On, The Dumping Ground, Broadchurch, SOKO Leipzig, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Dead Romantic and St Joan; and for film, Butley, The White Bird, Parker and The Ragman’s Daughter.

 Lindy Whiteford plays Beth. Her recent theatre credits include Fathers & Sons (Donmar Warehouse), Men Should Weep(National Theatre), Forbidden Fruit (Òran Mór), Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic), and Romeo & Juliet (Liverpool Playhouse). For television, her work includes Shetland, Getting On, Rebus, Boyz Unlimited and A Very Peculiar Practice; and for film, Soft Top Hard Shoulders and La Larga Agonia de Los Peces Fuera Del Aqua.

Oliver Johnstone plays Dan. Recent theatre credits include King Lear, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Oppenheimer (RSC), Teddy Ferrara (Donmar Warehouse), Spring Awakening (Headlong and West Yorkshire Playhouse) andAnother Country (Chichester Festival Theatre). For television, his credits include Loaded, Inspector George Gently, The Syndicate and Little Crackers; and for film, On Chesil Beach, The Inbetweeners 2 and Skyfall.

Louisa Connolly-Burnham plays Ruth. This is her professional stage debut. For television, her credits include Drifters, Death in Paradise, Call the Midwife, Suspicion, Wolfblood and House of Anubis; and for film, Tormented, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Time Will Tell and Up All Night.

 Kate Hewitt directs. Her theatre work includes Kiki’s Delivery Service, Tomcat (Southwark Playhouse), Romeo and Juliet (NYT at Ambassador’s Theatre), Portrait (Edinburgh Festival, UK Tour and Bush Theatre’s RADAR Festival), and in 2014 she won the JMK Director’s Award for her production Far Away (Young Vic). As associate director, her work includes Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Medea (Headlong and UK tour), Electra (Gate Theatre and Latitude Festival 2011), and One Love: The Bob Marley Musical (Birmingham Rep).

Hewitt was selected as the winner of the RTST Director Award Scheme – an annual initiative that offers the chance, through a competitive process, for an emerging director to create and direct a fully-funded production of a play at a selected regional theatre. The inaugural Scheme is being run by the Royal Theatrical Support Trust in collaboration with Sheffield Theatres. After a national call-out for the entries, the Scheme involved workshops and interviews with a prestigious Selection Panel that comprised Chair Daniel Evans (Artistic Director Chichester Festival Theatre), Ian McKellen, Dawn Walton, Richard Wilson and Penelope Wilton. Sheffield Theatres’ Artistic Director, Robert Hastie, was also involved in the final selection process.

About The RTST Director Award

The annual RTST Director Award Scheme was launched by the RTST in February 2016.  It involves a collaboration between the RTST and a regional theatre, and a competitive process among eligible emerging directors to find a winner who will be given the opportunity to direct a play at that theatre. The candidates for the RTST Director Award 2016 were required, when entering, to submit in writing ideas for directing a play at Sheffield’s Crucible Studio Theatre. The play could be any play of the candidate’s choosing provided it was the work of an internationally renowned dramatist (living or dead), and in English, and it required no more than eight actors.  A short-list of 7 candidates was chosen by the Selection Panel to go forward to the final stage of the selection process where they demonstrated their directing skills in workshops with actors.  The workshops took place in London over the weekend of 28/29 May 2016 in facilities ‘donated’ by law firm Bristows LLP. The Selection Panel observed and judged each candidate’s workshop performance, and the Award winner, Kate Hewitt, and the official runner-up, Rebecca Frecknall, were finally selected on the basis of interviews.


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