Royal & Derngate announces new Made in Northampton season 2022-2023


James Dacre, the Artistic Director at Royal & Derngate Northampton, has today announced the theatre’s new Made in Northampton season, featuring eighteen productions. The programme encompasses plays, musicals, a feature film, On Demand theatre, podcasts and a new interactive digital work. It engages over 400 artists and visits 45 theatres across the UK, with 10 productions transferring to London. Newly announced world premieres include Mainstage productions of: Playtime, Unexpected Twist, Wuthering HeightsHenry Vand And Then There Were None.

The programme marks the culmination of Royal & Derngate’s work over five years with their Resident Ensemble companies Dancing Brick, DeafConnect, Hydrocracker,  Improbable, Inspector Sands, Spymonkey and The Wardrobe Ensemble, who each devise theatre collaboratively. The season also contains six reimagined classics, two new plays and touring revivals of Made in Northampton productions:

Four devised productions created by the venue’s Resident Ensemble Companies over past five years: 

  • World premiere of Jacques Tati’s Playtime, adapted for the stage for the first time by Dancing Brick with original songs from Grammy Award-winners Chilly Gonzales and Martha Wainwright, a script from Verity Bargate Award winner Thomas Eccleshare and Comedy Direction by John Nicholson of Peepolykus (2–24 September 2022)
  • Inspector Sands’ adaptation of Wuthering Heights, created by Lucinka Eisler and Ben Lewis, and containing violence, peril, social awkwardness, exhilarating music, high winds and mud! (24 April–6 May 2023)
  • Hydrocracker and DeafConnect’s Who Cares 2032 is an interactive digital experience about the future of healthcare, co-created by Jem Wall and Nathan Crossan-Smith, written by Chloe Todd-Fordham, Thea Gajic and Rebecca Saffir and directed by Nathan Crossan-Smith, with interactive design by John Hunter (October 2022)
  • Judith Kerr’s iconic Mog stories, adapted by The Wardrobe Ensemble, will transfer to co-producer The Old Vic in 2023 followed by a major UK Tour 

Six contemporary versions of major classics: 

  • World premiere of Michael Rosen’s Unexpected Twist – a re-telling of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist – is adapted for the stage by BAFTA award-winner Roy Williams with original music by Yaya Bey and BAC Beatbox Academy’s Conrad Murray, directed by James Dacre and designed by Frankie Bradshaw (11–23 February 2023)
  • Lucy Bailey returns to Royal & Derngate with a world premiere reimagining of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the best-selling crime novel of all time (8–16 September 2023)
  • Royal & Derngate partners again with Shakespeare’s Globe and Headlong for Henry V, directed by Holly Race Roughan as an exploration of our nation’s history and what it means to be British. Premiering at the Globe and then transferring to Northampton (7–18 March 2023)  
  • A magical staging of The Night Before Christmas from Royal & Derngate and Polka Theatre arrives in the Underground Studio, adapted by Oliver Award nominee Hattie Naylor for under 7s and their grown ups (25 November–31 December 2022)
  • Three-time BRIT Award-winning Guy Chambers’ musical adaptation of The Selfish Giant will be available on Audible featuring Stephen Fry, Joseph Marcell, Giles Terera, Sharon D Clarke, Roger Allam and Patricia Routledge
  • Academy Award winner Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation of The Dance of Death with Lindsay Duncan, Hilton McCrae and Emily Bruni continues its tour at The Arcola (until 23 July 22)

Two world premieres commissioned by Royal & Derngate:

  • World premiere of a site-specific piece of gig theatre, Song of the Summer, a coming-of-age drama created by local youth ensembles, set in Northampton during the summer of 2006 and featuring original indie rock music performed by local bands (11–21 August 2022)
  • Scene Unseen, an intimate new cabaret about identity and sexuality by Jessica Walker and Joseph Atkins, captured on film with illustrations by award-winning illustrator Thomas Hicks and available to watch online (August 2022)

Made in Northampton productions revived on tour, online and in cinemas:

  • Anthony McCarten’s original play The Two Popes returns after its Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated big screen adaptation. Directed by James Dacre with original music by Grammy winner Anne Dudley and starring Anton Lesser and Nicholas Woodeson, it returns to Northampton after touring the UK (in Northampton 11–15 October 22)
  • A feature film adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets performed by Ralph Fiennes and directed by Sophie Fiennes, adapted from Royal & Derngate and Bath Theatre Royal’s acclaimed stage production with designs by Hildegard Bechtler
  • Made in Northampton productions of An Improbable Musical, The Wellspring and Charlie and Stan return to tour the UK, with venues announced later this summer 

Independent artists and 500 young people supported by Royal & Derngate to develop original work: 

  • Migrant theatre makers Tina Hofman, Carlota Matos and Butshilo Nleya create original work as part of Projekt Elevate
  • Royal & Derngate’s annual Generate Festival of new work will return
  • Royal & Derngate will host the Musical Theatre Dark Room with China Plate, MTN and MMD supporting new work from Nemo Martin, Maya Productions and Thabo Stuck  
  • Royal & Derngate will partner with the National Youth Theatre for the second year running to host 500 young people for a programme of summer training residencies

Artistic Director James Dacre said This season sees the culmination of several strands of strategic activity that have seen us challenge ourselves as a venue to nurture the creation of original work in radically different ways. Whether supporting artists to develop original musical theatre for the midscale, hosting ensemble companies to collaboratively devise their work over the course of several years, inviting playwrights to write for our main stage or supporting artists to reach new audiences in cinemas and online, this body of work has widened our practice, broadened our reach and helped shape our future.

The season opens with the first ever stage production of Jacques Tati’s comic masterpiece Playtime, recently named one of the top films of all time by the BFI. Grammy Award-winning composers Chilly Gonzalez and Martha Wainwright will write original songs for the production which is created by Dancing Brick with comedy direction from PeepolykusJohn Nicholson, design by Olivier nominee Michael Vale and sound design by Kayode Gomez. It is followed by a revival of Dacre’s 2019 production of Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten’s The Two Popes with Anton Lesser and Nicholas Woodeson with original music by Anne Dudley for a national tour and London premiere at Rose Theatre. 

Royal & Derngate has specialised in creating new mid-scale touring musicals over the last decade and 2021 saw the culmination of another five-year project in which the company led a national consortium of partners to support 150 artists in nurturing the creation of new musical theatre, including An Improbable Musical, which will tour this autumn, having opened on the Royal stage in February.

Building upon this programme of original musicals, James Dacre will reunite with regular collaborators Roy Williams and designer Frankie Bradshaw to directa musical adaptation of Michael Rosen’s Unexpected Twist, with original music by BAC Beatbox Academy’s Conrad Murray andR&B phenomenon Yaya Bey, whose highly acclaimed new album Remember Your North Star was described this month as “prismatic, outstanding and resplendent” by Pitchfork. The production sees Royal & Derngate partner with Children’s Theatre Partnership for the fourth time. 

The theatre will also launch a digital musical, Scene Unseen, which is an intimate new cabaret about identity, sexuality, and what makes us who we are by Jessica Walker and Joseph Atkins. It is captured on film with illustrations by award winning animator Thomas Hicks and is available to watch online in August. A co-production with English Touring Opera, it is a powerful and personal hour-long song cycle with a mix of humour, classicism, torch, and a touch of Eighties synth. 

Who Cares 2032 is an interactive digital experience, created by Hydrocracker and DeafConnect with narration, film, audio, integrated BSL and audio description. Exploring the future of healthcare, it has been written by Chloe Todd-Fordham, Thea Gajic and Rebecca Saffir and features members of the local community captured on films directed by Nathan Crossan-Smith with interactive design by John Hunter 

For Christmas 2022 there is a magical staging of the 200 year-old festive poem, The Night Before Christmas,for under 7s and their grown-ups in the venue’s Underground Studio. Adapted by Olivier nominee Hattie Naylor and directed by Roman Stefanski, it is a co-production with Polka Theatre where it opened last Christmas.

In the new year, Inspector Sands bring their characteristic humour, passion and pathos to the infamous love story of Heathcliff and Catherine, when Wuthering Heights takes to the Royal stage in April. Channelling Emily Brontë’s piercing wit and fierce emotion, this new production will feature exhilarating music, high winds and plenty of mud. 

Following collaborations on King John and Richard III, Royal & Derngate partners again with Shakespeare’s Globe and Headlong for Henry V, directed by Holly Race Roughan, exploring our nation’s history and what it means to be British.

A reimagining of the best-selling crime novel of all time, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, will open in September 2023 on the Derngate stage. Reuniting the creative team behind the smash-hit Love From A Stranger, director Lucy Bailey (Gaslight, Witness For The Prosecution) returns with UK Theatre Award-winning designer Mike Britton (A Tale of Two Cities). A co-production with Fiery Angel, it will tour the UK after opening in Northampton. 

Meanwhile, the venue’s commitment to Northampton-rooted work remains strong with Song of the Summerwritten and directed by Tristan Jackson-Pate and co-produced by Cherwell Theatre Company, set in Northampton and created in collaboration with local communities. 

This Autumn, the venue’s annual Generate Festivalwill feature a programme of new work onstage, in development and online. The year’s Generate artists include Chris Lowe, Scott Bradley, Jo Blake-Cave, Sampson Hawkins, Under the Bed, Ryan Leder and Lauren Nicole Whitter. Meanwhile, the venue is developing original work with Butshilo Nleya, Carlota Matos and Tina Hofman in a collaboration with Projekt Europa called Projekt Elevate to develop co-created work with local communities. The venue will also be partnering with OpenHire ( to recruit several key creative team roles across the season through an open application process.  

The season also sees UK Tours and transfers to London for several of last year’s Made in Northampton productions, with full dates and details still to be announced. These will include their acclaimed productions of The Wellspring by Barney Norris and David Owen Norris, An Improbable Musical and Told by an Idiot’s remarkable story of the greatest comedy double act that nearly was, Charlie and Stan.

Following the release of the album Incidental:Music For The Stage in 2021, Royal & Derngate continues its work outside of the theatre space with a new feature film release and a musical release on Audible. The Royal & Derngate and Theatre Royal Bath co-production of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets,performed by Ralph Fiennes with designs by Hildegard Bechtler will be adapted for cinema and television release by Sophie Fiennes. The Selfish Giant will be available on Audible with music by three-time BRIT Award-winning Guy Chambers and featuring readings by Stephen Fry, Joseph Marcell, Giles Terera, Sharon D Clarke, Roger Allam and Patricia Routledge. Dates are to be confirmed for both releases.