Bush goes dark with new season

Published September 17, 2008

The Bush theatre will be dark in October, but in a very different way than is usually associated with the term in the theatre world.

A series of leaks have left the Shepherd’s Bush venue without the use of lights, but instead of shutting down until the problem has been solved, the theatre has embraced the issue with open arms and used it as a springboard for a series of new plays.

The Broken Space season, which runs from 6-25 October, will feature 10 new plays created as a response to working without a lighting grid.

Evenings during the Broken Space season will be split into three sections, each with their own themes: Falling Light (19:30) features monologues performed in the faltering light; St Petersburg (20:30) is the world premiere of a piece by Irish playwright Declan Feenan; What The Dark Feels Like (21:30) will feature six ghostly new plays performed in near, or total, darkness.

Among the writers premiering work in the season are Simon Stephens, Bryony Lavery, Neil LaBute (in the Falling Light section), Mike Bartlett, Nancy Harris, Lucy Kirkwood, Ben Schiffer, Jack Thorne and Anthony Weigh (as part of What The Dark Feels Like). The pieces will change at the end of each week, with only St Petersburg performed throughout.

Full casting for each piece is yet to be announced, though Geoffrey Hutchings, Mairead McKinley, Bradley Ford and Zak Bann-Murray perform in St Petersburg, which marks the first professional performance of Feenan’s work. Other casting includes Andrew Scott in Stephens’s Sea Wall and Michelle Terry in LaBute’s The War On Terror.

The leaks and lack of lighting comes at the end of a year which has seen the Bush theatre overcoming trials and tribulations. The hotbed of new writing was among the theatres threatened with funding cuts from the Arts Council and facing the possibility of closure. Following a reprieve, it has staged new work by Mike Bartlett, Lucy Kirkwood and Anthony Weigh in the last year, the latter bringing Ian Hart and Joseph Fiennes back to the London stage.

MA