The Bush Theatre will reopen after a year-long £4.3m redevelopment, the largest capital project in the theatre’s history, with a bold new season.
From 18 March a week-long housewarming celebration opens the newly redeveloped Bush Theatre, celebrating the new Bush building and the diversity of its home in Shepherd’s Bush. This will include performances, talks, music and spoken word. The building will also be animated with work from the Bush’s Associate Artists and Emerging Writers’ Group.
One highlight of the week is Black Lives, Black Words (23 March – 25 March), a series of short plays in the newly revitalised theatre space that will consider the question ‘Do black lives matter today?’ This shared project was initiated by the award-winning American playwright Reginald Edmund in Chicago in 2015. Black Lives, Black Words has since grown to explore the black diaspora’s experiences in some of the largest multicultural cities in the world, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Baltimore and London.
The Bush Theatre will contribute new commissions to the Black Lives, Black Words canon including plays by black British writers Winsome Pinnock and Rachel De-Lahay. Poet Anthony Anaxagorou will open each night with If I told you and an anthology of all the works performed will be published by Oberon Books.
Over the 2017 season, the Bush Theatre will present three new commissions, three world premieres, two European premieres and one production that will tour nationally. 50% of the programme comes from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) writers.
The eagerly anticipated season kicks off with the European Premiere of Guards At The Taj by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, directed by Olivier Award-winner Jamie Lloyd (from 7 April). Set in 1648 Agra, India, imperial guards Humayun and Babur keep watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. The emperor has decreed that no one, except the masons, labourers and slaves who exist within those walls, shall turn to look at the building until it is complete; the Lucille Lortel Award-winning play thus prompts contemporary audiences to revisit questions about art and privelege.
A brand new Studio space opens with the world premiere of Barney Norris play While We’re Here directed by Alice Hamilton (from 26 April – 27 May). Co-Directors of the multi award-winning touring company Up In Arms, the duo return to the Bush following their critically acclaimed production of Visitors with this play which follows former lovers Eddie and Carol, reunited in a town full of memories to both search for the centre of their lives.
Having made great waves in New York, the explosive play HIR, by one of America’s most dynamic and distinctive voices, comes to London in a new production by Nadia Fall (Disgraced). Taylor Mac (24-Decade History of Popular Music), an artist at the forefront of alternative responses to American culture, subverts all notions of the modern American family in this clash of wild absurdity and stark realism.
In a nondescript town somewhere in mid-west America, Isaac gets home from serving in the marines to find war has broken out back home. Isaac’s mom Paige is blowing up entrenched routines. In their cheap house made of plywood and glue, notions of masculinity and femininity become weapons with which to defeat the old order – but sometimes annihilating the past doesn’t free you from it. Performances play from 15 June – 22 July.
Nassim then follows in the Studio, as Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour returns to the Bush with an audacious theatrical experiment that explores the power of language to unite us in unknown, uncertain times, playing between 24-29 July. With no rehearsals, and no preparation, there’s just a sealed envelope and an actor reading a script for the first time. Directed by Bush Associate Director Omar Elerian, Nassim will feature the playwright himself.
Sophie Wu (Kick Ass, Fresh Meat) will be thence become the first graduate of the Bush’s Emerging Writers’ Group, which launched in 2015, to have a full commission produced at the Bush, with the premiere of Ramona Tells Jim, which plays in the Studio from 20 September – 21 October. Deep in the Scottish Highlands of 1998, a girl falls for a boy’s awkward charm, but gets caught in a scandal that will haunt them both for years to come.
Finally, playing in the Bush Theatre between 18 October – 25 November, Sheffield Theatres Artistic Director Robert Hastie (My Night With Reg, Splendour) directs the gripping new comedy Of Kith And Kin, by Chris Thompson (Albion). Of Kith And Kin, a Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production, poses the question what does family mean in the 21st century? The play will premiere at Sheffield Theatres as part of Hastie’s inaugural season as Artistic Director before transferring to the Bush Theatre.
The venue’s redevelopment has been driven by the aim of realising Artistic Director Madani Younis’ vision for a theatre that reflects the diversity of London today. Upon reopening, the building will be more sustainable and entirely accessible, with a new entrance, front-of-house area and exterior garden terrace to the main street. The new 70-seat Studio will serve to increase the artistic output of the Bush Theatre, and provide emerging writers and artists with a flexible, intimate space to create and showcase the best in new writing.
For more information on the season and to book your tickets, visit the venue’s website.