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Penelope Skinner and Joe Hill-Gibbins

Penelope Skinner and Joe Hill-Gibbins

Classics reworked for final Donmar Trafalgar

Published 23 August 2012

Penelope Skinner (pictured, with Joe Hill-Gibbins), Conor McPherson and Anthony Weigh are to create new versions of plays by Arbuzov and Strindberg, and a Jean Bruller novella for the final Donmar Trafalgar season.

The annual season, staged to showcase work by graduates of the Donmar’s Resident Assistant Director programme, will feature Alex Sims directing The Promise, Titas Halder directing The Dance Of Death and Simon Evans directing The Silence Of The Sea.

Speaking about the season, which will run from 15 November to 2 February, Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Josie Rourke commented: “As a graduate of the Donmar’s Resident Assistant Director Scheme myself, I can confidently say it gives the best training to an aspiring director. Not only did it give me an amazing insight into the great craft of British theatre, the relationships I made started my career as a professional director. It is these concrete opportunities for new directors that the industry and young people need right now. The first two years of the Donmar Trafalgar seasons have been a huge success with critics and audiences alike, and I wanted to build on this by commissioning leading playwrights Penelope Skinner, Conor McPherson and the Donmar’s Associate Artist Anthony Weigh to write new versions of European classics for this year’s young directors.”

Set in Leningrad ravaged by the Second World War, The Promise (15 November to 8 December) is the story of a trio of teenagers thrown together, following their shifting allegiances through the years. Originally written by Soviet playwright Arbuzov, this new version is written by Penelope Skinner, who won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright for The Village Bike.

Strindberg’s The Dance Of Death (13 December to 5 January) is the tale of an embittered couple, Edgar and Alice, who have a marriage soured by hatred. When Alice’s opportunity for escape arrives with her former comrade Kurt, Edgar does all he can to make their lives a living hell. McPherson, who will write the new version, is the playwright behind the award-winning The Weir, Port Authority, Shining City and Dublin Carol, which was staged in 2011’s Donmar Trafalgar season.

Originally a novella written by Jean Bruller under the pseudonym Vercors, The Silence Of The Sea (10 January to 2 February) follows a soldier billeted to the house of an old man and his niece. Unable to say no, the pair resist him in the only way they can, with silence. Playwright Weigh is an Associate Artist at the Donmar Warehouse and was previously Associate Playwright at Rourke’s last theatre, the Bush. His plays include 2,000 Feet Away and Like A Fishbone.


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