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Cooke announces familiar faces for final season

Published 5 November 2012

Dominic Cooke’s last season as Artistic Director of the Royal Court theatre will see the return of three playwrights who presented work in his first year at the helm of the venue.

Following the hugely successful Clybourne Park, Cooke will direct Bruce Norris’ third play The Low Road in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs. Young playwright Polly Stenham will premiere her third Royal Court play No Quarter in the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, while Anthony Neilson will close the season in the theatre’s intimate space with the intriguingly named A New Play, which he will both write and direct.

Maintaining his reputation for introducing new writers to the London stage, Cooke’s final season will also see Royal Court theatre debuts from Harold Pinter Playwright’s Award-winner Anders Lustgarten and Poland’s Anna Wakulik.

Lustgarten’s If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep opens the season from 15 February (press night 20 February) in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs. Directed by Royal Court regular Simon Godwin (NSFW, The Witness , The Acid Test), the A Day At The Racists’ writer’s new play explodes the ethos of austerity and offers an alternative, grappling with the complex question of national debt.

The new production will be presented without décor, a concept that was a regular fixture at the Royal Court in the 1960s, offering playwrights the opportunity to have their play showcased on the main stage as a full production, but with minimal setting.

The Low Road follows in the theatre’s main space from 21 March (press night 27 March) and marks the last play Cooke will direct as Artistic Director, a fact particularly fitting give that Norris’ The Pain And The Itch was the first play Cooke directed in his inaugural season at the venue.

The Tony Award-winner’s new work – the first to be commissioned by the Sloane Square venue –  is described as a “fable of free market economics and cut-throat capitalism”, telling the story of a young entrepreneur who sets out on a quest for wealth with priceless ambition and a purse of gold.

Opening the newly announced season in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Stenham returns following the premieres of her acclaimed plays That Face and Tusk Tusk with No Quarter, a production that questions what the right way to live is.

Directed by her regular creative collaborator Jeremy Herrin, No Quarter tells the story of Robin who is fleeing the world he has rejected. Finding solace in his music and the sanctuary of his remote family home, he must decide how far he will go to save his kingdom as it begins to crumble.

A Time To Reap, Wakulik’s play developed with the Royal Court following her involvement with the theatre’s 2011 International Residency for Emerging Playwrights, will play from 22 February (press night 27 February).

From a forested Polish village to the blinding lights of London, the political drama looks at one woman’s story against the mountain landscape of an evolving nation and one of Poland’s hottest political topics, abortion and the Catholic church.

Also making their Royal Court debut with the production are director Caroline Steinbeis, an International Associate at the venue whose credits include Charged/Re-Charged at the Soho theatre and Fatherland at the Gate theatre, and the play’s translator Catherine Grosvenor.

Concluding the season is Neilson’s A New Play, called such in order to allow the playwright complete freedom to create the production with no preconceptions or agendas. Playing from 5 April (press night 10 April), the Get Santa! writer will create the work from scratch in the rehearsal room with the cast and subject matter yet to be announced.

As part of Cooke’s final season, the theatre’s annual Rough Cuts will also return from 17 to 26 January. The mini season of short plays will include new work exploring our ever-increasingly complicated relationship with the internet by Alia Bano, DC Moore, Nick Payne and Penelope Skinner, plus a new work in progress by E.V. Crowe about the power of search technology.

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