Vicky Featherstone’s inaugural programmed season as Artistic Director at the Royal Court will include venue debuts from award-winning playwrights Dennis Kelly and Abi Morgan, the National Theatre of Scotland’s critically acclaimed production of Let The Right One In and a series of works from playwrights from across the globe.
Kelly will make his Royal Court debut with The Ritual Slaughter Of Gorge Mastromas, kicking off the season from 5 September (press night 11 September) to 19 October in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
Directed by Featherstone, the latest work by the playwright behind the seven-time Olivier Award-winning production of Matilda The Musical is billed as “an electrifying morality tale” and tells the story of the title character as he embarks on a journey from innocence to savage greed and knotted honesty, inventing three golden rules for success no matter what the cost.
Joining Kelly’s new play in the venue’s Downstairs space, the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Let The Right One In will play from 29 November (press night 5 December) to 21 December prior to a West End transfer.
Based on the cult Swedish romantic horror novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist and adapted by Jack Thorne, the play, which premiered at the Dundee Rep theatre last month, tells the story of Oskar, a lonely bullied teenager living with his mother on a housing estate in a neighbourhood that has experienced a spate of sinister killings. When Eli moves in next door, they become great friends, but what Oskar doesn’t know is that Eli has been a teenager for a very long time.
The production, which marks Thorne’s Royal Court debut, will be directed by Olivier Award-winning director John Tiffany, whose credits include Tony Award-winning musical Once, both on Broadway and in the West End, and the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Black Watch, for which he won one of London theatre’s prestigious accolades in 2009.
Lisa Dwan will return to the Sloane Square venue from 9 January (press night 13 January) to 18 January to star in a one-woman trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays.
Alongside Beckett’s groundbreaking monologue Not I, which she performed at the Royal Court earlier this year, the actress will perform Beckett classics Rockaby, his 1980 piece about a prematurely old woman that explores loneliness, and Footfalls, which features a woman wrapped in tatters, pacing back and forth like a metronome, all of which are directed by Walter Asmus in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
BAFTA-winning playwright Abi Morgan will make her Royal Court debut with The Mistress Contract, directed by Featherstone in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 30 January (press night 5 February) to 8 March.
The writer, whose works include the screenplay for The Iron Lady and Frantic Assembly’s Lovesong at the Lyric Hammersmith, will present a play about a real-life couple known by the pseudonyms She and He who live in separate houses in the same American city. She is 88 and he is 93 and for three decades he has provided her with a home and income, while she has provided ‘mistress services’. Based on tape recordings the pair made during their 30-year relationship, The Mistress Contract tells the story of a remarkable couple and the contract that kept them bound together to this day.
Alongside the wealth of Downstairs debuts, Featherstone has also announced a host of work from overseas, including a new play from India and rehearsed readings from Chile, for the venue’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.
The first production in the season to play in the Upstairs space comes from slightly closer to home, with the Theatre Local project Peckham: The Soap Opera transferring from Peckham’s Bussey Building from 2 to 14 September.
Conceived by Open Court writers including Bola Agbaje and Rachel De-lahay and starring a company of community actors, the production will see the lives and loves of Peckham locals played out in an omnibus of 10 five minute episodes.
From 10 to 14 September, there will be rehearsed readings of a series of five plays from emerging Chilean playwrights. The tales of a Mapuche community threatened by the outside world (Ñuke), a woman in a coma (The Red Set), a nurse taking refuge in the northern mountains of her birth (Negra, The General’s Nurse), two Chilean graduates struggling to adapt to adult life (Chan!) and a father and daughter’s painful secrets (That Thing I Never Shared With You) will be told during the week that marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s democratic government.
Royal Court Associate Director Simon Godwin, whose most recent credits at the venue include If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep and NSFW, will direct De-lahay’s new play Routes from 20 September (press night 25 September) to 12 October.
Exploring immigration and exile, Routes takes audiences on a journey through Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and the UK and opens up the borders of friendship and family.
The Djinns Of Eidgah, Indian playwright Abhishek Majumdar’s play about two orphaned siblings, will play in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from 18 October (press night 22 October) to 9 November. Focusing on Ashrafi and Bilal, the siblings stranded and defined by their troubles in Kashmir, the production, which is directed by Richard Twyman (RSC’s The Histories Cycle), interweaves true stories and testimonies with Islamic storytelling to paint a magical portrait of a generation of radicalised children and a beautiful landscape lost to conflict.
Completing the season in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs is Gastronauts, a project from writers including Jumpy’s April de Angelis that, until further details are announced later in the year, is described only as “an edible performance” that takes you on a theatrical adventure with food.
The Royal Court’s new season will also see Pigeons, Suhayla El-Bushra’s drama about growing up in a multicultural society, which played as part of the Open Court programme, embark on a tour of London schools in the autumn.
Talking about her inaugural programme, which follows Featherstone’s programme of work inspired and driven by more than 140 writers, the Artistic Director said: “After the excitement and explosion of Open Court, it is time to focus on the next stage of the Royal Court for real, taking forward much of what the summer has taught us and introducing some new ideas.
“As a publicly-funded organisation, the theatre we make has to matter with every beat of its heart. It needs to ask the questions of what it means to be alive today, our place in the world as individuals and as a society, to reflect on the questions of our times – age, race, nationhood, love – and to find ways to adjust to continually changing contexts and truths.
“Introducing major writers, examining different aspects of radicalisation, developing a family audience, collaborative projects, and touring – this first season goes some way to begin exploring these strands, which will develop more strongly as we go. It’s inspiring to be leading the Royal Court into the next stage of this journey.”