New plays by James Graham, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Marco Ramirez will all receive premieres at the Bush Theatre as part of the venue’s 2015 spring/summer season.
The trio of productions – The Royale, The Angry Brigade and The Invisible – join Caroline Horton’s previously announced Islands in dealing with a struggle for justice, albeit each in a different way.
Following Horton’s dark comedy about tax havens, little empires and enormous greed, which kicks off the season from 15 January to 21 February, Ramirez will present the UK premiere of The Royale from 13 March to 18 April.
Loosely based on the real life story of American boxer Jack Johnson whose story of talent and triumph was also one of racism and injustice, The Royale centres on a fictional character called Jay Jackson, the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, and explores the transcendence of sporting heroes as cultural icons of our time.
The production will be directed by the Bush’s Artistic Director Madani Younis, who said of Ramirez’s play: “I’m fascinated by the tale of a sporting hero who transcends his industry and becomes a major symbol in wider culture. Amir Khan, Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z: to me they are all Jay Jackson. I think the play will really speak to a UK audience when we think of today’s cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them.”
From 30 April to 13 June, Graham’s The Angry Brigade will follow its recent UK tour by making its London premiere at the Bush.
Marking Paines Plough’s return to the venue following 2013’s Jumpers For Goalposts, the thriller charts the story of four British anarchists who terrorised the country in the 1970s and the police manhunt that tracked them down.
The tale of Britain’s first home-grown terrorist group is directed by Paines Plough’s Artistic Director James Grieve and marks the company’s 40th anniversary.
Completing the season from 3 July to 15 August is the world premiere of Lenkiewicz’s The Invisible, which explores the current government’s reforms to the provision of legal aid. Inspired by the £350m cuts that will see ordinary people having their access to justice restricted, the play is based on interviews with real people at all levels of the British justice system and examines how these cuts are driving deeper cracks into the fabric of our society.
Talking about the forthcoming season, Younis said: “In programming our 2015 season, we were of course confronted by the general election. All of the plays in this season are not only outstanding pieces of new writing, but they also challenge significant injustices in our society. Through this work I want to question individuals’ relationships to the state and a nation’s ability to change the way it looks at itself. There are parallels within our industry too. I want theatre to be a just environment; our industry to be an equitable space. I believe our diverse programme and our team reflects society. It’s an attitude we live by.”
The 2015 season will be accompanied by the continuation of Bush Green Live, a series of events designed to spark conversations around the programmed work and offering a range of opportunities for writers, directors and interested audiences to engage more deeply with the plays.
Other accompaniments to the season include a set of events organised by the Alfred Fagon Award starting on 23 February, the return of NT Connections (20 to 22 April) and SPID Theatre’s dystopia-set production Arthur’s World, inspired by the company’s groundbreaking work on council estates, which plays in the Attic in January.