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Glenda Jackson leads Old Vic season

First Published 4 May 2016, Last Updated 4 May 2016

Glenda Jackson will return to the stage to play King Lear as part of Matthew Warchus hugely exciting, star-studded second season as Artistic Director of The Old Vic that also includes the stage return of Star Wars’ John Boyega.

Jackson, a two-time Academy Award-winning actress turned Labour MP, will take on the titular role from 25 October to 3 December under the direction of Deborah Warner. She’ll be joined in the cast by an incredible line-up of stage and screen talent including Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Potter star Harry Melling.

The high profile Shakespeare production will be the second offering in the 2016/2017 season that also includes world premiere productions from high profile writers, star-studded casts and the return of Olivier Award-nominated favourites.

Critically acclaimed actor Lisa Dwan will return to Samuel Beckett following her hugely successful performance in the challenging trilogy Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby to open the season with the world premiere of the legendary playwright’s monologue No’s Knife from 29 September to 15 October.

Following King Lear’s run, Warchus will turn his attentions back to Yasmina Reza’s cult play Art, nearly 20 years after his triumphant Olivier Award-winning production of the philosophical drama opened in London when it fast became a cultural phenomenon.

Playing from 10 December to 18 February, the revival Christopher Hampton’s translation of Reza’s drama about three friends and a white painting will reunite the entire original team to bring the dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance back to the London stage.

Journeying from revivals to premieres, one of London theatre’s hottest writing talents, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child’s Jack Thorne, will collaborate with one of the screen’s hottest young actors, Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Boyega, to take on Georg Büchner’s legendary Woyzeck from 25 February to 15 April.

The psychological drama, which The Old Vic promised Thorne would “breathe new life into” to create “what Büchner intended for his [time]: an unforgettable howl of rage,” will be directed by the venue’s newly appointed Baylis Director, former Nabakov Artistic Director Joe Murphy.

Two very different revivals then follow as The Old Vic prepares to stage a 50th anniversary celebratory production of Tom Stoppard’s much-loved comedy Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, before the return of 2015’s Olivier Award-nominated family puppetry hit, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. Cast and dates are still to be confirmed for both.

Also included in today’s announcement is Max Webster’s production of BAFTA-winning writer Stephen Beresford’s new adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s magical study of childhood, family and love, Fanny And Alexander, and a brand new version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore by Nigel Hess and Nell Gywnn’s Christopher Luscombe.

The packed season, which will also include a new strand of children’s programming to engage the next generation of theatregoers, follows a triumphant first season for Warchus after he took the helm from Kevin Spacey last autumn. Audiences still have Drew McOnie’s dance take on Jekyll & Hyde and the much anticipated musical take on Groundhog Day to come before this second season takes flight.

Talking about his first months at the venue and the exciting times ahead, Warchus said: “Anyone who has visited The Old Vic in the last eight months will have felt the new wave of energy which has swept through the building. There’s a completely fresh feel to the foyer, bars and café, and a completely fresh approach to how we programme our productions and events. There’s much more happening, and for a much wider range of people. For a theatre without public funding this is no mean feat. It’s an exciting shift, aimed at consolidating The Old Vic as a vibrant and indispensable part of London’s artistic scene.

“With my second season, we continue our mission to be a leading creative hub in the capital, and further afield, radiating an energising and unintimidating spirit, as we celebrate the best of what theatre can be.”

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