Howard Brenton will return to the Hampstead theatre later this year to present the world premiere of his new play #aiww: The Arrest Of Ai WeiWei as part of the venue’s spring season, which will also see Olivier Award winner Terry Johnson direct David Mamet’s searing drama Race.
Directed by James Macdonald, #aiww: The Arrest Of Ai WeiWei, which plays from 11 April (press night 17 April) to 18 May, tells the tale of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei and his 81 day imprisonment following his arrest in 2011 based on information gathered through Barnaby Martin’s conversations with the artist.
Written by the author of 55 Days, which played at the Hampstead theatre last year, #aiww: The Arrest Of Ai WeiWei paints a portrait of WeiWei in extreme conditions, affirming the centrality of art and freedom of speech in civilised society.
Returning to the venue following And No More Shall We Part at Hampstead Downstairs, Macdonald’s directing credits include Cock, Love And Information and Blasted at the Royal Court theatre, where he was Associate Director for 14 years.
Following the world premiere of Brenton’s play, the UK premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Mamet’s Race, a detective story about the perceptions and realities that colour our world, which will play at the venue from 23 May (press night 29 May) to 29 June.
Directed by Johnson, who returns to the venue following last season’s Old Money, Race tells the story of a white man who is accused of rape by a black man. In order to bring the defendant to justice, two lawyers – one black and one white – must uncover the truth about the case.
Talking about the forthcoming spring season, the venue’s Artistic Director Edward Hall said: “Hampstead is thriving in these difficult times, and these two thought-provoking and immediate plays promise to ignite debate amongst everyone who sees them.”
#aiww: The Arrest Of Ai WeiWei will kick off the season following Amelia Bullmore’s heart-warming tale of friendship Di And Viv And Rose, which plays until 23 February, and William Boyd’s Chekhov-inspired Longing, which stars Tamsin Greig and Iain Glen, and runs from 28 February to 6 April.