The Donmar Warehouse has announced its autumn 2013 season, with leading stage and screen actors Jessica Raine, Daniel Mays, Mark Gatiss and Tom Hiddleston set to star in a season of new and classic work examining how we find our place in the world today.
Announced today by the venue’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke, the season will open with the world premiere of Nick Payne’s The Same Deep Water As Me, which will be followed by a revival of Arnold Wesker’s Roots and conclude with Shakespeare’s Coriolanus with Hiddleston returning to the London stage to star in the title role.
Olivier nominated Constellations playwright Payne, who Rourke today described as “one of our greatest young playwrights”, premieres his latest work, The Same Deep Water As Me, from 1 August (press night 6 August) until 21 September.
Mrs Biggs star Mays, who said he was “thrilled” to be returning to the venue following his role in Trelawney Of The Wells, will be joined in the cast by Shrek The Musical star Nigel Lindsay, Call The Midwife’s Monica Dolan, Singin’ In The Rain star Peter Forbes, In With The Flynns’ Niky Wardley and recent LAMDA graduate Joanna Griffin.
Directed by John Crowley, the play has a very personal link to Rourke, who called it a “dazzling play”, as Payne was initially inspired to write the drama after meeting the Artistic Director’s brother, a lawyer working in minor insurance fraud. The result is a tale about Scorpion Claims, Luton’s finest personal injury law firm, and their two top lawyers Andrew and Barry. When Andrew’s high school nemesis appears in the office, the opportunity for a quick win arises. But just how fast does a lie have to spin before it gets out of control?
Following Payne’s premiere, James Macdonald will direct Wesker’s post-war classic about a young woman who falls in love with a socialist and must discover her voice at a time of unprecedented social change from 3 October (press night 8 October) to 30 November.
The production will feature designs by Olivier Award winner Hildegard Bechtler and star Call The Midwife and National Theatre regular Raine alongside Linda Bassett, who returns to the Donmar following her role in Phaedra, but is arguably best known for hit films East Is East and Calendar Girls, the BBC’s Privates star Emma Stansfield and Michael Jibson (Road at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Timon Of Athens at Shakespeare’s Globe).
Rourke will direct the final production in the season, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, from 6 December (press night 17 December) to 8 February 2014. The searing tragedy, which tackles two of the Bard’s favourite subjects, political manipulation and revenge, will see Hiddleston once again work with the Donmar following his roles in Othello and Ivanov, which played as part of its West End season at the Wyndham’s theatre.
Hiddleston, who has gained international acclaim for his high-profile roles in blockbuster films The Avengers, Thor and War Horse, will be joined in the cast by Gatiss who will take on the role of Menenius. The co-creator and star of The League Of Gentlemen, who has also recently appeared in 55 Days at the Hampstead theatre and on screen in Sherlock, returns to the venue following Rourke’s The Recruiting Officer.
Speaking about his forthcoming challenge in the leading role, Hiddleston said: “The fate of Coriolanus dramatises the conflict in the heart of every public figure: the war between integrity and popularity; the difference between military action and politics; the debate between public responsibility and private freedom. It’s a play for our time; for any time. To have been invited by Josie Rourke and her extraordinary team at the Donmar to play this role on that stage is a huge honour, a source of great personal pride and excitement.”
Alongside its run at the Covent Garden venue, the production will be made available to audiences around the world when it is screened in cinemas on 30 January as part of the NT Live initiative, which is just one of a selection of ways the venue will make its work available to audiences internationally.
This summer the Donmar Warehouse will also travel beyond its London home to present Matt Charman’s The Machine, a new drama about Garry Kasparov, the world’s greatest chess player, at the Manchester International Festival in July before it plays at the Park Avenue Armory in New York later in the year. New York will also receive the transfer of Phyllida Lloyd’s critically acclaimed all-female Julius Caesar when it plays at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in October with original cast members including Harriet Walter, Frances Barber, Jenny Jules and Cush Jumbo, who received an Olivier Award nomination for her performance, reprising their roles.
Talking at today’s press conference, Rourke said the season was very relevant to the world we live in today, explaining: “A question I always ask myself is ‘Is this piece in conversation with what it is to be alive now?’. This stage has the capacity to talk about what it is to essentially be human. If it can do that within a contemporary context, it’s really extraordinary,” admitting that for all its relevance, whether it was written this year or, in the case of Wesker’s classic, 1959: “In the end, we’re looking for dead good stuff to do!”
As well as being united by “Struggle, laughter and tragedy,” Rourke has also found other parallels with the trio of plays to run at the Covent Garden venue. “I think there is at the centre of all of these plays a sense of people trying to find their place in the word,” Rourke explained, “[this is] very clear with Nick’s The Same Deep Water, a play about contemporary Britain and what it is to live in the world right now… there’s something very exciting about reflecting on things that are in that play like the death of the high street or cash.”
Also announced today was the continuation of the venue’s Barclays Front Row initiative, which offers more than 300 £10 tickets in the front row of the stalls and circle every Monday for performances two weeks later. The scheme has so far seen 5,000 people visit the Donmar Warehouse for the first time.
“I think there is at the centre of all of these plays a sense of people trying to find their place in the word"