The team behind stage phenomenon Jerusalem, writer Jez Butterworth and director Ian Rickson, will reunite for a new show as part of Dominic Cooke’s penultimate season as Artistic Director of the Royal Court.
Court alumni Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp will also return to the Sloane Square venue this autumn, where they are joined by Tarell Alvin McCraney and EV Crowe, who present their second shows for the famous new writing venue, and Lucy Kirkwood, whose work is seen on its hallowed stage for the first time.
Former Court Artistic Director Rickson will direct Butterworth’s latest play, The River, in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from October. The story of a man, a woman and a remote cabin on the cliffs, sees Butterworth’s work return to the Royal Court for the first time since the incredible success of Jerusalem. The team of playwright and director have previously worked together on Mojo, The Winterling, The Night Heron and Parlour Song.
Churchill’s work was first seen at the Royal Court in 1972, when Owners became her first play to be produced at the venue. It was followed by plays including Top Girls, A Number, Cloud Nine and, in September, her latest work, Love And Information. The piece, which is directed by James Macdonald who has a wealth of experience directing Churchill’s work in his career, is the story of more than 100 characters trying to make sense of what they know.
Crimp’s seasonal satire, In The Republic Of Happiness, follows Love And Information in the Court’s Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from December, telling its story of an unexpected arrival shaking up a family Christmas celebration. The new piece from the writer behind The City and Attempts On He Life will be directed by Cooke.
Cooke also directs the latest play from McCraney, Choir Boy, which runs Upstairs from September. Set in an all-boys, all-black American prep school, the tale of minority and masculinity follows his first Court offering Wig Out!, which ran there in 2008. The young US playwright has built a remarkable reputation with productions including The Brothers Size and In The Red And Brown Water, which were both seen at the Young Vic.
Fellow second-player Crowe, whose Kin was staged in 2010, returns with the story of a gay primary school teacher, Hero. The Young Writer’s Programme graduate’s play, which is directed by Royal Court Associate Director Jeremy Herrin, runs Upstairs from November.
The only debutant of the season Kirkwood brings NSFW to the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs in October. The tale of power games in the media and beyond is directed by Simon Godwin, whose production of Vivienne Franzmann’s The Witness opened at the Royal Court last week.
Speaking about the season, Cooke said: “It’s a privilege to welcome back some of the UK’s most influential playwrights to the Royal Court in my penultimate season as Artistic Director. A new play by Caryl Churchill is a major cultural event. To have that joined by the latest work from Martin Crimp and Jez Butterworth in the same season is a rare and thrilling prospect. These are writers who have reshaped the theatrical landscape and challenged us to imagine ourselves in new ways. Their new plays are as startlingly original as anything they’ve written. Each writer has a long history with the Royal Court and I’m honoured to be welcoming them back this season.”
The announcement of the new season comes with the Royal Court on a real high. Building on the success of the West End transfers of Jerusalem and Clybourne Park, the influential theatre has a trio of shows heading to the Duchess theatre; Posh, which has already opened, Jumpy and Constellations. Its award-winning production of Mike Bartlett’s Cock also opened in the US last month.
Cooke has one more season to programme before he leaves the Royal Court after an extremely successful tenure, handing the venue over to Vicky Featherstone in April 2013.