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Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Olivier Awards 2017 with Mastercard (Photo: David Levene)

Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Olivier Awards 2017 with Mastercard (Photo: David Levene)

Kwame Kwei-Armah reveals inaugural Young Vic season

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson Published 17 April 2018

A musical reworking of Twelfth Night, two modern classic plays, and two year-long digital projects, will form Kwame Kwei-Armah’s first season as Artistic Director of the Young Vic.

Kwei-Armah, whose tenure at the Waterloo venue began in February this year, will open his first season with his and Shaina Taub’s adaptation of Twelfth Night (2 October – 17 November), starring Gabrielle Brooks (Viola), Gbemisola Ikulemo (Maria), Jonathan Livingstone (Antonio) and Silas Wyatt-Barke (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), alongside community members from Southwark and Lambeth.

Originally performed at New York’s The Public Theater in 2016, the musical reimagining of Twelfth Night has music and lyrics by songwriter Taub. The classic tale of love and disguise is co-directed by Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis.

Kwei-Armah said of the show: “My first season as Artistic Director will attempt to balance on those shoulders the things that are important to me: joy, community, politics and these are deeply embedded in all that we do… That’s why the musical reworking of Twelfth Night – that I previously directed at The Public Theater in New York – is the show that I have chosen to kick-start my tenure with… It’s a celebration.”

Young Vic TheatreThe Young Vic

The Convert (7 December 2018 – 19 January 2019), a striking play penned by Tony-nominated writer (for Eclipsed) and Black Panther star Danai Gurira, follows, exploring the impact of colonialism and Catholicism on black identity in 1896 Rhodesia. When a young girl is taken into the household of a black Roman Catholic missionary, she escapes a forced marriage – but is forced to leave behind her family and, subsequently, her roots.

Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train (Thursday 14 February – Saturday 30 March 2019) then transports audiences to a prison in Rikers Island, New York. A frightened young man, accused of murdering a cult leader, is confronted with a charismatic born-again serial killer and a sadistic guard. Will one man’s redemption lead to another’s damnation?

In the Clare Studio this summer, 2018 Genesis Award winner Debbie Hannan directs the tantalizing, poetic play Things Of Dry Hours (Wednesday 15 August – Saturday 25 August 2018). Weaving the spiritual into the political, the show questions the idea that humans cannot change.

Beyond the stage, the Young Vic will develop two projects throughout the year under Kwei-Armah’s guidance: My England, a celebration of playwrights from across regions of England which explores what it means to be English, with monologues to be released on social media; and YV Unpacked, which aims to take the highest quality theatre to people who do not normally think that theatre is for them, taking work to sites including refugee centres, prisons, community hubs and homeless shelters.

Public booking for tickets to the new season opens on Monday 23 April through the Young Vic website.


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