As the Lyric Hammersmith gets set to undergo a year’s worth of redevelopment, the innovative venue has announced it will monopolise its transformation into a building site with an intriguing season of work called Secret Theatre created by 20 artists in residence.
The ensemble will comprise actors, writers, directors, designers and dramaturgs and, over a number of months, the group will challenge the way in which British theatre is made by “combining the best elements of the European model of a permanent ensemble with the traditional strengths of British theatre”.
The result will be a secretive season of productions, mixing classics, new writing and adaptations, which will play from 9 September and, as each play opens, add to the growing repertory of work.
Playing at the venue during its £16.5million building project, once a month audience members will be offered the chance to see several of the productions performed in one day and in keeping with its tight-lipped theme, no titles will be announced.
Making up the acting ensemble are Graeae-regular Nadia Albina, Mogadishu star Hammed Animashaun, Leo Bill (Posh, Royal Court), Cara Horgan (Pains Of Youth, National Theatre), Bitch Boxer writer Charlotte Josephine, who last appeared on stage in Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse, Shameless’ Adelle Leonce, recent graduate Katherine Pearce, who made her professional debut in the National Theatre’s Port earlier this year, Billy Seymour (Saved, Lyric Hammersmith), Three Kingdom’s star Sergo Vares and Steven Webb, who has starred in the Lyric Hammersmith’s annual pantomime for the last three years.
The theatre’s Artistic Director Sean Holmes will lead the team of 10 creatives, with Lyric Hammersmith-regular and award-winning playwright behind the seven-time Olivier Award-winning The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Simon Stephens acting as dramaturg.
Joining the pair are playwrights Caroline Bird (The Trojan Women), Joel Horwood (I [Heart] Peterborough, I Caught Crabs In Walberswick), Arinze Kene (God’s Property) and Hayley Squires (Vera Vera Vera), JMK Award-winning director Ellen McDougall, set designer Hyemi Shin, lighting designer and regular National Theatre of Scotland collaborator Lizzie Powell and the theatre’s Head of Sound Nick Manning.
Speaking about the undercover season, Holmes explained Secret Theatre is “an attempt to challenge every aspect of how we make work at the Lyric, building new structures that could lead to a new type of theatre.”
While these artistic structures are being developed, the building itself will be undergoing similarly dynamic change. Alongside a new two-storey extension to further the theatre’s work with young people and the community, the capital project will also include the building of new drama, dance, film and TV recording studios, a 60-seat cinema and a new bar and café.