Kevin Spacey and Trevor Nunn are to reunite at the Old Vic for a production of 1955 American play Inherit The Wind. Nunn will direct Spacey in the drama in September, before David Grindley continues the Old Vic season with a revival of John Guare’s Six Degrees Of Separation.
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee’s drama Inherit The Wind, which plays at the Old Vic from 18 September to 20 December (press night 1 October) was written as a criticism of McCarthyism during the 1950s but is based on a 1925 trial in which science teacher John Scopes was accused of violating a Tennessee state statute by teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to his students. This production of Inherit The Wind marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s The Origin Of The Species.
Spacey last teamed up with director Nunn at the Old Vic for a 2005 production of Shakespeare’s Richard II. The actor, who is also Artistic Director of the Waterloo venue, has not performed on its stage since David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow in 2008. Nunn is currently enjoying critical acclaim for his production of A Little Night Music at the Garrick theatre.
Inherit The Wind is followed by Guare’s Six Degrees Of Separation (7 January to 3 April 2010, press night 19 January), another play inspired by real events. It tells the tale of a flamboyant con artist who managed to convince wealthy residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side that he was the son of Sidney Poitier.
Following its 1990 Broadway premiere, Six Degrees Of Separation won the 1993 Best New Play Laurence Olivier Award for its UK premiere production at the Royal Court, which subsequently transferred to the Comedy theatre. Stockard Channing, who starred in the play on Broadway and in the West End, went on to appear in a film version alongside Donald Sutherland and Will Smith.
No casting has yet been announced for this revival, directed by Grindley, who returns to the Old Vic after directing Spacey in National Anthems in 2005. Grindley’s other recent credits include Honour, Abigail’s Party and Journey’s End.
Currently playing at the Old Vic is Sam Mendes’s Bridge Project, in which a transatlantic cast performs a double bill of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The three-year project continues next year with another, yet to be announced, double bill of classic plays.