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Poliakoff and LaBute in Almeida autumn

Published 14 March 2011

British writer Stephen Poliakoff will direct his first new play in 12 years at the Almeida theatre this autumn, where he will be followed by Neil LaBute, directing the UK premiere of Reasons To Be Pretty.

Poliakoff has written more for the screen than the stage over the last decade, but returns to theatre with My City in September.

The new drama, which runs from 8 September to 5 November, follows Richard Kenton who, 15 years after he last saw her, finds his primary school headmistress lying on a park bench. As they become reacquainted, reminiscences and stories come to life and inspire him anew.

LaBute returns to the Almeida – which has previously staged production of his plays Bash: Latter-Day Plays, The Shape Of Things, The Distance From Here, The Mercy Seat and In A Dark Dark House – to direct Reasons To Be Pretty in November.

Reasons To Be Pretty is the third in a trilogy of plays concerned with appearance, the others being The Shape Of Things and Fat Pig. When Greg is overheard admitting that his girlfriend is no beauty but he wouldn’t change her for the world, she is devastated but he can’t see what he has done wrong. Meanwhile Greg’s best friend Kent alternates between boasting about his beautiful wife and chasing a hot new colleague.

American writer LaBute has become a regular fixture in London theatre recently, his latest show, In A Forest, Dark And Deep, opens at the Vaudeville theatre tonight starring Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams.

Casting for My City and Reasons To Be Pretty are yet to be announced.

During the summer the Islington venue will once again hold its annual festival, celebrating the best of international theatre. In 2011, this will involve Greyscale turning the Almeida into a Theatre Brothel where “audiences are invited in to buy the experience they want or maybe need”, Belarus Free Theatre presenting 14 plays from 13 European countries in Eurepica. Challenge. and Young Friends of the Almeida performing their own play inspired by the theatre’s 2010/11 season.

Almeida Artistic Director Michael Attenborough commented:  “As I enter my tenth year here I am as committed as ever to a bold, exciting and diverse programme. Our artistic ambition is shown not only in the production of three premieres this year, but by the scale of our Almeida Festival. I am delighted that Stephen Poliakoff has chosen the Almeida to launch his first new play for 12 years and that we continue to be Neil LaBute’s English home as he directs his Broadway hit Reasons To Be Pretty. Our Festival is an integral part of our programme and will play host to the internationally renowned Belarus Free Theatre and the innovative British company Greyscale, alongside the production of a new play by the Young Friends of the Almeida.  It is a season where we are home to the new, the original and the unexpected.”

The Almeida has two more productions of the 2010/11 season to open before the summer. David Eldridge’s new play The Knot Of The Heart opens later this week, while Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, which stars Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton, opens in May.

MA

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