World premieres of new plays by Alice Birch, Deborah Bruce and Alistair McDowall sit alongside a quartet of revivals in Paul Miller’s inaugural season as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre.
DH Lawrence’s The Widowing Of Mrs Holroyd, Doris Lessing’s Each To His Own Wilderness, George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses and Mustapha Matura’s Play Mas complete the 2014/2015 season at the Richmond venue, the first to take place without the theatre’s founder Sam Walters at the helm.
Miller, who was previously Associate Director at Sheffield Crucible, described the season as “a mix of new plays and re-discoveries all featuring the early works of seven great writers. Each one takes us to a completely different world and will be directed by directors all new to the Orange Tree.”
Charlotte Gwinner, who previously directed the acclaimed Our New Girl at the Bush Theatre, directs Bruce’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-nominated The Distance (8 October to 8 November). The Godchild playwright’s second piece takes a humorous look at parenthood, as a woman returns from three years abroad having made a bold life choice.
Pomona (12 November to 13 December) written by Talk Show’s McDowall and directed by Ned Bennett (Mercury Fur, Primetime), is a dark, surreal thriller about a missing sister and a concrete island at the centre of a city.
Little Light (4 February to 7 March), by Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme graduate Birch, is a dark new play questioning our ability to let go directed by David Mercatali, whose production of Johnny Got His Gun is currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse.
Miller will direct three of the revivals; Lawrence’s 1914-set tale of a working class woman on the edge (3 September to 4 October), Bernard Shaw’s first play telling a comic tale of housing problems in London (17 December to 31 January), and Nobel Prize winner Lessing’s only play, a story of political activism and personal attitudes (15 April to 16 May).
Paulette Randall, who recently directed the much-praised production of Fences starring Lenny Henry, directs the first major revival of Matura’s Play Mas (11 March to 11 April), which premiered at the Royal Court in 1974. Set in 1950s Port of Spain, a tragedy during carnival sparks tailor’s assistant Samuel to make a life, and island, changing decision.
In addition to the programming, Miller today revealed that the theatre will introduce reserved seating, redecorate the auditorium, tour productions of Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to schools, and introduce a policy ensuring 20,000 £10 tickets will be offered to theatregoers younger than 30 across the season.
He concluded: “There’s so much to look forward to. It’s the start of a new adventure for me and for the Orange Tree, opening up the building to new artists and new audiences.”