The Bush theatre, which had its mooted funding cuts overturned by the Arts Council last week, has celebrated by announcing an exciting spring season of new talent. Mike Bartlett, whose debut play My Child was well received at the Royal Court in 2007, opens the season with new piece Artefacts. He is followed by first time playwright Lucy Kirkwood and the British premiere of work by British-Australian playwright Anthony Weigh.
Bartlett’s Artefacts, the winner of the Old Vic New Voices Award in 2006, tells of 16-year-old Kelly, who is enjoying an average Saturday before her unknown Iraqi father arrives with a valuable antique that he wants her to look after. The production stars West End regular Peter Polycarpou alongside Mouna Albakry, Karen Ascoe, Amy Hamdoon and Lizzy Watts. Directed by James Grieve, it runs between 20 February and 22 March, facing the press on 25 February.
Revenge comedy Tinderbox is Kirkwood’s debut play and is directed by the Bush’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke. Set in a dystopian Britain at the end of the 21st century, it follows outlaw artist Perchik who swims across Hadrian’s Channel, the water now separating Scotland from England, and seeks safety from riots in Saul’s butcher’s shop. Of course, that may not be the safest place to be either… Casting has yet to be announced for this production, which previews from 23 April, opens on 28 April and runs until 24 May.
The season is completed by the UK premiere of Weigh’s 2,000 Feet Away, which is also directed by Rourke. Through events in a small town in Iowa, the play examines the price we pay for safety and the real consequences of reasonable laws. The town’s Deputy Sheriff is tasked with enforcing new rules banning sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, public libraries or any other place children might gather. When he is forced to evict his neighbour’s son, the effects of the new law hit home. 2,000 Feet Away opens on 16 June, with previews from 11 June, and runs until 16 June.
Before last week’s announcement regarding the Bush’s funding, the future of the West London venue, one of the most important new writing theatres in London, was in doubt. Arts Council England, as part of its revision of funding for the next three years, had decided to cut the money allocated to the Bush. A campaign, led by many leading writers and performers, and support from the theatregoing public, preceded the Arts Council’s reversal of its decision.
Following the theatre’s reprieve Rourke commented: “Thank you to everyone who has supported the Bush theatre through the past month. I am in no doubt that the survival of the Bush is due to your passionate and eloquent support.”