Dominic Cooke today unveiled the autumn/winter season for new writing hotbed the Royal Court.
The US figures strongly in the programming with a presidential election drama from Christopher Shinn and a new play from hot stateside talent Tarell Alvin McCraney playing Downstairs. Upstairs, British work from Alecky Blythe, Leo Butler and Alexi Kaye Campbell explores love, sex and sexuality in modern Britain.
The season is completed by the epilogue to Mark Ravenhill’s cycle of plays Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat, a season of new plays from the Arab world entitled I Come From There, and a series of rehearsed readings of Caryl Churchill plays to celebrate the playwright’s 70th birthday.
Shinn’s Now Or Later (3 September-18 October) stars Domnhall Gleeson, Adam James and Eddie Redmayne and is set on the night of the US presidential election. Holed up in a hotel, the President-elect watches the results flood in, but on the internet controversial photos of his son are gathering momentum.
Shinn’s play is directed by Royal Court Artistic Director Cooke, who is also at the helm of the second American offering, McCraney’s Wig Out! (20 November-10 January). Set in a cabaret club, McCraney’s piece vividly explores the world of drag queens. Wig Out! will be the third of McCraney’s plays to be staged in London this autumn, following The Brothers Size and In The Red And Brown Water, which are staged at the Young Vic.
The two American productions are joined in the Royal Court’s Downstairs theatre by the series of Churchill play readings (15-26 September), which are directed by a collection of playwrights who have each chosen their favourite pieces, and Ravenhill’s Paradise Regained, a 20-minute epilogue to his 16-play cycle that was staged across London earlier this year.
The Upstairs season is led by Blythe’s The Girlfriend Experience (18 September-11 October), a verbatim piece created entirely from edited conversations recorded inside a real brothel. The play, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, was originally staged as part of the Royal Court’s Rough Cuts season in 2007. This fully staged production stars Beatie Edney and TittyBangBang’s Debbie Chazen.
Butler’s Faces In The Crowd (17 October-8 November) explores 21st century London and the debts we accrue in the wake of seeking out our ambitions. Dave left his old life behind when he made his move to London; 10 years later Joanne wants payback… with interest. Butler’s Redundant won the 2001 George Devine Award, and his latest offering, I’ll Be The Devil, turned heads at the Tricycle earlier this year.
The Pride (21 November-20 December) is Campbell’s first play. Set in 1958 and 2008 it examines sexuality over a 50-year period, exploring intimacy, identity and the courage it takes to be yourself. The Pride is directed by Jamie Lloyd, whose credits include The Lover/The Collection (Comedy) and The Caretaker (Tricycle).
I Come From There (11-15 November), the Royal Court’s series of rehearsed readings of new plays from the Arab world, is the culmination of a process which has involved playwrights and representatives from the Sloane Square venue travelling to the Middle East to work with writers from that region. The season will contain a selection of specially commissioned translations of pieces that reflect the times in which the playwrights from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Syria are living.
The new season announcement comes as statistics about Cooke’s first full season at the helm of the new writing hotbed have been announced. The theatre’s two auditoria have played to 91% capacity, while visits by under 18-yesr-olds have risen by 311%.
Speaking about his tenure so far, Cooke said: “When I took over at the Royal Court, I said that I wanted the theatre to ask two questions – “Who are we today?” and “What is a play?” The 18 months since have seen us address those questions, taking significant risks, and being rewarded for those risks with a theatre that was 91% full last year. And that experimentation will continue. From the intimacy of the bedroom to the biggest stage in international politics, the autumn season at the Royal Court promises to be an exciting one.”