Soho turns 40

Published November 10, 2008

Soho theatre celebrates its 40th birthday in 2009 with a programme of work that includes a new piece by Steve Thompson, the award-winning first play of model turned playwright In-Sook Chappell and a new site-specific piece.

Thompson’s timely new play Roaring Trade opens the new season on 7 January (to 12 February, press night 12 January). Roaring Trade follows the fortunes and fates of a group of ruthless bond traders. As a global financial crisis looms, they find out just how much they would sacrifice for the highest risk jobs in the city.

Playwright Thompson is the author of Damages and Whipping It Up, which both premiered at the Bush theatre, where he is Pearson writer-in-residence. Political satire Whipping It Up transferred to the Ambassadors in 2007, with a cast including Richard Wilson and Robert Bathurst, and received a 2008 Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play.

Roaring Trade is followed by Chappell’s This Isn’t Romance (12 February to 7 March, press night 17 February), which won the 2007 Verity Bargate Award, a biennial competition to find the best new play by an emerging playwright. Chappell is a former model and actress whose debut play is based on her own experiences as a Korean-born woman adopted and raised in the UK. Returning to Seoul, Chappell tries to answer questions she had grown up with: why does Korea give away so many of its babies?; and can cross-cultural adoptees ever really identify with either country? The shocks she experienced in her return to Korea provoked her into writing This Isn’t Romance, which is directed by Soho Artistic Director Lisa Goldman.

The season continues with Invasion! (10 to 28 March, press night 12 March), by Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri, which has been a hit with young audiences in Stockholm for the past two years and is translated for this new UK production by Frank Perry. Invasion! interweaves the lives of young Arab immigrants, reflecting on western prejudice about identity, race, language and terror. This production will be directed by the winner of the Young Angels Theatremakers Award, to be announced on 15 November.

Headlong Theatre makes a brief appearance at Soho with Anthony Neilson’s 2002 devised piece Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats Of Loneliness from 31 March to 11 April (press night 1 April), before Soho marks its 40th birthday with a new site specific piece, which will play from 22 April to 2 May.

In celebration of the theatre’s 40-year history, the new piece will cross streets and time to reveal the memories and stories of people with a connection to the theatre and the vibrant neighbouring areas since 1969 to the present day. Following Soho theatre’s promenade play Moonwalking In Chinatown last year, this new piece will again be devised in collaboration with local residents and organisations and performed in promenade through the streets of Soho.

The 2009 programme also includes four pieces staged as part of the Spill Festival Of Performance, an international festival of experimental theatre, live art and performance. Full details are yet to be announced.

CB