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Towering programme for London theatrical collaboration

First Published 3 October 2011, Last Updated 3 October 2011

A site-specific production inspired by the biblical tale of the tower of Babel is one of eight productions to be staged as part of World Stages London, a season of theatre bringing together seven of the capital’s theatres.

Running between April and June 2012, with a final production in May 2013, World Stages London sees the BAC, Bush theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court, Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Young Vic join forces with six other UK theatre companies and six international companies to create a season of epic work.

Describing the pitch for the project, David Lan, Artistic Director of the Young Vic and Co-Director of World Stages London, explained: “The challenge was to dream the dream. We asked each other ‘What’s the show you’ve always wanted to make?’ Now’s your once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The result is a season that will bring the best-selling non-fiction book in British publishing history, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, to the Young Vic stage and new ‘East London meets Bollywood’ musical Wah! Wah! Girls to the Peacock theatre.

At the Lyric Hammersmith, Simon Stephen’s Three Kingdoms, which journeys from the banks of the Thames to Germany and Talin, is staged in a co-production with German company Munich Kammerspiele and Estonia’s No99 Theatre.

At the Bush theatre, Palestinian company ShiberHur presents The Beloved, inspired by the tale of Abraham and Isaac which appears in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, while iconic director Peter Brook revisits the South African story of The Suit in a new musical adaptation playing at the Young Vic.

Though Wild Swans, Three Kingdoms, The Suit, The Beloved and Wah! Wah! Girls all have specific venues and performance dates, a collaboration between the Royal Court and Young Vic, which brings together writers from Nigeria (Rotimi Babatunde), Brazil (Marcos Barbosa), Cuba (Yunior García Aguilera), the USA (Olivier Award-winner Katori Hall) and the UK (Gbolahan Obisesan) has yet to confirm either. Directed by Rufus Norris, the piece with a working title of Yoruba, explores the Yoruba culture, tradition and religion on its journey from West Africa to the Americas and its impact on the contemporary life of modern day countries.

BABEL, described by Lan as “the biggest and most spectacular site specific show ever”, is also keeping its exact venue a carefully guarded secret.

The final show of World Stages London runs a year later than the other productions in the festival. A community opera production focussing on the effect of climate change, which is being created by Jonathan Dove, will be performed simultaneously in London (at Somerset House), Rio De Janeiro and Cape Town in May and June 2013.

Nicola Thorold, Co-Director of World Stages London concluded that: “We’ve come together to celebrate London in its diversity and global interconnectedness”, describing the many collaborations as “an extraordinary meeting of talent from around the world.”


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