London's Royal Court Theatre to Stage World Premieres by Simon Stephens, Tim Crouch, John Donnelly and More
By Mark Shenton
London's Royal Court is to stage a series of world and British premieres between January and July 2014, including plays by John Donnelly, Simon Stephens, Tim Crouch, Vivienne Franzmann and Los Angeles' Jennifer Haley. Casts will include "Downton Abbey"'s Gary Carr, Russell Tovey and Andrew Scott, and directors will include John Tiffany, Carrie Cracknell, Jeremy Herrin and Roxana Silbert.
In a press statement, Vicky Featherstone, the theater's artistic director, commented, "With six fantastic new plays from Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Tim Crouch, John Donnelly, Vivienne Franzmann, Jennifer Haley and Simon Stephens - each pushing the boundaries of story-telling and theatre to ask the vital question of what it means to be alive today, the range and subject of these plays will hopefully challenge, thrill and delight audiences. As well as three homegrown commissions the Royal Court is beginning its new commitment to significant co-productions with several wonderful partners outside London as well as Clean Break. This means that for the writers and audiences the work will have as wide a reach as possible."
In the Royal Court's mainhouse Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Simon Stephens' Birdland will begin performances April 3, 2014, prior to an official opening April 9, for a run through May 24. Carrie Cracknell will direct a play that is described as looking at empathy, money and fame. Set on the last week of a massive international tour, rock star Paul is at the height of his fame. Everybody knows his name. Whatever he wants he can have. He can screw anybody he wants to. He can buy anything he desires. He can eat anything. Drink anything. Smoke anything. Go anywhere. As the inevitability of the end of the road looms closer, and a return home becomes a reality, for Paul, the music is starting to jar.
Paul will be played by Andrew Scott, last seen at the Royal Court in Mike Bartlett's Cock. Other Royal Court credits include Dying City, A Girl In A Car With A Man, Playing The Victim, Crave and Dublin Carol. On Broadway he was seen in The Vertical Hour. TV credits include "Dates," "The Town" and "Sherlock," for the latter of which he won the 2012 Best Supporting Actor BAFTA for his role as Moriarty.
Tim Crouch's Adler & Gibb will begin performances June 13, prior to an official opening June 19, for a run through July 5. Co-commissioned by the Royal Court and LA's Center Theatre Group, it is directed by the playwright, and will star Karl James and Andy Smith. Janet Adler and Margaret Gibb were conceptual artists working in New York at the end of the last century. They were described by art critic Dave Hickey as the "most ferociously uncompromising voice of their generation." With Adler’s death in 2004, however, the compromise began. The play tells the story of a raid – on a house, a life, a reality and a legacy, and continues Crouch's fascination with form and marries it to a thrilling story of misappropriation.
Finally announced for the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs is the U.K. premiere of Jennifer Haley's The Nether, beginning performances July 17 prior to an official opening July 24, for a run through Aug. 9. Co-produced with Headlong, whose artistic director Jeremy Herrin directs, the play originally premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Center Theatre Group. It won the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and is described in press materials as an intricate crime drama and a haunting sci-fi thriller that explores the consequences of making dreams a reality.
In the play, The Nether offers complete freedom - a virtual wonderland that provides total sensory immersion. Just log in, choose an identity and indulge your every desire. But when a young detective uncovers a disturbing brand of entertainment, she triggers an interrogation into the darkest corners of imagination.
In the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, the season will begin with the premiere of John Donnelly's The Pass, beginning performances Jan. 13 prior to an official opening Jan. 17 for a run through March 1. John Tiffany (currently represented on Broadway by The Glass Menagerie and Once, the latter of which is also in the West End) will direct a play that is described as being about sex, fame and how much you're willing to lose in order to win. The cast will include Gary Carr ("Downton Abbey"), Nico Mirallegro ("Hollyoaks") and Russell Tovey (original cast member of The History Boys at the National, on Broadway and film, and "Being Human" on TV).
Vivienne Franzmann's Pests will begin performances March 27 prior to an official opening April 2 for a run through May 3. Lucy Morrison will direct a co-production with Clean Break and Manchester's Royal Exchange. In the play, Pink loves Rolly. Rolly loves Pink. And Pink loves getting bombed off her face. Sisters from the same nest. Both trapped in a tiny rotting world. Both cuffed to a past that refuses to release them. One wants out. The other needs her in. Trouble is that when you complete each other, you’re nothing on your own.
Gurprett Kaur Bhatti's Kandan (Family) will begin performances June 11 prior to an official opening June 12 for a run through June 28, co-produced with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, whose artistic director, Roxana Silbert, directs. Described as a play about tradition and ambition, it is set in the Gill family living room, where widowed matriarch Jeeto has a strong sense of her past and principles. She's spent her life working hard and making sacrifices for her children. But eldest son Pal isn't following in her footsteps. He's struggling with his role at the head of their expanding household. Crumbling under the weight of his father's legacy, the family business is put at risk and the last remaining link to their roots in the Punjab is in jeopardy.
Tickets will go on sale to friends and supporters Nov. 14, and to the general public Nov. 18. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7565 5000 or visit www.royalcourttheatre.com.
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