The Gate Theatre has announced its next production, Dear Elizabeth, a two-hander by award-winning US playwright Sarah Ruhl, directed by Ellen McDougall. The piece, running at the venue from 17 January to 9 February 2019 (press nights are 22 and 23 January 2019), will be performed by a series of guest actors including Travis Alabanza, Jade Anouka, Tim Crouch, Tamsin Greig and Alex Jennings.
For each performance throughout the run, two actors will take the roles of poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, whose correspondence, amounting to over 400 letters over their lifetime is a compelling and moving story of two soul-mates – an unconventional and intense relationship spanning decades, continents and political eras. The full cast will be announced in the new year.
The Gate’s artistic director Ellen McDougall said: “One of the reasons this play feels so powerful is that it presents the idea that we can have intimate, intense relationships that resist easy definition. Robert and Elizabeth’s relationship lived somewhere between a romance and a friendship and I want this piece to celebrate intimate relationships in all their forms. For this reason, being able to present a multiplicity of voices telling this story – from performers, many of whom are writers, poets, artists, themselves, feels really exciting.
“The two performers each night will meet each other, the audience, and the story of Robert and Elizabeth at the same time. The performers won’t know how the story ends: they will discover it with the audience. The idea of reaching out into the unknown, and our need for one another, feels very prescient.
“I very much hope that people will return to see Dear Elizabeth more than once – to see how two very different people might meet each other and build a relationship in the act of performing it. We will be having two press nights, each with a different combination of performers, changing the ways the piece resonates.’
Also in the creative team are designer Moi Tran, sound designer Jon Nicholls and lighting designer Jessica Hun Hang Yun.
Sarah Ruhl is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by the Lincoln Center Theater, Off-Broadway at Playwright’s Horizons, Second Stage and at the Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater.