Rose Theatre Kingston today announces its new season for 2017. Headlining the season is the world premiere of My Brilliant Friend, a two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet of novels which have become a global literary sensation. The true identity of the author is a mystery, with Elena Ferrante a pseudonym used by the writer, but speculation over the weekend suggested that the author had been unmasked. April De Angelis pens the adaptation, directed by Melly Still, which opens at the Rose Theatre Kingston on Saturday 11 March 2017, with previews from 25 February, and runs until 2 April.
The season includes two more world première productions: Sandi Toksvig’s comedy Silver Lining, a co-production with English Touring Theatre, directed by Rebecca Gatward, who returns to the theatre following her production of Maxine Peake’s Beryl. Secondly, Rose Theatre Kingston collaborates with Headlong, Bristol Old Vic and Theatr Clwyd to present Junkyard, a new musical with book and lyrics by Jack Thorne and music by Stephen Warbeck.
The Rose also continues its partnership with Curve Leicester, following the success of The Witches earlier this year, with a new production of David Wood’s adaption of Roald Dahl’s classic The Twits running over the Easter holidays. Alongside the Rose’s in-house productions, the theatre hosts an eclectic mix of visiting theatre, music and comedy. In addition to The Twits, the Rose continues its long tradition for presenting top quality family shows including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (17 – 21 May), Sally Cookson’s adaption of Michael Rosen’s book, as well as two shows from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, creators of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom (14 – 18 February) and The Scarecrows’ Wedding (23 – 25 May).
Chief Executive Robert O’Dowd said today:
“After the success of The Wars of the Roses last year, we are delighted to offer another exciting theatrical event – My Brilliant Friend, the first stage adaptation and world premiere of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels which we will present in two parts. Ferrante’s books celebrate female creativity so it seems very appropriate to be working with some of the most exciting talents around – adaptor April De Angelis and director Melly Still, both known for their powerful and engaging theatre work.”
“We’re very pleased to be partnering again with both English Touring Theatre, on Sandi Toksvig’s brilliant play Silver Lining opening at the Rose before a national tour, and Curve with whom we present a new production of Roald Dahl’s The Twits. And in a season of collaborations, we also join forces with producers Headlong, Bristol Old Vic and Theatr Clwyd and the extraordinary creative team of Jack Thorne, Stephen Warbeck and Jeremy Herrin on new musical Junkyard which ends its tour at the Rose.”
Also announced today, following his productions of The Wars of the Roses in 2015 and King John earlier this year, Trevor Nunn is named Advisory Associate Director of the Rose.
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND
A two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet of novels.
Adapted for the stage by April De Angelis
Directed by Melly Still
Sat 25 February – Sun 2 April
Press night: Saturday 11 March
Elena Ferrante’s intense portrait of an all-consuming female friendship in post-war Italy is brought to life for the first time on the Rose stage. This modern family saga chronicles the lives of friends, Elena and Lila, following them from their childhoods in a poor, tough neighbourhood of Naples, through passionate love affairs, burgeoning careers and family struggles. But even as life repeatedly tries to pull the two in separate directions, Elena and Lila remain inextricably bound to one another.
A powerful story of love, violence, sex, ambition, genius and self-destruction, the two-part play is an exploration not just of female friendship and rivalry, but of Italy after the war and the decades of political turmoil and cultural change that followed.
This stage adaptation condenses Ferrante’s four novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child) into one play presented in two parts. Audiences will be able to see both parts in one day, or on separate days.
Elena Ferrante was chosen this year as one of Time Magazine‘s 100 most influential people on the planet. Very little, however, is known about the author – she writes under a pseudonym, explaining: ‘Anonymity lets me concentrate exclusively on writing’. Her first novels were published in the early 1990s, with My Brilliant Friend, the first novel in the Neapolitan quartet, translated into English in 2012, and the final book in the quartet, The Story of the Lost Child, shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.
April De Angelis is an acclaimed writer whose extensive theatre work includes After Electra, Rune, Gastronauts, Jumpy, an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, A Laughing Matter, A Warwickshire Testimony, The Positive Hour, Playhouse Creatures and The Life and Times of Fanny Hill. She’s currently under commission to the Royal Exchange, Manchester and the National Theatre. De Angelis has also written the libretto for Flight, music by Jonathan Dove, for Glyndebourne Opera and The Silent Twins libretto, which was set to music by Errollyn Wallen. Her work for radio includes an adaptation of Life in the Tomb, a serialisation of Peyton Place, Visitants and The Outlander which won the Writer’s Guild Award in 1992. For television her work includes Aristophanes.
Melly Still’s previous directing credits for theatre include Cymbeline (RSC), The Haunting of Hill House (Sonia Friedman Productions, Hammer and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse), Life Raft and Coram Boy (Bristol Old Vic), From Morning Till Midnight, Nation and The Revenger’s Tragedy (National Theatre), Rats’ Tales (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Beasts and Beauties (Hampstead Theatre). Her opera directing work includes The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka (Glyndebourne) and Zaide (Sadler’s Wells).