NEWS: Arcola Theatre announces 20th anniversary season

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London’s Arcola Theatre has announced its 2020 season, a special, year-long programme to celebrate the theatre’s 20th anniversary featuring familiar faces from the venue’s first two decades  alongside exciting newcomers.

Highlights include:

  • 11 world premieres – from artists who helped shape Arcola’s first two decades, including Jack Shepherd, Barney Norris, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Leyla Nazli, David Farr and Tena Štivičić, and from a new generation
  • European premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline, a new staging of Thomas Mann’s Death In Venice, a new play by Mark Thomas, and special shows from Steven Berkoff and Inua Ellams
  • Season opens in February with The Cutting Edge, starring Maggie Steed
  • Diverse stories from across the globe, with a majority by female writers

Mehmet Ergen and Leyla Nazli founded Arcola Theatre in a disused clothes factory in September 2000. Twenty years later, the venue is one of London’s leading producing theatres: a vibrant building which attracts over 65,000 people each year, produces acclaimed shows and tours nationally and internationally.

In its first two decades, Arcola has helped to launch some of the leading lights in British theatre, providing early-career opportunities to artists including Aml Ameen, Zawe Ashton, Mike Bartlett, Alecky Blythe, Polly Findlay, Arinzé Kene, Lucy Kirkwood, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Lynette Linton, Michael Longhurst, Wunmi Mosaku, Barney Norris, Lyndsey Turner and Alexander Zeldin.

Arcola’s co-founder and executive producer Leyla Nazli said:

“For 20 years we have supported and enabled thousands of theatre makers, helping to shape their careers and learning from them in the process. We are so pleased to welcome back some of these writers, directors and actors to Arcola in our 20th year, and we look forward to seeing what the next 20 years will bring.”

Also included in 2020 will be Arcola’s annual Grimeborn festival which makes opera accessible through contemporary stagings and affordable ticket prices.

Relaxed performances and touch tours will mean audience members can utilise a smart online booking system to register individual access needs, allowing for a completely independent booking experience.

Arcola’s Participation programme, which creates over 13,500 opportunities each year for the people of Hackney and beyond, will continue to empower people to get involved in the performing arts. The Creative Disruption festival of productions from Arcola’s community companies will begin in February 2020.

Arcola also announces the first two special events in a series that will span the 20th anniversary year. Inua Ellams, writer of Barber Shop Chronicles whose first play was produced at Arcola, will stage an interactive, audience-led poetry event, Search Party. Steven Berkoff will return to perform They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Cable Street with musician Mark Glentworth.

Productions include:

The Cutting Edge

13 February to 21 March 2020 (press night is 18 February)
A new tragicomedy about life, money and art, written and directed by Jack Shepherd, one of the first artists to stage work at Arcola, and starring Maggie Steed.


26 March to 2 May 2020 (press night is 31 March 2020)
A European premiere from one of America’s most-produced contemporary playwrights, Dominique Morisseau, directed by Arcola’s associate director Jack Gamble. 

We Started To Sing

7 May to 13 June 2020 (press night is 12 May)
Five years after making his name at Arcola with Visitors and Eventide, Barney Norris returns with a new and deeply personal play.

The Dance of Death

18 June to 25 July 2020 (press night is 23 June)
Rebecca Lenkiewicz, whose work opened both the original and current Arcola buildings, premieres a new version of Strindberg’s classic. Arcola’s co-founder and artistic director Mehmet Ergen directs.

Women Who Blow On Knots

3 September  to 10 October 2020 (press night is 8 September)
Arcola’s co-founder Leyla Nazli adapts the bestselling novel by Ece Temelkuran, directed by Lerzan Pamir.

A New Play By Mark Thomas

13 October to 31 October 2020 (press night is 15 October)
Award-winning writer, performer and provocateur Mark Thomas returns with a solo show directed by Nicolas Kent.

A Dead Body In Taos

5 November to 19 December 2020 (press night is 9 November)
David Farr’s Crime and Punishment in Dalston (2002) was one of Arcola’s early hits. His new play, exploring what developments in artificial intelligence might mean for our understanding of death, consciousness and the soul, is directed by Rachel Bagshaw, co-produced with Fuel.


18 March to 18 April 2020 (press night is 24 March)
Written by Matt Parvin who trained as part of the Arcola Theatre Writers’ Programme in 2015, directed by Richard Speir.

Broken Water

22 April to 23 May 2020 (press night is 28 April)
Michele Winstanley’s award-nominated play traces three different women’s experiences of motherhood, directed by Emma Faulkner, co-produced with Lightbox Theatre.

Death In Venice

27 May to 27 June 2020 (press night is 2 June)
Greg Hicks returns to Arcola Theatre in a new production from director Philip Prowse of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, translated by David Luke, adapted by Robert David MacDonald and Giles Havergal.

Our Name Is Not John

9 September to 10 October 2020 (press night is 15 September)
A strikingly original satire about patriarchal control through capitalism by Sarah Kosar.

Love & Apolcalypse

14 October to 14 November 2020 (press night is 20 October)
Tena Štivičić’s first English-language play, Fragile!, premiered at Arcola in 2007. Now, following the award-winning 3 Winters at the National Theatre, she marks Arcola’s 20th birthday with a brand new play.

The Apology

18 November to 19 December 2020 (press night is 24 November)
Arcola reunites with the award-winning British East Asian theatre company Yellow Earth for a powerful human story about Korean ‘comfort women’ by Kyo Choi, directed by Ria Parry.

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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.