The Bush Theatre has today announced its new 2018 season. Highlights include:
- Eight plays announced – including two new commissions, three world premieres and one UK premiere
- This season sees the launch of Passing the Baton –a three-year programming initiative dedicated to revivals of work by BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) artists beginning with Winsome Pinnock’s Leave Taking and including a mentoring scheme to nurture the next generation of BAMER writers
With the 2018 programme, under Artistic Director Madani Younis, the Bush affirms affirming its commitment to discover, nurture and produce the best new playwrights from the widest range of backgrounds, in a bold season of plays for year two in its recently refurbished home.
The theatre’s new building, designed by Haworth Tompkins, opened in March and since then, over 20,000 people have seen a show there, 56% of whom were first-time visitors. Shows such as Black Lives, Black Words and Hijabi Monologues London have brought international movements to the immediate community and have been met with capacity audiences. The revitalised building has also enabled the theatre to broaden its talent development work, which includes the continuation of the Associate Companies, schemes Project 2036 and Up Next, as well as the Bush Theatre’s community work – including young people’s new writing initiative NT Connections and the theatre’s Community Associate Companies scheme.
Artistic Director Madani Younis said today:
“I am so proud to be announcing yet another season of bold new plays for our newly revitalised home, with the new initiative of ‘Passing the Baton’ at its heart. ‘Passing the Baton’ is a yearly commitment by the Bush Theatre to celebrate and put centre-stage one play a year from the extraordinary body of work of British writers of colour from the 20th century.
“This is not simply about reviving a play we think is important. This is about confronting the fact that this work has often been relegated to the footnotes of the theatrical canon. It’s about saying we’re going to take this play and make it new again. And at the same time, we’re looking forward – by introducing a play to new audiences and inspiring the next generation of writers to pick up the baton. That’s why the initiative includes a mentoring scheme that launches alongside it.
“I’m honoured that this year we will be introducing new audiences to Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock, a playwright on whose shoulders we now stand and who paved the way for many of the writers and performers who will appear in our 2018 season. I’m so excited by the dialogue this will create between artists, audiences and within the industry.”
Elsewhere in the season artists include: theatre-maker Javaad Alipoor, who pushes boundaries in both subject and form; local actress and first-time writer Monica Dolan, who will appear in her one-woman play The B*easts, which premiered at the Bush before a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe and winning an Edinburgh Stage Award; actor-turned-writer Arinzé Kene, whose new play Misty straddles music, spoken word and performance; and writer Vinay Patel, whose epic play An Adventure crosses both time and continents to tell a story of technicolour romance.
THE BELIEVERS ARE BUT BROTHERS – written and performed by Javaad Alipoor
24 January-10 February 2018 (26 January press night)
Writer and theatre-maker Javaad Alipoor presents his 2017 Scotsman Fringe First Award-winning play. Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres, and an Associate Director of Theatre in the Mill, his work comes from discussions and workshops with communities that don’t usually engage with mainstream theatre.
An electronic maze of meme culture, 4chan, the alt-right and ISIS.. We live in a time where old orders are collapsing: from the postcolonial nation states of the Middle East, to the EU and the American election. Through it all, tech savvy and extremist groups rip up political certainties.
Amidst this, a generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment, without the money, power and sex they think they deserve. This crisis of masculinity leads them into an online world of fantasy, violence and reality.
THE B*EASTS – written and performed by Monica Dolan
12 February-3 March 2018 (15 February press night)
BAFTA-winning actress Monica Dolan has starred in W1A, Appropriate Adult, The Witness For The Prosecution and Strike: The Silkworm. She brings her first play, The B*easts, to London following a hit run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it won a Stage Edinburgh Award 2017. A searing ‘What If?’ exploration of the pornification of our culture and the sexualisation of our children. Setting the modern obsession with putting your own child first against our responsibility as a society towards our children as a whole, this dark tale, written by and starring Monica Dolan, explores how far one mum will go to give her child what she wants.
MISTY – written and performed by Arinzé Kene
15 March-21 April 2018 (21 March press night)
Arinzé Kene is a star in the making, whose accolades as an actor for stage and screen include Girl From The North Country at the Old Vic and One Night In Miami at the Donmar Warehouse. Arinzé delivers an epic, lyrical journey through the pulsating heart and dark soul of inner-city London. An inventive blend of gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, Misty confronts the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story.
LEAVE TAKING – by Winsome Pinnock, directed by Madani Younis
24 May-30 June 2018 (31 May press night)
Winsome Pinnock is ‘the godmother of Black British playwrights’ (The Guardian) who defined and inspired a generation with her work for the stage. She won the George Devine Award for Leave Taking in 1991 and was the first black British woman to have a play produced at the National Theatre.
A single mother travelled to England determined to make a good life for her family. Now Enid and her two daughters search for a way to feel rooted in a land where they’re invisible. Leave Taking is a beautifully observed, moving account of a second generation immigrant family navigating the familial conflicts between generations and cultures. The play was first produced at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1987.
AN ADVENTURE – by Vinay Patel
6 September-20 October 2018 (press night 11 September)
Vinay’s recent BBC drama Murdered by My Father was one of the smash-hits of 2016. Having broken onto the scene with the critically acclaimed True Brits, An Adventure is his biggest and boldest play yet. A drama of unprecedented scope and heart, spanning seven decades and three continents, inspired by the experiences of his immigrant grandparents. On a stormy night in 1954, a woman doomed to marry one of five men discovers the wildcard choice might just be the person she’d been hoping for all along.
JELLYFISH – by Ben Weatherill
26 June-21 July 2018 (press night 29 June)
Agnes and her daughter Kelly have walked the same stretch of Skegness beach every day for fifteen years. They devour ice cream, hunt for crabs and watch as things mysteriously vanish along the shoreline. But when Kelly meets Neil, their cosy world soon begins to unravel. Jellyfish is the story of a first kiss, chips by the beach and coming of age in modern Britain. It’s a unique romance across unchartered waters which asks; does everyone really have the right to love as they choose?
GOING THROUGH – by Estelle Savasta
3 October-3 November 2018 (press night 5 October)
Writer and director Estelle Savasta runs ‘Hippolyte a mal au cœur’, a company creating ground-breaking bilingual work based in France. Her first play Seule dans ma peau d’âne received acclaim at the 2008 Molière awards. Going Through (originally Traversée) premiering at the Bush Theatre is her second play.
For as long as she can remember, Nour has lived with Youmna. Youmna is beautiful and gentle and good, and she smells like the wind. She’s also deaf. But Youmna is not Nour’s mother, even though she wishes she was. Going Through is a poetic and touching story of one girl’s journey through adolescence, across borders and through a well-guarded secret. This bilingual production seamlessly mixes English and British Sign Language and is directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (NASSIM, One Cold Dark Night, Islands).
LANDS – by Antler
Created by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart with Sophie Steer and Leah Brotherhead
13 November-8 December 2018 (press night 15 November)
Leah and Sophie have been together, here, for a long time. They are happy here. But there’s a problem. There’s a fucking massive problem and soon they’re going to have to talk about it. From their own lonely lands, Leah and Sophie seek to help each other, without quite knowing how.
The award-winning Antler return with a playful, intimate dissection of a relationship teetering on the edge of collapse. Lands is an absurd tragicomedy, exploring the impossibility of relationships and our inability to understand one another. This moving play arrives at the Bush following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017.