NEWS: Donmar launches King’s Cross theatre for all-female Shakespeare season

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Artistic Director Josie Rourke and Executive Producer Kate Pakenham announce today that the Donmar will launch two ambitious seasons of work in London’s King’s Cross and in New York.

The Donmar will break out beyond its Covent Garden home, opening a new, in-the-round, 420-seat temporary theatre at King’s Cross in association with Theatre Tracks, immediately adjacent to King’s Cross station and directly accessible from King’s Boulevard. The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Harriet Walter in an all-female company will play a 13-week repertory season, from 23 September to 17 December 2016, of three productions – revivals of the sell-out Julius Caesar and Henry IV and a new production of The Tempest, all set in a women’s prison. On special Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy days, all three plays will be performed back to back.

Meanwhile, three Donmar productions will play New York from July 2016 to February 2017: artistic director Josie Rourke’s productions of Privacy at the Public Theater with Daniel Radcliffe and Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Broadway’s Booth Theater with Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber, and the transfer of Phyllida Lloyd’s The Tempest to Brooklyn’s St Ann’s Warehouse.

In London, YOUNG AND FREE builds on the success of the Donmar’s transformative Front Row ticket scheme. All of the front row for The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy will be free to 25s and under through the YOUNG AND FREE initiative. YOUNG AND FREE tickets will be released throughout the run on a weekly basis.

Support from Delta Air Lines, the Official Airline Partner of the Donmar Warehouse, alongside funding from individuals and trusts and foundations, has made possible 20% of YOUNG AND FREE tickets. The Donmar will challenge the public to make up the final 5% by ‘paying forward’ £20 tickets into the YOUNG AND FREE initiative.

As part of YOUNG AND FREE, the Donmar’s Education and Outreach programme will enable 2,300 students from targeted London state schools to see these productions. Alongside these free tickets are creative projects and free workshops, targeted at schools, youth groups, community centres and organisations working with young people at risk of offending, designed to inspire and empower young people with limited experience of Shakespeare performance.

The Donmar New York Season begins with Artistic Director Josie Rourke’s production of Privacy by James Graham, starring Daniel Radcliffe, which has just extended its run at The Public Theater. The Broadway transfer of Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses starring Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber and directed by Josie Rourke follows in October 2016 at The Booth Theater. The Tempest, starring Harriet Walter and directed by Phyllida Lloyd, transfers to New York’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in January 2017.

Artistic Director Josie Rourke said today:

“It’s exciting when the Donmar’s productions have a life beyond the Donmar stage. We want to share the work made by artists on the Donmar stage and we want to do that with generosity, with resonance, and with inspiring partners. Over the next eight months, the Donmar’s work will travel from the stage at the Public Theater that launched Hamilton, to The Booth Theater on Broadway, to St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn and into a purpose-built temporary theatre, right next to London’s King’s Cross. Although proud of this expansion, we’re most enthused about the launch of YOUNG AND FREE. We’re living in a London where half our young people don’t attend a theatre, a museum or a music event each year. We want to make a quarter of Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy tickets free to those young people. We also hope that YOUNG AND FREE will inspire seasoned theatre-goers to pay it forward, and we hope that young people, inspired by their generosity will walk through our doors to experience the Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy. I remember very clearly the furore created by the idea of an all-female Shakespeare, when Phyllida Lloyd first staged Julius Caesar with Harriet Walter in 2012. Phyllida Lloyd’s work with this diverse, all-female company has been genuinely ground-breaking and in the intervening four years, theatre has got into the fast lane of debate and change. It’s time, with these YOUNG AND FREE tickets to join together our question about who gets to play these roles with a renewed mission for who gets to experience them.”

Harriet Walter leads the Donmar's all-female Shakespeare company at King's Cross

Harriet Walter leads the Donmar’s all-female Shakespeare company at King’s Cross

Shakespeare trilogy

In 2012, Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse placed the play in a women’s prison. It stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and challenged the idea of ‘who owns Shakespeare?’ In 2014, Phyllida reunited with actor Harriet Walter for Henry IV, the second instalment in what was then announced as a trilogy of works from these major artists.

With the Donmar’s education and outreach work in London and New York, both productions proved hugely popular with young audiences and showed how powerfully Shakespeare can develop individual confidence and creativity in those who have never experienced his work before. Importantly, they challenged the notion of who owns Shakespeare and inspired women from all backgrounds.

This autumn the project will conclude with The Tempest, breaking free from the Donmar Warehouse, with a new 420-seat in-the-round temporary theatre, built at the King’s Cross Theatre site, in association with Theatre Tracks. The Tempest runs from 23 September, Julius Caesar from 27 October and Henry IV from 17 November.

The Tempest marks the reunion of director Phyllida Lloyd with actor Harriet Walter, who will play Prospero. They will be joined by a number of the Henry IV and Julius Caesar cast: Jade AnoukaShiloh CokeJackie CluneKaren DunbarClare DunneZainab HasanJennifer JosephSophie StantonSharon Rooney, andCaroline Valdés.  Others joining the company include Sheila Atim and Martina Laird.

Director Phyllida Lloyd said:

“The premise was to take the most voiceless group you might imagine – women prisoners. Refugees from our culture if you like – people without any access to the internet even – and watch them electrify an audience with nothing but Shakespeare’s language. Harriet’s work ethic defines the whole thing. Mighty verse speaking, the utmost humility and the greatest good humour. The company will follow her anywhere.”

The Tempest will transfer to New York’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in January 2017, concluding an unprecedented eight months of Donmar productions in the US. The Donmar New York season will start with Artistic Director Josie Rourke’s production of Privacy by James Graham, starring Daniel Radcliffe at The Public Theater this July, and will be followed by the transfer of Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses starring Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber at the Booth Theatre on Broadway from October.

Ongoing ambition

Donmar Executive Producer, Kate Pakenham, said:

“These two seasons represent our ongoing ambition to share the Donmar’s work as widely as possible, and reach new audiences.  As we embark on these adventures, we are hugely grateful to the many partners – artists, sponsors, theatres, schools, philanthropists, trusts and foundations, charities, producers and friends – who we are bringing together to make these seasons possible.

“Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare productions for the Donmar ask vital questions about access to theatre and ownership of Shakespeare.  With her landmark production of ‘Julius Caesar’ at the Donmar in 2012, we launched the hugely popular £10 Front Row scheme which made the Donmar accessible to a new generation of first-time visitors.  In 2014 we took ‘Henry IV’ to East London’s Mulberry School for Girls as part of a major education and outreach project around the production.

“Young people’s enthusiasm for these productions has encouraged us to launch YOUNG AND FREE for the climax of this Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy at King’s Cross.  The ambition is to make 25% of all tickets – including the whole front row – free to 25s and under.  The initiative is a gift to young theatre-goers and a celebration of the power of theatre to empower and inspire.  20% of these tickets have been funded by a combination of sponsorship and philanthropy.  We are inviting the public to make up the final 5% by buying a £20 YOUNG AND FREE ticket for a young person.  We are excited to share our mission to make these world-class productions free to young people in this way, and present them in such a vibrant part of London.

“The Donmar’s New York Season represents the range of the Donmar’s artistic output under the artistic leadership of Josie Rourke. We are delighted to be working with the phenomenal team at New York’s Public Theater to be creating a new production of Josie and James Graham’s 2014 Donmar hit, ‘Privacy’.  We also very much look forward to bringing the Donmar’s work back to Broadway with producer Arielle Tepper with the transfer of Josie’s production of ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ to the Booth Theater.  It is wonderful to be ending the Donmar’s New York Season at the beautiful St. Ann’s Warehouse with Phyllida’s production of ‘The Tempest’, where we look forward to being hosted by the inspiring team who we have worked with so happily on Phyllida’s previous two productions.”


Shakespeare bios

Phyllida Lloyd (Director) returns to the Donmar after productions of Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Boston Marriage, The Threepenny Opera and Mary Stuart, which won the 2006 South Bank Show Theatre Award, and later transferred to the West End and Broadway. Other theatre work includes The Taming of the Shrew (The Delacorte Theater in Central Park), Six Degrees of SeparationWild East (Royal Court), Pericles, The Duchess of Malfi, What the Butler Saw, The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (National Theatre), The Virtuoso and Artists and Admirers (RSC) and MAMMA MIA! (London, New York and worldwide, also 2008 film). Her opera productions include La Bohème, Albert Herring, Gloriana, Carmen and Peter Grimes – Royal Philharmonic Society Award and a South Bank Show Award (Opera North), Macbeth (Opéra-Bastille, Royal Opera), The Carmelites (ENO, WNO), The Handmaid’s Tale (Royal Danish Opera, ENO), a staged Verdi Requiem and Wagner’sRing Cycle (ENO) and an award-winning film of Gloriana (BBC2). Her most recent film was The Iron Lady, reuniting her with Meryl Streep.

Jade Anouka (playing Mark Antony, Hotspur, Ariel) returns to the Donmar having appeared in Henry IV, Julius Caesar and The Vote. Anouka also appeared in the New York transfers of Henry IV and Julius Caesar at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Other theatre credits include Doctor Faustus (Duke of York’s), So Here We Are (Royal Exchange/ High Tide), Chef (Edinburgh Fringe), Omeros (Sam Wannamaker Playhouse), Clean (Traverse Theatre and 59E59 Theater, New York), Moon on a Rainbow Shawl(National Theatre), Sixty-Six Books (Bush Theatre), Hamlet (Shakespeare’s Globe/Tour) and Blood Wedding (Southwark Playhouse). Television work includes Lucky Man, The Vote, regular appearances in the BBC’s Shakespeare Uncovered, Doctor Who and Law & Order.

Sheila Atim (playing Lucius, Ferdinand) is making her Donmar Warehouse debut. Previous theatre credits include Les Blancs (National Theatre), Volpone (RSC), Love’s Sacrifice (RSC), The Jew of Malta (RSC), Hopelessly Devoted (Paines Plough) and Rachel (Finborough Theatre). Film credits include Twelfth Night.

Jackie Clune (playing Julius Caesar, Westmorland/ Glendower, Stefano) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV and The Vote. Clune’s theatre credits include the New York transfer of Henry IV to St. Ann’s Warehouse, Fallen Angels (Salisbury Playhouse), Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Mamma Mia! (UK Tour), Candide (Menier Chocolate Factory) Mogadishu (Lyric Hammersmith), Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace) and Julie Burchill is Away (Soho Theatre). Screen credits include EastEnders, The Bill and Waking the Dead.

Shiloh Coke (playing Cinna the Poet, Mortimer) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV. Coke also appeared in the New York transfer at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Further theatre credits include The Chaplin (The Yard Theatre),  Into the Woods (Stratford Circus Theatre) and Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Crucible, Glasgow Girls and Legally Blonde (all Rose Bruford College).

Karen Dunbar (playing Casca, Vernon/Bardolph, Trinculo) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV. Dunbar also appeared in the New York transfer at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Further theatre credits include WitsHerFace: Funny How…? (Glasgow International Comedy Festival at Saint Luke’s),Priscilla Queen of the Desert Musical (Edinburgh Playhouse), Cyrano de Bergerac (Edinburgh Book Festival), Can’t Forget About You (Lyric Belfast), The Guid Sisters(National Theatre of Scotland) and Men Should Weep (National Theatre). Dunbar has appeared in the pantomime at King’s Theatre, Glasgow annually since 2007. Television credits include four series of The Karen Dunbar Show and of Chewin’ The Fat (BBC Scotland).

Clare Dunne (playing Portia/Octavius Caesar, Prince Hal) returns to the Donmar having previously appeared in Henry IV and Julius Caesar. Dunne also appeared in the New York transfers of the productions at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Sisters (both Lyric Hammersmith),Major Barbara (Abbey Theatre), Detroit and Juno and the Paycock (both National Theatre).

Zainab Hasan (playing Calpurnia, Hostess/Messenger) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV. Further theatre credits includeHenry IV (St. Ann’s Warehouse), Boy (Almeida Theatre), Catalina (Untold Theatre), The Class, Tory Boyz, Romeo and Juliet, Prince of Denmark (all NYT), On the Dole(Lyric Hammersmith), Nine Rooms (Old Vic Tunnels) and Routes (Hampstead Theatre). 

Jennifer Joseph (playing Trebonius, Sir Walter Blunt/ Sheriff) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV and Julius Caesar. Joseph trained with Clean Break theatre company and theatre credits for them include Hours til Midnight. Television and film credits include My Mad Fat Diary, Honey Trapand Stirred Up. 

Martina Laird (playing Cassius, Worcester/Peto, Gonzalo) returns to the Donmar having previously appeared in Michael Grandage’s production of Othello. Martina’s further theatre credits include Who Cares (Royal Court Theatre), The House That Will Not Stand (Tricycle Theatre), Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre and Tour), Bad Blood Blues (Theatre Royal, Stratford) and Mules (Young Vic). Her television credits include Jericho, The Dumping Ground and London’s Burning. 

Sophie Stanton (playing Falstaff, Caliban) returns to the Donmar having previously appeared in Henry IV (New York transfer at St. Ann’s Warehouse) and Beautiful Thing. Sophie’s further theatre credits include Made In Dagenham (Stage Entertainment), Nut (National Theatre), The Knot of the Heart, Cloud Nine, Dying For It(Almeida Theatre) England People Very Nice and Market Boy (National Theatre). Sophie has also appeared on television in My Mad Fat Diary, and in the recurring role of DCI Marsden in EastEnders.

Sharon Rooney (playing Lady Percy) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV. Rooney also appeared in the New York transfer at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Rooney is best known as Rae Earl in My Mad Fat Diary (E4) and is one of 2013’s BAFTA Breakthrough Brits as well as a BAFTA Scotland nominee. Other television credits include Mountain Goats, Stag and Two Doors Down.

Carolina Valdés (playing Dog/Cinna, Northumberland) returns to the Donmar Warehouse having previously appeared in Henry IV and Julius Caesar, and also appeared in New York transfers at St. Ann’s Warehouse, New York. Further stage credits include The Late Henry Moss (Southwark Playhouse), The Secret Agent (Young Vic), The 13 Midnight Challenges of Angelus Diablo (RSC at Latitude Festival). Television credits include Call the Midwife. Film credits include A Little Chaos.

Harriet Walter (playing Brutus, Henry IV, Prospero) returns to the roles of Henry IV, and Brutus, having appeared in the 2012 and 2014 productions which transferred to St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York. She also appeared at the Donmar, in the West End and on Broadway in Lloyd’s 2006 award winning production of Mary Stuart.  Walter’s extensive theatre credits include Death of a Salesman, Women Beware Women, Dinner, Life Times Three, The Children’s Hour, Arcadia (all National Theatre),Venus and Adonis, Antony & Cleopatra, The Hollow Crown, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth (all RSC), as well as The Royal Family (Theatre Royal, Haymarket),Ivanov (Almeida) Boa (Trafalgar Studios) and Hedda Gabler (Chichester Festival Theatre & tour).  Walter’s numerous television credits include Black Sails, The Crown, London Spy and Little Dorrit; her film work includes Denial, Sense of an Ending, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Man Up, Suite Française, From Time To Time and The Young Victoria.

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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.

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