NEWS: Donmar Power season includes Lenny Henry as Arturo Ui, new plays on Labour split & Kids Company collapse

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Artistic Director Josie Rourke and Executive Producer Kate Pakenham announce today the Power Season at the Donmar Warehouse. This spring season includes a new play by Steve Waters examining the 1981 split in the Labour party; a revival of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui starring Lenny Henry; and a new musical with book and lyrics edited from the transcript of a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company.

·         Limehouse is a new play, imagining what happened when, in 1981, the ‘Gang of Four’ met to break from Labour and form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).  Playwright Steve Waters returns to the Donmar after his acclaimed play Temple, teaming up with Olivier-winning director Polly Findlay. Casting to date includes Paul Chahidi as Bill Rodgers and Debra Gillett as Shirley Williams. Runs 2 March to 15 April 2017, with a press night on 8 March.

·        Lenny Henry will make his Donmar Warehouse debut in Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo UiThis satirical masterpiece about the rise of a demagogue will be given a new translation by Pulitzer-, Olivier- and Tony-Prize winning American playwright, and author of Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris.  Simon Evans will direct. Runs 21 April to 17 June 2017, with a press night on 2 May.

·         Actor Hadley Fraser, Donmar Artistic Director Josie Rourke and composer Tom Deering have teamed up to create a new musical, edited from the transcript of a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company.  It will be directed by newly-appointed Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse, Adam Penford. [This production has not been authorised by any participant or Parliament.  It is based on the Parliamentary transcript of the oral evidence session on 15 October 2015 and the words spoken by those participating in the Inquiry.] Runs 24 June to 12 August 2017, with a press night on 3 July. 

Commenting on the new season Artistic Director Josie Rourke said:

“Kate Pakenham and I want the Donmar to step up to what’s happening, and so we have worked with a seriously great group of artists to create the Power Season. Here is a new musical and two plays that concern themselves with truth and accountability; democracy and demagoguery; passion, despair and the rebirth of hope. Throughout this season, characters fight for, rise to and exercise their power. In creating the Power Season, we’re trusting that theatre will deploy its power to speak with swift and urgent clarity into the present.

“Launching the Power Season is Limehouse, a new play from our political history that speaks to our political present. Steve Waters returns to the Donmar with another thrilling drama that imagines what happened behind closed doors during a pivotal moment in history – the formation of the SDP, which split the Labour party in 1981. I’m delighted to welcome Polly Findlay to the Donmar to direct Limehouse.

“As the second play in the Power Season, Lenny Henry will then make his Donmar debut in Bertolt Brecht’s satirical masterpiece, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The play is a timely comic parable about the rise of a demagogue, and will be given a new translation by Pulitzer-, Olivier- and Tony-award winning American playwright, Bruce Norris. The stellar Simon Evans will direct, with some Chicago Jazz Age flair along the way.

“Finally in the Power Season, I have teamed up with Hadley Fraser, an actor I have had the immense pleasure of directing in several shows at the Donmar, including my current production of Saint Joan, along with the dazzling young composer Tom Deering. These two young artists are part of musical theatre’s future. Together, we are creating a new musical based on a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session about Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company. Directed by the brilliant Adam Penford, newly-appointed Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse, The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company examines how civil society holds itself to account.”

Also announced today:  

·         Following his triumphant return to the London stage with One Night in Miami…, Rourke and Pakenham are delighted to announce that Kwame Kwei-Armah will join the Donmar as an Associate Director.

·         The Donmar will be offering YOUNG+FREE tickets for every night of performances across the Power Season.  These free tickets for 25 year olds and under have proven transformative for the Donmar’s Shakespeare Trilogy.  YOUNG+FREE will continue to be funded through the generosity of audiences with the Donmar’s PAY IT FORWARD scheme.  Whilst sponsorship for the Front Row scheme has now come to its end, affordable ticket access for everyone remains central to the Donmar.  As such, £10 tickets will continue, as will Monday morning ticket releases, alongside day tickets.

·         Today, alongside its season announcement, the Donmar is delighted to announce that the Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy, and its work in prisons alongside Clean Break theatre company and York St John’s University’s Prison Partnership Project, is the recipient of the 2016 Longford Prize. The Longford Prize recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities in the following areas: humanity, courage, persistence and originality. 

Executive Producer Kate Pakenham said:

“We are excited to be bringing together great artists to present three productions which we hope will provoke valuable conversations and inspire our audiences.  Ensuring that young people can access this work is critical to our mission, so we are pleased to be making YOUNG+FREE tickets generally available across this season, as well as making all schools’ tickets free as part of the scheme. The initiative is a gift to young theatre-goers and a celebration of the ability of theatre to empower and inspire. YOUNG+FREE is made possible by the generosity of the public through PAY IT FORWARD.  We have been delighted by the support for PAY IT FORWARD from our audiences and are excited to be working with them to prioritise young people’s access to the arts.  We are also grateful to the significant support we receive from corporate partners, individual philanthropists and the Arts Council which makes the Donmar’s work, both on our stage and beyond, possible.”

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Press Releases on Twitter
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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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