Hampstead Theatre has announced its first live productions for 2021, beginning with Alfred Fagon’s The Death of a Black Man, running from 28 May to 10 July 2021, having originally premiered at the theatre in 1975. Dawn Walton, former artistic director of Eclipse Theatre Company, will make her Hampstead Theatre directorial debut.
Hampstead Downstairs will also reopen with the world premiere of Raya, by Deborah Bruce from 11 June to 24 July. This new play will be the theatre’s artistic director Roxana Silbert’s first Downstairs production. Both productions will be staged with social distancing in place for the duration of their runs.
Roxana Silbert, artistic director and joint chief executive of Hampstead Theatre, said:
“I am delighted to announce these productions for many reasons. I’m excited to share Alfred Fagon’s powerful, brilliant play with audiences, look forward with tremendous anticipation to Dawn Walton’s production in her Hampstead debut and, I am counting down the days until we are in a rehearsal room with Deborah Bruce’s beautiful play Raya, my first production Downstairs.
“Covid makes planning a challenge. However, if all goes well, our autumn season is overflowing with remarkable established and new artists including Katie Mitchell, Marsha Norman, Mufaro Makubika, Tom Wells and Tennessee Williams.
“We are desperate to get going again and, in doing so, support our wonderful freelance colleagues to do what they do best: make live theatre. It’s been a year since we shut our doors and we are ready to switch on the lights and welcome everyone back in.”
The Death of a Black Man first premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1975 directed by Roland Rees. This rarely produced play by one of Britain’s leading black voices from the 20th century remains compelling viewing 46 years on. Fagon was one of the first British black writers to have his work produced in the UK and a hugely influential playwright.
Dawn Walton will be joined by designer Simon Kenny, lighting designer Jo Town, sound designer Richard Hammarton and composer Duramaney Kamara.
Raya by Deborah Bruce will be Roxana Silbert’s second production at Hampstead Theatre since joining as its artistic-director in 2019, following the critically-acclaimed espionage thriller The Haystack by Al Blyth in 2020. The play is Bruce’s second play at Hampstead Downstairs following Godchild.
Claire Price, Bo Poraj and Shannon Hayes will perform in this new play with design by Moi Tran and sound design and composition by Nick Powell.