Headlong has announced its programme for 2020/21, the final season under current artistic director Jeremy Herrin. Highlights include:
- World premiere of After Life at the National Theatre – created by Jack Thorne, Jeremy Herrin and Bunny Christie, based on the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda
- New production of August Wilson’s Jitney, directed by Tinuke Craig
- April De Angelis’ response to the climate crisis, Mrs Noah, to be staged as a music and theatre video
- Further casting announced for Chris Bush’s Faustus: That Damned Woman
- Future commissions from Josh Azouz, Inua Ellams, James Graham, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Nathaniel Martello-White, Chloe Moss and Naomi Wallace announced
Artistic director Jeremy Herrin said:
“Running Headlong has been the privilege of a lifetime and I’m immensely grateful to the colleagues, artists, stakeholders and audiences who have been part of the journey. It seems appropriate to draw my time as artistic director to a close with a range of projects and collaborators that are close to my heart.
“I’ll be sad to leave Headlong with its supportive and wise board, Alan Stacey and the wonderful team that make the company consistently punch above its weight. I’ve loved the time sharing some magical evenings of theatre up and down the country with the team past and present. I’m happy that I leave the company in strong health with an inspired staff, a capable and ambitious board and a range of excellent commissions, making it an appetising opportunity for a talented and visionary new artistic director.”
The season celebrates the breadth of the company’s work under Herrin and executive director Alan Stacey. In early spring 2021, Headlong and the National Theatre will co-produce After Life, a new play created by Jack Thorne, Jeremy Herrin and Bunny Christie.
After Life was adapted for the stage by award-winning writer Thorne (His Dark Materials, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and will be directed by Herrin (Labour of Love, People, Places and Things) and designed by Christie (Best Design, Evening Standard Theatre Awards, 2019). Based on the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the play will receive its world premiere at the National’s Dorfman Theatre in January 2021.
Headlong and Leeds Playhouse continue their producing relationship with a new production of Pulitzer-Prize Winner August Wilson’s Jitney. Tinuke Craig (Vassa, The Colour Purple) will direct Wilson’s ground-breaking play . The production will premiere at Leeds Playhouse from 5 to 19 September 2020 before embarking on a UK tour.
April De Angelis’ short comedy Mrs Noah, which was originally written for Extinction Rebellion in 2019, will be developed by Headlong into a hybrid music and theatre video in early 2020. A retelling of the famous 15th century mystery play Noah and the Great Flood, Mrs Noah tackles the climate crisis. Directed by Headlong associate director, Holly Race Roughan (Hedda Tesman), Mrs Noah will be a hybrid mix of R‘n’B, Hip-Hop and theatre, showcasing some of the best emerging talent in these fields.
Continuing its ongoing partnership with the Guardian, Headlong present Europeans: Dramas from a Divided Union, a series of short political monologues exploring the issues consuming other EU countries, and how their unique histories have defined their relationship to the Union.
Together the Guardian and Headlong have commissioned seven high profile writers from across Europe to each write intimate, fictional scripts performed in their original language by well-known actors from each country. The series of seven films from Poland, Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland, Spain and the UK will premiere as part of the London Short Film Festival on the 16 January 2020. They will also be made available on the Guardian website and Headlong digital channels.
The writers include Jonas Jonasson, Alice Zeniter, Lisa McInerney, Jakub Zulczyk, Marius von Mayenburg, Blanca Doménech and actor and director Clint Dyer. Performers include Jacek Koman, Evanna Lynch, Viktor Akerblom, Robert Beyer, Sabrina Ouazani, Paul Iwasaki and Javone Prince.
Also forming part of the season is the previously announced Faustus: That Damned Woman, a new play from Chris Bush co-produced by Headlong and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Caroline Byrne directs this radical new work in which the iconic character of Faustus is reimagined as a woman who makes the ultimate sacrifice to traverse centuries and alter the course of history.
Katherine Carlton, Alicia Charles, Emmanuella Cole, Barnaby Power and Tim Samuels join the previously announced Jodie McNee as Johanna Faustus and Danny Lee Wynter as Mephistopheles to complete the cast. This is the first work to be commissioned as part of Headlong and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s long-term commitment to commissioning and producing work of scale by women playwrights. The play will premiere at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre from 22 January to 22 February 2020 before touring.
The Headlong Origins Directors for 2020 are Maria Crocker, Nyasha Gudo, Alix Harris, Fionnuala Kennedy, Maisie Newman and Ellie Taylor. These theatre makers will work closely with Headlong over the next 12 months, receiving mentorship from the artistic director and associate director.
Currently under commission for the company are Josh Azouz, Chloe Moss, Nathaniel Martello-White, Inua Ellams, Naomi Wallace, Jasmine Lee-Jones and James Graham.
One of the UK’s most established Northern playwrights, Chloe Moss is writing a new work for Headlong, a feminist thriller set aboard a ship which will examine women’s fear of men and in turn men’s fear of women’s power.
Two-time Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner Naomi Wallace is in the process of writing a major new play for Headlong on the opioid crisis in America.