Kwame Kwei-Armah has announced his first season as the new artistic director of the Young Vic. The first preview tickets for all main house shows will be sold at just £5 via a TodayTix lottery.
It opens with Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, originally performed at the Public Theater in New York as part of its Public Works program in 2016, and revisited this summer as part of their free Shakespeare in the Park Delacorte season.
Directed by Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater, the piece has music and lyrics by Taub and will play in the main house from 2 October to 17 November 2018 (press night is 8 October).
Initial casting includes: Gabrielle Brooks as Viola; Gbemisola Ikumelo as Maria; Jonathan Livingstone as Antonio and Silas Wyatt-Barke as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. These professional artists will perform alongside community members from Southwark and Lambeth.
This will be followed by Black Panther’s Danai Gurira’s play The Convert (7 December 2018 to 19 January 2019, press night is 14 December), set in 1896 Rhodesia and exploring the impact of colonialism and Catholicism on black identity.
Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train will also feature in the season, directed by Kate Hewitt, winner of the JMK Award 2014. Running from 14 February to 30 March 2019 (press night is 20 February) the piece takes places in a prison in Rikers Island New York where a frightened young man is accused of murdering a cult leader.
In addition, 2018 Genesis Future Director award winner Debbie Hannan will direct Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace in the Clare Studio (15 August to 25 August 2018). The poetic play will interrogate the idea that humans cannot change; are we really all that black and white?
Other projects include:
YV Unpacked – a new strand of work, taking the highest quality theatre to people out into the community: to refugee centres, prisons, community hubs and homeless shelters. The first work will be Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, directed Caroline Byrne.
My England is a celebration of playwrights from across regions of England. Confirmed commissions include work from: Lucy J Skilbeck, Omar El-Khairy, Polly Stenham, Barrie Rutter, Jack Thorne and May Sumbqanyambe.
Draw Me Close by Jordan Tannahill – a preview of the National Theatre and National Film Board of Canada’s VR experience, presented by the Young Vic.
Crying in the Wilderness Productions joins the Young Vic as a new Associate Company.
Commenting on the season, Kwei-Armah said: “My first season as artistic director will attempt to balance on those shoulders the things that are important to me: joy, community, politics and these are deeply embedded in all that we do.”