Lynette Linton has announced her inaugural season as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre. The 2019-2020 season includes UK debut plays from six playwrights alongside a new production of celebrated poet and playwright Jackie Kay’s first play Chiaroscuro directed by Linton.
Five Senior Artistic Associates have been announced: actress Adjoa Andoh, movement director Polly Bennett, producers Shawab Iqbal and Tobi Kyeremateng and American actress Martha Plimpton (currently in the West End in Linton’s Donmar Warehouse production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat). The associates will support an expansion of the Bush Theatre’s initiatives to involve new writers and theatre practitioners in the theatre industry.
The plans continue the theatre’s commitment to inclusivity, where audiences and artists reflect contemporary London. In pursuit of this vision, the Bush will continue to look to debut writers and braid together the work presented on stage with work from its local communities.
Lynette Linton said:
“This season at the Bush Theatre UK debuts by British and Irish writers will fill our stages. You’ll find extraordinary stories of lived experiences that speak to all corners of our city.
“I believe in the Bush’s power to write narratives as well as to develop plays. That’s why I’m opening my first season with a production of Chiaroscuro, an exceptional play which concludes our ‘Passing The Baton’ programme – a three-year commitment to re-staging masterpieces by artists of colour who have been written out of history. To revive Chiaroscuro is not only a great honour but well overdue. We are standing on the shoulders of giants and Jackie Kay is definitely one of those giants.
“The season concludes with Malachi Kirby’s debut play, Level Up, which celebrates and interrogates youth culture and, for me, braids together the life of our community with the work on stage. Young people will be the heart of this project – from the making of the show to performing on stage alongside Malachi.
“By investing in diverse talent, I want to create a space for the next generation. I know I need to be reaching out to 15-year-old Lynette and others like her and saying: ‘You can come in here. This is for you. This is for everyone.'”
In the main house
by Jackie Kay
Directed by Lynette Linton
31 August-5 October 2020
Aisha, Yomi, Beth and Opal couldn’t be more different, but when Aisha hosts a dinner party, the friends soon discover that they’re all looking for an answer to the same question. Does it lie in Aisha’s childhood? Or in Beth and Opal’s new romance? Who will tell them who they really are?
What starts out as a friendly conversation between women, soon turns heated when Yomi reveals what she really thinks about Beth and Opal’s relationship.
Live music and spoken word collide in an explosive gig-theatre event that breathes new life into Scottish National Poet Jackie Kay’s 1986 masterpiece.
Directed by Lynette Linton (Sweat, Richard II), this bold reimagining explores the experiences of women of colour across generations and celebrates female identity from the 1980s to now. Chiaroscuro is the latest production in the Passing the Baton series.
Written and performed by Richard Gadd
Directed by Jon Brittain
9 October-9 November 2019
When Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner Richard Gadd (Monkey See Monkey Do) offers a free cup of tea to a stranger, what appears to be a trivial interaction has ramifications far wider than he could ever have imagined.
Fresh from a world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, Baby Reindeer is an unmissable debut play and chilling personal narrative exploring obsession, delusion, and the aftermath of a chance encounter. Directed by Olivier Award Winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam). Presented by Francesca Moody Productions in association with Bush Theatre.
Written and directed by Bijan Sheibani
21 November 2019-18 January 2020
When Tom meets Samad it’s like he’s coming face to face with himself. They have the same gestures, the same instincts – even the same handwriting. But as they get closer and their lives become more entangled, the truth of their past threatens to bring everything crashing to the ground.
The Arrival is a taut family drama about the pain of finding – and losing – something you never had. A debut play from Olivier Award-winning theatre director Bijan Sheibani (Dance Nation, The Brothers Size, Barber Shop Chronicles).
The High Table
By Temi Wilkey
8 February-21 March 2020
The dresses are chosen and the venue is booked. But when Tara’s Nigerian parents refuse to attend her wedding to Leah, three of Tara’s ancestors are jolted from their eternal rest. High above London, they watch as the rift widens between Tara and her parents. Can they keep the family together? And will Tara’s decision ever get their blessing?
An epic family drama played out between the heavens and earth, The High Table is the hilarious and heartbreaking debut play from Temi Wilkey. The High Table was submitted through the Bush’s unsolicited submissions window, a process in which the team reads 900 scripts per year from writers not represented by an agent.
Following its premiere at the Bush, The High Table will play Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2020. This co-production marks the start of a new collaboration with The REP to produce new plays for both London and Birmingham audiences. Presented by Bush Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
Written and performed by Malachi Kirby
Directed by Daniel Bailey and Lynette Linton
1 May-6 June 2020
This is the place you grew up in, the place you want to grow out of. Get the coins. Beat the boss. Level up. But what happens when the consequences catch up with you? What happens when you’re not really the person behind the controller?
Playful and potent, this debut play from award-winning actor Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror, Curfew, Roots) follows one boy’s fight to make the right choice when the odds are stacked against him.
Created with young people, and directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director, Daniel Bailey and Artistic Director, Lynette Linton, Level Up will be performed by Malachi and an ensemble of young performers.
Level Up will run alongside a partnership with Mentivity, a charity that focuses on mentoring young people through positive activities, sports, and education. During the run, 1,000 tickets will be made available for free to young people under 26.
In the Studio
I Wanna Be Yours
By Zia Ahmed
Directed by Anna Himali Howard
4 December 2019-18 January 2020
Ella is from Yorkshire. Haseeb is from London. They order a pizza. House red for Ella. Hot chocolate for Haseeb. ‘I think I’m falling in love with you.’
People and playlists. Christmas and Eid. Love is more than just a game for two. Especially when there’s an elephant in the room. I Wanna Be Yours is the debut play from Zia Ahmed about finding love and holding onto it with everything you’ve got.
All performances of I Wanna Be Yours will be fully BSL integrated. Presented by Paines Plough and Tamasha in association with Bush Theatre.
By Margaret Perry
Directed by Tom Martin
5 February-14 March 2020
Essie’s lost her job. Her girlfriend’s left. But she’s alright. Except lately she feels more like a chair than a person. One of those folding chairs. Solid one minute. And then.
From award-winning Irish writer Margaret Perry (Porcelain), Collapsible is a funny, furious new monologue about holding on in this collapsing world. For anyone who has ever felt crumbly. Winner of the Origins Award for Outstanding New Work, VAULT Festival 2019. Ellie Keel Productions in association with Bush Theatre presents.
First Look Festival
Bush Theatre’s inaugural First Look Festival launches a new era of making and presenting work at the theatre. With the aim of giving audiences an insight into the process and the journey of new writing, the Bush will be presenting early forms of work which will premiere in future seasons.