The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith has announced the world premiere of Out West featuring works by three of the UK’s leading playwrights, Tanika Gupta (A Doll’s House), Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and Roy Williams (Death Of England: Delroy), to reopen the venue in June 2021.
The plays explore themes of race, identity, place and purpose and bring together a stellar creative team, co-directed by the Lyric’s artistic director Rachel O’Riordan and Diane Page, with set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun and composition and sound design by Simon Slater.
Out West will run in the Main House from 18 June to 24 July, with opening night for press on 24 June. The show will operate with socially distanced seating for the entirety of the run. The show will also be filmed for audiences to watch at home and will be available for online streaming from 12-17 July. Casting for each of the one-person plays will be announced in due course.
Rachel O’Riordan, artistic director and CEO of the Lyric and co-director of Out West, said: “Out West is the production that reopens our doors after the enforced closure due to the pandemic. The three writers, Tanika Gupta, Simon Stephens and Roy Williams, are some of the most exciting voices in British theatre and I am so proud that they are sharing our stage and bringing the Lyric back to life.
“All three plays speak to our current moment; questions of race, geography, identity, belonging and hope run through all three. Theatre has the power to move, to challenge and to entertain. It is also the medium through which, for centuries, human beings have attempted to understand each other and the world around us. I cannot think of a more necessary moment for theatre than now. I look forward, with co-director Diane Page, to sharing Out West with you. We are back. We are here.”
Diane Page, co-director, said: “Out West explores what it really means to belong in a shifting world. At a time when we have had cause to reflect on and analyse our values, beliefs and ideals – sometimes in uncomfortable and revealing conversations – each of these incredible plays proves to be ever more poignant.”
Alongside the Lyric’s production of Out West, West London writer and poet Zia Ahmed will lead a playwriting partnership to create new stories that are rooted in West London with students across six secondary schools in Hammersmith and Fulham. A selection of work will be filmed and presented in the Lyric’s Cinema, running in parallel with Out West during the summer.
The Overseas Student by Tanika Gupta
London. 1888. 18-year-old Mohandas K Gandhi is sent to the UK from India to study Law. He must navigate a time of uncertainty, growth and opportunity as he builds a new life far from his home and family. In Tanika Gupta’s sharp, witty, political play we see a teenage Ghandi struggle against class and imperialism yet delight in the joys of money, food and women as he attempts to fit into English society. A unique insight into the experiences which will go on to shape the moral and political beliefs of one of the most significant figures in history.
Blue water and cold and fresh by Simon Stephens
London, 2020. We follow one man’s journey as he is forced to confront his late father’s racism and his own white privilege. In the wake of city lockdown living and Black Lives Matter protests, as he explores the places his father once lived, his mourning is filled with difficult truths. Simon Stephens’ latest play is a heartfelt exploration that questions what it means to be a father, husband and son.
Go, Girl by Roy Williams
London, 2020. Once the schoolgirl chosen to sing for the First Lady Michelle Obama, Donna is now a security guard patrolling the grounds of Westfield shopping centre. The hope and excitement she once felt has now become isolation and judgement of the choices she has made. Yet when Donna and her teenage daughter find themselves in a situation that tests their bravery and humanity, she realises just how truly remarkable they are. Roy Williams’ new play holds a lens up to female resilience and celebrates Black women and everyday heroism in the face of adversity.