Artistic director Michael Attenborough said in a statement, "As I enter my tenth year here I am as committed as ever to a bold, exciting and diverse progra. ...I am delighted that Stephen Poliakoff has chosen the Almeida to launch his first new play for 12 years and that we continue to be Neil LaBute's English home as he directs his Broadway [play] Reasons To Be Pretty."
My City will begin performances Sept. 8, prior to an official opening Sept. 15, for a run through Nov. 5. According to press materials, the play asks how would you feel if, 15 years after you last saw them, you bumped into the one person who had the biggest influence on your life? On a dusky evening, Richard Kenton finds his primary school headmistress lying on a park bench in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral. As he becomes reacquainted with her and the other teachers that helped shape him, memories of their vivid and imaginative lessons come to life and their tales of London inspire him once more.
Poliakoff, who began his career in the theatre and won the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright in 1976 for Hitting Town and City Sugar, has written over 20 plays, including Breaking the Silence (premiered by the RSC) and Coming In To Land (premiered at the National). His film and TV credits include "Hidden City," "Caught on a Train," "Close My Eyes," "Perfect Strangers" and most recently "Glorious 39".
Designs for The City are by Lez Brotherson with lighting by Oliver Fenwick and sound and music by Ben and Max Ringham.
LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty, originally premiered at Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre in 2008 and subsequently produced at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre in 2009 where it was nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play, will begin performances at the Almeida Nov. 10, prior to an official opening Nov. 17 for a run through Jan. 14, 2012. According to press materials, the play examines our perception of beauty and asks whether it is as much of a curse to be conventionally attractive as it is to be considered ugly. It follows what happens when Greg is overheard admitting that his girlfriend Steph is no beauty, but that he wouldn't change her for the world. She is devastated; he can't quite see what he's done wrong. Meanwhile, Greg's best friend Kent alternates between boasting about how gorgeous his wife Carly is, and chasing after a hot new colleague.
LaBute, who is currently represented in the West End by the world premiere of In a Forest Dark and Deep (which the playwright also directed) at the Vaudeville Theatre, has previously had bash: latter-day plays, The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, The Mercy Seat and In a Dark Dark House produced at the Almeida. Reasons To Be Pretty is the third in a trilogy of plays about physical appearance — the first two being The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. LaBute's films include "In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors," "Nurse Betty," "Possession" and "The Shape of Things," a film adaptation of his play by the same title.
Designs for Reasons To Be Pretty are by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Fergus O’Hare.
Priority booking for Almeida members opens from April 19, with public booking from May 9. To book tickets contact the box office on 020 7359 4404, or visit www.almeida.co.uk