Royal Court Season Includes New Plays by Jez Butterworth and Simon Stephens

News   Royal Court Season Includes New Plays by Jez Butterworth and Simon Stephens
 
Amongst the directors are Sam Mendes, Simon McBurney, John Tiffany, and Katie Mitchell.
Jez Butterworth
Jez Butterworth Joseph Marzullo/WENN

London's Royal Court has announced its new season from February 2017 that will include eight world premieres, four U.K. and international collaborations, the return of a seminal Royal Court play, and a new podcast series.

Amongst the highlights are new plays by Jez Butterworth (to be directed by Sam Mendes in his Royal Court directorial debut) and Simon Stephens, and plays directed by Simon McBurney, John Tiffany, and Katie Mitchell.

In a press statement, Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the theatre, commented, “I am humbled and thrilled to be announcing such a varied and exciting mixture of work from playwrights and theatre-makers at the top of their game, pushing the limits of their potential to challenge, surprise and provoke us. This is the Royal Court at its best – a place for attracting some of the great playwrights and theatre-makers of our times to experiment and take risks to give us, the audience, the most extraordinary experiences possible.”

Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman will begin performances April 24, 2017, prior to an official opening May 3 in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, for a run through May 20. Presented by the Royal Court and Sonia Friedman Productions, who developed it, in association with Neal Street Productions, it is directed by Sam Mendes and designed by Rob Howell. Set in rural Derry in 1981, the Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. But this year they will be interrupted by a visitor. Butterworth's previous plays at the Royal Court include The River and Jerusalem, both of which transferred to Broadway, The Winterling, The Night Heron, and Mojo.

Simon Stephens, currently represented on Broadway by Heisenberg, will return to the Royal Court with Nuclear War, beginning performances April 19 in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, prior to an official opening April 21 for a run through May 6. Described as a series of suggestions on desire, death, and time, it is directed by Imogen Knight, who will be making her solo directing debut, and designed by Chloe Lamford. Stephens' previous plays for the Royal Court include Birdland, Wastwater, Bluebird, Herons, Country Music, and Motortown; his other credits include the ongoing West End hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time that has also played on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for Best Play.

The Kid Stays in the Picture, based on the life story of Robert Evans, will begin performances March 7, prior to an official opening March 15 for a run through April 8 in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs; it is produced by Patrick Milling Smith, Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, Brian Carmody, and the Royal Court Theatre in association with Complicite. It explores the rise and fall of the legendary film producer, who in the 1960s and 70s became one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood, saving Paramount Pictures from collapse and producing films including The Godfather and Chinatown. It is directed by Simon McBurney, currently on Broadway in The Encounter.

John Tiffany, currently represented in the West End by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will return to the Royal Court to direct a revival of Jim Cartwright's Road, a play originally premiered at this address in 1986, beginning performances July 21 prior to an official opening July 28 in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, for a run through September 9. The play gives expression to the inhabitants of an unnamed northern road in Eighties Britain. The production will be designed by Chloe Lamford with lighting by Chahine Yavroyan and sound by Gareth Fry.

Katie Mitchell will direct Alice Birch's Anatomy of a Suicide, beginning performances June 3 prior to an official opening June 8 in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs for a run through July 8. The play revolves around three generations of women. For each, the chaos of what has come before brings with it a painful legacy.

The season in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs also includes debbie tucker green's a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun), which the playwright also directs, beginning performances February 28 prior to an official opening March 6 for a run through April 1. Manwatching begins performances May 10 for a limited run to May 20. Written by an anonymous woman and performed by an unprepared man, it provides an insight into heterosexual female desire, read out loud by a man—a male comedian who is given a script, never having seen it before. The script is read aloud, sight unseen, in front of an audience. This is a show about what one woman thinks about when she thinks about sex with men. It is followed by Gary Owen's Killogy, beginning performances May 25 prior to an official opening May 30 for a run through June 24. It is directed by Rachel O'Riordan, who is artistic director of Cardiff's Sherman Theatre, which is co-producing it.

Further ahead, Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón makes his Royal Court debut with B, directed by Sam Pritchard, and Vicky Featherstone will direct Chris Thorpe's new play Victory Condition, both in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, at dates to be announced from September.

In the fall, the theatre will also launch the Royal Court Playwright's Podcast, with playwrights interviewed by Simon Stephens. The first season will also include interviews with April de Angelis, Rachel De-lahey, Tanika Gupta, David Hare, Robert Holman, Dennis Kelly, Alistair McDowall, Anthony Neilson, Joe Penhall, Lucy Prebble, Anya Reiss, Polly Stenham, and Enda Walsh.

Tickets for the new season go on sale to members November 2, with general sale from November 4. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7565 5000 or visit royalcourttheatre.com.

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