It will be directed by Trevor Nunn, who previously directed Spacey in the title role of Richard II at the Old Vic in October 2005. It will be followed by a new production of John Guare's 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation, which will be helmed by David Grindley (2007 Tony nominee for Best Direction of a Play for Journey's End), beginnig performances Jan. 7, 2010 (prior to an official opening Jan. 19, 2010), for a run to April 3, 2010.
In a press statement, Spacey commented, "I had a wonderful experience working with Trevor Nunn on Richard II, and I am thrilled we'll be reunited for this timely production of Inherit the Wind. David Grindley's production of Six Degrees of Separation will, I am sure, be a highly anticipated event. These productions continue The Old Vic tradition of great plays and renowned creative talent and we're delighted to welcome two of Britain's finest theatre directors back to our stage."
Inherit the Wind is a courtroom drama, based on the famous 1925 Scopes "Monkey" trial in which science teacher John Scopes was accused of violating a Tennessee state statute by teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to his students. This production marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's "The Origin of Species." The play premiered on Broadway in 1955, and has been revived there in 1996 (starring George C. Scott) and 2007 (with Christopher Plummer). In addition to Richard II, Spacey has also appeared on the Old Vic stage in The Iceman Cometh (in the transfer of the Almeida Theatre production in 1998, prior to taking over the running of the theatre in 2003), National Anthems, The Philadelphia Story, A Moon for the Misbegotten (which subsequently transferred to Broadway) and Speed-the-Plow. He has also directed the premieres of the plays Cloaca and Complicit there. The productionwill be designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Fergus O'Hare and casting by Maggie Lunn.
Six Degrees of Separation, described in press materials as a "sharp, vivacious take on two worlds colliding," was inspired by the real-life story of a flamboyant con artist who managed to convince wealthy residents of Manhattan's Upper East Side that he was the son of Sidney Poitier. The play originally premiered at Lincoln Center Theatre's Mitzi Newhouse Theater in 1990, before transferring upstairs to the Vivian Beaumont. It received its U.K. premiere in a production at the Royal Court Theatre in 1992, before transferring to the West End's Comedy Theatre. Director David Grindley is currently represented on Broadway by his production of Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist, running at the American Airlines Theatre under the auspices of Roundabout Theatre Company, for whom he has also previously directed a revival of Pygmalion in 2007, as well as The American Plan for Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre earlier this year. Six Degrees will be designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke.
The Old Vic will also see the return of the 24 Hour Plays Gala on Nov. 1 for the sixth year running, in which 40 actors, directors and writers join forces to create six short plays in just 24 hours. This is the principal annual fundraising event in support of Old Vic New Voices, a department dedicated to working with young people, developing emerging talent and building new audiences. To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 871 7628 or visit www.oldvictheatre.com.