The Bridge Theatre, a new theatre being launched beside Tower Bridge on the South Bank of the Thames, is to open in October with a new play, Young Marx by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, starring Rory Kinnear in the title role.
It marks the debut of the London Theatre Company, a new initiative by former National Theatre Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner and his former Executive Director Nick Starr, that they formed after they left the NT.
Hytner will direct Young Marx, as well as the second production, a new promenade version of Julius Caesar, with Ben Whishaw as Brutus that will open in January 2018. The opening slate of productions is completed by a new play, Nightfall by Barney Norris, that Laurie Sansom will direct, opening in April.
Future plans from the summer of 2018 include a new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane; a new, as-yet-untitled play by Nina Raine about JS Bach, played by Simon Russell Beale; flatpack, a new play by John Hodge; The Black Cloud, a new play by Sam Holcroft from the novel by Fred Hoyle; and Carmen Havana, a version of Bizet’s opera by Lucy Prebble with choreography by Miguel Altunaga and direction by Nicholas Hytner.
The company plans to focus on the commissioning and production of new shows, as well as staging the occasional classic. At The Bridge, it will present four or five new productions year-round, playing Tuesday to Sunday, plus a Monday night program, which will include intimate gigs, the live recording of a new podcast series, and conversations on food, fashion, politics, and science. In time the company hopes to open more theatres in London, to be able to host productions from the subsidized theatre, and to transfer its own productions to the West End and beyond.
In a press statement, Hytner commented, “We want to make bold popular theatre. We’ve commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we’ve built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible: a theatre that can be changed to suit the show. We reckon that London needs new theatres, designed for the shows that people make in the 21st century and the expectations that audiences have for a really good night out.”
The opening production Young Marx will begin performances October 18, prior to an official opening October 26 for a run through December 31. It will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in December. Kinnear, who plays the title role, is joined by Oliver Chris as Engels. The production reunites the creative team behind Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, with direction by Hytner, design by Mark Thompson, music by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson, and sound by Paul Arditti.
Julius Caesar, also directed by Hytner, will begin performances January 20 prior to an official opening January 30 for a run through April 15. It will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in March 2018. As well as Whishaw as Brutus, the cast will also include Michelle Fairley as Cassius, David Calder as Caesar, and David Morrissey as Mark Antony. With seating wrapped around the action, there will also be 250 promenading tickets at £25 available in advance for each performance. The production designer is Bunny Christie, with costumes by Christina Cunningham, music by Nick Powell, lighting by Bruno Poet, and sound by Paul Arditti.
Nightfall will begin performances April 28 prior to an official opening May 8, for a run through June 3. Set on a farm outside Winchester, Ryan struggles to make a living off the land. His sister Lou has returned home after the death of their father to support Jenny, their formidable mother. Not so long ago, when a neighbor's Labrador strayed onto the farm, their dad reached for his shotgun. Now, when Lou's boyfriend Pete reappears, flush with money from his job at an oil refinery, Jenny fights to hold her children to the life she planned for them.
To book tickets, which go on public sale April 27, contact the box office on 0843 208 1846 or visit bridgetheatre.co.uk.