Among the attractions are a new production of Kurt Weill's Street Scene, the return of Peter Brook's production of a bill of five short Samuel Beckett plays presented under the umbrella title Fragments, and two plays by 27-year-old American writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, to play simultaneously – one, the European premiere of a new play, In the Red and Brown Water, opening in the main house; the other, the return of Bijan Sheibani's production of The Brothers Size to the Maria studio space.
In a press statement introducing the new season, artistic director David Lan said, "This season we're in the Amazon rainforest. We're in Louisiana USA. And we're out in the sun on the streets of Waterloo. There are classics and new plays, great artists of world theatre, music theatre with full orchestra and a one-person play from up north. Peter Brook's burnished productions of Beckett come home after a world tour. A sizzling new Tarell McCraney play joins our repertoire as his hit of last season returns. Kurt Weill's greatest American musical blasts the roof off our main house. Matthew Dunster's memory piece - the diary of a northern adolescence - plays in the Clare. And for summer, join our Festa! And this year's Young Vic Christmas show is Amazônia, a magical tale of the rainforest."
The season begins with a short run of a new production of Weill's Street Scene, running July 17-22 (with a press night on July 17). Co-produced with the Opera Group and Watford Palace Theatre, this is the first U.K. production of the piece in 20 years, and will feature a mass ensemble company made up of 15 singers drawn from the worlds of opera and musical theatre, a chorus of 50, a chamber orchestra of 30 and a dog! Set in a New York tenement building over a long hot summer's day and night, Street Scene captures the diversity of working-class New York in 1947. Weill himself described it as "a simple story of everyday life in a big city – a story of love and passion and greed and death." It will be directed by the Opera Group's artistic director, John Fulljames, who staged the Young Vic's re-opening production of the opera Tobias and the Angel and Enchanted Pig at the theatre as well. The production will also play the Watford Palace Theatre July 4-5, and at the Buxton festival on July 13 and 23.
For one day only, on Aug. 16, the Young Vic will host Festa!, a community show that will bring Brazilian party culture to the area. The project — which will be devised over an intensive three-week period led by Brazilian artists from London and Rio de Janeiro and including participation by up to 100 residents of Southwark and Lambeth who will take part in workshops in acting, dance, singing, mask work, puppetry and drumming — will bring the myths, heroes and legends of Brazil to the Young Vic stage.
Peter Brook's production of Fragments, which brings together five short pieces of Samuel Beckett, will return for a run from Aug. 27-Sept. 13 (with a press night on Aug. 28), after an international tour that includes stops in Chicago, Hong Kong, San Paulo and other major European cities. Original cast members Marcello Magni and Kathryn Hunter will return to the production, with Khalifa Natour newly joining them. Tarell Alvin McCraney's debut play, The Brothers Size, will return to the Maria Studio in a re-cast production Oct. 8-Nov. 8 (with a press night on Oct. 13), alongside the European premiere of In the Red and Brown Water in the main house, running Oct. 2-Nov. 8 (with a press night on Oct. 9). The latter play is directed by Young Vic associate director Walter Meierjohann, and is described in press materials as "a soulful story of early womanhood, drawing on a rich tapestry of literature from the earthy tones of Lorca's Yerma to the vibrant storytelling tradition of West African folklore. Stories and characters familiar from The Brothers Size resonate through the play as McCraney's poetry weaves seamlessly into the street talk of pre-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans." The play won the 2007 Kendeda Award from the Alliance Theater, Atlanta.
The Brothers Size, directed by Bijan Sheibani and co-produced by ATC for which he is artistic director, was nominated for an Olivier Award this year. Revolving around the relationship of two brothers, the play is "rooted in the rich traditions of West Africa and the American Deep South," according to press materials. "Bijan Sheibani's production underscores the poetry of McCraney's rhapsodic drama with live percussion, song and dance. The Brothers Size is a tale of extraordinary beauty, lyricism and humanity which explores the bonds of brotherhood." The production will be seen at the Grec Festival in Barcelona prior to coming to the Young Vic from July 2-5, and will then embark on a second U.K. tour alongside its return to the Young Vic, both before and after its London season. The new cast includes Daniel Francis, Tunji Kasim and Anthony Welsh.
From Oct. 14-18 the Young Vic's associate director, Matthew Dunster, will direct his own new play, You Can See the Hills, in the studio Clare Theatre, following a debut run at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre Sep. 24-Oct. 11. It is described as "a vivid, fast-talking, visceral snapshot of life growing up in the 1980s. Adam crashes through his teens and haphazardly steers himself out of Oldham and into adulthood." William Ash ("Clocking Off," "Doctor Who" on TV) will play Adam.
For its Christmas show, the Young Vic will present Amazônia, written and directed by Paul Heritage (AfroReggae) and Brazil's great comic actor Pedro Cardoso (star of a weekly sitcom "A Grande Familia" in his home country), who will also be in the mixed cast of Brazilian and British actors. It will run from Nov. 27, 2008-Jan. 24, 2009, with a press night on Dec. 8. Inspired by the stories and culture of the rainforest, it is suitable for everyone age seven and up. According to press materials, it "revolves around twin boys who take refuge in a tree in the rainforest and a spirit casts a spell over all who pass beneath its branches. Years later a troupe of dancers rehearse in the forest. Confusion erupts as friends and enemies change bodies, transformed by the enchanted tree. The world looks different through another pair of eyes."
For further information visit www.youngvic.org.