London Venues and Directors Join Forces for World Stages London, Eight New Productions in 2012

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03 Oct 2011

A new collaboration between eight London producing venues and 12 U.K. and international co-producers will create eight epic productions in May 2012 under the umbrella title World Stages London, as a one-off celebration, through theatre, of the cosmopolitan diversity of London.



Jointly produced by Battersea Arts Centre, the Bush Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Royal Court Theatre, Sadler's Wells, Somerset House, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Young Vic, the artists involved include Bill Mitchell, Emma Rice, Javed Sanadi, Jonathan Dove, Jung Chang, Miriam Buether, Rufus Norris, Sebastian Nübling, Simon Stephens, Peter Brook, Tanika Gupta and Wang GongXin.

In creating these shows, they are joined by the Actors Touring Company, Kings College London, Kneehigh, The Opera Group and WildWorks from the U.K. as well as No99 Theatre of Estonia, the Munich Kammerspiele of Germany, KVS of Belgium, ShiberHur of Israel/Palestine, the Bouffes du Nord of France and the American Repertory Theatre of Boston, USA. The shows are expected to be seen by 100,000 people in London and thousands more across the world.

In a press statement, David Lan and Nicola Thorold commented, "London theatres have never collaborated in this way before. We are demonstrating that together we can achieve so much more than we can on our own.

The Young Vic, American Repertory Theater and Actors Touring Company are joining forces on a co-production of the first-ever stage version of Jung Chang's Wild Swans. Adapted by Alexandra Wood, directed by Sacha Wares and designed by Miriam Buether, it will begin performances at the Young Vic April 13, prior to an official opening April 20, for a run through May 13. The world premiere of the production will be given before London at the American Repertory Theatre from Feb. 11.

The production will include specially commissioned video designs by groundbreaking Beijing artist Wang GongXin, whose work has been seen at MOMA in San Francisco, the V&A and many other major galleries throughout the world. The original book "Wild Swans" has sold over 10 million copies in 30 languages. Through the eyes of one fiercely courageous family, it tells the story of a journey from the early days of Communist hope and struggle, through the chaos and confusion of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, to the birth of a superpower.

The Lyric Hammersmith will join forces with No99 Theatre and Munich Kammerspiele to co-produce the premiere of Simon Stephens' Three Kingdoms, beginning performances May 3 prior to an official opening May 7, for a run through May 19. It is directed by German theatre maker Sebastian Nübling, who previously directed an acclaimed production of Stephens' Pornography in Hamburg. According to press materials, the play is a depiction of the danger and uncertainty that boils under the surface of modern Europe, tracking a nightmarish journey spanning England, Germany and Estonia. The play is performed in all three languages by an international cast.

Babel, a site-specific production performed by a company of 500 participants under the direction of Bill Mitchell, will be presented by WildWorks and Battersea Arts Centre in a collaboration with the Lyric Hammersmith, Young Vic and Theatre Royal, Stratford East. It will begin performances May 8, prior to an official opening May 10, for a run of 12 performances only through May 20. Developed over two years, and involving over 1,000 Londoners through participatory projects across the capital, Babel will bring together a large number of communities to explore the diversity of language, culture, ethnicity and human identity, as well as to celebrate a common thread.

Peter Brook will return to the Young Vic with The Suit, a co-production of his CICT/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord company with Young Vic Theatre, Napoli Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville du Luxembourg, Théâtre de la Place - Liège. A musical play by Peter Brook and Marie Hélène Estienne after the original story by Can Themba, adapted for stage by Barney Simon and Mothobi Mutloatse, The Suit will begin performances May 21 prior to an official opening May 23, for a run through June 16.

This new musical version of Can Themba's South African fable that Brook has previously staged will feature an original score composed and played by Franck Krwczyk. It will be co-directed by Marie-Hélène Estienne and performed by a company of South African and French actors, singers and musicians. Set in the dusty heat of 1950’s Sophiatown, a young worker returns home to find his wife in bed with her lover. The lover escapes, leaving behind his suit. The only revenge the husband takes is to instruct his wife to treat the suit as an honoured guest. But how long can she endure this pitiless sentence?

The Bush Theatre will join forces with leading Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur and KVS to stage the world premiere of The Beloved, written and directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, in May 2012. It will one of the productions in incoming artistic director Madani Younis's inaugural season at the Bush. When Abraham returns home from a journey with his son, his wife is troubled by the boy's state of mind. What took place on the mountain that day is the beginning of a lifetime of suffering and the dawn of a new age for millions.

Emma Rice will direct Tanika Gupta's Wah! Wah! Girls, at Sadler's Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh production in association with Hall for Cornwall, which will begin performances at London's Peacock Theatre May 24 for a run through June 23.

According to press materials, East London meets Bollywood in this new musical, inspired by the world of the Mujra dancers who for generations have entertained the rich and powerful with a mix of dance and song. It tells a passionate and playful story of love against the odds, set against the vibrant background of the East End in 2012.

The Royal Court and Young Vic are joining forces for Yoruba, to be directed by Rufus Norris. Dates are to be announced. The journey of Yoruba culture, tradition and religion, as it moved through slavery from West Africa to the Americas, is one of the most powerful stories of exploitation, resistance and survival that has ever been told. The Royal Court Theatre has been working with playwrights from five countries where the Yoruban legacy has had great impact on contemporary life: Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria), Marcos Barbosa (Brazil), Yunior Garcia Aguilera (Cuba), Katori Hall (USA, currently represented on Broadway by The Mountaintop) and Gbolahan Obisesan (UK). Together with director Norris, they are creating a theatrical exploration of this diaspora across the Atlantic and back.

Finally, Somerset House Trust, the Opera Group and King's College London are joining forces on a community opera project to be composed by Jonathan Dove, that will be presented at Somerset House in May-June 2013. In 2008, award-winning opera composer Jonathan Dove went on the Cape Farewell voyage to the Arctic and was inspired by witnessing first hand the environmental damage brought on by climate change to write a new community opera on an international scale. During May 2012, Somerset House is commissioning a visual artist to create an installation that invites audiences to explore the stories drawn from each community. This will be accompanied by a series of talks, seminars and screenings as part of the World Stages London season.

Tickets for BABEL, The Suit, Three Kingdoms, Wah! Wah! Girls and Wild Swans are on sale now. For further details, visit www.worldstageslondon.org.uk.