Royal Court Season Will Feature New Works by Shinn and McCraney and a Churchill Celebration

News   Royal Court Season Will Feature New Works by Shinn and McCraney and a Churchill Celebration
The Royal Court will kick off its new season in September with the premiere of Now or Later, a new play by American writer Christopher Shinn that is set on the eve of a U.S. presidential election.
Christopher Shinn
Christopher Shinn

Shinn's work has long been championed by the Sloane Square theatre, while Tarell Alvin McCraney, another young American writer whose work is also being staged by the Young Vic this autumn, will see the U.K. premiere of his latest play, Wig Out!, about the drag queen sub-culture. Both plays will be directed by Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke.

The Royal Court will also stage readings of plays by Caryl Churchill to mark her 70th birthday. The Churchill plays will be directed by ten leading playwrights, including Mark Ravenhill, who is also writing an epilogue to his own Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat cycle, part of which was staged at the Royal Court earlier this year.

Also in the Theatre Upstairs, new plays by Alecky Blythe, Leo Butler and Alexi Kaye Campbell will explore love, sex and sexuality in modern Britain.

In a press statement, artistic director Cooke said, "When I took over at the Royal Court, I said that I wanted the theatre to ask two questions – 'Who are we today?' and 'What is a play?' The 18 months since have seen us address those questions, taking significant risks, and being rewarded for those risks with a theatre that was 91 percent full last year. And that experimentation will continue. In a few months' time, the eyes of the world will be on America as the voters elect their next President. Their decision will affect us all and so it is fitting that our autumn season looks across the Atlantic for inspiration, with new plays from Christopher Shinn and Tarell Alvin McCraney. To celebrate Caryl Churchill's seventieth birthday, ten playwrights will direct one of her plays as a rehearsed reading, giving our audience an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the work of a playwright who has redefined the British theatrical landscape. Meanwhile, in the intimacy of the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, three plays by British writers will scrutinise the way we love now, shedding new light on sexual identity."

Shinn's Now or Later will run in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs Sep. 3-Oct. 18 (with a press night on Sept. 9). Examining themes of religion, freedom of expression and personal responsibility, the play is set, according to press materials, "on election night in the U.S. [when] things are looking rosy for the Democratic Party. Holed up in a hotel, watching the results flood in, are the likely President-elect, his wife, advisors and 20-year-old son John Jnr. Every speech, interview and photocall has been carefully controlled and meticulously orchestrated, all leading up to this big night. At the same time controversial photos of John Jnr. are gathering momentum on the internet. Whilst his father's advisors work against the clock on damage limitation, it's up to father and son to try and reach an agreement." Shinn's previous plays seen at the Royal Court include Dying City, Where Do We Live, Four and Other People. He has also written for the Soho Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, the Vineyard Theatre and South Coast Rep.

The cast will include Domhnall Gleeson (Tony nominated in 2006 for The Lieutenant of Inishmore), Adam James (seen at the Royal Court in My Child last year) and Eddie Redmayne (Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Award winner for his appearance as the son in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at the Almeida and Apollo Theatres).

The Caryl Churchill readings that follow from Sep. 15-26 in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs will see one-off readings of the following plays: Owners, first performed in 1972, directed by April De Angelis; Light Shining, in Buckinghamshire (1976), directed by Mark Ravenhill; Vinegar Tom (1976), directed by Winsome Pinnock; Three More Sleepless Nights (1980), directed by Debbie Tucker Green; Top Girls (1982), directed by Nicholas Wright; Ice Cream (1989), directed by Wallace Shawn; The Skriker (1994), directed by Zinnie Harris; Far Away (2000), directed by Martin Crimp; A Number (2002), directed by Joe Penhall; with a tenth play to be announced. Also to be staged in September/October, Mark Ravenhill will provide an epilogue to his Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat cycle, entitled Paradise Regained. According to press materials, "as he watched the plays being performed at various venues across London this spring, he realised there was one more piece to put in the jigsaw - this new twenty minute play."

Next in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs will be Tarell Alvin McCraney's Wig Out!, which will run Nov. 20, 2008-Jan. 10, 2009 (with a press night on Nov. 28). According to press materials, the play is set in "the House of Light, a hyper-glamorous, uber-competitive drag queen refuge where a daughter who was once a son, can find a family. While the House are primping and preening for a catwalk showdown with the other houses, drag queen Nina is wooing the delectable Eric as 'Wilson,' a de-camped, make-up free 'straight' gay man. How can Nina/Wilson strut the thorny divide between opposite genders and differing worlds?"

In the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, the season begins with Alecky Blythe's The Girlfriend Experience, running Sept. 18-Oct. 11 (with a press night on Sept. 23). Created from edited conversations recorded inside a real brothel, the cast includes Debbie Chazen (TV's "Tittytittybangbang," Wicked Stepmtoher in the Old Vic's Cinderella) and Beatie Edney (the film "Highlander," the TV biopic "Fantabuloza" and Dead Funny and Summer Begins onstage). It will be directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins (associate director at the Young Vic, where he has directed The Fever and A Respectable Wedding, and The Family Plays, One With the Oven and A Girl in a Car With a Man at the Royal Court).

The season continues with Leo Butler's Faces in the Crowd, running Oct. 17-Nov. 8 (with a press night on Oct. 21). According to press materials, the play offers "a unique insight into 21st century London and the debts we accrue in the wake of seeking out our ambitions. When Dave moved south to London he left behind his family, wife Joanne and mounting financial woes in favour of a playground of riches, sex and shopping. Ten years on and Joanne wants payback…with interest." Butler's previous work at the Royal Court includes Made of Stone, which was presented as part of the Royal Court's Young Writers Festival, Lucky Dog and Redundant, which won the George Devine Award in 2001. His most recent work elsewhere includes I'll Be The Devil (RSC/Tricycle). Faces in the Crowd will be directed by Clare Lizzimore, whose previous work at the Royal Court includes The Mother (co-directed with Max Stafford-Clark as part of Mark Ravenhill's Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat cycle) and Talking Dirty (as part of the Rough Cuts season). She is currently directing On the Rocks for Hampstead Theatre.

The Jerwood Theatre Upstairs will also host a week of rehearsed readings of new plays from the Arab World from Nov. 11-15, under the umbrella title I Come From There, before Alexi Kaye Campbell's The Pride runs Nov. 21-Dec. 20 (with a press night on Nov. 26). Examining changing attitudes to sexuality over a period of 50 years, the play looks at intimacy, identity and the courage it takes to be who you really are. It will be directed by Jamie Lloyd.

To book tickets contact the box office at 020 7565 5000 or visit

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