Young Vic Season to Include Kafka's Monkey, After Dido, Ghosts and More

News   Young Vic Season to Include Kafka's Monkey, After Dido, Ghosts and More
London's Young Vic Theatre has announced additions to its new season.
Kathryn Hunter
Kathryn Hunter

In addition to the previously announced runs of the Brazilian-style Christmas show Amazônia and the London transfer of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production of King Lear (starring Pete Postlethwatie in the title role) will be Kathryn Hunter starring in Kafka's Monkey, Katie Mitchell directing a co-production with English National Opera of After Dido, and short runs of Ghosts, a devised work Bay and Israel Horovitz's The Indian Wants the Bronx.

In a press statement, Young Vic artistic director David Lan said, "This is an especially invigorating time for us as we embark on a season in which old friends return to take on the mighty King Lear, to recreate Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and to discover Kafka's extraordinary semi-human monkey. Meanwhile directors from our Genesis Directors Project and Jerwood Directors Award explore richly provocative texts and devise new performance. Our reach continues to stretch as our year long Brazilian adventure reaches its climax with Amazônia this Christmas, and after last season's fruitful collaboration with ENO, we join forces again to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth with an adventurous multimedia production."

The season begins with Paul Heritage and Colin Teevan's Amazônia Nov. 27 (prior to an official opening Dec. 4) for a run to Jan. 24, 2009. Bringing Brazilian and British theatre artists together to create a spectacular Amazonian adventure, designer Gringo Cardia (who is responsible for the art direction of the 2009 Cirue du Soleil show in Canada directed by Deborah Colker) is transforming the theatre into an enchanted rainforest. Heritage directs the show that promises to take audiences on a journey through a sensory installation in the Maria Theatre and on to the magic of the Main House. According to press materials, "fantasy and reality dance through the depths of the rain forest. Laughter, danger and desire are unleashed and the Amazon trembles. Can the mystical spirits of the forest save our heroes?" The show is inspired by traditional Brazilian myths and legends and celebrates the life of environmentalist Chico Mendes, who was assassinated 20 years ago this December. Mendez was a rubber tapper from the Amazonian state of Acre who united the peoples of the forest and made vital steps towards preserving the rain forest which led to his assassination by local ranchers. His vision and legacy continue to inspire environmental activism today.

The show features choreography by Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu. The cast includes Ponciano Almeida, Daniel Cerqueira, Chris New, Simon Trinder and Golda Rosheuvel. Original Brazilian music will be composed and performed by Adriano Adewal, Felipe Karam, Anselmo Netto and Gui Tavares.

King Lear follows, running Jan. 29, 2009-March 28, 2009 (opening night is Feb. 4). Rupert Goold directs Pete Postlethwaite in the title role of this co-production between the Young Vic, Headlong Theatre and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, where it opens first on Oct. 30. In a press statement Postlethwaite said, "Doing King Lear is a big, big privilege – terrifying and exciting at the same time – and I hope it will fulfill all our dreams and hopes. I feel it is the right time in the right place with the right people." The production is designed by Giles Cadle (who previously worked at the Young Vic earlier this year in the ENO co-production Punch and Judy) to evoke the dramatic scenery of the Northern landscape in the late seventies on the eve of Thatcher's premiership. The cast also includes John Shrapnel as the Earl of Gloucester, Forbes Masson as the Fool and Nigel Cooke as the Earl of Kent. Caroline Faber plays Goneril, Charlotte Randle is Regan and Amanda Hale is Cordelia. Jonjo O'Neill plays Edmund, and Tobias Menzies is Edgar. Michael Colgan takes the role of the Duke of Albany with Clarence Smith as the Duke of Cornwall. John-Paul Macleod and Jacob Anderson play the Duke of Burgundy and Boy respectively. In the Maria studio, Kathryn Hunter (recently seen at the Young Vic in Peter Brook's Fragments) will play a woman playing a monkey playing a man in the world premiere of Kafka's Monkey, Colin Teevan's adaptation of Franz Kafka's "A Report to an Academy." It will begin performances March 14, 2009 (prior to an official opening March 19) for a run to April 9. Imprisoned in a cage, and desperate to escape, the ape-man reveals his rise through the ranks of the beasts to become a walking, talking, spitting, smoking, hard-drinking man of the stage. It follows Kafka's tradition of the Grotesque with his brilliant mixture of absurdity and pain. With live music and physical performance, the show draws on the rich associations of the variety stage and incorporates elements of Berlin cabaret, street dance and stand up comedy. Young Vic International Associate Director Walter Meierjohann, who is currently directing the European premiere of In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney at the Young Vic, directs. The production will tour to Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre directly after the Young Vic dates.

In the Main House, the Young Vic joins forces with ENO again, following the 2008 sell-out season of Lost Highway and Punch and Judy, to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth with After Dido, a live music and film performance inspired by Dido and Aeneas. Katie Mitchell, who previously directed Brecht's The Jewish Wife at the Young Vic, directs with the same team responsible for the National Theatre's multi-media performance of Waves. The role of Dido is played by Susan Bickley, whose previous credits with ENO include Falstaff, The Trojans, Twice through the Heart and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. She has appeared in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas twice before, once in the title role for Opera North and once as the Sorceress for De Vlaamse Opera. The cast also includes James Gower, Adam Green, Helen Jarmanay, Katherine Manley and Nathan Vale. After Dido will be conducted by Christian Curnyn and directed by Katie Mitchell with designs by Vicki Mortimer and sound by Gareth Fry. The director of photography will be Leo Warner.

The Young Vic is also launching a new initiative as part of the Genesis Directors project, which is now in its fifth year of providing directors with opportunities to develop their craft at various stages of their career. The new Wilson Bros scheme (named after the former butcher's shop that remains the entrance hall to the Young Vic) will provide one company and three directors with the opportunity to undertake a unique residency at the theatre culminating in a production in the Clare or Maria theatre. The Wilson Bros '08 are Carrie Cracknell, Sarah Tipple, William Oldroyd and Sound and Fury, which comprises Mark Espiner, Tom Espiner and Dan Jones. Oldroyd and Tipple will be staging their productions this season – the former is presenting Ibsen's Ghosts for a run from Dec. 17-20, and the latter will present Bay (April 1-4, 2009), a work-in-progress devised by the company set within the confines of a motorcycle parking bay where the lives of three very different people collide and change. Both will be staged in the Clare Studio. Details of Carrie Cracknell and Sound and Fury's Wilson Bros productions are still to be announced.

This year's recipients of the Jerwood Directors Award are Daljinder Singh and Gbolahan Obisesan. Singh will direct Israel Horivitz's The Indian Wants the Bronx for a run in the Clare Studio Feb. 7-14, 2009.

For further details contact the box office at 020 7922 2922 or visit

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