To coincide with next year's centenary of the start of the First World War, Northampton's Royal & Derngate will mount the first-ever staging of Pat Barker's trench warfare novel Regeneration. The play, adapted by Olivier Award winner Nicholas Wright, is one of the highlights of James Dacre's inaugural 2014 season as Royal & Derngate's new artistic director.
Other highlights in the programme, running from 21 February 2014 to 4 January 2015, include: Mike Poulton's new stage adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities; Tamsin' Oglesby's new version of Feydeau's 19th-century farce Every Last Trick (care of Told by an Idiot); Dacre's own revival of Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, featuring original music by Mojo and Q Award-winning band White Lies; and a new family-friendly Christmas show from Ella Hickson (whose Wendy and Peter has just premiered at the RSC) based on the legends of Merlin.
Pat Barker's Regeneration is set in 1917 in the Scottish war hospital where poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon has been institutionalised in an attempt to undermine his public disapproval of the war. His Army psychiatrist is tormented by the order to return shell-shocked officers to the trenches. Barker's 1990 Booker-nominated novel was made into a film in 1997.
Regeneration, a co-production with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, runs at Northampton from 2 to 20 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) and then embarks on a nationwide tour. Casting has not yet been announced.
Meanwhile, in Royal & Derngate's Underground Studio, Dacre will stage two co-productions with London theatres: docu-drama The Body of an American (which he'll also direct) about Canadian war photographer Paul Watson and American poet Dan O'Brien, and children's puppet show Moominsummer Madness with the Polka Theatre, in association with Little Angel Theatre.
Dacre also announced today the Royal & Derngate and HighTide Award, which will commission, develop and produce a play about life outside of British cities. This is in addition to the Perfect Pitch Award, to commission and develop a new musical, which the theatre also sponsors.