Gemma Bodinetz, Everyman and Playhouse artistic director, and executive director Deborah Aydon, have since announced an autumn season which will be ‘100% Playhouse’, featuring three world premières and the re-opening of the Playhouse Studio.
The season – which the theatre company said is entirely composed of home-produced work – will begin with Roger McGough’s adaptation of Moliere’s Tartuffe, returning to the theatre after it was commissioned for the city’s Capital of Culture year in 2008, and end with the annual rock and roll pantomime.
Built in 1866 as the Star Music Hall, the Liverpool Playhouse became a full-time repertory theatre on 11 November 1911. Bodinetz and Aydon said the landmark date in the theatre’s history will be marked with a series of events leading up to the anniversary.
For the first time since 1996 the Playhouse Studio – a platform for a host of directors, actors and writers including Ramin Gray, Pip Broughton, Ian Hart, Andrew Schofield, Heidi Thomas, Jonathan Harvey and Alan Bleasdale – will reopen as a performance space.
The theatre said the new studio will be a flexible space that will provide an opportunity to showcase new writing as well as a nurturing environment for the Everyman and Playhouse’s youth theatre as well as hosting plays for young people, workshops, and readings.
Bodinetz said: “On 11 November the Liverpool Repertory Theatre will be a hundred years old and the spirit that underpinned those original pioneers who sought to bring high-quality, home produced theatre to Liverpool, lives on.
“Many of our most celebrated theatre practitioners took their first steps as artists in the safe yet utterly daring Playhouse Studio. The renaissance of the Playhouse Studio is our birthday present to the theatre.”
The studio will re-launch with the world première of a new play from Lizzie Nunnery (Intemperance, Unprotected, Anthology: A word Doesn’t Exist), The Swallowing Dark, in a co-production with London’s Theatre 503.
Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2010, it is the story of refugee Canaan and his son who have escaped the horrors of Zimbabwe under Mugabe. The Swallowing Dark is a psychological thriller that explores how a life can hang on the telling of a good story. The production will be directed by Theatre 503’s co-artistic director Paul Robinson (Porn the Musical, The Lifesavers, Manor House) and will open at Theatre 503 following its run in Liverpool.
Following Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Oedipus in the spring, the Everyman and Playhouse are once again partnering with Nottingham Playhouse to bring to the stage a world première of a new translation of a classic play. In October the timeless Brechtian allegory The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui will be at the Playhouse, in a translation by playwright, and co-founder of The Miniaturists, Stephen Sharkey (The May Queen, Jig, Cloudcuckooland).
Acclaimed international director Walter Meierjohann (In the Red and Brown Water, All My Sons, Ink Heart), fresh from Kafka’s Monkey at The Young Vic, will direct. Brecht’s themes of power, corruption and murder have lost none of their resonance and Sharkey’s new translation is sure to speak to modern audiences in this gangster spectacle that will combine pitch-black humour and a highly visual style.
The revival of Roger McGough’s adaptation of the Molière classic, Tartuffe, reunites the theatre with English Touring Theatre following the co-production of McGough’s The Hypochondriac in 2009.
Bodinetz will take the directorial reigns once more for a production that will feature many of the original cast members including Joseph Alessi and Anabelle Dowler. Following the 12 performances at the Playhouse, Tartuffe will then commence a national tour for seven weeks.
In November, The Ladykillers, adapted by Graham Linehan (Father Ted, IT Crowd) from the 1955 Ealing Comedy, will have its world première at the Playhouse before moving to the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End in a production by Fiery Angel in association with the Everyman and Playhouse.
Directed by Sean Foley (Do You Come Here Often, Play What I Wrote, Pinter’s People) and featuring the all-star cast of Peter Capaldi (The Thick Of It, In The Loop), James Fleet (Four Weddings And A Funeral, The Vicar of Dibley), Ben Miller (Primeval, The Parole Officer), Clive Rowe (Guys and Dolls, Twelfth Night), Stephen Wight (Don Juan In Soho, Dealer’s Choice) and Marcia Warren (Stepping Out, Humble Boy); The Ladykillers tells the story of an eccentric old lady, Mrs Wilberforce, whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of Professor Marcus and his four friends who are planning the heist of a security van at King’s Cross.
The year ends with the rock ‘n’ roll pantomime making a move from the Everyman to the Playhouse. Along with the familiar creative team of Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton, Cinderella will also include Francis Tucker and Adam Keast in the ensemble of actor and musicians.
The Everyman and Playhouse’s annual new writing festival Everyword returns but this year moves to the Playhouse from 7 to 19 November, taking full advantage of the different spaces around the building, including the reopened studio.
Acclaimed High Hearted Theatre Company was also commissioned to create a piece to celebrate the Centenary of the Playhouse Repertory Company. The two week programme also includes Nabakov, a new play by Liverpool playwright Michael McLean and First Words, a creative project with Tutti Frutti Productions, Dukes Theatre Lancaster and Sheffield Theatres.