Brook Directs Beckett in Young Vic’s New SeasonDate: 23 May 2007
At a press conference at the Young Vic today, artistic director David Lan said that he was “very emotional” unveiling details of his second season at the ‘new’ theatre, which reopened as a RIBA award-winning multi-auditoria complex last October. Lan said the Young Vic was “back in business” as a fully producing theatre after a £12.45 million makeover (See News, 12 Oct 2006) that left the company on homeless “Walkabout” for two years.
Highlights of the new autumn/winter schedule that runs from August 2007 to January 2008 includes legendary Paris-based director Peter Brook (pictured) directing a clutch of Samuel Beckett short plays, a rare revival of Carson McCullers’ 1950 Broadway hit The Member of the Wedding, two premieres, a new community show, and visiting companies from Rwanda and South Africa.
Despite the programme lacking new plays by British writers, Lan told Whatsonstage.com that audiences would be “surprised” by his unexpected selection full of “energy, intelligence and fun”. “I haven’t fallen in love with any new British plays recently,” Lan said. “(The season) is the type of work I’d like to see, and if it excites me I think it’s going to excite our audience.”
In the Maria Studio
Following the success of Tobias and the Angel, the season kicks off in the 160-seat Maria studio space (inaugurated last year and named after the late designer Maria Bjornson) with another local community show that will feature a professional cast alongside 40 Southwark residents.
Ma vie en rose is loosely based on Alain Berliner’s 1997 French film about a little boy who longs to be a little girl and runs from 22 to 25 August 2007. Lan said the “beautiful and delicate” show, directed by Pete Harris, asks complex questions about identity and sexuality with sensitivity.
It’s followed by Fragments, a collection of five lesser-known short plays by Samuel Beckett directed by Peter Brook. Rockaby, Rough for Theatre I, Act Without Words II, Come and Go and Neither are performed by Marcello Magni, Kathryn Hunter and Jozef Houben and will receive stripped-back stagings.
Based in Paris since 1971, Brook has previously brought productions including Le Costume and La Tragedie d’Hamlet to the Young Vic. His French-language production of Sizwe Banzi Is Dead is currently playing at the Barbican. Fragments is co-produced by the Young Vic with Brook’s Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and runs from 20 September (previews from 15 September) to 6 October 2007.
Rounding off the Maria schedule from 13 November to 8 December 2007 (previews from 9 November) is the European premiere of African-American Tarell Alvin McCraney’s debut play The Brothers Size. Lan said the young playwright had become the hottest thing in New York theatre overnight and the Young Vic had struck gold by securing his UK premiere.
Transplanting a Yoruba myth into the soil of Louisiana, The Brothers Size tells the story of two brothers - Ogun owns an auto-repair shop, Oshooshi has just left prison and is already back on the wrong track – and is directed by Bijan Shebani in a co-production with the Actors Touring Company.
A one-off performance of “Songs of the South” by the English National Opera Young Singers will complement this production in the main house on 2 December 2007, celebrating the songs of American composer Samuel Barber.
The autumn season launches in the 500-seat main house with McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding from 13 September to 20 October 2007 (previews from 7 September). Desperate to join the sophisticated world of her brother and his fiancée, 12-year-old Frankie schemes to leave her home in Georgia and become a ‘member’ of their wedding, sharing her dreams with the family’s worldly wise maid Berenice.
McCullers’ other plays include The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Ballad of the Sad Café. The Member of the Wedding is directed by Young Vic associate Matthew Dunster (Love and Money) and designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.
Next up is The Investigation, which receives its UK premiere on 1 November 2007 (preview 31 October) and continues until 10 November only. In the wake of their own country’s genocide, a troupe of Rwandan actors in their late 20s and early 30s perform – in French with English surtitles - Peter Weiss’ 1965 Nazi Holocaust drama documentary, based on verbatim reports and debates from the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials of 1963 to 1965.
Lan said he was especially pleased to be presenting The Investigation and its “exemplary manner” and “important, enriching experience” to London audiences. It’s directed in French with English by Dorcy Rugamba, co-author of 1999’s Rwanda 94, a six-hour epic about the 1994 atrocities in Africa.
The final 2007 productions in the main house filter Mozart and Charles Dickens through a South African lens care of the Cape Town-based company Isango Portobello. The world premieres of Impempe Yomlingo (The Magic Flute) (staged without an orchestra) and a new musical adaptation Ikrismas Kherol (A Christmas Carol), performed by a 30-strong company, run in rep from 29 November 2007 (previews from 20 November) to 19 January 2008.
Isango Portobello was founded by producer Eric Abraham (South African-born, British-based) and director Mark Dornford-May (British-born, South African-based). Both shows are directed by Dornford-May and are transposed to township settings that encompass the various tribal languages of South Africa.
Further ahead in 2008, as previously reported (See News, 23 Apr 2007), the Young Vic will team up with English National Opera to present two new productions of contemporary operas by living composers.
Adapted from David Lynch’s 1997 cult film, Lost Highway, which will have its UK premiere on 5 April 2008, is by avant-garde Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth with libretto by Neuwirth and Nobel Prize-winning playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek. On 19 April 2008, theatre director Daniel Kramer (Bent, Angels in America) makes his opera debut with a new production of Harrison Birtwistle’s 1968 one-acter Punch and Judy, which has a libretto by Stephen Pruslin.
Currently in the main auditorium, the new stage version of DBC Pierre’s Booker Prize-winning novel Vernon God Little, adapted by Tanya Ronder and directed by Rufus Norris, has extended its run by two weeks to 23 June (See Review Round-up, 9 May 2007). It opened on 8 May 2007 (previews from 30 April) with newcomer Colin Morgan in the title role.
- by Terri Paddock & Malcolm Rock