Broken Bush Presents October Playlets in the DarkDate: 23 September 2008
The Bush Theatre has found a novel way of dealing with recent electrical difficulties – it’s staging a season of plays using only natural evening light. Playwrights including Neil LaBute, Bryony Lavery, Simon Stephens and Mike Bartlett are contributing work to the programme, which is entitled The Broken Space Season and runs from 6 to 25 October 2008.
The Shepherd’s Bush venue, which is owned by Mitchells & Butlers brewery, has been (literally) dark since August, having suffered a deluge of leaks in recent years which have now left it without power. Unable to switch on the lights until a “host of surveyors” have completed structural work, artistic director Josie Rourke has instead commissioned a series of “dazzling short works” by some of the “brightest writers around”, which will be presented in nightly triple bills.
The pieces are all specially written to be performed in a particular state of natural light – from dusk through to total darkness. Most of the plays featured will run for one week of the season’s three-week duration, although one, Irishman Declan Feenan’s St Petersburg, will run in the 8.30-9.30pm slot for the entirety. Feenan's play will also be the only one to make limited use of working lights.
St Petersburg is preceded by three new monologues in the 7.30pm ‘Falling Light’ slot, lit ambiently by the “street lights of Shepherd’s Bush Green” - Sea Wall by Simon Stephens (week one), Bufonidae by Bryony Lavery (week two) and The War on Terror by Neil LaBute (week three).
The third slot, entitled ‘What the Dark Feels Like’ and staged from 9.30pm in “near, or total, darkness”, features six “ghostly” new plays, performed in rep - Anthony Weigh’s The Flooded Grave (6-8 October), Mike Bartlett’s He Said… (9-11 October), Jack Thorne’s Two Cigarettes (13–15 October), Ben Schiffer’s His Ghostly Heart (16-18 October), Lucy Kirkwood’s Psychogeography (20–22 October) and Nancy Harris’ Little Dolls (23-25 October).
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, artistic director Josie Rourke said of the season: "When I first approached the writers, most of whom have worked at the Bush before, they were so excited by the idea and couldn't wait to be involved. I'm thrilled by the line-up and the ideas are absolutely fascinating. Sometimes the only light the audience will see throughout an entire performance will be a smouldering cigarette - it's going to be an incredible atmosphere."
Rourke, who has been artistic director since 2007, said that at this stage she is still waiting to hear a precise timescale for repair work, but that she "expects to make an announcement on further productions in the near future".
- by Theo Bosanquet