Young Vic Stages Notable Americans' Early WorkDate: 28 May 2001
The Young Vic presents a unique tribute to 20th-century American playwrights this summer - by looking at now renowned authors at the beginning of their careers. The Young Americans season, running from 1 June to 11 August, features early plays from three authors – Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams (pictured) and Sam Shephard. Though seldom performed now, the plays have been selected as "landmarks not only in the work of the individual writers, but in the development of contemporary theatre".
The season kicks off with Hansberry's 1959 A Raisin in the Sun. Set in southside Chicago, this was the first successful Broadway play about black experience by a black writer. It had a profound effect on the future of black writers and performers in America, and on the perception of Black American life in the 1950s and 1960s.
A Raisin in the Sun has not been seen in London for 15 years. This new staging, a co-production with Salisbury Playhouse where it premiered earlier this month, is directed by David Lan. It opens at the Young Vic on 4 June and continues to 30 June 2001 (previews from 1 June).
Streetcar to Tennessee is a collection of five one-act plays - including This Property is Condemned, The Dark Room and Hello from Bertha - written in the late 1930s and early 1940s by Tennessee Williams. They will run together seamlessly to present an insight into the early mind, imagination and skill of the playwright.
Williams' first real success came in 1945 with The Glass Menagerie, which was followed by such classics as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire and Suddenly Last Summer. Streetcar to Tennessee, directed by Timothy Sheader, will play at the Young Vic from 8 to 30 June 2001.
The final production in the Young Americans season makes a hat trick of revivals this summer for the still-living playwright and actor Sam Shepard. Action was written by Shepard in 1971 while he was in London. It is one of the first plays in which he explores what it is to be American. Considered by many to be the finest of his early works, Action has not been performed in this country for 25 years.
Elsewhere this summer, Shepard's Fool for Love is being revived by the English Touring Theatre while his Lie of the Mind opens in July at the Donmar Warehouse, which had a hit in 1994 with his Cain-and-Abel story of duelling brothers, True West. Action, directed by Arlette George, will run at the Young Vic from 24 July to 11 August 2001 (previews from 20 July).
- by Terri Paddock