Hampstead Hosts Barry Latest, Awaits New BossDate: 14 December 2009
Though a successor has still not been announced for artistic director Anthony Clark, who departs next month, Hampstead Theatre has today announced its spring 2010 season. In addition to the already announced Royal Shakespeare Company productions of David Greig’s Dunsinane and Dennis Kelly’s The Gods Weep (See News, 3 Sep 2009), and the star-studded 150th birthday jubilee in honour of Anton Chekhov (See News, 2 Dec 2009), the programme includes new plays by Sebastian Barry, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, and Jonathan Harvey.
Clark announced in June that he would be stepping down at the end of this year’s 50th anniversary season, after seven – sometimes rocky - years in charge of the new writing centre (See News, 30 Jun 2009). He took over in 2003, just after the theatre had moved into its new purpose-built £15.7 million state-of-the-art facility in Swiss Cottage, north London.
Recruitment began over the summer for Clark’s successor. Typically, an announcement would have already been made and a handover period arranged. Names that have been bandied about as possible candidates include regular West End directors Lindsay Posner, David Grindley, Anna Mackmin and Thea Sharrock (who has previously run the Gate and Southwark Playhouse), Bush artistic director Josie Rourke, Royal Court associate Ramin Gray and Roger Michell, who is now better known for his screen credits on the likes of Notting Hill and Enduring Love.
The announcement of Clark’s successor is now expected in early January. In a press statement today, Hampstead executive director Rebecca Morland said: ““We are very sad to be losing Anthony in January. His legacy to us is a host of new writing awards, a thriving creative learning programme, a 50-year-old company, which has successfully doubled in size and output since moving into its new home, and strong connections with new writing companies throughout the country.”
After A Jubilee for Anton Chekhov, running from 18 to 23 January 2010, with each evening featuring a different selection of works, the two RSC productions will move in to the main house successively.
Greig’s Dunsinane, which takes its title from a place in Scotland that’s also mentioned in Macbeth, is billed as a “vision of one man’s desire to restore peace in a country ravaged by war”. It’s set in 11th-century Scotland, where an English army sweeps in to take the seat of power and a commanding offer attempts to negotiate. It’s directed by Roxana Silbert and runs at Hampstead from 17 February to 6 March 2010 (previews from 10 February).
Kelly’s The Gods Weep focuses on the life of a CEO whose global business may have grown to a scale that’s uncontainable. It’s directed by Maria Aberg and runs at Hampstead from 17 March to 3 April 2010 (previews from 11 March).
The Out of Joint production of Sebastian Barry’s latest play Andersen's English, directed by Out of Joint artistic director Max Stafford-Clark, concludes its tour at Hampstead, where it runs from 8 April to 8 May 2010 (preview 7 April). Celebrated children's writer Hans Christian Andersen arrives, unannounced, at the apparently blissful family home of Charles Dickens. With his broken English, Andersen doesn't at first see the storms brewing: undeclared passions, a son about to go to India, and a growing strangeness at the heart of Dickens' marriage.
Irishman Sebastian Barry’s other plays include The Steward of Christendom, Our Lady of Sligo and Hinterland. His recent novel The Secret Scripture won the 2008 Costa Prize and was shortlisted for last year’s Booker Prize.
The cast for Andersen's English includes Niamh Cusack, Lisa Kerr, Rose Leslie, Alastair Mavor, Kathryn O'Reilly, David Rintoul and Danny Sapani. Prior to Hampstead, Andersen's English opens on 11 February 2010 at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and then visits Southampton, Leeds, Manchester, Coventry, Salisbury and Clwyd.
It’s followed at Hampstead, from 17 May to 12 June 2010, by the premiere of Canary, the new play by Beautiful Thing author Jonathan Harvey, which is co-produced by Hampstead, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and English Touring Theatre and directed by Hettie MacDonald. Set in Liverpool and London over five decades, the hard-hitting tale of forbidden love explores changing attitudes to homosexuality. It’s advised for ages 16+. Canary opens first in Liverpool, from 23 April to 15 May, and embarks on a regional tour after Hampstead.
Also at Hampstead this spring, Penelope Skinner premieres a new play called Scarlet Circus, which was commissioned by and written for the 14- to 18-year-old members of Hampstead’s young company Heat&Light. It runs in the theatre’s Michael Frayn Space from 25 to 27 March.