The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton has announced its 50th anniversary season, including the appointment of a team of 'associate actors': Tom Hiddleston, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael and Celia Imrie.
The team will work as "ambassadors" for the venue and "support the new vision for Nuffield as the leading producing theatre company in Southampton."
Hiddleston said of his role: "The work speaks for itself. Nuffield feels revitalised with fresh, new creative ambition. It's going from strength to strength and I am proud to support it every step of the way."
The new season, announced this morning by artistic director Sam Hodges, features four new commissions, including the world premiere of the stage adaptation of Coen Brothers' film The Hudsucker Proxy (4-30 May 2015).
The play has been adapted by Simon Dormandy and will be co-directed by Dormandy and Toby Sedgwick, in a co-production with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, where it will transfer following its Nuffield run.
The season, which marks the 50th anniversary of the venue, begins on 1 August 2014 with The Saints, a newly commissioned play about the highs and lows of following Southampton Football Club, written by Luke Barnes and directed by Matthew Dunster, exploring the "pivotal role of football within regional cities across the country".
The acclaimed Nuffield production of Caryl Churchill's A Number, directed and designed by Nuffield associates Michael Longhurst and Tom Scutt, will transfer to the Young Vic in April 2015 after returning to Nuffield for a limited two week run, launching the return of the 'pop-up' studio space, designed to sit on the Nuffield's main stage.
There will be a season of studio work at the Nuffield in February and March 2015, featuring the return of the Fulcrum Festival, a development programme aimed at supporting the creation of small-scale work, and high quality touring work, to be announced later in the year.
The Festival will also see the world premiere of a new adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's short story The Best Christmas Present in the World. The adaptation written by Oliver Birch will be performed by Hampshire Youth Theatre, run by Nuffield.
Nuffield's new partnership with Royal & Derngate, Northampton, sees writers and composers co-writing new Christmas shows for the two venues, with comedy writer Georgia Pritchett (The Thick of It) paired with musical composer Dougal Irvine to write a "fresh, irreverent and funny" version of The Snow Queen for Christmas 2014.
Ella Hickson (Wendy and Peter Pan, Boys) has also been commissioned to write a new show based on the legends of Merlin which will come to Nuffield in Christmas 2015.
On Tuesday (1 July) Nuffield found out it has once again received Arts Council England National Portfolio status and will receive £1.6m of funding over three years from 2015-2018. The venue has also been successful in its capital bid for £180,000 which will be spent on the redevelopment of the theatre's backstage and technical areas in 2014.
Sam Hodges said: "For our 50th birthday season, we wanted to programme work which reflects our ambitions for the next half century. It's a season which places a strong emphasis on commissions and new work, a season which develops new partnerships with some of the country's leading theatres, which marks what I hope will be the start of a regular presence for our work in London."