New artistic director of The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton Sam Hodges has announced his inaugural season at the venue, as it approaches its 50th birthday.
The first show in the season will be a revival of Caryl Churchill's A Number, directed by Michael Longhurst, which runs from 11 to 22 February 2014 (previews from 6 February). The production will be designed by Tom Scutt, who is joining the venue alongside Longhurst as an associate artist.
Also joining Nuffield as an associate artist is Blanche McIntyre, who will direct Noel Coward's Tonight at 8.30, running from 10-24 May 2014 (previews from 24 April). A collection of nine one-act plays, the co-production with English Touring Theatre will tour internationally following its run at Southampton. There will be four opportunities during the run to see all of the shows in a "marathon", featuring a 1930s dinner party in the evening.
The season also sees visiting productions from Cheek By Jowl and Northern Stage, with Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod's Tis Pity She's A Whore and Rachel Chavkin's Catch 22.
Relationship with University
Hodges has appointed the first writer-in-residence at the theatre, Adam Brace, in a collaboration with the University of Southampton, as part of the ongoing strategy to develop the relationship between the University and the campus based venue.
Speaking to WhatsOnStage at today's launch event, Hodges, who previously ran the HighTide Festival, said: "Over the last few months I've realised that our situation on the campus is a real strength... Of our four stakeholders - the Arts Council, City Council, County Council and University, the only one not currently going down is the Uni. It's a really important relationship."
Two new festivals have also been announced today; Fulcrum Southampton will run from 21-23 March 2014, investigating the meeting point between science and art, with a focus on Southampton's emergent role in modern biomedicine. Nuffield in the Square will be an outdoor, summer-long project celebrating the 50th anniversaries of Nuffield and the City of Southampton in July/August 2014.
Hodges has also announced the continuation of the Emerging Director Development Programme, which sees a collaboration with Headlong and the West Yorkshire Playhouse to provide an emerging director and playwright the opportunity to work on the revitalisation of a classic text.
And Nuffield in the Square will be a large-scale, outdoor summer project celebrating the 50th anniversaries of Nuffield and the City of Southampton in July/August 2014. The headline event will be a new commission rooted in Southampton Football Club, its history, its fans and its players.
"The biggest challenge is audience," Hodges said. "It's a 500-seat theatre and we want it to be full. I think building up a theatre ecology as part of a wider cultural identity for the city is the challenge. Everybody I talk to wants this to happen, but it's about not just thinking about Nuffield in isolation but about the identity of Southampton as a whole."