The Peter Hall Company will return to Bath for ten weeks, from 21 June to 2 September 2006, with a season of play revivals that, according to promotional material, “promises to the strongest yet”: Hall’s own production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, which will subsequently transfer to Stratford-upon-Avon for the RSC’s Complete Works festival (See News, 8 Feb 2006); August Strindberg’s 1888 erotically charged clash of the classes Miss Julie; Alan Bennett’s 1973 comedy Habeas Corpus; and a new 50th anniversary production of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, directed by Royal Court veteran Peter Gill.
Commenting on his programming choices, Hall said: “Centuries separate these plays – Measure for Measure, Miss Julie and Habeas Corpus - yet they all rely on the same metaphor: the wild and dangerous effects of sexual frustration. The season ends with a tribute. John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger is 50 years old and the production – like our production of Waiting for Godot last year (See News, 16 Aug 2005) – is a celebration. These were the two plays that changed the course of British theatre.”
The season opens with Measure for Measure, running in Bath from 21 June to 12 August 2006, before moving on to Stratford for six performances only from 13 to 16 September. James Laurenson and Richard Dormer will play the Duke and Angelo, with Andrea Riseborough as Isabella. The production will mark the first time that the 75-year-old Hall, founder of the RSC and former artistic director of the National, has ever directed the play in the UK.
Measure for Measure will be joined in rep by Rachel O'Riordan’s production of Miss Julie, featuring Riseborough and Dormer as mistress and servant Julie and Jean. It runs from 26 June to 12 August 2006. Hall’s production of Habeas Corpus, Bennett’s exploration of permissiveness in 1960s Brighton, stars James Fleet and runs in Bath from 30 June to 12 August 2006 prior to a planned regional tour. All of the first three productions will be designed by Kevin and Trish Rigdon.
The final production in Hall’s Bath season, Look Back in Anger, will run from 16 August to 2 September 2006. Osborne’s kitchen-sink drama - with its original “angry young man”, the working class anti-hero Jimmy Porter - was credited with changing the course of British drama when it opened at London’s Royal Court in May 1956. As part of its own year-long 50th anniversary season this year, the Royal Court will hold a special one-off performance of the play on 8 May 2006, 50 years to the day after it had its world premiere at a two-month-old Court under the English Stage Company (See News, 11 Oct 2005).
The Peter Hall Company revival of Look Back in Anger will be the only fully staged production of the play to mark its landmark birthday. It will be directed by playwright-director Peter Gill – who was a regular at the Royal Court in the decade after Osborne – and designed by William Dudley (The Woman in White, The Coast of Utopia). No casting has yet been announced.
- by Terri Paddock