London’s Young Vic launches a three-week season of productions directed by up-and-coming directors next month. Running from 27 May to 12 June, “Direct Action” features two double bills of rarely performed European one-act plays. These are framed by performances of Martin Crimp’s Sophocles adaptation Cruel and Tender, which is directed by internationally acclaimed Swiss director Luc Bondy (See News, 2 Dec 2003).

The new season of work follows several one-off “Direct Action” productions, which, over the past two years, have given emerging directors an opportunity to present work on the Young Vic’s main stage. These include Afore Night Come, directed by Rufus Norris whose production of Festen is currently running at the Almeida, and Josette Bushell-Mingo’s musical revival of Simply Heavenly, which transfers to the new Trafalgar Studios in September (See News, 7 Apr 2004).

The first “Direct Action” double bill, running from 27 May to 3 June 2004, comprises: Brian Friel’s Winners, about two young lovers preparing for exams on a summer’s day, and Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1894 play Interior, in which an old man and a stranger bring a peaceful family some disturbing news.

Winners is directed by Dawn Wilton, winner of the Jerwood Young Directors Award in 2001 and artistic director of Mamamissi Productions. Her previous productions include Rampage (Royal Court) and The Changeling (Southwark Playhouse). Interior is directed by German-born Christopher Heimann, artistic director of theimaginarybody theatre company. He directed the Edinburgh Festival hit 100, now touring internationally after a run at Soho Theatre.

The second “Direct Action double bill, running from 3 to 12 June 2004, comprises Bertolt Brecht’s class struggle play, The Exception and the Rule, about a ruthless businessman who doubts his servants’ loyalty, and Eugene Ionesco’s The New Tenant, a dark comedy about the conflict between personal possessions and space.

The Exception and the Rule is directed by Dutchman Jan-Willem van den Bosch, whose previous credits in Bosnia and Slovakia include The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Bash as well as Mother Courage for UK company Graeae. The New Tenant is directed by Alex Murdoch, an associate artist at BAC and artistic director of Cartoon de Salvo for whom she’s directed Ladies and Gentleman, Where Am I?, Meat and Two Veg and Here Be Dragons.

Luc Bondy makes his British stage debut with Cruel and Tender, which runs initially at the Young Vic from 5 to 15 May 2003 (with a press night on 13 May) before embarking on a European tour and then returning from 17 June to 10 July 2004, as the theatre’s final show before a two-year, £12.5 million rebuild.

Crimp’s new version of Sophocles' darkly comic account of the abuses of war, Trachiniae, stars Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave, Intimacy on screen; The Maids, In Flame on stage) and Joe Dixon (Titus Andronicus, The Malcontent, The Roman Actor for the RSC) as Amelia and Herakles. They’re joined in the cast by Georgina Ackerman, Jessica Claire, Lourdes Faberes, Toby Fisher, Michael Gould, Nicola Redmond, David Sibley, Stuart Brown and Mario Vieira.

After the Young Vic, Cruel and Tender - an international co-production between the Young Vic, Chichester Festival Theatre and Wiener Festwochen with Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and Ruhurfestspiele Recklinghausen - moves to Chichester where it runs from 4 August to 4 September 2004 (See News, 23 Jan 2004).

- by Terri Paddock