Clare McIntyre's The Maths Tutor, directed by Clark himself, opens the season on 29 September 2003 (continuing to 25 October, previews from 25 September). JJ and Tom work hard for their GCSE Maths tutor Brian until JJ makes an accusation against Brian that threatens their friendship and exposes the truth about Tom's family life. The world premiere is a co-production between Hampstead and Birmingham Rep.
It's followed by the London premiere of Gregory Burke's second play, The Straits, running from 3 to 29 November 2003 (previews 29 October). The Scottish author's first play Gagarin Way - which premiered at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to the National and on the West End - won multiple awards including the Critics Circle award for Most Promising Playwright for Burke.
Once again directed by John Tiffany, The Straits - mounted by Paines Plough and co-produced with the Drum Theatre, Plymouth and Hampstead - will premiere at this summers Edinburgh festival before touring. In 1982 in Rosia Bay, Gibraltar (where Burke himself spent part of his childhood), three British teens compete with the local 'spics' to hunt a fleet of octopus. But these sons and daughters of British forces soon learn the human cost of empire.
Barbara Norden's Meteorite, aimed at 7- to 11-year-olds, will be the first play for children presented in Hampstead's main auditorium, where it runs from 4 December 2003 to 3 January 2004. With mum gone away, it's up to Dad to take the kids Christmas shopping. The world premiere production marks the beginning of a new policy to produce original plays for children at Hampstead. Running concurrently from 15 December 2003 to 31 January 2004 (previews 10 December) is Stephen Lowe's comedy Revelations, directed by Clark, which follows four very different couples who meet for the first time on a "Swinging for Beginners" weekend in the Lake District.
In the new year, Jennie Darnell directs All This Stuff from 11 February to 6 March 2004 (previews 5 February). The first play by Drew Pautz, a Canadian poet living in London, revolves around struggling artist Nadine and her sportswear salesman boyfriend Jed, who are being pulled in very different directions.
The season concludes with the world premiere of When the Night Begins, the latest play by Hanif Kureishi, whose diverse body of work includes stage plays Sleep with Me, screenplays for My Beautiful Laundrette and London Kills Me and award-winning novels The Buddha of Suburbia and Intimacy. Directed by Clark, When the Night Begins is a psychological two-hander about victims and aggressors in which widow Jane seeks out a man from her childhood in a south London high-rise. The production runs from 16 March to 17 April 2003 (previews 11 March).
Formerly the associate artistic director at Birmingham Rep and artistic director of Manchester's Contact Theatre, Clark was appointed last May to succeed Jenny Topper, who stepped down yesterday after 13 years at the Hampstead helm (See News, 12 May 2003). Clark on hand as artistic director designate since January 2003, helping Topper to steer Hampstead into its new £15.6m purpose-built home around the corner from the "temporary" structure where it operated for some 40 years (See News, 12 Dec 2002).
Commenting on his new role and inaugural programme today, Clark said: "The chance to run a vibrant new writing theatre in a stunning new home has to be one of the most exciting jobs in British theatre. While the plays I have chosen all share a passion of behalf of the writers to explore the contemporary world, it's the boldness of the writing and the variety of tone which I believe distinguishes them."
Under Clark's reign, the theatre will overhaul its ticket pricing, extending concession prices of just £6.50 for 650 seats per week, available to anyone under 26 or on full benefit. In addition, The Space studio will host START nights, an opportunity for new writers to showcase work and invite audience feedback.
- by Terri Paddock