In its first season during its two-year closure for a £12.5 million refurbishment, the Young Vic will mount six productions, to be taken to the West End as well as other areas of London, the UK, Europe and New York.

At a press conference held at the South Bank theatre today - before it closes its doors on Saturday (10 July 2004) after 34 years in the building meant to last a maximum of five years - artistic director David Lan (pictured) announced details of the first “Walkabout” season, saying: “We thought if we couldn’t be here, we’d be everywhere.”

Produced in partnership with a host of other companies, the schedule features the modern chamber opera Tobias and the Angel along with reprisals of five previous Young Vic hits which, says Lan, “we believe there is more audience for”. They are: the dark Christmas show Sleeping Beauty, Lorraine Hansberry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American play A Raisin in the Sun, Theatre Vesturport’s Romeo and Juliet and, as previously announced, Langston Hughes’ musical Simply Heavenly and the theatre’s current production of Cruel and Tender.

At today’s event, Lan also announced that Cruel and Tender’s Luc Bondy, the internationally renowned Swiss theatre and opera director, has been appointed an associate director, to advise on the Young Vic repertoire, form more international links (such as with the Vienna Festival, of which he’s artistic director) and occasionally direct new productions.

The Productions

  • Tobias and the Angel, co-produced with English Touring Opera, tells the story of a boy who’s guided across the mountains to reclaim his family fortune. First seen as part of the Almeida Opera Season in 2000, it has music by Jonathan Dove, a libretto by Lan and is directed by ETO’s artistic director John Fulljames. It will play from 7 to 11 September 2004 at St John’s Church, near the Young Vic in Waterloo, south London, before visiting other churches in Gloucester, Ulverston, Exeter, St Alban’s and Alderton through to December.

  • Simply Heavenly, a sell-out at the Young Vic in spring 2003, will have an open-ended season, now confirmed from 19 October 2004, at the West End’s recently launched Trafalgar Studios, where it’s co-produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group (See News, 7 Apr 2004). Clive Rowe and Ruby Turner will return from the original cast, once again directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo.

  • Sleeping Beauty, a Christmas hit at the Young Vic in 2002, will be co-produced with BITE:2004 at the Barbican Theatre in another festive outing, running from 11 December 2004 to 11 January 2005, before transferring to New York’s New Victory Theater in February. Written and directed by Young Vic associate Rufus Norris, the dark family show is based on Charles Perrault’s classic 17th-century fairy tale.

  • Lan’s own production of Hansberry’s 1959 play about a poor black family in Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun, will be re-staged at west London’s Lyric Hammersmith from 18 February to 26 March 2005 and will then tour to Liverpool, Salford and Oxford before returning to east London’s Hackney Empire. In summer 2001, the revival was Lan’s first big hit as Young Vic artistic director. Original cast members Lennie James, Kananu Kirimi, Novella Nelson and Cecilia Noble will return for the new dates.

  • After it finishes its second engagement at the Young Vic this Saturday, Cruel and Tender, Martin Crimp’s new play after Sophocles’ Trachiniae, will transfer, as planned, to Chichester Festival Theatre from 4 August to 4 September 2004 (See News, 23 Jan 2004). An international co-production between the Young Vic, Chichester and Wiener Festwochen with Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and Ruhurfestspiele Recklinghausen, it then visits Zagreb, Paris, Berlin and Lyon.

  • Finally, the aerial version of Romeo and Juliet, co-produced by Icelandic trapeze troupe Theatre Vesturport and seen at the Young Vic in autumn 2003, will fly off to New York this autumn (venue and exact dates to be confirmed).

    The Company

    The Young Vic company – both creative and administrative staff – will remain intact throughout the Walkabout. From next week, they’ll be based in Kennington Park, south London, at ITV’s five rehearsal studios, which have been donated free of charge by the television company.

    Construction on the 21st-century Young Vic starts later this month and is due to be completed by autumn 2006. The new building, designed by Haworth Tompkins Architects, will retain the renowned semi-in-the-round auditorium and the original butchers’ shop, which currently serves as a foyer, albeit with improvements. Two smaller studios will be built to its west for rehearsals and performances. The rest of the site will be razed to make way for new facilities, including expanded offices, dressing rooms, a terrace and more public spaces.

    Since launching its high-profile fundraising campaign, led by screen star Jude Law, in February (See News, 10 Feb 2004), the Young Vic has raised £1.5 million on top of the £10 million already gathered from public and private sources, including £5 million from the National Lottery and £1 million from chairman Patrick McKenna. Options for public donations to the rebuild campaign include naming opportunities (starting with a toilet for £2,500) and buying permanent seats in the auditorium (£1,000). For further information and to make a pledge, visit the Young Vic website.

    - by Terri Paddock

    ** DON'T MISS the chance to see Cruel & Tender at the Young Vic for as little as £10! With proceeds going towards the theatre’s redevelopment! MUST CLOSE THIS SATURDAY 10 July 2004!! Click here for full offer details! **