After the premiere last month of Chris Goode’s award-winning deconstruction of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (See News, 15 Feb 2008), west London’s Gate Theatre will next month present a 21st-century re-imagining of another classic from the European canon, Henrik Ibsen’s 1890 play Hedda Gabler.

Lucy Kirkwood’s fresh adaptation, entitled Hedda, will kick off the Gate’s new season, the second under joint artistic directors Carrie Cracknell and Natalie Abrahami. The August 2008 to February 2009 programme takes the Gate further down a dance-oriented route, which is enhanced by a new relationship forged with Sadler’s Wells to transfer one production each year from the 70-seat Gate to the 180-seat Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells.

The first transfer will be Cracknell’s acclaimed production of I Am Falling, which is choreographed by Anna Williams with a text by Jenny Worton (See News, 16 Aug 2007). It was first staged at the Gate in January and will be revived at the Lilian Baylis from 29 October to 1 November 2008. The next transfer is likely to be Frenchman Pierre Rigal’s solo piece Press, which premiered at the Gate this past February.

Back at the Gate, the season will conclude next February/March with the premiere of another dance theatre piece, Unbroken, inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde. Unbroken is also slated for a second life down the line at Sadler’s Wells.

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Carrie Cracknell explained the genesis of the Gate’s new dance emphasis and the relationship with Sadler’s Wells that has grown out of it. “It’s come about from a shared passion between Natalie and myself for particularly Belgian, dance theatre, in which the moving body as well as text have equal resonance. That seemed an exciting way to push the international remit of the Gate forward, and it’s something we’ll be increasingly exploring.”


At the Gate in Notting Hill, Hedda runs from 28 August to 27 September 2008 (previews from 21 August). It’s directed by Cracknell and choreographed by Temitope Ajose-Cutting, with design by Holly Waddington. Cara Horgan will play Hedda in a cast that also features Adrian Bower (as Lovborg), Christopher Obi (Brack), Alice Patten (Thea) and Cath Whitefield (Julia). Playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s other credits include Tinderbox at the Bush and TV’s Skins.

Hedda is followed, from 11 November to 13 December 2008 (previews from 6 November), by the UK premiere of German playwright Falk Richter’s Orwellian nightmare drama State of Emergency, translated by David Tushingham and directed by Swede Maria Aberg. In it, a married couple’s ideal neighbourhood becomes a new form of prison.

Unbroken runs at the Gate from 10 February to 7 March 2009, with future dates at the Lilian Baylis theatre still to be confirmed. Artistic director Natalie Abrahami reunites with playwright Alexandra Wood after working together on The Eleventh Capital, which won the Royal Court Young Writers Festival in 2007. The new piece is choreographed by leading Belgian choreographer Ugo Dehaes and designed by Tom Scutt. The company will include dancers Gemma Higginbotham and Darren Ellis.

In Unbroken, dance and text intertwine to reveal spoken and unspoken aspects of a series of brief sexual encounters. Schnitzler’s original 1897 play La Ronde also famously provided the inspiration for David Hare’s 1998 play The Blue Room.

Established in 1979, the Gate was one of the first theatres to produce and collaborate with Eastern European theatre practitioners and opened the way for a rapid proliferation of international work on London’s stages. It remains the capital’s only theatre dedicated exclusively to producing international work. Cracknell and Abrahami joined in March 2007 and launched their first full season last August (See News, 6 Feb 2007).

- by Terri Paddock