The Young Vic will celebrate “40 years young” with an anniversary season, running from September 2010 to May 2011, that will include returns for Iceland-based Theatre Vesturport and Rufus Norris’ Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated adaptation of DBC Pierre’s Booker Prize winning novel Vernon God Little, as well as, in a big coup for the Off-West End powerhouse, the first-ever UK production directed by revered French director Patrice Chereau, who is perhaps best known in this country for his films La Reine Margot (which won the Cannes Jury Prize) and Intimacy.
Amongst some of the other season highlights, announced by artistic director David Lan in a press conference held at the Young Vic, are: the debut play by children’s novelist David Almond, the latest collaboration between the Young Vic and English National Opera and a revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie, with a new score written by Dario Marianelli, the Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning composer of Atonement, Price and Prejudice and over 35 other films.
Speaking at today’s event, Lan said that “from the very beginning”, the Young Vic has been about two things: first, an idea to “tell the big stories”; second, it’s highly adaptable, semi in-the-round main house auditorium, “one of the greatest in the world” – both of which remain central to its work.
And as for his feelings about the Young Vic getting “old” at its 40th milestone, Lan replied: “What does it feel like to be old? I haven’t the faintest idea because we’re only just beginning.”
In addition to the programme, Lan announced today that, after a survey of its audience, it will be introducing reserved seating for selected productions as well as more tickets at £10 available to all theatregoers across all performances. Once the main allocation has sold out, £10 tickets will still be available to under-26s and the unemployed. This is in addition to one-tenth of the house which is given free to local schoolchildren. The Young Vic’s pricing policy is part of its “enormous effort” into attracting an audience that is “as wide as deesp and as complex as possible”.
The full 40th anniversary season of work, in the main house and in the Maria studio, is as follows. Further ahead in 2011, the Young Vic will also host the next high-profile Hamlet, with Michael Sheen tackling the role for director Ian Rickson next winter.
In the main house
The Human Comedy, 13 to 18 September 2010 - Once again, the Young Vic launches a season with another community production, this one bringing together a cast of 100 for the UK premiere of this 1970s American musical with a score by Hair’s Galt MacDermot. Based on William Saroyan’s 1943 novel, the musical, set in a small California town during the Second World War, centres on Homer, a telegram delivery boy carrying messages of love, joy and the sorrows of war. John Fulljames, artistic director of Young Vic associate company, The Opera Group, directs.
Faust, 1 to 30 October 2010 (previews from 25 September) - Direct from Iceland, Vesturport’s new circus-inspired retelling of Goethe’s classic tale about a man selling his soul to the devil receives its UK premiere. It’s co-written and directed by Gísli Örn Garðarsson, with music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who have all previously collaborated on Romeo and Juliet and Woyzeck (both also for the Young Vic, the latter during its Walkabout season at the Barbican) and Metamorphosis (Lyric Hammersmith).
The Glass Menagerie, 17 November 2010 to 1 January 2011 (previews from 11 November) - Young Vic deputy artistic director Joe Hill-Gibbins directs Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical 1944 play about Tom, a young would-be poet, who struggles to support his sentimental mother and delicate sister. The last major London production, directed by Rupert Goold, starred Jessica Lange in the West End. Casting for the Young Vic revival has yet to be announced. In addition to composer Dario Marianelli, the creative team also comprises designer Jeremy Herbert.
Vernon God Little, 7 February to 5 March 2011 (previews from 27 January) - “As it is our birthday, we’ve given ourselves a very special treat”, said Lan today: bringing back one of the Young Vic’s most successful shows in recent years. Rufus Norris’ production of Vernon God Little, adapted from DBC Pierre’s novel by Norris’ wife Tanya Ronder, had its world premiere in an extended season in 2007 when Colin Morgan took the title role, a young man being held in the sheriff’s office after his best friend committed a school massacre. Morgan, who Norris cast while he was still a drama student and has gone on to lead the TV series Merlin, is unlikely to reprise his performance in what Norris has described as “another go” completely at “exploring the promise” of the piece.
The Return of Ulysses, 24 March to 9 April 2011 - Internationally renowned director Benedict Andrews stages Monteverdi’s epic, based on the final section of Homer’s Odyssey, in the latest ENO/ Young Vic co-production, starring Tom Randle as Ulysses and Pamela Helen Stephen.
I Am the Wind, 3 to 21 May 2011 (previews from 26 April) - This is “the highlight of all the highlights”, according to Lan. Patrice Chereau directs British playwright Simon Stephens’ new adaptation of this 2007 play by Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse, which follows two life-long travelling companions bound together on a suicidal journey across a vast ocean. Though one of the leading theatre directors in France for decades, Chereau’s work has not been seen in London since his famous 1974 production of La Dispute transferred to the National. This, his first UK-originated production, is a large-scale collaboration between the Young Vic and France’s Theatre de Ville.
In the Maria studio
On Ageing, 29 September to 9 October 2010 (previews from 27 September) - The premiere of Fevered Sleep’s new devised piece about time, change and ageing is performed by children for adults. From the moment we’re born, we’re growing and we’re aging; nothing stays the same. David Harradine and Sam Butler direct.
My Dad’s a Birdman, 30 November 2010 to 1 January 2011 (previews from 25 November) - The Young Vic’s family Christmas show is David Almond’s play for four- to seven-year-olds about children preparing for the Great Human Bird Competition, which is coming to town. Trevor Nunn’s dramatisation of Almond’s novel Skellig was a huge hit for the Young Vic in 2003. Almond’s other award-winning children’s books include The Fire-Eaters, Kit’s Wilderness and Clay. The Young Vic commissioned Almond to write this, his first play to date, five or six years ago. It had a handful of performances before being subsequently turned into a book in 2007. Oliver Mears directs this major new production.
And the Rain Falls Down, 25 February to 12 March 2011 (previews from 24 February) - The season’s second offering from Fevered Sleep is aimed at three- and four-year-olds and set in a world where every drop of water has a life of its own. Harradine and Butler direct. It is, said Lan, an “opportunity for young people to get very wet – you’re advised to bring a towel”.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary, several fundraising and other one-off events will be held throughout the year and announced shortly. Theatregoers are also invited to upload their birthday greetings to the Young Vic at youngvic.org/birthdaygreetings where messages from the likes of Dominic West, Jude Law, Fiona Shaw, Delroy Lindo, Clive Rowe and other artists who’ve worked at the theatre will also be displayed.