Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell, the Gate Theatre’s first-ever joint artistic directors (See News, 6 Feb 2007), have announced their inaugural season of European plays at the highly influential 70-seat venue in Notting Hill, west London.

The autumn/winter schedule kicks off on 31 August 2007 Cracknell’s production of Swiss playwright Lukas Bärfuss’ The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents, which continues until 29 September. When Dora’s parents release her from her tranquilisers, they’re not prepared for her potent sexual awakening. The play is translated by Neil Blackadder and the production designed by Linbury Prize winner Phil Brunner.

It’s followed, from 1 November to 1 December 2007, by The Car Cemetery from Spain, written by 75-year old Fernando Arrabal (translated by Barbara Wright) and directed by Abrahami. In a desolate car junkyard on the edge of the earth, society’s outcasts party like there’s no tomorrow.

In the new year, Cracknell will take over directing responsibilities again for the final production of the pair’s inaugural season, a dance theatre piece entitled I Am Falling, which runs from 4 January to 2 February 2008. Tom’s fallen in love – with life. However, Tom’s body has another lover – death. It’s billed as “a complex and unsettling exploration of the realities of an ageing body and an agile mind … Or vice versa”.

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, succeeding outgoing artistic director Thea Sharrock, who left to concentrate on her burgeoning West End career.

In other Off-West End programming news, the Finborough Theatre in south-west London has also announced its new season, showcasing a diverse range of UK world premieres by award-winning composers and playwrights from the UK and the US. The first production is a double-bill of two new British political plays entitled A Letter to England, comprising The Blessing Way by Nirjay Mahindru which commemorates the 150th anniversary of India’s First Way of Independence, and The Insurgents by Anders Lustgarten which looks at the role of private equity in the contemporary housing crisis.

Other highlights include: When Midnight Strikes, a new musical by Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds; Little Madame by James Graham about a young Margaret Thatcher; New Work America, a collection of five new US plays; Lucifer Saved, a new verse and prose play by Peter Oswald; and finally John and Jen, another original musical by US composer Andrew Lippa.

Founded in 1980, the multiaward-winning Finborough Theatre – under the artistic directorship of Neil McPherson - presents new British writing, UK premieres of overseas drama, particularly from the US, Ireland, Canada and Australia, music theatre, and an idiosyncratic selection of “unjustly neglected” work from the last 150 years.

- by Tom Atkins