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Donmar Brings World, Jones & Sheffield to London

By • West End
Michael Grandage - artistic director at London's Donmar Warehouse and associate director at Sheffield Theatres - brings his two geographically distant venues closer together next spring, with two new plays scheduled for the Donmar, both of which have strong Sheffield connections.

As previously tipped (See The Goss, 23 Sep 2003), Steve Waters' World Music (pictured) will transfer in the new year to the Donmar, where it's expected to run from 16 February to 13 March 2004 (previews from 12 February). The drama was first seen at the Sheffield Crucible in May 2003 as part of the theatre's month-long Sheffield First season of new plays.

World Music explores how the bloody relationship between Africa and Europe spills into the personal lives and loves of two generations in Central Africa. Directed by Josie Rourke, the Sheffield cast, who are expected to recreate their roles, featured Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sebastian Harcombe, Sara Powell, Paul Ready and Assly Zandy.

The production will mark the first crossover between the two venues. In Whatsonstage.com's "Changing of the Guard" interview with Grandage, who took over from Sam Mendes as Donmar artistic director in December 2003, he explained his view about sharing work between the two audience-differentiated theatres: "Very occasionally, there will be the opportunity to present work from one theatre in the other and when those opportunities arise - and they are entirely led by the project - we will do so" (See Features, 21 Jul 2003).

World Music will be followed in the Donmar's spring schedule by a new play by Charlotte Jones, directed by Grandage's fellow Sheffield associate director Anna Mackmin (last represented in the West End by Auntie and Me starring Alan Davies). The Dark is due to run from 23 March to 24 April 2004 (previews from 18 March).

Jones won both the Critics Circle and the Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play for 2001's Humble Boy, which transferred from the National to the West End and Broadway and has recently embarked on a UK-wide tour. Her other plays include In Flame and Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis. Jones is also working on the book for Andrew Lloyd Webber's upcoming musical based on Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman in White (See The Goss, 15 Sep 2003).

The fact that both spring productions are new plays is also significant within Grandage's Donmar repertoire to date, which has seen a strong return to revivals of European classics. While next month Grandage himself will direct the stage premiere of Patrick Marber's After Miss Julie, that piece is an adaptation of Marber's earlier film inspired by Strindberg's 1888 classic. The theatre is currently presenting Robin Lefevre's revival of John Osborne's Hotel in Amsterdam, first seen at the Royal Court in 1968.

NOTE: Booking has not yet opened for the two new productions.

- by Terri Paddock


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