West London’s Gate Theatre will revive Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist classic The Chairs and Ibsen’s Ghosts, in a new version by Amelia Bullmore, and present new work by Naomi Wallace as part of its autumn/winter season.

The first production in the new season, opened last week (28 September 2006), is Big Love (pictured) which marks the UK debut of American playwright and historian Charles Mee. Mee pillages Western history to transform Aeschylus’ Suppliant Women into a musical exploration of love, relationships, violence and power. The cast features Helen Baker, Alexi Kaye Campbell, Georgia Mackenzie and Ann Mitchell. Directed by Melissa Kievman, with design by Hannah Clark and choreography by Ann Yee, Big Love continues until 21 October 2006.

Artistic director Thea Sharrock directs The Chairs from 13 November to 9 December 2006 (previews from 8 November). In Ionesco’s 1952 one-acter, a very old couple in a house on an island pass their time with private games and half-remembered stories. This English-language translation by Martin Crimp was first seen at the Royal Court in 1997. Sharrock’s recent productions include Tejas Verdes and The Emperor Jones and the Derek Jacobi-headed A Voyage Round My Father, which last month transferred from the Donmar Warehouse to the West End. The Chairs is designed by Jeremy Herbert.

Opening the New Year, Ghosts runs from 11 January to 17 February 2007 (previews from 6 January). Ibsen’s 1881 tragedy about a mother-son relationship is newly translated by Amelia Bullmore, who was Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated for her debut play Mammals last year. Anna Mackmin, who directed Mammals in its premiere at the Bush and on tour this year, directs Ghosts, which is designed by Lez Brotherston.

American Naomi Wallace’s Things of Dry Hours, first seen in Pittsburgh in 2004, is set in a log cabin in Alabama in 1932. Tice reads from two books. He swears by his Bible and dreams of spreading the word of Karl Marx. His daughter Cali no longer dreams. Her world extends no further than the washing of sheets for rich white folk. They wake in the night to an ominous knocking at their door. An enigmatic stranger enters their lives and intends to turn their world upside down. Will this lead to Tice's dream of heaven or Cali's version of hell?

A co-production with Manchester’s Royal Exchange, Things of Dry Hours has its London premiere at the Gate, from 8 to 31 March 2006 (previews from 6 March), following its Manchester run, from 7 to 24 February 2006. Wallace’s other plays include Two into War, A State of Innocence, Slaughter City, Birdy, One Flea Spare, The Inland Sea and The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek. Jerwood Director award winner Raz Shaw, who last year directed The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek at the Southwark Playhouse and on tour, directs the new production, designed by Jaimie Todd.

In addition to its London season (See The Goss, 3 Oct 2006), Gate will soon be represented across the Atlantic when its 2004 production of Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, adapted and directed by Daniel Kramer, transfers next month to New York’s St Ann’s Warehouse for a limited season from 13 November to 3 December 2006. Edward Hogg, currently in the West End in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, reprises his acclaimed title performance opposite David Harewood as the Drum Major.

- by Terri Paddock