The season will see new musicals helmed by Peter Brook and Emma Rice; Jung Chang's astonishing true story Wild Swans brought to the stage for the first time; a new international play by Simon Stephens; Amir Nizar Zuabi's interpretation of the story of Abraham and Isaac; Yoruba culture explored by Rufus Norris; a community opera by Jonathan Dove staged at Somerset House; and a site-specific production with a cast of 500, directed by Bill Mitchell at an as yet undisclosed London landmark.
Jointly produced by Battersea Arts Centre, the Bush Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Royal Court, Sadler's Wells, Somerset House, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Young Vic, World Stages London is described by the group as an "unprecedented collaboration" which will create work to "draw on the history and experiences" of London's cross-cutting cultural communities.
Countries which will be used as inspiration include UK, India, China, France, South Africa, Germany, Estonia, Brazil, Cuba, Nigeria, Israel/Palestine and the USA with companies taking part including the Actors Touring Company, Kings College London, Kneehigh, The Opera Group and WildWorks from the UK as well as No99 Theatre of Estonia, the Munich Kammerspiele of Germany, KVS of Belgium, ShiberHur of Israel/Palestine, the Bouffes du Nord of France and the American Repertory Theatre of Boston, USA.
Co-directors of the project David Lan and Nicola Thorold said today: "London theatres have never collaborated in this way before. We are demonstrating that together we can achieve so much more than we can on our own."
The first five performances, which go on sale today, are Wild Swans, Three Kingdoms, BABEL, The Suit and Wah! Wah! Girls.
The first ever stage adaptation of the story of celebrated Chinese writer Jung Chang, Wild Swans will be presented by the Young Vic, American Repertory Theater and Actors Touring Company. Adapted for the stage by Alexandra Wood (The Eleventh Hour), directed by Sacha Wares (Sucker Punch) and designed by Miriam Buether (Decade), it will run from 20 April (previews from 13 April) to 13 May 2012.
Born in Sichuan Province in 1952, Chung became a Red Guard at the age of 14 and then worked as a peasant, a barefoot doctor, a steelworker and an electrician before becoming an English language student. Through the eyes of one courageous family, Wild Swans takes us on a journey from the early days of Communist hope and struggle, the chaos and confusion of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, to the birth of a superpower.
Lyric Hammersmith associate and writer of Sea Wall, Pornography, A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky and Punk Rock, Simon Stephens returns with a major new work, Three Kingdoms, co-produced with No.99 Theatre and Munich Kammerspiele and directed by German theatre-maker Sebastian Nubling. It will be play 17 performances at the Lyric from 7 to 19 May 2012 (previews from 3 May).
When the severed head of a woman is found washed up on a bank of the Thames, the police investigation draws two British detectives into the murky depths of the European vice trade. Billed as "tracking a nightmarish journey spanning England, Germany and Estonia". The play is performed in all three languages by an international cast.
A company of 500 will stage BABEL, a site-specific production "of intimate but epic proportions", in a unique collaboration between the Lyric Hammersmith, the Young Vic and Theatre Royal Stratford East which looks to "tell of a gathering of the tribes".
Created by WildWorks, the team behind the Port Talbot Passion starring Michael Sheen, director Bill Mitchell has developed the production over two years with the involvement over 1,000 Londoners. Billed as an exploration of the "diversity of language, culture, ethnicity and human identity" the production will take place at a London landmark which will be revealed in early 2012.
Peter Brook returns to the Young Vic with a new musical version of Can Themba's hauntingly beautiful South African fable The Suit from 23 May (previews from 21 May) to 16 June 2012.
In the dusty heat of 1950’s Sophiatown, a young worker returns home to find his wife in bed with her lover. The lover escapes, leaving behind his suit. The only revenge the husband takes is to instruct his wife to treat the suit as an honoured guest. But how long can she endure this pitiless sentence?
The Bush will host the London return of Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur who present The Beloved, inspired by the Biblical and Koranic story of Abraham and Isaac/Ishmael. It is written and directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi whose I Am Yusuf And This is My Brother was seen at the Young Vic in 2010 and who recently directed In the Penal Colony.
When Abraham returns home from a journey with his son, his wife is troubled by the boy’s state of mind. What took place on the mountain that day is the beginning of a lifetime of suffering and the dawn of a new age for millions. The piece will be one of the productions of Madani Younis' inaugural season as artistic director at the Bush Theatre in May 2012.
East London meets Bollywood in Wah! Wah! Girls, a new musical which marks the first collaboration between Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh. It will be presented at the Peacock Theatre from 24 May to 23 June 2012.
Written by Tanika Gupta (Fragile Land, Sugar Mummies) and directed by multi award-winning director Emma Rice (The Red Shoes, Brief Encounter), the creative team will also include Pravesh Kumar (Britain’s Got Bhangra) and set and costume by Keith Khan. Choreography is by Javed Sanadi and Kathak choreographer Gauri Sharma Tripathi, set to classic Bollywood tracks and new music by composer Niraj Chag.
Forthcoming shows in the season also include Yoruba (working title) which will see the Royal Court Theatre and Young Vic collaborate on a study of Yoruba culture, tradition and religion as it moved through slavery from West Africa to the Americas.
The production is directed by Rufus Norris who works with playwrights from five countries: Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria), Marcos Barbosa (Brazil), Yunior Garcia Aguilera (Cuba), Katori Hall (USA) and Gbolahan Obisesan (UK).
Jonathan Dove will also stage an as yet untitled community opera project at Somerset House in the summer of 2013. In 2008 the opera composer travelled to the Arctic and was inspired by witnessing first hand the environmental damage brought on by climate change to write a new community opera on an international scale.