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Sherman Theatre announces its 2020 season

The programme is the first for new artistic director Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy
© Tracey Paddison

The Sherman Theatre 2020 programme will feature seven plays by Welsh and Wales-based writers and include four world premieres, it was announced today.

The new season marks Joe Murphy's first full year as artistic director and includes productions by Brad Birch, Katherine Chandler, Tracy Harris, Daf James, Gary Owen and Lisa Parry.

The first play is Sherman Youth Theatre's The It, written by Vivienne Franzmann and playing from 27 to 29 February. It will then go on to be performed at the Connections Festival in April with a further production soon to be announced for the summer.

The world premiere of Tylwyth is written by Daf James as a co-commission and co-production with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. It will play from 10 to 13 March with a press night on 12 March and be directed by Arwel Gruffydd. A look at love, family and friendship and a commentary on contemporary Welsh life, the story follows a group of gay friends living in Cardiff. Tylwyth will premiere at the venue before touring to theatres across Wales.

In their fifth collaboration with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama's NEW writing festival, the Sherman Theatre will present the world premiere of Ripples from 17 to 19 March. Written by Sherman New Welsh Playwrights Programme participant Harris, the play is set in a group rehab centre in Bridgend will be directed by Sherman JMK Directors Group participant Matthew Holmquist. Ripples will then be performed at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama prior to its transfer to London's Gate Theatre.

The next play in the season will be Birch's An Enemy of the People, playing from 30 April to 16 May with a press night on 5 May. Directed by Murphy – his first as artistic director – the show is a rework of Birch's 2016 adaptation of Ibsen's original text and is set in the South Wales valleys.

Owen and Rachel O'Riordan will reunite after their Olivier Award-winning production of Killology – which played at the Sherman Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre in 2017 – to bring Romeo and Julie to the venue from 16 September to 3 October with a press night on 17 September. This world premiere is co-commissioned and co-produced with the National Theatre and reimagines the classic Shakespearean love story in modern-day Cardiff.

The world premiere of Parry's The Merthyr Stigmatist will play from 2 to 17 October with a press night on 6 October as a co-production with Theatre Uncut, after it was shortlisted for the company's Political Playwriting Award earlier this year. Emma Callander – Theatre Uncut's joint artistic director – will direct the play, in which a Merthyr Tydfil pupil claims to have the wounds of Christ.

The Sherman Theatre Christmas show in 2020 will be A Christmas Carol, a new production of Owen's and directed by Murphy. The story will be relocated to Victorian Cardiff and feature a female Ebenezer Scrooge. The play will run from 27 November to 2 January 2021 with a press night on 1 December.

In the venue's studio space, the children's holiday show will be Chandler's adaptation of The Elves and the Shoemaker / Y Coblynnod a'r Crydd. Playing from 6 to 7 November and then again from 30 November to 2 January 2021 with two press performances on 5 December, it will be performed separately in Welsh and English.

Murphy comments on his first season: "I'm thrilled to announce my first season at Sherman Theatre. It's so exciting to launch a full year of work and to celebrate the depth of artistic quality available in Wales: the artists championed here are only the beginning of our commitment to being an engine room of Welsh talent. The 2020 season puts the audience at its heart, offering high-impact, emotional stories rooted in Wales but relevant to the world. This theatre belongs to the brilliant people of our brilliant city: somewhere to meet, share live experiences, and celebrate our culture. For me, it is the heart of Cardiff."

Murphy has also unveiled a new roster of associate artists with actor and writer Kyle Lima, writer and composer Seiriol Davies, designer Hayley Grindle and actor Suzanne Packer joining the team. James becomes writer in residence and Chandler, Owen and Patricia Logue return as associate artists. Rhys Ifans has also been announced as patron of the venue.

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