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Arcola Theatre announces 2020 anniversary season

The east London venue celebrates its 20th birthday

The Arcola Theatre
© Lidia Crisafulli

The Arcola Theatre has announced its 2020 season, with the year-long programme of work featuring 11 world premieres as well as special performances from Steven Berkoff and Inua Ellams.

Jack Shepherd, Barney Norris, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Leyla Nazli, David Farr and Tena Štivičić will present new work, Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline will receive its European premiere and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice will have a new staging throughout the year. Over 27,000 tickets will be made available for £20 or less over the next 12 months.

Shepherd writes and directs The Cutting Edge, which opens the season and stars Maggie Steed in a new tragicomedy about life, money and art. The playwright was one of the first to stage work at the venue – this world premiere will run from 13 February to 21 March, with a press night on 18 February.

Matt Parvin's Gentlemen will be directed by Richard Speir. Parvin trained as part of the Arcola Theatre Writers' Programme in 2015 and his new work explores the power of social status at university. It will run from 18 March to 18 April, with a press night on 24 March.

Morisseau's Pipeline will be directed by Jack Gamble, the Arcola's associate director. The European premiere will run from 26 March to 2 May, with a press night on 31 March.

Michele Winstanley's Broken Water will be directed by Emma Faulkner and co-produced with Lightbox Theatre. Developed as part of Arcola's 2014 Playwrought Festival, this award-nominated play traces three different women's experiences of motherhood and will run from 22 April to 23 May, with a press night on 28 April.

Norris' We Started to Sing will run from 7 May to 13 June, with a press night on 12 May. Norris first staged work at the venue five years ago with Visitors and Eventide.

Mann's Death in Venice – translated by David Luke and adapted by Robert David MacDonald and Giles Havergal – will be directed by Philip Prowse. Greg Hicks will return to the venue to star in this new production, which will run from 27 May to 27 June with a press night on 2 June.

August Strindberg's The Dance of Death – adapted by Lenkiewicz and directed by the Arcola's artistic director and co-founder Mehmet Ergen – will run from 18 June to 25 July, with a press night on 23 June. Lenkiewicz's previous work opened both the original and current Arcola buildings.

Ece Temelkuran's best-selling novel Women Who Blow on Knots, adapted for the stage by the venue's co-founder Nazli and directed by Lerzan Pamir, will run from 3 September to 10 October with a press night on 8 September. It tells the story of a road trip through the Middle East in the first months of the Arab Spring.

Sarah Kosar's Our Name is not John – which was longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting – will play from 9 September to 10 October, with a press night on 15 September. This original satire examines patriarchal control through capitalism.

Love and Apocalypse is Štivičić's latest work, after the playwright's first English language play Fragile! premiered at the Arcola Theatre in 2007. It follows on from her play 3 Winters – which played at the National Theatre in 2014 – and will run from 14 October to 14 November, with a press night on 20 October.

Farr's A Dead Body in Taos will be directed by Rachel Bagshaw (The Shape of the Pain) and co-produced with Fuel. The new work explores what developments in artificial intelligence might mean for our understanding of death, consciousness and the soul – it will run from 5 November to 19 December, with a press night on 9 November. Farr's 2002 work Crime and Punishment in Dalston was one of the Arcola's early successes.

Kyo Choi's The Apology will see the venue reunite with British East Asian theatre company Yellow Earth. Ria Parry will direct the story about Korean "comfort women" from 18 November to 19 December, with a press night on 24 November.

Two special events have also been announced, part of a series that will span the 20th anniversary year. Ellams, writer of Barber Shop Chronicles and whose first play was produced at the Arcola, will stage Search Party – an interactive, audience-led poetry event on 5 July. Berkoff will return to perform They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Cable Street with musician Mark Glentworth on 23 February and 1 March. Other 20th anniversary events will be announced next year.

In its first two decades, the Arcola Theatre has helped to launch some of the leading lights in British theatre, providing early-career opportunities to artists including Aml Ameen, Zawe Ashton, Mike Bartlett, Alecky Blythe, Polly Findlay, Arinzé Kene, Lucy Kirkwood, Lynette Linton, Michael Longhurst, Wunmi Mosaku, Lyndsey Turner and Alexander Zeldin.

Ergen said of the season: "Since we opened in 2000, Arcola has been a theatre for everyone. People from all walks of life have found a home here, whether on our stages or in our audiences. Our 20th anniversary season responds to the world around us, asking crucial questions about personal freedom and examining the societies we live in."

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