Theatre News

Kes dance premiere, Brian Friel and Boeing feature in new Sheffield season

As The Full Monty transfers to the West End, Sheffield Theatres’ artistic director Daniel Evans announces a varied new season across his three stages at home

Barry Hines’ 1968 children’s novel A Kestrel for a Knave, which was adapted by Ken Loach into the 1969 film classic Kes, will receive a brand-new dance-theatre adaptation at Sheffield Theatres in the new year.

This new version of Kes, which is directed and choreographed by Jonathan Watkins, with original music by Alex Baranowski, is one of the highlights of Sheffield Theatres new 2014 season, announced today. Continuing the theme of reclamation, other programme highlights include a major new production of Marc Camoletti’s 1960s French farce Boeing Boeing and a celebration of Irish playwright Brian Friel with large scale revivals of his plays Afterplay (2002), Wonderful Tennessee (1993) and, one of his best-known works, Translations (1980).

Brian Friel Season

First up, the Brian Friel Season, which runs across all three of Sheffield’s auditoria, continues the theatre’s tradition of producing whole programmes dedicated to the work of a single, contemporary playwright (previous dedicatees have included Michael Frayn, David Hare and Peter Gill).

Brian Friel, often described as the “Irish Chekhov”, has penned more than 30 plays in a career spanning six decades. He’s perhaps best known for Dancing at Lughnasa, which scooped an Olivier and Tony Award for Best Play and had long runs in the West End and on Broadway following its 1990 premiere at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and 1991 London transfer to the National Theatre.

His many other acclaimed plays include Faith Healer, Aristocrats and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which was revived last year at the Donmar Warehouse, where his adaptation of Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons will also be revived next year.

At Sheffield, the one-act Afterplay opens the Brian Friel Season, running from 10 February to 1 March 2014 (previews from 6 February) in the Studio, directed by Roisin McBrinn. Set in Moscow in the early 1920s, the two-hander catches up with two of Chekhov’s characters – Sonya, Uncle Vanya’s dutiful neice, and Andrey, the downtrodden intellectual brother from Three Sisters – 20 years after the action of their original plays. Penelope Wilton and John Hurt starred in a West End run of Afterplay in 2002.

Translations is a co-production with English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston which, as reported earlier today, will transfer to London after its run at Sheffield Crucible from 19 February to 8 March 2014 (previews from 13 February). The play, set in 1833 in rural Ireland where the British Army are attempting to translate all the Gaelic place names into English, is directed by Paines Plough joint artistic director James Grieve.

The final Friel offering, the rarely seen Wonderful Tennessee, runs in the Lyceum from 4 to 8 March 2014 (previews from 27 February). Directed by Paul Miller, it’s set in modern Ireland and follows Terry, his wife and their four friends on a birthday trip up the coast of Donegal.

Kes and Boeing Boeing in Crucible

The Brian Friel season is followed, in the Crucible, by the reimagined Kes, which runs from 31 March to 5 April 2014 (previews from 27 March). Lonely Billy Casper is shaped by two contrasting worlds: an industrial, working-class Barnsley and the natural landscape around the Yorkshire town. When he finds and befriends a wild kestrel hawk, his imagination starts to soar.

The new theatrical adaptation of Kes combines dance, physical theatre and puppetry and will be performance by eight professional and 20 young local dancers.

Finally, Jonathan Humphreys directs Boeing Boeing, which runs 19 May to 7 June 2014 (previews from 15 May), also in the Crucible. The farce centres on Bernard whose three air hostess girlfriends all turn up at his Paris apartment on an unscheduled stopover, at the same time as a country friend.

A long-running West End hit in the 1960s, Boeing Boeing was given a new lease of life in 2007 with a West End production, helmed by director Matthew Warchus and starring Mark Rylance and Roger Allam, that subsequently transferred to Broadway.

The new Sheffield Theatres season also includes a co-production with local group Third Angel, The Life and Loves of a Nobody, and artistic director Daniel Evans’ community production of The Sheffield Mysteries. And, while the home stages stay busy in the new year, Sheffield’s hit 2012 revival of The Full Monty transfers to the West End. As previously reported, it will run at the Noel Coward Theatre for 16 weeks from 25 February to 14 June 2014 (previews from 20 February).