Theatre News

Lenny Henry and more to lead Bush Theatre's 50th Birthday season

Henry is set to star in ”August in England”, which also marks his playwriting debut

Lenny Henry leads an assortment of new plays to see in 2023
Lenny Henry leads an assortment of new plays to see in 2023

The Bush Theatre has released details for its forthcoming 50th Birthday season.

One of the highlights of the west London venue's announcement is comedian and actor Lenny Henry's playwriting debut. Entitled August in England, the piece will also star Henry and follows August Henderson – a man impacted by the injustice of the Windrush scandal.

No stranger to the stage, Henry's previous credits include King Hedley II, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Educating Rita, Rudy's Rare Records, Fences, The Comedy of Errors and Othello.

Under the helm of artistic director Lynette Linton and associate artistic director Daniel Bailey, August in England will run from 28 April to 10 June 2023.

Other newly revealed highlights include Beru Tessema's House Of Ife, running from 29 April to 11 June 2022. Directed by Linton, the drama revolves around an Ethiopian-British family in north London, following the death of eldest son, Ife. The cast includes Jude Akuwudike, Yohanna Ephrem, Sarah Priddy, Karla-Simone Spence, and Michael Workeye.

From 24 June to 6 August, Róisín McBrinn and Sophie Dillon-Moniram will co-direct the Clean Break co-production of Favour, written by Ambreen Razia. The piece is a working-class Muslim family drama, exploring themes of duty, addiction and healing.

Next up is Waleed Akhtar's The P Word, directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike, which is scheduled to run from 9 September to 22 October. The play charts the parallel lives of two gay Pakistani men, Zafar and Bilal.

Margaret Perry's Paradise Now! will play the venue from 2 December 2022 through to 21 January 2023. The piece explores the themes of ambition, exploitation, and kinship through the lens of two sisters, Gabriel and Baby.

Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini's Sleepova is set to follow from 24 February to 8 April 2023 and is billed as "an ode to black women, their boundless spirits, and wild dreams."

In the Studio, newly announced productions include Nikhil Parmar's Invisible (27 June to 16 July 2022), a dark comedy about an under-employed actor and over-employed dealer named Zayan, Will Jackson's Clutch (19 September to 8 October), exploring an unlikely friendship between a driving instructor and one of his students, and Anoushka Lucas' Elephant (24 October to 12 November), billed as "part gig, part piano lesson, part journey through Empire."

Artistic director Lynette Linton commented: "Our 50th birthday season at the Bush is a celebration of half a century of doing what we do best; providing for and reflecting the community around us, and commissioning plays which give voice to unheard and marginalised voices, often during difficult times.

"Looking back at the plays produced both at our original home above a pub on Shepherd's Bush Green and now our thriving building on the Uxbridge Road, the common thread has been to create debate, to broaden audiences' horizons, and most importantly to entertain.

"It would be impossible to produce this work without the support of our audiences and donors and those donating today may well be helping develop the next Arinzé Kene or Victoria Wood.

"We are very aware of those whose shoulders on which we stand and want to take this opportunity to honour the ground-breaking work they've done, building an international reputation for new writing, launching the careers of thousands of theatre creatives both onstage and behind the scenes, and being an important hub for the local community.

"It's a mission that we cherish and look forward to continuing for another 50 years."

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