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Simon Russell Beale: Director-led seasons are the future of 'demanding drama' in West End

The actor was speaking as The Hothouse prepares to make way for The Pride in Jamie Lloyd's Trafalgar Transformed season

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Simon Russell Beale (centre) with his Hothouse co-stars John Simm and Harry Melling

Simon Russell Beale has roundly endorsed the director-curated seasons currently being staged in the West End by Michael Grandage and Jamie Lloyd.

Russell Beale, who is currently appearing in Lloyd's revival of Pinter's The Hothouse at Trafalgar Studios and previously starred in Grandage's Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward, told WhatsOnStage that he hopes to see more seasons of this type in future.

"There seems to be a huge appetite for straight plays in the West End, and I sense there will be a few directors following Michael and Jamie's example", he said.

"It seems that a group of plays performed together under one umbrella might be the best way to put demanding drama on in the West End."

Russell Beale, who's been described as 'the greatest stage actor of his generation', was speaking at an event attended by the companies of The Hothouse and The Pride, Lloyd's next production in his 'Trafalgar Transformed' season (see rehearsal shots below).

Jamie Lloyd, who was previously Grandage's associate director at the Donmar Warehouse, said that the key to the season, which is produced in collaboration with Ambassador Theatre Group, is cohesion between the productions.

"It means that audiences can buy into a single season and have an expectation of quality," he said. "And it's great to have a home. It's so exciting to be able to direct productions back to back."

Encouraging debate

The two companies also reflected on the importance of encouraging debate around the productions, aided by a series of post-show talks and events.

Hayley Atwell, who will play Sylvia in The Pride, which centres on the issue of gay rights, said: "It seems to me that the Trafalgar Transformed season is all about making theatre as accessible as possible to a diverse audience, and to open up important questions to wider discussion."

Alexi Kaye Campbell, author of The Pride, added that questions raised in the play have become "increasingly important" since it premiered in 2008.

"We're reaching a boiling point in terms of global conciousness of gay issues," he said. "In one part of the world, with everything that's happening with gay marriage, there's incredible progress. But perhaps as a response to that, in other parts of the world there have been violent reactions against it."

Lloyd, who directed the first production of The Pride at the Royal Court, reflected: "When we were thinking about creating a season in the West End, I said that rather than announcing everything in one go, we should try and be as reactive as possible... And this play certainly chimes with the times."

The Hothouse continues until Saturday (3 August), with The Pride opening on 13 August (previews from 8 August)

See also: Our recent interview with Alexi Kaye Campbell

Come on our hosted WhatsOnStage Outing to The Pride on 18 September 2013 and get a top-price ticket, free poster, free drink and access to our post-show Q&A for just £32.00. Click here for more information.