Theatre News

Nunn Directs Spacey in Old Vic Wind, Guare\’s Six

The Old Vic has announced the first two productions of its new season, beginning, from 1 October to 20 December 2009 (previews from 18 September), with Trevor Nunn‘s return to the company to direct Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee’s modern classic Inherit the Wind, starring Kevin Spacey. It’s followed, from 19 January to 3 April 2010 (previews from 7 January), by David Grindley‘s revival of John Guare’s Olivier award-winning play Six Degrees of Separation.

Following the first year of Sam Mendes’ The Bridge Project, featuring The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale (See News, 30 May 2008), these new productions mark the beginning of the sixth season for the venue under the artistic directorship of Kevin Spacey.

First performed in 1955 and often considered one of the great American plays of the twentieth century, Inherit the Wind is a fictionalised account the famous 1925 Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trial in which science teacher John Scopes was accused of violating a Tennessee state statute by teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to his students. In the play, two legal titans confront each other when a community puts freedom of thought on trial. It was adapted for the big screen in 1960 starring Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly and Fredric March.

Spacey plays attorney Henry Drummond, the play’s hero, in the production which marks Trevor Nunn‘s first return to the South Bank venue since 2005 when he directed Spacey in Richard II. Inherit the Wind, which is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, is designed by Rob Howell with lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Fergus O’Hare.

John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation hasn’t been seen on a major London stage for nearly 18 years. The play is inspired by the real life story of a flamboyant con artist who managed to convince wealthy residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side he was the son of Sidney Poitier.

Six Degrees of Separation originally debuted on Broadway in 1990 and in 1993 was adapted as a film starring Stockard Channing – reprising her Broadway role – Donald Sutherland and Will Smith. It received its London premiere at the Royal Court in 1992 with a cast including Channing, Adrian Lester and Paul Shelley, when it won the Olivier Awards for Best New Play. This new revival is designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Announcing the new productions, Kevin Spacey commented: “I had a wonderful experience working with Trevor Nunn on Richard II and I am thrilled we’ll be reunited for this timely production of Inherit the Wind. David Grindley’s production of Six Degrees of Separation will, I am sure, be a highly anticipated event. These productions continue the Old Vic tradition of great plays and renowned creative talent and we’re delighted to welcome two of Britain’s finest theatre directors back to our stage.”

Currently at the Old Vic, the summer season kicks off next week (9 June 2009, previews from 23 May) with The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard which run in rep as part of The Bridge Project until 15 August.