Theatre News

Paul Miller announces first season as Orange Tree artistic director

Miller is the first new artistic director in the Richmond venue’s 43-year history

New era: Paul Miller at the Orange Tree
New era: Paul Miller at the Orange Tree

New Orange Tree artistic director Paul Miller has announced his inaugural season, which includes three world premieres and a number of revivals of noted writers' early works.

Miller, who takes the reins from the venue's founder Sam Walters, was previously associate director at Sheffield Crucible where his productions included Democracy by Michael Frayn and Hamlet starring John Simm.

Opening his first season in Richmond in September will be his revival of DH Lawrence's The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (3 Sep – 4 Oct 2014), marking the play's 100th anniversary. Later in the season he will also direct Each His Own Wilderness by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing and Bernard Shaw’s comedy Widowers Houses.

Among the seven productions announced today are three world premieres, from Deborah Bruce, Alice Birch and Alistair McDowall, directed by newcomers to the Orange Tree.

Bruce's The Distance (8 Oct – 8 Nov), directed by Charlotte Gwinner, was nominated for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and is billed as "a tough, funny look at the responsibilities of being a parent, the strength of friendship, and trying to do the right thing."

McDowall's Pomona (12 Nov – 13 Dec) is a "a sinister and surreal thriller", helmed by Ned Bennett; and Birch's Little Light (4 Feb-7 Mar 2015), directed by David Mercatali (Johnny Got His Gun) explores "if we can ever let go".

And in March 2015, award-winning director Paulette Randall (Fences) will stage the first major revival of Play Mas by Mustapha Matura, set before and after the independence of Trinidad.

'Start of a new adventure'

Announcing the season today, Miller said: "It's a mix of new plays and re-discoveries all featuring the early works of seven great writers. Each one takes us to a completely different world."

He also announced some changes to the Orange Tree building, including the introduction of numbered seating and "redecoration" of the auditorium – the only permanent in-the-round theatre in London.

"Looking to the future, we will be working with Haworth Tompkins on ways we can dramatically enhance the audience experience of our buildings," he added. "There's so much to look forward to. It's the start of a new adventure for me and for the Orange Tree, opening up the building to new artists and new audiences."

The Orange Tree will also extend its outreach work, touring three Shakespeare productions to schools, while nearly 20,000 ten pound tickets will be made available to under 30s across the season.