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Goold Unveils Headlong's 2010, Reworks Gulliver

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Hot on the heels of this morning’s transfer announcement for the Headlong production of ENRON, artistic director Rupert Goold has unveiled the company’s 2010 plans, which will include a bold reworking of Jonathan Swift’s 18th-century literary satire Gulliver’s Travels, revivals of Oscar Wilde and Bertolt Brecht, and new plays by Anthony Neilson and Mike Bartlett.

According to press materials, the new season features “provocative, constantly surprising theatre which addresses urgent questions about the way we live today with vitality, wit and theatrical intelligence”. It is Goold’s third season as artistic director of Headlong, the touring outfit formerly known as Oxford Stage Company, which he rebranded and relaunched in 2006 (See News, 29 Aug 2006).

The various productions will premiere at partner theatres across the country, with further casting details and full dates and tour schedules announced in due course.

Headlong’s 2010 season comprises:

  • Gulliver - Rupert Goold reunites with co-adapter Ben Power (with whom he reworked Faustus and, last year, Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, which transferred to the West End and is now touring) to reimagine Gulliver’s Travel, described as “one of the most incendiary experiments in storytelling ever written”. In Swift’s original novel, whose full title is Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships, the protagonist journeys far and wide, having a series of adventures in fantastical lands including Lilliput and Brobdingnag. Headlong’s new version promises to filter “the spirit and the ambition of the novel through the lens of contemporary culture” in a “visceral satiric exploration of identity, sanity and international relations”.
  • The Threepenny Opera - Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1928 political musical comedy, based on John Gay’s 18th-century English work The Beggar’s Opera, is set in the violent underbelly of Victorian London, where the notorious Macheath (“Mack the Knife”) cuts a swathe through the criminal world. This new version, written by David Eldridge and directed by Lucy Bailey, will mark the first major new production in the UK for 15 years, since Jeremy Sams’ translation at the Donmar Warehouse in 1994 (though there was a version, adapted by Nick Dear, called The Villains’ Opera at the National in 2002).
  • Orson Welles in the Land of the Peas - Following this year’s revival of Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness, Anthony Neilson will premiere his new play with Headlong. Examining the clash between art and commerce, the play takes a “comic yet humane look” at Welles, the actor, writer and director whose credits include the classic 1941 film Citizen Kane.
  • Salome - Jamie Lloyd, whose recent credits include Piaf and Three Days of Rain, revives Oscar Wilde’s 1896 verse tragedy, based on the Biblical tale about King Herod’s step-daughter who performs the dance of the seven veils in return for the head of John the Baptist. A co-production with Leicester Curve, it has dates set in Leicester for 6 to 15 May 2010, prior to a regional tour.
  • Earthquakes in London -This new play by Mike Bartlett (who has had success at the Royal Court with Contractions, My Child and the upcoming Cock) is set in cabaret-crazed “Weimar time” capital city and centres on an old man who has seen the future and his three daughter, each falling apart in her own way.
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