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Hampstead Premieres Brecht’s Last Play Turandot

Hampstead Theatre will launch its newly announced autumn season with the UK premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s (pictured) last play Turandot, which will be followed by new plays by Alexis Zegerman and Polly Teale and, for Christmas, a musical version of the classic children’s book The Little Prince.

Turandot, which will run from 8 September to 4 October 2008 (previews from 4 September) was written just before Brecht’s death in 1956 and has not previously been staged in Britain though the story, inspired by a Chinese fairytale, has been presented in other forms, not least Puccini’s popular opera.

The Brecht play is newly translated by Edward Kemp, whose other adaptations include Golding’s Nathan the Wise, which ran at Hampstead in 2004. Chipo Chung plays Princess Turandot, with David Yip. The production is directed by Hampstead artistic director Anthony Clark and designed by Garance Marneur.

Turandot is followed, from 9 to 25 October 2008 (previews from 7 October), by Mine, a new play written and directed by Shared Experience artistic director Polly Teale. A couple have a beautiful home and a glamorous life – they have everything they could wish for, except the one thing they want most of all. A baby. Teale won the 2003 Evening Standard Award for Best Director for her play After Mrs Rochester, which transferred to the West End. This new co-production of Mine visits London as part of an autumn tour.

Actress Alexis Zegerman’s new comedy Lucky Seven receives its world premiere at Hampstead on 4 November 2008 (previews from 31 October) and continues until 22 November. Using Granada Television’s Seven UP! documentary series as inspiration, the play focuses on three participants who are contracted to meet once every seven years to have their lives scrutinised by the nation and each other. Anthony Clark directs.

Clark also directs the next production, his own adaptation of The Little Prince. The children’s show has a Christmas season from 8 December 2008 to 10 January 2009 (previews from 4 December). The third most printed book in the world, after The Bible and Gone With the Wind, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s original 1943 French book has been translated into over 180 languages.

In addition, actor Michael Pennington will pay homage to two of his favourite playwrights when he brings his one-man shows about Shakespeare and Chekhov, Sweet William and Anton Chekhov, to Hampstead for a week of performances from 24 to 29 November 2008.

Commenting on the new season today, Anthony Clark said: “This season will be the first to benefit from the uplift in funding we received from the Arts Council earlier this year. With the extra support, we are extremely proud to be producing three of our own commissions and presenting work from some of the most talented emerging and established writers in the country.”

- by Terri Paddock


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