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Richardson & Horrocks Celebrate Shawn at Court

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The Royal Court will celebrate the work of Wallace Shawn (pictured) next spring with a season of plays by the American actor and playwright, comprising revivals of The Fever (starring Clare Higgins) and Aunt Dan and Lemon (starring Jane Horrocks) and Shawn’s first new play in ten years, starring the author himself alongside Miranda Richardson, as well as a series of readings.

Other highlights in the Court’s newly announced spring/summer 2009 programme include: new plays by Jez Butterworth (starring Mark Rylance), That Face’s Polly Stenham and Mark Ravenhill and a season commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The theatre also announced today that Ruth Jones, co-writer and co-star of TV’s Gavin and Stacey, will be patron of next year’s Young Writers Festival.

Commenting on the Wallace Shawn season, Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke said: “Wallace Shawn is a true iconoclast and I have been a fan of his work for many years. He is a daringly inventive, experimental playwright who exposes, with painful honesty, the dualities of liberalism in a divided world. Following the debates I\'ve explored in The Pain and The Itch, Rhinoceros and Now or Later, I hope to continue my own examination of what it means to be a liberal humanist in the 21st century with revivals of Wallace\'s classics The Fever and Aunt Dan and Lemon. These will play alongside an extraordinary new play, directed by the legendary André Gregory, and a series of readings of Wallace\'s earlier plays, starting with his debut piece The Hotel Play, directed by David Hare.”


Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

The new schedule kicks off in the main house with the Off the Wall, a season of two new plays about Germany, both directed by Ramin Gray, and readings of various new plays by German writers. According to Cooke: “The Royal Court must constantly seek to examine and explain the world beyond our borders. 2009 is a year of anniversaries for Germany, marking both the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 60th anniversary of its division into East and West. The Royal Court will present British theatre\'s first marking of these momentous anniversaries.”

Running from 5 to 28 February 2009, The Stone, by The Ugly One’s Marius Von Mayenburg, begins in 1934 when a young couple buy a house from a Jewish family. Over the next 60 years, the couple’s daughter discovers the stone and the family return to reclaim and repossess what’s rightfully theirs. It’s followed, from 25 February to 21 March 2009, by Mark Ravenhill’s Over There, in which real-life twin actor-brothers Luke and Harry Treadaway play twins separated by the Berlin Wall and, 25 years later, struggling to reconnect.

The Wallace Shawn season then commences Downstairs with his seminal 1991 monologue The Fever, performed by Clare Higgins. A privileged traveller visits a poor foreign country and becomes ill. As her temperature rises, she contemplates the impact her life has had on the world. It runs from 2 April to 2 May 2009 and is followed, from 20 May to 27 June 2009, by 1985’s Aunt Dan and Lemon, in which Jane Horrocks plays Lemon. Dominic Cooke directs both productions.

The main house season concludes with another new play by Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem, running from 10 July to 15 August 2009. In it, Mark Rylance is Johnny Byron, a local waster and modern-day Pied Piper. It’s directed by former Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson, who also helmed Butterworth’s The Winterling, The Night Heron and his multi award-winning 1995 debut play Mojo at the Court. It comes just four months after the Almeida stages the European premiere of Butterworth’s Parlour Song, also directed by Rickson (See News, 14 Oct 2008).


Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

In the Upstairs studio, the 2009 Young Writers Festival, running from 28 January to 21 March, will see premiere productions of Alia Bano’s Shades, directed by Nina Raine, and Molly Davies’ A Miracle, directed by Lyndsey Turner, as well as readings of work by Hammaad Chaudry, Nick Payne and Zawe Ashton.

Ruth Jones, patron of the 2009 Festival, said: \"I know what it\'s like to have somebody show faith in your work as a writer, and how life-changing it can be when somebody says they like your stuff. I\'m really excited by the plays that have come through this year\'s festival, and I can\'t wait to see them come to life. It was Dominic Cooke who encouraged me to apply to drama school in the first place, and who gave me my first job after that, so I\'m really happy to be working with him again, and with a place as exciting as the Royal Court.”

The Upstairs season concludes with a second play from Polly Stenham, a graduate of the Court’s Young Writers’ Programme whose multi award-winning debut play That Face transferred to the West End earlier this year after its premiere last year at the Court. Tusk Tusk, directed by Jeremy Herrin who also helmed That Face, runs from 28 March to 2 May 2009. In the tale of family ties, three children play hide-and-seek once upon a time in what feels like another country.

- by Terri Paddock

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