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Announcing the World Premiere of Sunnymead Court, Presented by Defibrillator in Association with The Actors Centre

Announcing the World Premiere of Sunnymead Court, Presented by Defibrillator in Association with The Actors Centre

14 August 2020

Following the announcement from government that indoor theatre can return with social distancing, The Actors Centre is delighted to announce the world première of Gemma Lawrence’s new play Sunnymead Court, presented by Defibrillator in association with The Actors Centre. The production continues the collaboration between Lawrence and Defibrillator’s James Hillier following the critically acclaimed Not Talking at the Arcola Theatre.

The production opens at the Tristan Bates Theatre at The Actors Centre on 24 September, with previews from 22 September, and runs until 3 October. Social distancing measures will be in operation at the Tristan Bates Theatre and throughout The Actors Centre, with a maximum capacity of 28 seats for each performance, with tickets available in singles or pairs only. All patrons, unless they have a known medical condition, will be required to wear a mask at the venue, and for the duration of the 45minute performance. For full details on the measures implemented to ensure audience safety and wellbeing, please see: Also, acknowledging the new normal, an online version of Sunnymead Court will also be available during its run, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Artistic Director of Defibrillator James Hillier said today, “After months of uncertainty across the theatre industry, it’s an utter joy to announce a return to live theatre, and to reunite with the extraordinary talent that is Gemma Lawrence on her debut play Sunnymead Court - a piece that has been written specifically for these times.”

Mitchell Reeve, Theatre Programme Manager at The Actors Centre added, “The last number of months have been devastating for our industry and at The Actors Centre, we stand in solidarity with the thousands of creatives whose livelihoods have been decimated by Covid-19. At The Actors Centre, like many unsubsidised organisations, this pandemic has forced us to explore new ways of working so that we can remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting artists.

“We are honoured to be working alongside Defibrillator to present this truly unique piece of theatre, which will mark the first production at The Actors Centre since our closure in March. A tale for the times we find ourselves in — which has been created with social distancing at its core — Sunnymead Court is a powerful piece of new writing which stands as a testament to the resilience of creativity despite these incredibly difficult times. We have been dreaming of the day we could welcome audiences back to our building, and we know that Sunnymead Court is a production which will resonate deeply and profoundly.

“We also want to take this opportunity to reassure audiences that the appropriate Covid-19 safety measures will be in operation throughout our building to ensure a seamless, enjoyable and safe theatre experience. Our online programmes will continue throughout this time and the building will open only for this production.”

About Sunnymead Court

Presented by Defibrillator in association with The Actors Centre

By Gemma Lawrence

Directed by James Hillier; Produced by Jack Holden

22 September – 3 October 2020

Press night: 24 September at 7pm & 8.30pm

"It’s been hot for days and now the air is heavy with the promise of something else. Thick. With something else."

From her balcony, Marie blasts out the same tune, every day at 11am. On hers, Stella tends to red geraniums bursting with colour and life.

Two tower blocks facing each other. Two women who are looking for something more. 

After a chance encounter in a hailstorm, they start to embark on a new relationship conducted from the safety of their balconies. But when a flurry of miscommunication jeopardises their relationship, will they have the courage to make it work in a world that is changing faster than ever?

Click here to book tickets.

About the Creative Team

Gemma Lawrence is a writer and actor. Previous writing includes straight vodka for Theatre503's Rapid Write Response, Ribbons performed at Bloom Theatre's SAPLINGS, and REWILD, performed at Omnibus Theatre and now being developed into a full-length piece as part of the London Playwrights 2020 programme. Homecoming was commissioned for The Space's Locked Down Looking Up season, and starred Patsy Ferran. As an actor, her theatre work includes Not Talking (Arcola Theatre), Five Plays: Nuclear (Young Vic), Wasted (Orange Tree Theatre), All My Sons (Hong Kong Arts Festival), The Tempest (Southwark Playhouse), As You Like It, Children of the Sun (National Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe), Gaslight (Salisbury Playhouse), Lee Harvey Oswald (Finborough Theatre), XY: Hopelessly Devoted To You (Theatre503), The Cherry Orchard (Bristol Tobacco Factory, Rose Theatre), Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Redgrave Theatre), The Wild Party (Bristol Tobacco Factory), and Rough Cuts: The Lion’s Mouth (Royal Court Theatre). Her television credits include Shakespeare and Hathaway, 18 – Clash of Futures, Luther, Misfits, 1066, Waking the Dead, Time of Your Life, Stir it Up, All About George, and Ahead of the Class. For film, her credits include Frail, A Bunch of Amateurs, and Enlightenment.

James Hillier established Defibrillator Theatre Company in 2011. His directing credits include, most recently Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (site specific production at Norman’s Coach & Horses) , the world première of Mike Bartlett’s Not Talking (Arcola Theatre - OFFIE Nomination for Best Director),  A Lie of the Mind by Sam Shepard (Southwark Playhouse), Terry Johnson’s Insignificance at Langham Place, New York, the Premiere production of Tennessee Williams’ The Hotel Plays at the Grange Hotel in 2012 and The Langham, London in 2014. The Armour by Ben Ellis at The Langham in 2015 which won the Audience Experience Award at Le Miami Rebels, Doug Lucie’s Hard Feelings at the Finborough in 2013. He has directed a number of short films, including How To Make A Good First Impression Part 1 went on to win awards at Tribecca Film Festival and Cannes. He was due to direct the world première of Dexter Flanders at Theatre503 when the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced. He trained as an actor at RADA. In theatre he has worked in the West End and Broadway, and venues including the National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Bush Theatre, Young Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. For television, he was a series regular in season 1 and 2 of The Crown for NETFLIX.

Further Information:

DEFIBRILLATOR brings a spark of life to stories that have been forgotten or looking for creative re-invention. The company has a growing reputation for delivering inspiring and entertaining theatre in both conventional and non-theatre settings.

Twitter: @defibtheatre

Facebook: /defibrillatortheatre


Established in 1978, THE ACTORS CENTRE is the UK’s leading professional development organisation, supporting actors and creative talent throughout their careers. Through an unrivalled programme of diverse workshops and masterclasses — led by distinguished practitioners from the worlds of theatre, film and television — The Actors Centre provides an essential space for artists to network, to share, to create, to thrive. We strive to programme an eclectic mix of original, evocative, diverse and challenging theatre that attracts a wide and varied audience.

At the core of our organisation is a commitment to supporting artists — offering opportunities to emerging, as well as established, artists and companies. Our flagship theatre space, the Tristan Bates Theatre, established in 1994, is a celebrated off-West End venue, presenting high quality, four week plays and musicals. Our smaller space, the John Thaw Studio promotes new writing and work-in-progress and allows artists to receive vital feedback on work currently in development. The John Thaw Studio is also home to the John Thaw Initiative, with each season tailored towards supporting a particular demographic of artist, or a particular theme of work.

Twitter and Facebook: @theActorsCentre

Instagram: @ theactorscentre_


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