The Actors Centre, the UK's leading professional development organisation, supporting actors and creative talent throughout their careers, is kicking 2020 into high gear by announcing major programming changes including a new senior leadership team.
The John Thaw Studio, which currently stages the celebrated John Thaw Initiative, will see the introduction of one-week runs for work-in-progress productions, which will also include free rehearsal space prior to first performances, as well as access to the management team for advice and guidance, helping to support artists with their development. There will be no up-front costs and the space will be offered on a box-office split. This unique space hopes to open doors for creativity and the future of important works, leading to possible runs at the Centre’s Tristan Bates Theatre and beyond.
In a bid to become a pivotal Off-West End space, the organisation will also introduce four-week runs into its flagship theatre, The Tristan Bates Theatre from October 2020. This is part of a wider revamp to the programming and running of the venue, providing high quality work alongside UK, European and world premieres of plays and musicals.
The impending changes at The Actors Centre are contextualised by the new team, which sees Amanda Davey take on the role of Chief Executive, having previously served as Co-Chief Executive of Greenwich Dance. She will lead the strategic and artistic vision for the organisation, while Mitchell Reeve takes the reins as Theatre Programme Manager. Mitchell is both a producer and General Manager in his own right, with credits including the acclaimed Dark Sublime at Trafalgar Studios. Their first season will be announced later in the year and will run from October 2020.
Theatre Programme Manager Mitchell Reeve comments, I am incredibly honoured and excited to take the reins as Theatre Programme Manager at The Actors Centre — a space dedicated to supporting, developing and nurturing creative talent. In this respect, I am delighted to open up our John Thaw Studio as a home for week-long, work-in-progress pieces wherein productions can truly develop and flourish. I am also excited to introduce longer runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre, where audiences will get the chance to experience a host of UK, European and world premieres.
Amanda Davey, Chief Executive added, In the current political climate, the arts are more essential than ever — they not only reflect society, but have the ability to inform and transform. I am looking forward to a programme of theatre that questions, challenges, entertains and delights in equal measure, and above all, reflects the dynamism and diversity of contemporary UK theatre.
The upcoming April - June season at The Actors Centre (which remains on the existing model of short runs) will feature new and exciting works challenging the boundaries of gender and expectations. From pioneering the Palaeolithic period with female scientist Mary Anning in Peter John Cooper’s Mary Anning: The Mad Woman of Lyme (6th – 9th April), to exposing the continued challenges faced by women in the male dominated workplace in Andrew Cartmel’s Partner in the Firm (26th May – 20th June), and the impact of royal empathy and kindness to thwart AIDS ignorance in the 80s in Bren Gosling’s Moment of Grace (22nd June – 11th July), this season represents a diverse slate of thought-provoking theatre.
The full programme is as follows:
By Peter John Cooper
6th – 9th April
It is 1846, and the little town of Lyme Regis is battered by howling winter-gales. Dying and increasingly dependent on laudanum, Mary Anning reflects on her life. By challenging the status quo and making remarkable strides in a male dominated scientific world, her work threatens to disprove the very foundations she was raised on. Haunted by hallucinations of friends, enemies and even the creatures she spent her life hacking out of the living rock, Anning tries to make sense of her existence in her last moments. AsOne bring their signature blend of narrative, movement, music and striking visuals to tell this story about memory and coming to terms with the past.
By Thomas Holloway
15th April – 2nd May
An 'unsettlingly well-observed', yet darkly humorous, exploration into the greyer areas of sexual harassment.
Bill, a timid yet ambitious young graduate, is unsure if his seemingly supportive boss, Mr. Simon, is in fact hitting on him...
When Mr. Simon’s behaviour escalates, Bill is provoked into reacting in a way he didn’t think himself capable of, leaving him fighting to not pay the consequences of someone else’s actions.
Presented by Kali Theatre
A festival of plays exploring, challenging and reimagining the concept of HOME. Five cutting-edge new plays explore what it means to call Britain ‘home’ in 2020 from the unique perspective of female writers with a South Asian background. The festival will feature script-in-hand performances of five full-length new plays from some of our most exciting and original voices in contemporary theatre writing.
By Andrew Cartmel
26th May – 20th June
Daphne is an ambitious junior agent at a top literary agency. On her first day promoted into her dream job she finds herself plunged into a maelstrom of backstabbing and betrayal. Because her boss Jane has made the potentially fatal mistake of allowing her ex-husband to remain a partner in the firm — and he’s busily conspiring to force Jane out of the very agency she created. But Jane has a plan of her own — and Daphne is part of it…
Partner in the Firm is a comedy with an edge, exposing the challenges women continue to face in a working world where the dice are all still loaded by the men.
By Bren Gosling
22nd June – 11th July
Would you have risked everything to challenge ignorance about AIDS?
It’s 1987. Princess Diana’s landmark visit to a London AIDS ward has sparked world-wide interest, camera crews and a televised interview. But AIDS remains taboo. Even being seen to work on this ward could cost you everything. To change public misconceptions, would you risk it?
Told through the eyes of Jude, a nurse on the ward, Andrew, a patient, and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son, this ground-breaking new play Moment of Grace tells how the Princess’s visit brought critical attention to AIDS awareness through empathy and acts of kindness.
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