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Donmar Warehouse announces Michael Longhurst's first season as Artistic Director

Season preview

THE Donmar Warehouse has announced Michael Longhurst’s first season as Artistic Director.

The first production will be a revival of David Greig’s visionary early play Europe, directed by Michael Longhurst in his first production as Artistic Director of the Donmar (June 20 to August 10, 2019). Written 25 years ago, it is prophetic in its vision of Europe today – as a continent, a refuge, an idea.

This is what a border is. A magic money line.

Something changed today. The trains are no longer stopping at the border and no one knows why. Plus, the stationmaster has two new arrivals to deal with. Arrivals that will divide the local population.

The cast includes Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon, On Chesil Beach), Kevork Malikyan (Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Cut), Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones, The Darkest Hour), Stephen Wight (The Paradise, Bluestone 42), and Shane Zaza (Happy Valley, Press).

The Donmar will then stage the UK premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, which takes on the rich tradition of American family drama (August 16 to October 5, 2019). Jacobs-Jenkins’ play, set on a former slave plantation, about ghosts and the legacies we are left with will be directed by Ola Ince. Casting includes Monica Dolan (All About Eve, Appropriate Adult).

So I thought, since we can’t do Europe this summer, why don’t the kids and I just do a little Southern History road trip? We’re going to drive back home through Mississippi, Louisiana – all those places – experience some of Daddy’s heritage.

The Lafayette family gather at their late father’s home in Arkansas to bury the hatchet and prepare the former plantation for its Estate Sale. Until, that is, they make a discovery which changes everything.

The full-length premiere of a new play by Alice Birch [BLANK], will be directed by Maria Aberg who is making her Donmar Warehouse debut (October 11 to November 30, 2019). [BLANK] is a co-production to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Clean Break Theatre Company and will feature an all-female cast of 15, including women who have lived-experience of the criminal justice system, and an all-female creative team.

When she was little, she was so happy. I know everyone says that. I do.

[BLANK] takes a kaleidoscopic view of what happens when a woman goes to prison.

Europe

The UK premiere of Teenage Dick, US playwright Mike Lew’s high school take on Shakespeare’s Richard III, is a dark and funny story about the rise of a teenage despot (December 6, 2019 to February 1, 2020). Examining disability and power, Teenage Dick is directed by Artistic Director Michael Longhurst with actor Daniel Monks as Richard.

As winter formal gives way to glorious spring fling, Richard – the class loser – lusts for power at Roseland High.

After years of torment due to his hemiplegia, Richard plots the ultimate rise in power: to become president of his senior class. But like all teenagers, and all despots, he is faced with the hardest question of all: is it better to be loved, or feared?

Finally, in early 2020, director Lyndsey Turner will return to the Donmar Warehouse to revive Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, 20 years on from its premiere (February 6 to March 21, 2020).

You’ve found something secret. You know that don’t you?

In a cottage far away, a child wakes to the sound of screaming. Who will tell her what’s really going on? And where will the discoveries she makes that night take her in the years to come?

Far Away is a dazzling play about a world sliding into chaos.

Also included in Michael Longhurst’s first season is Writing Wrongs as part of the previously announced Fly The Flag. Inspired by Ai Weiwei’s Flag celebrating universal human rights, Writing Wrongs brings together writers including Zainab Hasan, Sabrina Mahfouz, Natasha Simone, Monsay Whitney and Alexandra Wood with school and community groups for a 6-month project to create monologues that explore what these rights mean to them personally.

The project will see these monologues released as films, alongside performances in public spaces across London during Fly The Flag Week between June 24 and 30, and invite people across the country to create their own films in response.

Michael Longhurst has appointed Roy Alexander Weise as the first of his Artistic Associates at the Donmar.

Far Away

The Donmar’s Resident Assistant Director scheme also continues, with the appointment of Thomas Bailey and Blythe Stewart, who will each assist on three productions during the next year. Alumni of the scheme include former Donmar Artistic Director Josie Rourke, Bush Theatre Artistic Director Lynette Linton, and Almeida Theatre Artistic Director Rupert Goold. The Donmar Warehouse’s Resident Assistant Director scheme is supported by The Steel Charitable Trust.

The Donmar is continuing its commitment to engaging new audiences by simplifying ticket access schemes and launching the DONMAR DAILY RELEASE. This new scheme will see a minimum of 40 additional tickets released for sale every morning for the performance 7 days later. Audiences can sign up to receive information about productions and ticketing on the Donmar’s website (www.donmarwarehouse.com/).

The Donmar’s successful free ticket scheme for those aged under 26, YOUNG+FREE, will continue to offer seats for performances across the new season with tickets released on the final Friday of every month. YOUNG+FREE is funded through the generosity of audiences via the Donmar’s PAY IT FORWARD scheme. These donations have allowed the Donmar to allocate more than 16,000 free tickets to those aged under 26.

Speaking about his first season Artistic Director Michael Longhurst said:

“I couldn’t be more excited to announce my first season as Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse.

“This is a theatre I’ve adored for years. I once even slept outside overnight to get a ticket. For me, the Donmar is a magical space designed to ignite theatrical fireworks; an intimate space in which to congregate and expand our horizons. I’m honoured to be here and can’t wait to get started.

In June, I’ll be kicking it all off by directing David Greig’s Europe. A masterpiece of modern British theatre, my production will be the play’s 25-year revival. Europe is prophetic in its vision for our complex continent. A story of borders and refugees; hope, conflict and love – it knocks me off my feet and I am sure you will feel the same.

“Then, from August, you can catch the UK premiere of Appropriate by playwrighting sensation Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Stealing tropes from the great American canon, Branden’s riotous family drama uncovers buried secrets and asks what the correct response is. I’m delighted that rising star Ola Ince will direct.

Teenage Dick

“Following on, from October we share with you a new play by Alice Birch, one of the UK’s most daring playwrights. Mapping the far-reaching effects of our criminal justice system on the lives of women, [BLANK] is an invitation to see our society anew. Visionary director Maria Aberg helms this co-production with Clean Break, who are celebrating 40 years of making ground-breaking work with women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. I’m immensely proud to share the Donmar’s stage with them.

“I can’t wait to direct the UK premiere of Mike Lew’s genuinely hilarious play, Teenage Dick, which will open in December. Set in an American high school, it’s a cheeky and subversive take on Shakespeare’s Richard III, exploring our society’s treatment of disability and how it is represented. I am delighted that the incredible actor Daniel Monks will lead the cast as Richard.

“Finally, I am thrilled Lyndsey Turner will return to the Donmar to direct Caryl Churchill’s Far Away. This extraordinary piece about a divided planet sliding into chaos is a landmark play of the 21st century, and I can’t wait to bring it to the Donmar 20 years after its explosive premiere.”

Read more about Michael Longhurst.

Images (top): Michael Longhurst and Henny Finch outside the Donmar Warehouse. Photo by Helen Maybanks. Followed by Europe, Far Away and Teenage Dick.