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Theatre503 announces an ambitious year of programming in 2020

THEATRE503’s Artistic Director Lisa Spirling has announced an entire year of programming for 2020 at the home of new writers, including the news that all four remaining finalists of the 2018 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award will be staged at the venue by November 2020.

This follows on from the success of Award winner Out of Sorts by Danusia Samal, which premiered in October 2019. In February, the search for the best debut and emerging writers in the world will begin again as the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award opens for submissions.

The 2020 line-up is led by award finalists: Meat by Gillian Greer, directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson; In That Short Space by Joel MacCormack, directed by Nathan Curry; Before Evening Comes by Philana Imade Omorotionmwan, directed by Theatre503’s Carne Associate Director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour; and Milk and Gall by Mathilde Dratwa, directed by Lisa Spirling.

Other 2020 highlights include Andrew Rosendorf’s debut play ,i>Paper Cut, directed by Scott Hurran, which was shortlisted (top 30) for the Award, and Foxes by Dexter Flanders, directed by James Hillier, discovered and developed by the Theatre503 Literary Team from its unsolicited script reading service.

2020 Programme

The Edit by Sarah Gordon, directed by Joe Hufton and produced by Kathryn Bilyard in association with Theatre503 – January 7 to January 11.

We’re not a movie. We’re not a sitcom. We’re very real. I’ve never felt realer than when I was with you.

Five years ago Nick and Elena fell desperately in love. Two years ago they fell out of it. Now they’re questioning whether they could, or should, take a chance on each other again. Together they were glorious. Together they were a disaster. It just depends on how you see it. The Edit has recently toured the UK.

The Violence Series: Hela by Mari Izzard, directed by Dan Jones; The Story by Tess Berry-Hart, directed by David Mercatali; and The American Nightmare by Matthew Bulgo – January 15 to January 18.

It’s chaos out there. Not that I’m complaining. Lotta profit in chaos.

The Violence Series is a trio of dystopian dramas set in a world that is familiar but on fire. Each play explores the themes that divide us and asks profound questions about the darker side of humanity. When does an act become violent? Should we really fight fire with fire? And how far would you go to avoid it?

Fragments of a Complicated Mind by Damilola DK Fashola, directed by Wofai – January 21 to February 1.

Being woke is no longer a taboo, it’s a trend.

Expect belly laughs, uncomfortable truths and razor sharp switches from direct address, to sketches, through to full on dance and poetry. This darkly funny and masterfully crafted combination is steeped in witty word play and playful fearlessness. A scathing mix of shade and satire.

Hear Me Now presents LoveSexIdentityAmbition curated by Titiloa Dawudu – February 4 to February 9.

I am proud to share this space with others who are changing how things are being done and creating legacies; I believe there is room for us all, we just have to hear each other. Now.

LoveSexIdentityAmbition is a weeklong festival of monologues taken from the book Hear Me Now Audition Monologues for Actors of Colour, co-created and edited with Tamasha, and published by Oberon. Each night the audience is invited to participate in discussions by a dynamic, high-energy host around what stories for women of colour are being told in the theatre, and how many more stories there’s still left to tell.

Writers in the festival include Femi Keeling (2017 BBC Writers’ Room alumna and member of the Orange Tree Writers Collective), Rabuah Hussain (whose 4-star debut play Spun is being adapted as a TV series for Wall to Wall) and Guleraana Mir (Offie nominated playwright and one half of The Thelmas).

How To Save A Life written and directed by Stephanie Silver – February 11 to February 15.

Sometimes you forget, that in life, sometimes, the littlest things are the nicest.

Melissa wakes up after collapsing at her Cancer party. And she can’t tell you if she’s dead or alive but she can tell you the story of her life. Join Melissa in this hilarious and heart-wrenching story of one women, one party and a cancer diagnosis.

Meat by Gillian Greer, directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson – February 19 to March 14.

This is more about empowerment
about reaching out to let others know
they’re not alone, ya know?

Two ex-lovers meet for a night of food, drink and reminiscing about old times, when a revelation sets them on a collision course like no other. As conversations about sexual assault become all the more prevalent in Irish society and beyond, two people desperately try to make sense of one bad night, seven years ago. Meat explores the complexities of consent in a relationship with humanity and heart.

Paper Cut by Andrew Rosendorf, directed by Scott Hurran – March 18 to April 11.

It’s the end of the Earth. And if I’m gonna fucking die, at least I want to die knowing I loved.

A young gay American soldier, Kyle, returns from Afghanistan after being injured in an IED blast. Only a paper cut. Or that’s what he wants his friends, family, and a potential new love to believe. Paper Cut is a raw exploration of the physical and emotional toll of returning soldiers and how they navigate their way through another minefield of returning home. A love story through the prism of a soldier.

Foxes by Dexter Flanders, directed by James Hillier – April 22 to May 16.

When you kissed me, I felt like I was flying!

Foxes explores masculinity and identity within London’s Caribbean Community and black street culture. The story follows Daniel, a young black man trying to keep up with his life, which is moving fast. When his relationship with best friend Leon brings an unexpected change it creates turmoil, bringing a taboo into his family home that has the power to tear the closest and most loving relationships apart.

In That Short Space by Joel MacCormack, directed by Nathan Curry – May 20 to June 13.

Maybe I’ll learn for this to be enough. I’ll do the living and he’ll, he’ll come and go.

It’s Adam’s Birthday and his fiancée Kayleigh is trying to remember him. She doesn’t need to think hard to find the laughs, joy and love. But it’s complicated. Eighteen months ago Adam took his own life and she is struggling. 2018 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award finalist Joel MacCormack explores the trauma of suicide (still the most likely cause of death for men under the age of 50) and its sustained impact on those left behind.

Before Evening Comes by Philana Imade Omorotionmwan, directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour – September 9 to October 3.

The Chaco Lizards would change the color of their skin. If only that were something that I could or that you would be able to do.

Before Evening Comes explores a future where the perceived threat that young boys of colour pose has finally been eliminated. The government mandates that once a boy turns thirteen, his right leg is to be amputated just above the knee. Before Evening Comes is a devastating and terrifying allegory for a future that no longer seems as far-fetched as we can imagine, potently written with poetry and dance.

Milk and Gall by Mathilde Dratwa, directed by Lisa Spirling – October 14 to November 7.

I used to be a person in focus. Now I’m blurred. I’m just floating.

Giving birth the same night America brought forth its 45th and most divisive President, Vera is trapped in a world of diapers, breast pumps and padsicles while everyone else she knows is out marching. The personal and the political collide in this funny, surrealist play exploring the terror of the mundane. Milk and Gall holds up a microscope to the experience of being a new mother under Trump.

Lisa Spirling, Artistic Director said:

“2019 was an incredible year for Theatre503. As well as the success of Danusia’s beautiful play Out of Sorts, we had two of the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award nominees, Yasmin Joseph (for J’Ouvert) and Ross Willis (who was also nominated for a Stage Debut Award, Writers’ Guild Award, and multiple Off West End Theatre Awards for Wolfie). We also celebrated 10 years of Rapid Write Response – an initiative that has propelled many writers into great careers, including this year’s Bruntwood Prize Winner Phoebe Éclair Powell, and its Judges Award winner Stuart Slade.

“We follow this outstanding year by stepping up our ambition even further. We are thrilled to announce that every single remaining finalist of our 2018 International Playwriting Award will receive its world premiere on our stage by the end of 2020, unprecedented for any playwriting award. Theatre503 prides itself on matchmaking incredible writers with brilliant artists to bring their words to life and we can’t wait to shine a light on these brilliant new voices exploring stories we haven’t heard before on the UK stage.”

For more information or to book tickets, call 020 7978 7040 or visit