Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw, Simon Russell Beale Among Lineup for London Theatre Company's Season at the Bridge Theatre

Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw, Simon Russell Beale Among Lineup for London Theatre Company's Season at the Bridge Theatre

London Theatre Company announces the first productions at its new Bridge Theatre, which opens this October on the river by Tower Bridge and City Hall.

The theatre opens on 26 October 2017 (previews from 18 October) with a new comedy, Young Marx by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner with Rory Kinnear in the title role. This is followed in January by Julius Caesar, staged in promenade by Nicholas Hytner, with Ben Whishaw as Brutus. Then in April comes a new play, Nightfall, by rising playwright and novelist Barney Norris, directed by Laurie Sansom. Tickets for these three productions go on sale today (priority booking from 19 April, public booking opens 27 April) priced from £15 to £65 with a limited number of premium seats available[i].

From summer 2018, productions will include a new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane; a new play by Nina Raine about JS Bach, played by Simon Russell Beale; flatpack, a new play by John Hodge; The Black Cloud, a new play by Sam Holcroft from the novel by Fred Hoyle; and Carmen Havana, a version of Bizet's opera by Lucy Prebble with choreography by Miguel Altunaga and directed by Nicholas Hytner.

London Theatre Company, which was founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr on leaving the National Theatre after twelve years, will focus on the commissioning and production of new shows, as well as staging the occasional classic. At The Bridge, it will present four or five new productions year-round, playing Tuesday to Sunday, plus a Monday night programme which will include intimate gigs, the live recording of a new podcast series and conversations on food, fashion, politics and science.

Backed by a small group of senior Venture Capital investors, LTC's raison d'être is to create a culture, ethos and economic model that supports writers, directors, designers and actors to work at scale in a space that is complementary to those of the subsidised theatre and West End. In time LTC hopes to open more theatres in London, to be able to host productions from the subsidised theatre, and to transfer its own productions to the West End and beyond.

LTC commissioned the new theatre from architect Steve Tompkins. He and his colleague Roger Watts at Haworth Tompkins have designed a 900-seat adaptable auditorium that can respond to shows with different formats, among them end-stage, thrust-stage and promenade (each of which will be used in the course of the opening three productions).

The Bridge is the first wholly new theatre of scale to be added to London's commercial theatre sector in 80 years[ii], and the first to be built outside the historic West End. It has a stunning riverside location at the foot of Tower Bridge next to City Hall and is 5-10 minutes' walk from the transport hub of London Bridge, whose new concourse opens onto Tooley Street in spring next year. The Bridge is situated in Berkeley Homes' One Tower Bridge development amongst ten new restaurants opening this year[iii].

Haworth Tompkins, who won the Stirling Prize in 2014 for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, collaborated frequently with Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre, including on the recent NT refurbishment, the Shed and NT Studio and also with Nick Starr on the Almeida's two temporary theatres at King's Cross and at Gainsborough Studios.

The Bridge auditorium is a collaboration between Haworth Tompkins, LTC and Tait Stage Technologies - winner of two Queen's Awards for Export. It is made of precision-engineered steel with oak finishes in a modular construction - a first of its kind - which also incorporates the air conditioning, house lights, power and data.

Nicholas Hytner said: "We want to make bold popular theatre. We've commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we've built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible: a theatre that can be changed to suit the show. We reckon that London needs new theatres, designed for the shows that people make in the 21st century and the expectations that audiences have for a really good night out."

Nick Starr said: "After the National Theatre, it was time for something new and scary. London is a brilliant city for making and seeing theatre, evidenced by the 25% increase in audiences over the last fifteen years. We think there's room for a new independent on the scene, driven by both a mission and a bottom line. We hope that will resonate with artists and audiences, and are hugely looking forward to welcoming them to The Bridge."

[1] A special allocation of £15 seats will be held for Young Bridge, a free scheme for those under 26

[2] "No entirely new theatre has been built on a wholly commercial basis since the Prince of Wales in 1937." Act Now! Modernising London's West End Theatres, a report by The Theatres Trust 2003, page 10.

[3] The restaurants thus far confirmed are: The Ivy, Tom Simmons, The Coal Shed and Rosa's Thai


Productions:

October - December 2017

Nicholas Hytner directs the opening production with Rory Kinnear as

YOUNG MARX

in the world premiere of a new comedy by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman

1850, and Europe's most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy.

Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there's still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.

Rory Kinnear plays Marx and Oliver Chris, Engels. The production reunites the creative team behind Richard Bean's smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors, with direction by Nicholas Hytner, design by Mark Thompson, music by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Arditti.

The run is from 18 October (opening night Thursday 26 October) until 31 December 2017.

The show will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in December.

January - April 2018

David Calder, Michelle Fairley, David Morrissey and Ben Whishaw in

JULIUS CAESAR

by William Shakespeare, directed by Nicholas Hytner in promenade

Caesar returns in triumph to Rome and the people pour out of their homes to celebrate. Alarmed by the autocrat's popularity, the educated élite conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, civil war erupts on the streets of the capital.

Nicholas Hytner's production will be in promenade, thrusting its audience into the street party that greets Caesar's return, the congress that witnesses his murder, the rally that assembles for his funeral and the chaos that explodes in its wake. Ben Whishaw and Michelle Fairley play Brutus and Cassius, leaders of the coup, David Calder plays Caesar and David Morrissey is Mark Antony, who brings Rome back under control after the conspirators' defeat.

With seating wrapped around the action, there will also be 250 promenading tickets at £25 available in advance for each performance. The production designer is Bunny Christie, with costumes by Christina Cunningham, music by Nick Powell, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Paul Arditti.

The run is from 20 January (opening night Tuesday 30 January) until 15 April 2018.

The show will be broadcast on National Theatre Live in March 2018.

April to June 2018

Laurie Sansom to direct the world premiere of Barney Norris's

NIGHTFALL

On a farm outside Winchester, Ryan struggles to make a living off the land. His sister Lou has returned home after the death of their father to support Jenny, their formidable mother. Not so long ago, when a neighbour's Labrador strayed onto The Farm, their dad reached for his shotgun. Now, when Lou's boyfriend Pete reappears, flush with money from his job at an oil refinery, Jenny fights to hold her children to the life she planned for them.

"Everything he writes about love, loss, grief, desolation, and moments of hope and illumination rings absolutely true." - Michael Frayn

The run is from 28 April (opening night Tuesday 8 May) until 3 June 2018.

From summer 2018:

ALYS, ALWAYS

A new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel by Harriet Lane. Nicholas Hytner directs an unsettling story of concealed ambition preying on the self-regard of London's literary élite.

FLATPACK

A new dark comedy by John Hodge, screenwriter of Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, his first play since Collaborators at the National Theatre.

A NEW PLAY ABOUT JS BACH

Simon Russell Beale plays JS Bach in Nina Raine's new play.

THE BLACK CLOUD

A new play by Sam Holcroft, from the 1957 novel by Fred Hoyle, "one of the greatest works of science fiction ever written" Richard Dawkins.

CARMEN HAVANA

based on the opera by Georges Bizet

Lucy Prebble locates the famous story of liberation, desire and death in 1950s Cuba. Directed by Nicholas Hytner with choreography by Miguel Altunaga.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Nicholas Hytner was Director of the National Theatre from 2003 to 2015, where the productions he directed included The History Boys, Hamlet, One Man, Two Guvnors, and Othello. His films include The Madness of King George. His book Balancing Acts is published by Jonathan Cape on 27 April.

Nick Starr CBE was Executive Director of the NT from 2002 to 2014, and previously of the Almeida Theatre 1997-2001. He has chaired the boards of BAC and the Bush Theatre.

Richard Bean's most recent plays include The Hypocrite (which has just completed a run at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre), Kiss Me, The Nap and Toast. His other writing includes Made in Dagenham, Great Britain, The Mentalists and Pitcairn. He adapted David Mamet's House of Games and wrote a new version of The Hypochondriac both for the Almeida Theatre. Nicholas Hytner directed Bean's internationally award-winning play One Man, Two Guvnors which in 2011 was the recipient of the Evening Standard Award for Best Play alongside his play The Heretic, making Bean the first writer to win the award for two plays in the same yeaR. Bean's play Kiss Me will transfer from Hampstead Theatre to the Trafalgar Studios in June.

Clive Coleman is a barrister turned BBC News Legal Correspondent who is also an award-winning comedy and sitcom writer. His television comedy credits include Spitting Image and Dead Ringers, though he is perhaps best known for Chambers, his hit Radio 4 and BBC1 sitcom about barristers starring John Bird and Sarah Lancashire. A regular contributor to Weekending and The News Huddlines, Coleman also wrote the Radio 4 sitcoms Hair In The Gate starring Alistair McGowan and Rebecca Front and Spending My Inheritance starring KriS Marshall and Kenneth Cranham. He wrote the radio comedy Control Group 6 with Richard Bean, and they collaborated on Great Britain for the National Theatre, directed by Nicholas Hytner.

David Calder was last on stage in The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at Hampstead Theatre. His other theatre credits include The Nether at Duke of York's Theatre, The Audience at the Apollo Theatre, The Doctor's Dilemma and Hamlet at the National Theatre, King Lear at Shakespeare's Globe, Rock 'n' Roll at Duke of York's Theatre, Five Gold Rings at the Almeida, The Drawer Boy at the Abbey Dublin, The Little Foxes at the Donmar Warehouse, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, Moscow Gold for the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Price and Othello for The Young Vic.

Oliver Chris is reunited with Nicholas Hytner following their work on Great Britain and One Man, Two Guvnors, both for the National Theatre where he can currently be seen in Twelfth Night. His other theatre credits include King Charles III for the Almeida Theatre and in the West End, Closer at the Donmar Warehouse, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle Theatre, A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, Cyrano at the Royal Exchange Theatre and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Theatre Royal Northampton.

Lucinda Coxon's plays include Herding Cats at the Theatre Royal Bath and Hampstead Theatre, The Eternal Not for the National Theatre, the award-winning Happy Now for the National Theatre, Yale Rep and Primary Stages New York, Nostalgia and Vesuvius for the South Coast Repertory Theater, Improbabilities for Soho Poly, Wishbones, Waiting at the Water's Edge for the Bush Theatre. Her plays for National Theatre Connections include What Are They Like?, The Shoemaker's Incredible Wife from Federico García Lorca and The Ice Palace from Tarjei Vesaas. She has commissions for new work from the National Theatre and Yale Rep.

Michelle Fairley was last seen on stage in Splendour for the Donmar Warehouse for which she also appeared in Othello and The Wild Duck. Her other theatre credits include Oleanna, Remembrance Day and Loyal Women for the Royal Court, The Weir also for the Royal Court and on Broadway, Dancing at Lughnasa at the Old Vic, Huis Clos and Gates of Gold at the Trafalgar Studios and Scenes from the Big Picture at the National Theatre.

After graduating in Medicine at Edinburgh University, John Hodge practised as a doctor before turning to screenwriting. His first screenplay was Shallow Grave. His scripts since then include Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, The Sweeney, Trance, The Program, and T2:Trainspotting. He has written one play, Collaborators.

Sam Holcroft's stage version of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox opened at Nuffield Theatre, Southampton for Christmas 2016 before transferring to the Lyric Hammersmith and followed by a UK tour. Her other plays include Rules for Living, Edgar and Annabel - part of Double Feature 1, for the National Theatre, The Wardrobe for National Theatre Connections, Dancing Bears for Clean Break at Soho Theatre and Latitude Festival, While You Lie at the Traverse Theatre, Pink for the Tricycle Theatre, Vanya, adapted from Chekhov, at The Gate and Cockroach - co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Traverse Theatre. Holcroft wrote a libretto, The House Taken Over, for the Festival d'Aix en Provence and Académie Européenne de Musique. She was the Writer-in-Residence at the National Theatre Studio from 2013-14 and was the Pearson Playwright in Residence at the Traverse Theatre in 2009-10. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize for Literature in the Drama category, and in 2009 she won the Tom Erhardt Playwriting Award for up and coming writers.

Multi-award winning Rory Kinnear was last on stage in The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre, where he has previously collaborated with Nicholas Hytner on Othello, Hamlet, The Man of Mode and Southwark Fair. Also for the National he has been seen in The Last of the Haussmans, Burnt by the Sun, The Revenger's Tragedy and Phillistines. For the Royal Shakespeare Company his credits include The Taming of the Shrew and Cymbeline. His other theatre credits include Mary Stuart at the Donmar Warehouse and the Apollo Theatre, The Trial at the Young Vic, Measure for Measure at the Almeida and Festen at the Lyric Theatre. Kinnear is also an award-winning playwright for his debut play The Herd and this year made his directorial debut with the English National Opera's production of A Winter's Tale.

Before the 2012 publication of her debut novel Alys, Always, Harriet Lane wrote for the Guardian, the Observer, Vogue and Tatler. Alys, Always was a You Book Club choice, longlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and shortlisted for the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Book award. Her second novel Her was published in June 2014 and was a Waterstones Book Club pick for spring 2015.

David Morrissey's most recent theatre credits include Hangmen at the Royal Court and subsequently Wyndham's Theatre, Macbeth for the Liverpool Everyman, In a Dark Dark House for the Almeida Theatre, Three Days of Rain for the Donmar Warehouse, Peer Gynt for the National Theatre, The Cabinet Minister at the Royal Exchange, Manchester and El Cid and WC/PC for The Liverpool Playhouse. For the Royal Shakespeare Company his credits are King John, Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III.

Upon graduating from university Barney Norris founded Up In Arms Theatre Company, of which he is the co-artistic director. His first play Visitors ran at the Arcola Theatre before transferring to the Bush Theatre, winning him the 2014 Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. His other full-length plays are Eventide, Echo's End and While We're HerE. Norris is the author of a bestselling novel, Five Rivers Met in a Wooded Plain, and a book on theatre: To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill. His second novel, Turning For Home, will be published in 2018, as well as a second non-fiction study, The Wellspring, a book of conversations with his father, the composer David Owen Norris.

Lucy Prebble is a writer for film, television, games and theatre. Her last play, The Effect, a study of love and neuroscience, was performed at the National Theatre and won the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play. She also wrote ENRON, which transferred to the West End and Broadway after sell-out runs at both the Royal Court and Chichester Festival Theatre. Her first play, The Sugar Syndrome won her the George Devine Award. For television, she is the creator of the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl for ITV and has just made a pilot TV episode for HBO starring Sarah Silverman. She has written a column for the Observer newspaper on technology and was Head Scene Writer for Bungie's massive first person shooter, Destiny. She is now working on a new TV series starring Billie Piper.

Nina Raine's debut play Rabbit (Old Red Lion, Trafalgar Studios, 59E59 New York) won her the Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Most Promising Playwright. Her last play for the Royal Court, Tribes also ran in New York at the Barrow Street Theatre for one year, where it won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play. Tribes has also been produced in LA, Chicago, throughout Europe and the rest of the world, and has been translated into more than ten different languages. Her latest play, Consent, is currently playing at the National Theatre. Raine is also an award-wining director.

Simon Russell Beale has worked extensively for both the National Theatre where his most recent credits include King Lear, Timon of Athens, Collaborators, London Assurance, A Slight Ache and Major Barbara and the Royal Shakespeare Company where his multiple credits include The Tempest, King Lear, Ghosts, Richard III, The Seagull, Edward II and Troilus & Cressida. His other theatre credits include Mr Foote's Other Leg at Hampstead Theatre and the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Temple, The Philanthropist, Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night all for the Donmar Warehouse, The Hothouse at the Trafalgar Studios, Privates On Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre, The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, world tour and at the Old Vic, Monty Python's Spamalot at the Palace Theatre and in New York, Julius Caesar at the Barbican and internationally, Macbeth for the Almeida Theatre, Jumpers at the Piccadilly Theatre and in New York and Humble Boy at the Gielgud Theatre.

As Chief Executive/Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland Laurie Sansom directed Rona Munro's The James Plays which were co-presented by the Edinburgh International Festival and The National Theatre of Great Britain and toured the world. Sansom was previously Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where he directed the UK premiers of Tennessee Williams' Spring Storm and Eugene O'Neill's Beyond The Horizon and The Festival of Chaos for London 2012. He was also Alan Ayckbourn's Associate Director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Ben Whishaw was last seen on stage in The Crucible at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. His other theatre credits include Bakkhai for the Almeida Theatre, Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Peter and Alice at the Noël Coward, The Pride at the Lucille Lortel Theatre off Broadway, Cock at the Royal Court, Leaves of Glass at the Soho Theatre, Mercury Fur for Paines Plough and Hamlet at the Old Vic, as well as The Seagull, Some Trace of Her and His Dark Materials all for the National Theatre, the latter directed by Nicholas Hytner.

For more information, visit www.bridgetheatre.co.uk.


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