First Casting Announced For DEAR ELIZABETH At The Gate Theatre

The Gate Theatre have announced their next production, Dear Elizabeth, a two-hander by award winning US playwright Sarah Ruhl will be performed by a series of guest actors including Travis Alabanza, Jade Anouka,Tim Crouch, Tamsin Greig and Alex Jennings.

Dear Elizabeth will run at the venue from 17 January - 9 February 2019.

For each performance throughout the run, two actors will take the roles of poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, whose correspondence, amounting to over 400 letters over their lifetime is a compelling and moving story of two soul-mates - an unconventional and intense relationship spanning decades, continents and political eras. The full cast will be announced in the new year.

Director Ellen McDougall said 'One of the reasons this play feels so powerful is that it presents the idea that we can have intimate, intense relationships that resist easy definition. Robert and Elizabeth's relationship lived somewhere between a romance and a friendship and I want this piece to celebrate intimate relationships in all their forms.

For this reason, being able to present a multiplicity of voices telling this story - from performers, many of whom are writers, poets, artists, themselves, feels really exciting.

The two performers each night will meet each other, the audience, and the story of Robert and Elizabeth at the same time. The performers won't know how the story ends: they will discover it with the audience. The idea of reaching out into the unknown, and our need for one another, feels very prescient.

I very much hope that people will return to see 'Dear Elizabeth' more than once - to see how two very different people might meet each other and build a relationship in the act of performing it. We will be having two press nights, each with a different combination of performers, changing the ways the piece resonates.'

Sarah Ruhl's plays include How To Transcend a Happy Marriage; For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday: The Oldest Boy: In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee for Best Play); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center); Orlando: Late: A Cowboy Song; Dear Elizabeth; Dead's Men's Cell Phone (Helen Hayes award); Eurydice and Stage Kiss. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by the Lincoln Center Theater, off-Broadway at Playwright's Horizons, Second Stage and at the Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country and have also been produced internationally and translated into over twelve languages. Rhul received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. She has received the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award, the Susan Smith Blackburn award, the Whiting award, the Lily Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights, and the MacArthur 'genius' award. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write was published by Faber and Faber and was a Times Notable Book of the Year. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Director Ellen McDougall is Artistic Director at The Gate Theatre. Previous credits at the Gate include - Effigies of Wickedness (2018), The Tale of the Unknown Island (2017) and Idomeneus (2014). Other credits include The Wolves (Royal Theatre Stratford East, 2018), a critically acclaimed production of Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, the Lyric's annual pantomime - Aladdin by Joel Horwood (2016) and Cinderella by Tom Wells (2015), The Rolling Stone (Orange Tree Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange), The Remains of Maisie Duggan (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Glass Menagerie (Headlong), Anna Karenina (Manchester Royal Exchange), Henry the Fifth (Unicorn Theatre); Glitterland (Secret Theatre/Lyric Hammersmith) and Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre).

She was awarded an International Artists' Development Award (ACE/British Council) in 2012; she was the runner up in the JMK Award 2008 and directed A Kind of Alaska at BAC. Her production of Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre) was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2011. Ellen will direct Our Town at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2019.

Designer Moi Tran is a Visual Artist/Performance maker/Researcher and Designer, her practice is interested in the intersections between Contemporary Art and Performance. Upcoming Theatre includes: White Pearl (Royal Court); Summer Rolls (Park); Under the Umbrella (Belgrade/Tara Arts). Recent Theatre includes: Deluge (Hampstead); Roundelay (Southwark); Tamburlaine (Yellow Earth); The Manual Oracle (Yard/Anxiety Festival); Golden Child (New Diorama); Bandages (Corn Exchange, Newbury/Live, Newcastle/UK tour); Meat, The Whiskey Taster (Bush); Emoticon, Kafka Vs Kafka (Jack Studio); Concrete Jungle (Riverside Studios/Tobacco Factory); A Woman of Substance, The Death of Norman Tortilla (Tristan Bates); A Bacchae (Yard); Shrink (Old Red Lion); A Woman Alone (Tabard); Napoli (Leeds Playhouse); Imperial Fizz (Jermyn Street/Edinburgh Festival Fringe); The Jewish Wife (BAC); The Last Days of Limehouse (Limehouse Town Hall/Yellow Earth), Heaven In Berlin, Café Duende (Hobo); Hackney Wicked Festival (Peanut Factory); Kinetic Frentic (Site specific). Recent Opera includes: The Imperfect Pearl (Corn Exchange Newbury/St Georges/Kings Place London/UK Tour); Falstaff (Opera Berbiguieres, France). Recent Dance includes: Human Wall (V&A); Genus Classification by Altitude of Occurrence Vertical Series (Gallery 223); Temporality in a Cut (Display Gallery). Recent Art Performance includes: The Circuit- A Movement Scenario (OvalSpace/Rootstein Hopkins/SPILL). The Other day you sat too far away from me (Henry Moore Courtyard), SLEEP (Live Art Development Agency). Recent Film includes: Man X (Short), Bites (Short), Kolya (Short animation), Healthy, Join the Dots. Upcoming Awards/Commissions include: British Council/Taiwan Ministry of Culture Arts and Culture Fellowship in SEA. 2018-2019. Prague Quadrennial 2019. Recent Awards/Commissions include OV12 Attached Artist, LADA Artist DIY 2018, SPILL Festival 2018. JMK award for Design.

Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun works in theatre, from theatre to dance, circus and installations. Jessica has been nominated for the Off West End Award for' Best Lighting Designer' 2018. Lighting Designer credits include: Hive City Legacy (Hot Brown Honey & Roundhouse);The Party's Over (Nonsuch Theatre Company); Gypsy Disco (Boomtown Festival); Becoming Shades (Chivaree Circus); Nine Foot Nine (Sleepless Theatre Company); The Human Voice (The Gate Theatre); Cuckoo (Metal Rabbit Productions); Forgotten (Yellow Earth & Moongate); Snowflake (Arts Old Fire Station) and One (Bert&Nasi).

Sound Designer Jon Nicholls is a composer and sound designer working across theatre, audio drama & VR. Recent music / sound-scores for theatre include Hamlet (RSC); Spring Storm, Beyond The Horizon and The Holy Rosenbergs (NT); Good Canary (dir. John Malkovich), My Brilliant Friend, Much Ado About Nothing (Rose); Touching The Void, Pink Mist, Medea (Bristol Old Vic), Yerma, Idomeneus (Gate); Bracken Moor, Mermaid (Shared Experience), Wonderland (Nottingham Playhouse), Our Country's Good (Ramps On The Moon); (the fall of) the Master Builder (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Mother (Bath Theatre Royal / Kiln), Trouble In Mind (Print Room).

He's also created music / sound designs for dozens of BBC audio dramas and features, most recently Ballad Of the Blade for Radio 4 in collaboration with poet Momtaza Mehri. He's currently working with the BBC on Turning Worlds, the sequel to the VR experience The Turning Forest which he scored last year. www.jonnicholls.com

Yasmin Hafesji is a director and dramaturg. Past dramaturgical credits include Omeros by Derek Walcott (Gate Theatre, 2017). She is currently working with the Lyric Ensemble as Assistant Director (Lyric Hammersmith, 2019) and is the Community Assistant at the Bush Theatre where she supports Community Associate Companies create centrepiece performances with non-professional actors. Yasmin trained under Natalie Abrahami through the Young Vic Intro to Directing Programme.

Sally Hardcastle is a performance designer and assistant based in London. Since graduating with a degree in Theatre Design from Rose Bruford College she has worked with organisations including Wild Rumpus, The Bread and Roses Theatre, 42nd Theatre Company, London Bubble and The Redbridge Drama Centre. She has assisted designers including Gary McCann, Hannah Wolfe and Takis. She is also co-founder of new theatre company, Matipo. Sally has a particular interest in new writing and community based theatre. She is currently designing Footprints In The Snow at the Winchester Discovery Centre.

Tim Crouch is an Obie-award winning writer, actor and theatre-maker. His plays include My Arm, ENGLAND

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