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Bush Theatre Re-Opens in March with a Week-Long Celebration


The Bush Theatre will reopen after a year-long £4.3m redevelopment, the largest capital project in the theatre's history, with a bold new season kicked off by the European Premiere of Guards at the Taj by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jamie Lloyd (from 7 April). A brand new Studio space opens with the premiere of Barney Norris play While We're Here directed by Alice Hamilton (from 26 April).

Prior to this, a week of housewarming events (from 18 March) will celebrate the new Bush building and the diversity of its home in Shepherds Bush. This will include performances, talks, music and spoken word. The building will also be animated with work from the Bush's Associate Artists and Emerging Writers' Group. See Notes to Editors for full listing details.

A highlight of the week is Black Lives, Black Words (23 March - 25 March) a series of short plays in the newly revitalised theatre space that will consider the question 'Do black lives matter today?' This shared project was initiated by the award-winning American playwright Reginald Edmund in Chicago in 2015. Black Lives, Black Words has since grown to explore the black diaspora's experiences in some of the largest multicultural cities in the world, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Baltimore and London.

The Bush Theatre will contribute new commissions to the Black Lives, Black Words canon including plays by black British writers Winsome Pinnock and Rachel De-Lahay. Poet Anthony Anaxagorou will open each night with If I told you and an anthology of all the works performed will be published by Oberon Books.

The Bush Theatre redevelopment has been driven by the aim of realising Artistic Director Madani Younis' vision for a theatre that reflects the diversity of London today. Upon reopening, the building will be more sustainable and entirely accessible, with a new entrance, front-of-house area and exterior garden terrace to the main street. The new 70-seat Studio will serve to increase the artistic output of the Bush Theatre, and provide emerging writers and artists with a flexible, intimate space to create and showcase the best in new writing.

The Season

Over the 2017 season, the Bush Theatre will present three new commissions, three world premieres, two European premieres and one production that will tour nationally. 50% of the programme comes from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) writers.

The Theatre is the Bush Theatre's original production space with a capacity of 180 seats. The Studio is a brand new, smaller performance space with 70 seats.

Guards at the Taj
Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour


7 April - 20 May
Please note the Press Night will now take place on Wednesday 12 April

The new season opens with Guards at the Taj, a darkly comic moral fable about beauty, privilege and access to art, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph. This surreal and witty play first opened to critical acclaim in New York. Jamie Lloyd directs the European premiere.

"If we hadn't done our jobs tonight, we'd be hanging by our necks in the royal courtyard getting our eyes pecked out by the royal crows. So excuse me if I don't wallow in some misbegotten guilt all night. Was it fucked up? Yes, it was. But I don't have to feel terrible about it."

It's 1648. Agra, India. Imperial guards Humayun and Babur keep watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. The emperor has decreed that no one, except the masons, labourers and slaves who exist within those walls, shall turn to look at the building until it is complete.

Guards at the Taj takes as its starting point an enduring legend and prompts contemporary audiences to revisit questions about art and privilege. The play premiered at the Atlantic Theater in New York to great acclaim in 2015 and is the recipient of both the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.

Jamie Lloyd (director) makes his Bush Theatre directing debut with Guards at the Taj. Most recently he directed a season of revivals in the West End for The Jamie Lloyd Company, including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class (Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for James McAvoy) and Macbeth (Olivier nomination for Best Revival). He won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical for Passion while he was Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse (2008 to 2011) and the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for The Pride (Royal Court). He is directing a double bill of Philip Ridley's work, Killer and The Pitchfork Disney, at Shoreditch Town Hall from late January.

Rajiv Joseph (playwright) became a Pulitzer Prize finalist (2010) for his Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre). Screen credits include seasons 3 & 4 of the TV series Nurse Jackie and he was the co-screenwriter of the film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.

Soutra Gilmour (designer) is an award-winning designer whose extensive credits include many productions in collaboration with Jamie Lloyd. She designed several productions in The Jamie Lloyd Company's recent West End season including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class, Richard III, The Pride, The Hothouse and Macbeth. Previous work at the Bush Theatre includes Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur'an.

A Bush Theatre, Up In Arms and Farnham Maltings co-production
While We're Here
Written by Barney Norris
Directed by Alice Hamilton
Designed by James Perkins

26 April - 27 May
Press night on 28 April

A World premiere by Barney Norris opens the brand new 70 seat Studio. While We're Here will be directed by Alice Hamilton. Co-Directors of the multi award-winning touring company Up In Arms, the duo return to the Bush following their critically acclaimed production of Visitors, for which Norris won the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright.

'I remember the crunch of the gravel under my feet, and thinking my life might be over. I might have had all of my fun. And then him. And we don't get to choose who we fall for.'

Eddie and Carol were lovers once, but their lives went in different directions. Now they meet again in a town full of memories, and find something still burns between them. On the country's southern margin where the towns give way to the English Channel, both search for the centre of their lives.

Barney Norris (playwright) is a critically acclaimed writer and the co-artistic director of Up in Arms. Previous work at the Bush Theatre includes The Rest of Your Life and Visitors, for which he won the Critics' Circle and Off West End Most Promising Playwright Awards. Further plays include Fear of Music (National Tour/ Out of Joint), At First Sight (National Tour/ Latitude Festival) and the critically acclaimed Eventide (Arcola Theatre). Further published works include To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill and the bestselling novel Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain. He has two other productions opening this spring; Echo's End (Salisbury Playhouse) and a revival of Every You Every Me (Oxford Playhouse/ Reading Rep).

Alice Hamilton (director) is the co-artistic director of Up in Arms. She was nominated for the Best Director Offie Award for Visitors (Arcola Theatre/ Bush Theatre/ National Tour) and Eventide (Arcola/ National Tour). For Up in Arms she also directed German Skerries (Orange Tree Theatre/ National Tour), Fear of Music (National Tour/ Out of Joint) and At First Sight (National Tour/ Latitude Festival). Other theatre includes 30 Christmases (Old Fire Station, Oxford), Orca and Orson's Shadow (both at Southwark Playhouse). She will be directing the upcoming production of Echo's End (Salisbury Playhouse).

Written by Taylor Mac
Directed by Nadia Fall
Designed by Ben Stones

15 June - 22 July
Press Night on 20 June

Having made great waves in New York, this explosive play by one of America's most dynamic and distinctive voices comes to London in a new production by Nadia Fall (Disgraced). Taylor Mac (24-Decade History of Popular Music), an artist at the forefront of alternative responses to American culture, subverts all notions of the modern American family in this clash of wild absurdity and stark realism.

"Stop behaving like a man!"
"We are men!"

In a nondescript town somewhere in mid-west America, Isaac gets home from serving in the marines to find war has broken out back home. Isaac's mom Paige is blowing up entrenched routines. In their cheap house made of plywood and glue, notions of masculinity and femininity become weapons with which to defeat the old order. But sometimes annihilating the past doesn't free you from it.

Taylor Mac (playwright) is also a multi award-winning actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer. judy is the author of seventeen full-length plays and performance pieces including the 24-hour durational concert A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (an extract of which was performed at the Hackney Empire for LIFT Festival 2016), The Lily's Revenge (which received rave reviews and an Obie Award), The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, The Young Ladies Of, Red Tide Blooming, The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac (winning Edinburgh Festival's Herald Angel Award), and in collaboration with Mandy Patinkin, Susan Stroman and Paul Ford, Mac created The Last Two People On Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville.

Nadia Fall (director) returns to the Bush Theatre following Disgraced. She has directed numerous productions at the National Theatre including The Suicide, Our Country's Good, Dara, Chewing Gum Dreams, Home, Hymn and The Doctor's Dilemma. Further directing credits include R&D (Hampstead Theatre), Way Upstream (Chichester Festival Theatre), Hobson's Choice (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), How Was it for You? (Unicorn Theatre) and The Maids (Lyric Hammersmith). She has led participation initiatives with partners such as the Young Vic, Clean Break, Soho Theatre and the Royal Court. She is also an acting coach, supporting professional actors for film and stage.

Ben Stones (designer) has designed extensively for theatre and dance and returns to the Bush Theatre following The Kitchen Sink. Previous work with Nadia Fall includes The Suicide (National Theatre), Way Upstream (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Hobson's Choice (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre). Other credits include Into The Hoods: Remixed, The Mad Hatter's Tea Party and Some like it Hip Hop (ZooNation), Kiss Of The Spider Woman (Donmar Warehouse), The Silence of the Sea (Donmar Trafalgar), An Enemy of the People (Sheffield Crucible) and The Lady In The Van (National Tour). In 2011 he won the MEN award for Best Design for Doctor Faustus at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

Written and performed by Nassim Soleimanpour
Directed by Omar Elerian

24 - 29 July

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour returns to the Bush with an audacious theatrical experiment that explores the power of language to unite us in unknown, uncertain times. Directed by Bush Associate Director Omar Elerian, Nassim will feature the playwright himself.

Dear performer. I want to show you something. Did you know, in Farsi my name is written like this: '.ROUPNAMIELOS MISSAN si eman yM'

No rehearsals. No preparation. Just a sealed envelope and an actor reading a script for the first time.

Nassim follows Soleimanpour's globally acclaimEd White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which has been translated into 15 different languages and performed over 1000 times by some of the biggest names in theatre and film including Sinead Cusack, Ken Loach and Whoopi Goldberg. It had already been performed hundreds of times in more than a dozen languages by 2013 when Soleimanpour was first permitted to travel outside his native Tehran.

Nassim Soleimanpour (playwright and performer) is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker best known for his multi award-winning play White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Nassim's play BLANK premiered in the UK at the Bush Theatre's RADAR festival in 2015, also playing in Amsterdam, Utrecht with further performances all over the world including in Argentina, Australia and India. Further plays include Blind Hamlet which premiered at LIFT Festival 2014 prior to a UK tour and productions in Bucharest and Copenhagen. Nassim now lives in Berlin and has been commissioned to write a new play for Teater Momentum (Denmark).

Omar Elerian (director) is Associate Director at the Bush Theatre where he directed One Cold Night by Nancy Harris and Islands by Caroline Horton. He also co-directed the Olivier nominated You're Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy at the Bush Theatre alongside Daniel Goldman. He was also Associate Director on The Royale by Marco Ramirez, Perseverance Drive by Robin Soans and Chalet Lines by Lee Mattinson. Other directing credits include acclaimed site-specific production The Mill - City of Dreams (Bradford, Yorkshire), Testa di Rame (Festival Inequilibrio, Italy) and Les P'tites Grandes Choses (Maison de Arts du Cirque et du Clown, France).

Ramona Tells Jim
Written by Sophie Wu

20 September - 21 October

Sophie Wu (Kick Ass, Fresh Meat) will be the first graduate of the Bush's Emerging Writers' Group, which launched in 2015, to have a full commission produced at the Bush, with the premiere of Ramona Tells Jim.

In 1998, Ramona, of Englandshire, has a penchant for Enya and hates bananas. On her geography field trip she meets Jim, a local laddie wearing an anti-pill fleece. He's obsessed with hermit crabs, rock erosion and making homemade Irn-Bru cocktails. Deep in the Scottish Highlands Ramona falls for Jimmy's awkward charm but gets caught in a scandal that will haunt them both for years to come.

Sophie Wu (playwright) is a performer and writer for screen and stage. Her debut play, Sophie Wu is Minging, She Looks Like She's Dead, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and then transferred to the Soho Theatre. She is currently developing the play as an original comedy series for television with Charlie Brooker's company, House of Tomorrow. As a performer, screen credits include Kick-Ass, Fresh Meat and The Midnight Beast. On stage she last appeared at the Bush Theatre in The Wood Orchid directed by Michael Longhurst and most recently Shopping and F***ing (Lyric Hammersmith). Sophie is a graduate of the Bush Theatre's Emerging Writers' Group.

A Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production
Of Kith and Kin
Written by Chris Thompson
Directed by Robert Hastie
Designed by James Perkins

18 October - 25 November
Press Night on 20 October

Sheffield Theatres Artistic Director Robert Hastie (My Night With Reg, Splendour) directs this gripping new comedy by Chris Thompson (Albion). The pair previously collaborated on Carthage at the Finborough Theatre. Of Kith and Kin, a Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production, poses the question what does family mean in the 21st century? The play will premiere at Sheffield Theatres as part of Hastie's inaugural season as Artistic Director before transferring to the Bush Theatre.

'He can't call you both Dad. One of you should be Dad and the other one Daddy, surely?'

Daniel and Oliver are about to have their first baby. With their best friend, Priya, acting as surrogate, they've turned the study into a nursery and the bottles are sterilised. All that's missing is the bundle of joy they've been pining for. When Daniel's chaotic mother gatecrashes the baby shower with a few home truths, the cracks in Daniel and Oliver's relationship begin to show.

Everyone knows you can choose your friends. Chris Thompson's new play takes us to the heart of what happens when we choose our family too.

Chris Thompson (playwright) returns to the Bush Theatre after Albion. Previous credits include Carthage (Finborough Theatre) for which he won a Pearson Playwriting Award and was nominated for Best New Play and Most Promising New Playwright Offie Awards. Chris was the Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre in 2014. In 2013 he took part in the Kudos/ Bush Initiative and the Royal Court invitation studio writers group.

Robert Hastie (director) is Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres and Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse. He most recently directed Breaking the Code (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Henry V (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Theatr Clwyd). Further directing credits include Chris Thompson's Carthage (Finborough Theatre) and Sixty-Six Books: In The Land Of Uz, Middle Man, David and Goliath, Snow In Sheffield and A Lost Expression at the Bush Theatre.

Of Kith and Kin opens at Sheffield Studio Theatre on 15 September with a press night on 19 September.

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