Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Almeida Theatre Announces Socially Distanced Season of Three World Premieres for Christmas 2020 and Into 2021

Article Pixel

Productions include Nine Lessons and Carols: stories for a long winter, Hymn, and The Maladies.

Almeida Theatre Announces Socially Distanced Season of Three World Premieres for Christmas 2020 and Into 2021

Almeida Theatre has announced a socially distanced season of three world premieres for Christmas 2020 and into 2021:

• Running over Christmas 2020:

- Nine Lessons and Carols: stories for a long winter - a new production devised by Rebecca Frecknall, Chris Bush and a company of six actors and musicians.

• Opening in early 2021:

- Hymn, a new play by Lolita Chakrabarti, featuring acclaimed actors Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani, directed by Blanche McIntyre.

- The Maladies, a new play by Carmen Nasr, performed by the Almeida Young Company, directed by Diyan Zora.

• Also announced today:

- Digital screenings of productions.

- The second year of the Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme.

- Two recent Almeida productions - Albion and The Duchess of Malfi - made available digitally exclusively for schools.

Rupert Goold said, "Having gratefully received a grant from the government's Culture Recovery Fund, we are very pleased to be offering a season of work playing through Christmas and into 2021. The theatre has been reconfigured for social distancing, with a reduced capacity of 120 - about a third of our usual size. Acknowledging the context and timing of our re-opening, we decided that it was imperative to produce new work this winter: to provide employment to staff and freelancers, to welcome our audiences, supporters and local community back into the building, and to reunite our young artist groups. Considerable work has gone into ensuring that the theatre is safe for audiences and more information on those measures can be found on our website. For those audiences who can't make it to the Almeida, we will also be offering digital screenings for people to watch at home.

"In December, we welcome playwright Chris Bush to the Almeida for the first time to work with our Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall and a company of six actors and musicians to devise a new play titled Nine Lessons and Carols: stories for a long winter. It will reflect on a year of separation and the power of contact.

"After Christmas, we present two world premieres: Carmen Nasr's The Maladies, about a break-out of unexpected mass hysteria, directed by Diyan Zora and performed by the Almeida Young Company, and Lolita Chakrabarti's Hymn, a play about masculinity and ambition, featuring two of the UK's great stage actors Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani and directed by Blanche McIntyre who returns to the Almeida following her production of The Writer in 2018.

"On top of this, we are delighted to be able to offer schools exclusive access to films of two recent Almeida productions - Albion and The Duchess of Malfi - in the hope that this will help to fill the void of school theatre trips. We are also launching the second year of our Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme - a group of seven brilliant, inventive and imaginative playwrights who will be with us for the next twelve months, attending masterclasses with creatives and developing their own commission for the Almeida.

"Lastly, a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us with encouraging messages and generous donations over the last seven months. Without them, we wouldn't be in a position to present this season today."

NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS

World Premiere

stories for a long winter

Created by Chris Bush, Rebecca Frecknall and the company.

Wednesday 2 December 2020 - Saturday 9 January 2021

Press performances: Wednesday 9 December, 2pm and 7pm

"In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing.

About the dark times."

(Bertolt Brecht)

This is not a Corona play.

This is a play about connection and isolation, about lighting a candle to see us through the longest night, about what we hold on to when we cannot hold each other.

Almeida Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall (Summer and Smoke; The Duchess of Malfi), playwright Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky's Edge; Pericles) and a company of six performers devise a new production reflecting on a year of separation and the power of contact.

Cast: Naana Agyei-Ampadu (Caroline or Change - West End; Measure for Measure - Shakespeare's Globe); Katie Brayben (Beautiful: the Carole King Musical - West End, winner of Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical; King Charles III - Almeida); Toheeb Jimoh (Anthony - BBC One; A Midsummer Night's Dream - Sheffield Crucible); Elliot Levey (Three Sisters and Mary Stuart - Almeida); Maimuna Memon (Jesus Christ Superstar - Regent's Park Open Air Theatre; Ghost Quartet - Boulevard Theatre) and Luke Thallon (Albion - Almeida; Leopoldstadt - West End).

Chris Bush is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and theatre-maker. Her recent plays include Standing at the Sky's Edge; Faustus: That Damned Woman; The Last Noël; The Assassination of Katie Hopkins; Pericles and Steel. Her other plays include The Changing Room; Scenes From The End Of The World; A Declaration From The People; A Dream; The Sheffield Mysteries; Dickensian; Goodwill To All Men; We're All In This Together and 20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield; Larksong; Cards On The Table; Tony! The Blair Musical; Sleight & Hand. She has won awards at the UK Theatre Awards two years in a row, the National Young Playwrights' Festival, Perfect Pitch, Sunday Times Edinburgh Competition, and a Brit Writers' Award.

Rebecca Frecknall is Associate Director at the Almeida Theatre. For the Almeida, she has directed The Duchess of Malfi, Three Sisters, Summer and Smoke (also West End and winner of two Olivier Awards including Best Revival) and worked as Associate Director on Ink at the Almeida/Duke of York's Theatre and Movement Director on Albion. She was previously on the Almeida's Resident Director programme. Away from the Almeida, her credits include Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop) and Chris Bush's Steel (Sheffield Crucible Studio). She was Resident Director at Northern Stage from 2015-2016 after winning the acclaimed RTYDS Bursary. During this time she directed Idomeneus; What Are They Like? and Julie. She has also worked with The National Theatre, RSC and Young Vic. She was the 2012 recipient of The National Theatre Studio's Resident Director Bursary and was awarded one of the Young Vic's Jerwood Assistant Director Bursaries in 2011.

THE MALADIES

World Premiere

by Carmen Nasr

Directed by Diyan Zora

Monday 18 January - Friday 22 January 2021

Press night: Tuesday 19 January

Performed by the Almeida Young Company (18-25)

I'm tired.
I'm tired of living in a world that's not mine.

1508. Strasbourg. A woman dances compulsively, soon hundreds join her.

1962. Tanzania. A schoolgirl's laughing fit spreads from village to village.

2011. USA. Cheerleaders are overcome by uncontrollable twitching.
2023. London. A group of women suddenly lose the ability to speak.

When a group of women in London mysteriously fall silent, no one can figure out why. The team at an all-female podcast decide to investigate and end up on a journey of discovery, uncovering more than they bargained for.

The Maladies is a new play by Almeida Genesis Writer Carmen Nasr (Dubailand), directed by Diyan Zora (Chronicles of a City We Never Knew/Gather Ye Rosebuds) and has been devised with the Almeida Young Company (18-25).

Carmen Nasr is a British-Lebanese playwright. In 2017 she was awarded the Channel 4 Playwright's Scheme alongside a year-long residency at the Finborough Theatre, where she remains a playwright in residence. Her first play The House of my Father was long listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2015. Her other plays include Dubailand, which was produced at the Finborough Theatre in 2017. Let Kilburn Shake was produced in 2019 at the Kiln Theatre, written for their Young Company. Her latest play The Climbers will premiere at Theatre by the Lake, directed by Guy Jones. She has been a member of the Orange Tree Theatre's talent development programme, the Writers Collective, and the Royal Court's Playwriting group.

Diyan Zora is a theatre director and writer. a??Her directing work includes Chronicles of a City We Never Knew (Gate Theatre); Ms Y (Young Vic 5 plays); Gather Ye Rosebuds (Theatre503 and tour); Waiting for Summer (Old Red Lion and tour) and Twelfth Night (Cockpit). As an Assistant/Associate Director, her work includes Faith, Hope and Charity and Evening at the Talkhouse (National Theatre); LOVE (National Theatre and Théâtre de L'Odéon, Paris); The Ferryman (Gielgud); Wolf From the Door and Fireworks (Royal Court). She is an Iraqi-born, London-based theatre director and writer. She is an associate artist of Manara Theatre Company. Her play Gather Ye Rosebuds won best new play at the Brighton Fringe Festival.

The Almeida is grateful to the individuals, companies, trusts and foundations that support the Almeida Young Company and wider Participation programme.

HYMN

World Premiere

by Lolita Chakrabarti

Directed by Blanche McIntyre

Friday 29 January - Saturday 27 February 2021

Press night: Thursday 4 February 7pm

"Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself"

Miles Davis

Two men meet at a funeral.

Gil knew the deceased. Benny did not.

Before long their families are close.

Soon they'll be singing the same tune.

Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfil his potential. They form a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realise that true courage comes in different forms.

Featuring music from Gil and Benny's lives, Lolita Chakrabarti's searching, soulful new play asks what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre (The Writer), Hymn features Adrian Lester (Red Velvet; Hustle) and Danny Sapani (Killing Eve; Les Blancs)

Lolita Chakrabarti is a playwright and actor. Her plays include Life of Pi (WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play 2019, UK Theatre Award for Best New Play 2019); Invisible Cities; Red Velvet (Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright); Message in a Bottle for ZooNation/Sadlers Wells for which she was dramaturg; The Greatest Wealth - a series of monologues curated by Chakrabarti, including her own monologue titled Speedy Gonzalez; and Last Seen (an Almeida Theatre production with Slung Low). As an actor, her theatre credits include Fanny and Alexander (The Old Vic); Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company); Last Seen (Almeida Theatre); Free Outgoing (Royal Court) and John Gabriel Borkman (Donmar Warehouse). For screen, her credits include Criminal; Riviera; Born to Kill; Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands and The Casual Vacancy.a?? She can be seen on television next year in Wheel of Time and Vigil, and on stage in Calmer, her new play at Birmingham Rep.

Blanche McIntyre returns to the Almeida having previously directed The Writer. Her other credits include Botticelli in the Fire (Hampstead Theatre); Tartuffe (National Theatre); Bartholomew Fair, A Winter's Tale, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare's Globe); The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre); Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC); Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse); Welcome Home, Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse); The Oresteia (HOME, Manchester); Arcadia (English Touring Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group); Accolade (St James' Theatre); Tonight at 8:30, Women in Power and The Nutcracker (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); Ciphers (Out of Joint, Bush Theatre and Exeter Northcott); The Birthday Party (Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Seagull (Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Derby Theatre - winter of Best Director at 2013 UK Theatre Awards); Foxfinder and Accolade (Finborough Theatre).

Adrian Lester plays Gil. His theatre work includes Cost of Living (Hampstead Theatre); Othello (National Theatre - winner of Evening Standard Award for Best Actor); Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre, West End and New York - Winner of Critics' Circle Award for Best Actor); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (West End); Henry V; Sweeney Todd (National Theatre); Hamlet (Theatres des Bouffes du Nord); Company (Donmar Warehouse - Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical); As You Like It (Cheek by Jowl) and Six Degrees of Separation (Royal Court). For television, his work includes Life; The Rook; Curfew; Trauma; Riviera; Undercover; London Spy and Hustle. His film work includes Mary Queen of Scots; Grey Lady; Euphoria, Jimi: All Is by My Side; The Day After Tomorrow and Primary Colors. Directing work includes Of Mary (Winner of Best Short Film at PAFF); Hustle and Riviera on television and The Greatest Wealth (The Old Vic) and the forthcoming Calmer (Birmingham Rep). He was recently made a CBE.

Danny Sapani plays Benny. He previously appeared at the Almeida in Big White Fog. His other theatre credits include Invisible Cities (Manchester International Festival); Les Blancs, Medea, Home, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, The Overwhelming, His Dark Materials, Antony and Cleopatra, The Machine Wreckers and Richard II (National Theatre); Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Young Vic); Anderson's English (Out of Joint); Wig Out and Neverland (Royal Court); The Green Fields Beyond (Donmar Warehouse) and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare's Globe); For television, his work includes Halo; Killing Eve; Harlots; Mother Father Son; Black Earth Rising; Traitors; Broken; The Crown; Chewing Gum; Bastard Executioner; Penny Dreadful; The Fear; The Town; Blackout and Misfits. His recent film credits include Black Panther and Trance.

GENESIS ALMEIDA NEW PLAYWRIGHTS, BIG PLAYS PROGRAMME

The Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme is an annual programme that supports emerging and mid-career writers to develop new plays for larger stages giving them the space and time to experiment with form and scale. Each writer on the programme is commissioned to develop one new play and will be given dramaturgical support from the Almeida's Literary Manager and artistic team. During the year the writers will also attend twelve masterclasses led by established British and international playwrights, directors, designers and other creatives, and be given a five day R&D workshop to develop their commission.

The Genesis Almeida Writers for 2020/21 are:

Zia Ahmed

Emma Dennis-Edwards

Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Yasmin Joseph

Carmen Nasr

Molly Taylor

Temi Wilkey

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years, the Foundation has donated a total of more than £20 million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience. The Foundation's main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional. In 2020, it launched the Covid-19 Artists Fund, an Emergency response to help freelancers facing hardship, and the £1 million Genesis Kickstart Fund, to create future-facing projects for outstanding freelance talent in the creative sector across the UK.

FOR SCHOOLS

Released digitally exclusively for schools, are films of the Almeida productions of Mike Bartlett's Albion, directed by Rupert Goold and Rebecca Frecknall's production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.

Albion was filmed in front of a live audience in February 2020, and aired on BBC Four in August. It was produced for the BBC jointly by the Almeida Theatre and Illuminations for The Space in association with BBC Television.

The Duchess of Malfi was filmed in front of a live audience, during its run at Almeida from 30 November 2019 - 25 January 2020. It was filmed and produced by Robin Fisher.


Related Articles View More UK / West End Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You