Emma D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw, John Lithgow, and More Set For The Royal Court's 2024 Season

This marks the inaugural season from new Artistic Director David Byrne.

By: Mar. 04, 2024
Emma D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw, John Lithgow, and More Set For The Royal Court's 2024 Season
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The Royal Court Theatre has announced the inaugural season from new Artistic Director David Byrne: nine new plays, all from writers making their Royal Court debuts.

The season will feature several stars, include John Lithgow, Emma D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw, and more. Learn more about the full season below!

The 2024 season runs from May - December across both theatre spaces. The nine plays feature internationally-recognised artists side-by-side with emerging talent and first-time writers, celebrating the breadth of new writing across the UK and internationally.

David Byrne, Artistic Director of the Royal Court: 'There are 10 Royal Court debuts this season. It's my first programme as Artistic Director, and it's the Royal Court debut for each of the nine exceptional writers.

More than just a season, this is a statement of intent for what's to come: a new generation of bold voices with big, messy stories to tell; world-renowned artists rubbing alongside insurgent new talent, igniting some unmissable theatre on our stages. 

This is an invitation to audiences, artists and fellow playwrights everywhere: across my time at the Royal Court, we'll be treading the path of maximum adventure. Times may be difficult but we're up for the challenge, and the mission of the Court - to champion brave writers that push us forward - has never been more vital. Come join us, I want to take everybody along for the ride.'

JERWOOD THEATRE DOWNSTAIRS

JERWOOD THEATRE UPSTAIRS

  • Sabrina Ali's award-winning play Dugsi Dayz, from Side eYe, directed by Poppy Clifford, a comedy set among four young British-Somali girls stuck in detention at Mosque, inspired by cult film The Breakfast Club, opens the upstairs season.

  • A breakout hit from the Dublin Fringe, Ciara Elizabeth Smyth's award-winning Lie Low, directed by Oisin Kearney, follows a woman in the wake of a home invasion seeking to find closure through repeatedly re-enacting the crime with her brother.  

  • Tensions rise during a medieval football game in Stewart Pringle's The Bounds, a darkly comic play set in 1555, exploring national divides, rural identity and the extremes of village sports, directed by Jack McNamara.

  • The friendships of three Black boys begin to unravel when urban legend and police surveillance collide in Tife Kusoro's G.

  • Oli Forsyth's BRACE BRACE  is a gripping examination of healing and survival in the aftermath of a plane hijacking, directed by Daniel Raggett.

  • Giving voice to the often-overlooked experiences of British Pakistani women, Emteaz Hussain's Expendable delves into the serious shortcomings of our national institutions as a community is rocked by scandal.

The season will also see the Royal Court forge creative partnerships with organisations throughout the country such as Live Theatre, Prime Cut Productions, Side eYe Productions and LIFT (London's International Festival of Theatre) encouraging a more collaborative approach to developing new writing and enabling striking new work to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The theatre has also revealed a major new ticket initiative that will expand on its mission to ensure that world-class new writing is accessible to the widest possible audience. Half of all seats in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs will be available from £22.50 or less and throughout the season all tickets for Monday night performances will be £15. The theatre has also extended its scheme for young audiences with Under 27s ticket prices now available for ages 30 and under. A new access scheme for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent patrons will also launch later this month, offering priority booking periods, adjusted seat prices and a monthly newsletter with information on upcoming productions, including access performances and facilities. 

Tickets for all newly announced productions go on sale to supporters from 12 noon on Monday 4 March, to Friends at 12 noon on Friday 8 March, and to the general public at 12 noon on Monday 11 March.

The Royal Court's commitment to supporting writers sits at the heart of the 2024 season and remains central to all aspects of the organisation's work. The Court's Writer's Groups and year-round open script submissions will run alongside the season of new work with further programmes to be announced in the coming months. 

The Royal Court Theatre Full Season:

Dugsi Dayz

By Sabrina Ali
Directed by Poppy Clifford

Originally co-directed by Warda Mohamed
Performed by Susu Ahmed, Sabrina Ali, Faduma Issa, Hadsan Mohamud
Wednesday 1 May - Saturday 18 May 2024

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Press Night: Friday 3 May 2024

Detention on a Saturday? These four girls are keeping tight-lipped on why they're there. When a power outage at the Mosque plunges them into darkness, the girls retell Somali folktales to break the ice. As they delve into their stories, they discover parallels that may just lead to friendship. 

Written by Sabrina Ali (Muna Knows it All) and directed by Poppy Clifford, Dugsi Dayz is a riotous and authentic comedy exploring Somali, Muslim culture and female friendship, inspired by the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. 

Following an award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe and sold-out national tour, Dugsi Dayz opens the Royal Court's 2024 upstairs season.

The production was derived from a scratch performance at Rich Mix as part of Somali Week Festival.

Sabrina Ali said 'Bringing Dugsi Dayz to the Royal Court feels like coming home. They've supported my writing journey from the start, including me in their playwriting groups and providing invaluable mentorship.'

Bluets

Based on the book Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Adapted for the stage by Margaret Perry

Directed by Katie Mitchell

Friday 17 May -  Saturday 29 June 2024

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Press Night: Friday 24 May 2024

Bluets is a story about depression and desire, pleasure and pain, and a person possessed by a lifelong obsession with the colour blue. Communing with artists like Joni Mitchell, Derek Jarman, Andy Warhol and Billie Holiday, blue is their constant companion as they navigate the devastating pain of a life-altering heartbreak.

Based on acclaimed author Maggie Nelson's unique and electrifying book, Bluets is an adaptation by playwright Margaret Perry (Paradise Now!, Porcelain, Collapsible), directed by Katie Mitchell (Little Scratch, Anatomy of a Suicide).

Performed by Emma D'Arcy (House of the Dragon), Kayla Meikle (ear for eye) and Ben Whishaw (Cock, James Bond, This is Going to Hurt, Paddington).

Originally developed at Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg.

Emma D'Arcy said: ‘This production of Bluets combines some of my all-time favourite artists with my all-time favourite colour. I'm a huge fan of Maggie Nelson. If anyone can translate her work to the stage, it's Katie Mitchell and Margaret Perry. And I'm delighted to be a part of David Byrne's first season at The Court! What an adventure.'

Kayla Meikle said: ‘The Royal Court is one of my favourite theatres. I'm so excited to be back as part of this new season, with these beautiful actors I respect, with one of the most important directors in British theatre. I hope audiences can relate to the weird, sexy, honest, painful and true world of Bluets.'

Ben Whishaw said: ‘The Royal Court is a theatre I always feel excited to enter. I'm so thrilled to have this chance to perform there again with two performers Emma D'Arcy and Kayla Meikle I find just extraordinary. This will be my fourth time working with the amazing Katie Mitchell and I simply can't wait, it's always an adventure. I haven't been on a stage since before the pandemic so I'm a little nervous - but very happy indeed to be sharing with people Margaret Perry's completely beautiful adaptation of Maggie Nelson's great, great  book Bluets.'

Lie Low - LONDON PREMIERE

By Ciara Elizabeth Smyth

Directed by Oisín Kearney

Wednesday 22 May - Saturday 8 June 2024

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Press Night: Tuesday 28 May 2024

In the wake of a home invasion, Faye can't sleep. She's fine though.

All she's had to eat this week is a box of dry Rice Krispies. She's fine though, really – she is...  

Desperate to shake her insomnia, Faye enlists the help of her brother, Naoise, to try a form of exposure therapy. But Naoise has a devastating secret that's about to come to light. 

Lie Low is a dark new play from writer Ciara Elizabeth Smyth (Sauce) and director Oisín Kearney (My Left Nut), about fear, trauma and family. It offers a theatrical exploration into the human brain and its response to sexual assault.

This touring production of Lie Low is made possible by the support of Culture Ireland.

Ciara Elizabeth Smyth said: ‘It's a privilege to bring Lie Low to The Royal Court for David Byrne's inaugural season. We couldn't think of a better home for this play and are eternally grateful to David and the whole team for seeing promise in it. It's surreal. We are also indebted to Culture Ireland, Dublin Fringe, An Táin, Paul Meade and The Mill Theatre for all their support in the creation of the play.'

The Bounds - LONDON PREMIERE

By Stewart Pringle

Directed by Jack McNamara
Thursday 13 June -  Saturday 13 July 2024

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Press Night: Monday 17 June 2024

The year is 1554, the true Golden Age of English football. It's the Allen Valley Whitsun Game, and men will die today.

This is the big game, and it's been raging for hours. Percy and Rowan are out in the middle of nowhere, miles from the action, when a stranger joins them, a stranger with tidings that will blow their world apart.

Time passes. Night falls. The great chain of being collapses. And they're losing the bloody football.

Written by Stewart Pringle (Trestle) and directed by Jack McNamara (The Fishermen), The Bounds is a darkly comedic tale of national divides, folk horror and the end of the world as we know it.

Stewart Pringle said: ‘It's such an incredible honour and privilege to be presenting work in those hallowed rooms, where so much of the most important theatre I have ever seen first took place, and to be doing so in the first season of an artist like David Byrne, who I respect so much. Jack and the team at Live! are brewing up something so special, and so absolutely of the north-east, and that makes me proudest of all. We're bringing those Northumbrian valleys that I love so much to Sloane Square, absolutely unapologetically. What a dream come true.'

LIFT and The Royal Court Theatre present a NSP Production, co-Produced by LIFT (London) / The Royal Court Theatre (London), Staatstheater Mainz, Riksteatern (Sweden), Why Not Theatre (Toronto), Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles (Brussels) / Le Lieu Unique (Nantes), Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. In association with The Shed (New York City) and Canberra Theatre Centre. 

ECHO (Every Cold Hearted Oxygen) - WORLD PREMIERE

By Nassim Soleimanpour  

Directed by Omar Elerian

Saturday 13 July - Saturday 27 July 2024

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Press Night: Wednesday 17 July 2024

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, NASSIM) and director Omar Elerian (NASSIM, Misty, two Palestinians go dogging) push the boundaries of Soleimanpour's signature unrehearsed cold reads to the next level.

A new performer takes to the stage at every show without having a clue of what is going to be asked of them. Unrehearsed and unprepared, the script becomes their guide as they journey through the story of the playwright, connected live from his flat in Berlin. Or is he? Can we really know where or when we are?

ECHO asks us to confront what it feels like to be an immigrant in time. Fusing technology with the oldest tricks in the book, ECHO is an experiment in concept touring for the age of climate crisis: an ambitious, magical and uncompromising production where no one travels yet everybody can be present.

Commissioned by LIFT as part of their Concept Touring Programme.  

G - WORLD PREMIERE

By Tife Kusoro
Thursday 22 August - Saturday 21 September 2024

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Press Night: Friday 30 August 2024

A god, a ghost or a trick of the light. 

Urban legend has it that Baitface steals the faces and lives of Black Boys. All it takes is walking underneath a pair of trainers suspended on a telephone wire, face uncovered.

Khaleem, Joy and Kai are just trying to get through school. On the night of an alleged crime, when the spirit of Baitface the Gullyman rears its head, their lives, identities and friendships begin to disintegrate.

Winner of the the George Devine Award 2023 G is a bold, visceral play from writer Tife Kusoro, Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting Group alumnus, 2021 Jerwood New Playwright and winner of the Lynne Gagliano Writer's Award in 2020.

G is a co-production with SISTER.

Giant - WORLD PREMIERE

By Mark Rosenblatt
Directed by Nicholas Hytner

Friday 20 September - Saturday 16 November 2024

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Press Night: Thursday 26 September 2024

A world-famous children's author under threat. A battle of wills in the wake of scandal. And one chance to make amends...  

It's the summer of 1983, The Witches is about to hit the shelves and Roald Dahl is making last-minute edits.  But the outcry at his recent, explicitly antisemitic article won't die down. 

Across a single afternoon at his family home, and rocked by an unexpectedly explosive confrontation, Dahl is forced to choose: make a public apology or risk his name and reputation. 

Inspired by real events, Mark Rosenblatt's debut play explores with dark humour the difference between considered opinion and dangerous rhetoric.

Directed by Nicholas Hytner (Straight Line Crazy, La Belle Sauvage) and starring Tony and Golden Globe-winner John Lithgow (Killers of the Flower Moon, The Crown), alongside Olivier Award-winner Elliot Levey (Cold War, Patriots, Good), Giant offers a complicated portrait of a fiendishly charismatic icon.

Originally developed with London Theatre Company.

Giant has been generously supported by a lead gift from Charles Holloway.

Mark Rosenblatt said: ‘Giant is my first play. When I was tearing my hair out writing it at my kitchen table, I never for a second imagined it would premiere on this landmark stage, and with this calibre of cast and creative team. It's completely surreal and thrilling to have it programmed as part of David Byrne's first season. I really hope Giant gives Royal Court audiences an uncomfortably funny, urgent and provocative night in the theatre.'

John Lithgow said: ‘I'm thrilled to be performing at The Royal Court where I've seen so much great work, stretching all the way back to the late 1960's. There's no better place to unveil Mark Rosenblatt's stunning new play.'

Elliot Levey said: 'What an honour to be making my Royal Court debut playing a man so central to its history. Tom Maschler is in the marrow of the Royal Court. It was his second home. John Osbourne, Arnold Wesker, George Devine, Tony Richardson - all the gang in those early heady days - owed something of their careers to Tom. Rosenblatt's new play couldn't be more timely, brilliant and revelatory - it packs a punch. I'm thrilled to be coming along for the ride. Maschler and the old gang would be proud of this one.'

BRACE BRACE - WORLD PREMIERE

By Oli Forsyth
Directed by Daniel Raggett

Thursday 3 October - Saturday 9 November 2024

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Press Night: Wednesday 9 October 2024

A man hijacks a plane. The plane begins to fall. Fight or flight.

Back on the ground, survivors Ray and Sylvia struggle to reconcile their responses to this life-changing event. As cracks appear in their relationship, one closes themselves off, the other can't focus on anything else.

A gripping story of the people we become in the aftermath of catastrophe from writer Oli Forsyth and directed by Daniel Raggett (Accidental Death of an Anarchist).

Oli is this year's recipient of the Jerwood New Playwright accolade. Now in its 30th year, The Royal Court Theatre Jerwood New Playwrights Programme, supported by the Jerwood Foundation, continues to support emerging writers to develop their practice, take risks and create extraordinary new work. He is also the recipient of the inaugural Davidson PlayGC Bursary, supported by PlayGC Theatre Company and the Alan Davidson Foundation.

Oli Forsyth said: ‘This play started with one scribbled sentence, in the back of a book, on a long train journey. That it is now being fully realised by an incredible team in such a celebrated venue is more exciting than I can tell you.'

Expendable - WORLD PREMIERE

By Emteaz Hussain

Directed by Esther Richardson

Dramaturgy by Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh 

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
Thursday 21 November - Saturday 21 December 2024

Press Night: Wednesday 27 November 2024

Between the 1990s and 2010s hundreds of young girls were sexually exploited in northern towns by gangs of predatory men.

Two sisters grapple with the impact on their community as the men around them are embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal.

Playwright Emteaz Hussain's Expendable spotlights the often-overlooked voices of British Pakistani women, delving into the shortcomings of law enforcement, politicians and the media.

Emteaz Hussain said: ‘I'm thrilled for Expendable to come to fruition here at The Royal Court Theatre in this exciting season. Over the years, I have been inspired by so many brilliant plays shown in this iconic building; it's an honour now to be part of its long, ever-growing and ever-changing history.'




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