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Hampstead Theatre Announces Autumn 2019 Season

Ahead of its 60th Birthday, Hampstead Theatre announces Roxana Silbert's inaugural season as Artistic Director.

Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre, said:

'I am excited to introduce my debut season as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre. Hampstead is where I fell in love with new plays. When I first arrived in London from a city with no producing theatre and a school with no Drama Department, I had very little experience of theatre. I saw every production here for the first five years of my London life, usually more than once. My first job was as a Hampstead script reader. My career as director of new plays is almost entirely due to Hampstead Theatre. It is very dear to my heart so this is a wonderful moment.

We need new theatre now more than ever to inspire audiences wrestling and navigating a world that seems to be in freefall. These six premieres ask vital questions about community and individualism, greed and account, the responsibility and rights of the individual, technology and privacy, uncertainty and identity, the toll on mental health, and, always, the need to find love and connection. They are theatrical, human, and brilliantly written. Here is a vibrant and varied selection of new stories, from home and abroad, epic and true, by six voices all new to the Hampstead stage. My personal highlights are launching two unproduced playwrights, Ruby Thomas and Al Blyth, and featuring Tom Morton-Smith and Al, both of whom I recruited onto the Paines Plough Future Perfect programme when I was Artistic Director. I am proud and eager to share these young and extremely gifted voices with the world. Ruby Thomas and Chinonyerem Odimba have delivered two stunning human plays about relationships today. Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig opens the season with her whistleblowing heroine, set in 90s China. Jordan Tannahill's riotous reimagining of Renaissance Italy is followed by Tom Morton-Smith's retelling of the Cold War's 'The Match of the Century' and, finally, I'm thrilled to be directing my Hampstead debut with Al Blyth's first full-length play - an explosive espionage thriller, the story of which is happening in our own backyards now. Each voice has plenty to say that will leave you thinking long into the night...

I am really excited to be working with some of the best directors in British Theatre this season. My friend and highly esteemed colleague, Michael Boyd, makes an anticipated return to Hampstead following the unforgettable iHo by Tony Kushner. I extend a warm welcome to Blanche McIntyre, Annabelle Comyn, Guy Jones and Daniel Bailey (who was my erstwhile Associate Director at Birmingham REP) who all make their Hampstead debuts. We are lucky to have their vision, ambition and energy under one roof. Together, we aim to entertain, enrich and surprise you in equal amounts.

I'm proud that Hampstead is one of the most accessible theatres in the city when it comes to ticket pricing and access schemes. I am determined to maintain and build upon the excellent opportunities already in place, starting with a season offer for the Main Stage. Anyone can see all four new Main Stage productions for the price of three. This means, if you are under 30, you can see four world-class productions for thirty pounds. We have also made 8,000 £10 tickets available for under 30s for any performance. And with Hampstead's Downstairs Club, under 30s have free priority booking access to these tickets as well as the popular £5 tickets for Downstairs.

A new work theatre requires strong, diverse voices not just on the stage but off it too. I am delighted to announce that Hampstead has two new Associate Companies working in house - The Mono Box and Creative Multilingualism. Both companies are led by truly inspirational theatre practitioners - Polly Bennett, Joan Iyiola and Daniel Tyler-McTighe. We're thrilled to be supporting the brilliant work of The Mono Box, who are dedicated to helping people look for alternative routes to theatre training, searching for a like-minded working community to enhance their skills as they navigate their way through the industry. Daniel will be working with young people in Camden for whom English is a second language. In our mission to offer more pathways to new writers, we have opened Hampstead's script submission window from a month to all year round. If you've got a voice that can excite, entertain and provoke - we want to hear from you. We are also working with The Mono Box on a new play competition and applications open soon for Hampstead's Inspire Programme, led by Roy Williams.

Finally, our Main Stage auditorium is currently undergoing a full refurbishment complete with an additional 45 seats to welcome new audiences and build upon our financial sustainability. I really look forward to opening our new doors to you come September - just in time to celebrate Hampstead's 60th Birthday. Here's to a new and exciting chapter for this incredibly special and important theatre. Thank you for your support.'


By Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
Directed by Michael Boyd

5 September - 12 October

Press night Thursday 12 September 2019 7pm

'It doesn't matter if the cat is white or black. As long as it catches mice, it is a very good cat'

Hampstead Theatre presents the world premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's blazing

thriller The King of Hell's Palace. Directed by Michael Boyd, this new play is based on the true story of a whistleblowing heroine and her extraordinary mission to expose a cover-up of epic proportions.

Henan Province, 1992. China is laying the foundations for global wealth and power - business is booming. Yin-Yin, a young Ministry of Health official, finds herself recruited into a new and unusual trade that boasts infinite stock and infinite demand. But amidst the hype and the soaring profits, she rapidly uncovers an unimaginable secret that will test to the limit her loyalties to her profession, to her family and to her country...

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig is an internationally staged playwright whose plays include Snow in Midsummer (RSC, Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The World of Extreme Happiness (Goodman Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, National Theatre); Lidless (Trafalgar Studios, Page 73 Productions) and 410[Gone] (Crowded Fire Theatre, Yantgze Rep, Rorschach Theatre). Her plays have received the Yale Drama Series Award (selected by Sir David Hare), the Wasserstein Prize, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the Keene Prize for Literature and a United States Artist Fellowship. She is currently writing the script for Alan Taylor's upcoming feature film Gold Mountain.

Michael Boyd's recent directing work includes Tamburlaine (RSC); The Cherry Orchard (Bristol Old Vic/Royal Exchange); The Open House (Theatre Royal, Bath/Print Room, London); The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures (Hampstead Theatre); Right Now (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh/Theatre Royal, Bath/Bush); Orfeo (Royal Opera House/Roundhouse - Olivier Award nomination); Pelléas et Mélisande; Eugene Onegin and Don Giovanni (all Garsington Opera) and Tamburlaine (Off Broadway - winner of Obie, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards).His work has won many UK and international awards, including four Oliviers, and he was knighted for services to drama in 2012. Michael was the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2002-12 and the Artistic Director of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow from 1985-96.


By Jordan Tannahill
Directed by Blanche McIntyre

17 October - 23 November

Press night Thursday 24 October 2019 7pm

'They're going to kill you. They're going to worship you, don't get me wrong. But they are going to kill you'

Hampstead Theatre presents the European premiere of Jordan Tannahill's Botticelli in the Fire which will be directed by Blanche McIntyre. This hot-blooded and seductive reimagining of Renaissance Italy questions how much of ourselves we are willing to sacrifice when society comes off the rails.

Florence, circa 1482. Playboy Sandro Botticelli has it all: talent, fame, good looks. He also has the ear - and the wife - of Lorenzo de Medici, as well as the Renaissance's hottest young apprentice, Leonardo.

But whilst he is at work on his breakthrough commission, 'The Birth of Venus', Botticelli's devotion to pleasure and beauty is put to the ultimate test. As plague and dissent sweep through the city, the charismatic friar Girolamo Savonarola starts to stoke the fires against the liberal elite. Botticelli finds the life he knows breaking terrifyingly apart, forcing him to choose between love and survival.

Jordan Tannahill is a Canadian playwright, novelist, and director. His plays have been translated into multiple languages and widely honoured. Jordan is the youngest two-time winner of a Governor General's Literary Award, the preeminent state-sponsored literary honour in Canada, having won for his plays Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom in 2018, and Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays in 2014. His plays, performance texts, and productions have been presented at venues including the Young Vic, Sadler's Wells, The Kitchen (NYC), The Lincoln Centre (NYC), Festival d'Avignon (France), Volkstheater (Vienna), Canadian Stage (Toronto), The National Arts Centre of Canada (Ottawa), The Edinburgh International Festival and the West End. His books include the autofiction novel Liminal (House of Anansi, 2018), and Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama (Coach House Press, 2015). His virtual reality performance Draw Me Close, produced by The National Theatre and the National Film Board of Canada, was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Biennale in 2017, and ran at the Young Vic earlier this year. Jordan has also worked in dance, most recently writing the text for Akram Khan's celebrated pieces Xenos and Outwitting the Devil, both currently touring internationally. From 2012 - 2016, in collaboration with William Ellis, Jordan ran the alternative art space Videofag out of their home in Toronto's Kensington Market neighbourhood. Over the four years of its operation, Videofag became an influential hub for queer and avant-garde work in Canada. The Videofag Book was published by Book*hug Press in 2017.

Blanche McIntyre was Director in Residence at The National Theatre Studio and the Finborough Theatre (2009). Work as a theatre director includes Bartholomew Fair (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse);

Tartuffe (National Theatre); Women in Power (Southampton Nuffield); The Winter's Tale; The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It (all Shakespeare's Globe); The Writer (Almeida); Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (both RSC); The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre); Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse); Welcome Home Captain Fox! (Donmar); The Oresteia (HOME - Manchester); Arcadia (ETT); Accolade (St James'); Tonight At 8.30 (Southampton Nuffield/ETT); The Nutcracker (Southampton Nuffield); Ciphers (Out of Joint/Bush/Northcott, Exeter); The Birthday Party (Manchester Royal Exchange); The Seagull (Southampton Nuffield/Derby Theatre/UK tour - Best Director TMA 2013 UK Theatre Awards); Liar, Liar (Unicorn); The Only True History of Lizzie Finn (Jagged Fence/Southwark Playhouse); The Seven Year Itch (Salisbury Playhouse); Repentance and Behind the Lines (double bill ANGLE at the Bush); Foxfinder (Finborough); When Did You Last See My Mother? (Trafalgar Studios); Robin Hood (Latitude Festival/National Student Drama Festival); Pinching For My Soul (Focus Theatre, Dublin); Open Heart Surgery (Southwark Playhouse); Accolade (Finborough - Best Director and Best Production at Off West End Theatre Awards 2011 - Time Out's Best Fringe Show 2011 - most promising newcomer award); A Model For Mankind (Cock Tavern Theatre); Molière, Or The League of Hypocrites (Finborough); Birds (Southwark Playhouse - Secrets season); Three Hours After Marriage (Union Theatre); Wuthering Heights (Birmingham Rep/UK tour); Doctor Faustus and The Devil Is an Ass (both White Bear Theatre); The Master and Margarita (also as writer of the adaptation of the novel - Greenwich Playhouse). Film work as co-writer includes The Hippopotamus, based on the novel by Stephen Fry. Work as an Opera director includes The Marriage of Figaro and Tosca (both English Touring Opera).


By Tom Morton-Smith
Directed by Annabelle Comyn

28 November - 18 January

Press night Thursday 5 December 2019 7pm

'The Cold War is still a war. Soft power is still power. You're out here playing by the rules ... they're out here playing to the crowd'

Hampstead Theatre presents the world premiere of Tom Morton-Smith's gripping psychological thriller Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer. Directed by Annabelle Comyn, this new play depicts a match that became a signature event of the Cold War, exploring how two very different individuals were co-opted to stand for contrasting political systems.

Reykjavik, 1972. All eyes are on Iceland ahead of 'the Match of the Century': Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fischer. For the two contenders, the stakes have never been higher - the world title, unprecedented prize money, and stratospheric fame are all on the table.

But as the Cold War begins to heat up, each side of the Atlantic spots a major opportunity to demonstrate superiority over the other. So why hasn't America's knight in shining armour shown up? And why won't Russia's grandmaster listen to orders? As the two superpowers prepare their opening gambits in a proxy battle of ideologies, with sport as the weapon of choice, both sides find themselves undermined by their pawns, who seem oddly unwilling to cooperate...

Tom Morton-Smith's plays include Oppenheimer (RSC/Vaudeville); The Earthworks (RSC); In Doggerland (Box of Tricks - UK tour); Everyday Maps for Everyday Use (Finborough/Papatango); Uncertainty (Latitude Festival) and Salt Meets Wound (Theatre503). Tom was writer-in-residence at Paines Plough Theatre Company, 2007-2008. He is currently working on his first feature film, The American War (Ink Factory/Rise/Film4), and is developing a television series with Drama Republic.

Annabelle Comyn is an award winning Irish freelance theatre director, artistic director of Hatch Theatre Company and Director in Residence at The Lir, National Academy of Dramatic Arts, Ireland. She has been working as a theatre director for 24 years and in recent years has established herself as one of Ireland's leading theatre directors. Her theatre work includes the Mick Flannery musical Evening Train (Everyman, Cork Midsummer Festival); Asking For It (Everyman, Cork/Abbey, Dublin); Look Back in Anger (Gate, Dublin); Crestfall (The Mick Lally Theatre - Druid, Galway International Festival); Helen and I (The Mick Lally Theatre - Druid); The Wake (Abbey, Dublin); Dancing at Lughnasa (Lyric Theatre, Belfast); Hedda Gabler (Abbey, Dublin); The Vortex (Gate, Dublin); Major Barbara (Abbey, Dublin); The Talk of the Town (Hatch Theatre Company/Landmark Productions and Dublin Theatre Festival); The House (Abbey, Dublin - Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Director); Contractions, The Sit (Bewley's Café Theatre/Dublin Fringe Festival - Bewley's Cafe Little Gem Award nomination); Pygmalion (Abbey, Dublin); Love and Money; Further Than the Furthest Thing; Cruel and Tender; Pyrenees; Blood and The Country (all Hatch Theatre Company in association with Project Arts Centre); A Number and Blue/Orange (both Abbey, Dublin); Whereabouts (Temple Bar Site specific); Ashes and Sand (Nukutheater, Estonia); Twelfth Night (The Granary, Cork); Good-Bye Roy (Royal Court - Exposure); B22 (Royal Court - Young Writers' Festival); The Lament For Arthur Cleary (Brockley Jack, London); The Rock Station (Finborough). Opera work includes Dubliners: Counterparts and the Boarding House (Wexford/Dublin - Opera Theatre Company & Wexford Opera Festival, nominated ITTA for Best opera 2018).


By Al Blyth

Directed by Roxana Silbert

31 January 2020 - 7 March 2020

Press Night Thursday 6 February 2020 7pm

'Yes, we're geeks, yes, we sit at computers all day, yes, we barely leave Cheltenham, but we are still, when it comes down to it, spies'

Hampstead Theatre presents the world premiere of Al Blyth's first full-length play, the explosive espionage thriller The Haystack. Roxana Silbert makes her directing debut as Hampstead Theatre's Artistic Director with this play which challenges the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' mantra and explores how we can live honestly, love freely, and stay authentic when the advances in cutting-edge technology outpace the law.

Neil and Zef are two twenty-something computer whizzes with questionable dress sense and a highly developed interest in video games and Netflix. They're also the UK's 'National Defence

Information Security Team' - recruited by GCHQ for their sky-high IQs and ability to work quickly and discreetly, no questions asked.

With unfettered access to the world's data and infinite powers of electronic intrusion, these unlikely agents are essential cogs in the national security machine. But when their window onto intelligence operations shows them more than they were meant to see, they begin to question their roles in a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not...

Al Blyth studied Econometrics & Mathematical Economics at Bristol and L.S.E., before working as a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In 2006 he was awarded Soho Theatre's Westminster Prize, for his play Furnace Four. He was selected for the Paines Plough Future Perfect scheme in 2008, and won Channel 4's 4Talent Prize for Dramatic Writing the same year. Al's TV show The Rook, a supernatural spy thriller based on the novel by Daniel O'Malley, premiered on the cable network Starz in 2019. He is currently co-writing the book and lyrics for a musical adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, with his writing partner (and wife) Sam Holcroft, and the composer Arthur Darvill. The Haystack is Al's debut full-length play. Previous short pieces produced in the UK include: Reality and The Poet of Elswick Park (both RSC/Live Theatre); Under My Skin (Paines Plough/Òran Mór); Community Payback (RIFT Theatre); The Abolition Of Death (RSC) and The Hag of Hyde Park (Paines Plough/Globe).

Roxana Silbert is Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre. She was previously Artistic Director of Birmingham REP and Artistic Director of Paines Plough. She has been Associate Director at the RSC, Literary Director of the Traverse Theatre, and Associate Director at The Royal Court Theatre. She's directed plays for all the above theatres as well as nationally and internationally.


By Ruby Thomas
Directed by Guy Jones

19 September - 26 October
Press Night 2 October 7pm

'I can feel myself changing. In a way I haven't done since, adolescence maybe. But the catalyst is you instead of overactive glands'

Funny, smart and sexy, Hampstead Theatre presents the world premiere of Ruby Thomas' debut play that probes our romantic choices in life and explores the human need to connect and be loved - regardless of the ramifications.

A young, loved-up couple are surrounded by life's infinite possibilities and temptations. And at a time in their lives where they have little responsibility, they're determined to live this chapter as fully and spontaneously as possible. But in their pursuit to enjoy all that life has to offer, should every opportunity that comes their way be taken?=

Ruby Thomas has had short plays performed at the Old Red Lion, Platform Southwark, the White Bear and Theatre503. She was on the Soho Writers Lab course (2016-17) and the Royal Court Supergroup (2018-19). Her web series Settling was released in March 2019.

Guy Jones trained at the University of Manchester and on The National Theatre Directors Course. His directing work includes Out of Water and Mayfly (both Orange Tree); Busking It (HighTide/Shoreditch Town Hall); Disnatured (Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival) and Spokesong (Finborough). As Staff Director at The National Theatre he directed Saint George and the Dragon; and as Assistant Director at the RSC he assisted on Cymbeline and Always Orange. Guy is Literary Associate at the Orange Tree and has been an Associate Artist at Company Three. Dramaturgy work elsewhere includes There There, Stranger (Sadler's Wells) and The Armour (Langham Hotel). He was shortlisted for the JMK Award in 2016.


By Chinonyerem Odimba
Directed by Daniel Bailey

31 October - 7 December
Press Night 13 November 7pm

'I have to draw a new map. I have to be seen. For her. For all of us!'

Hampstead Theatre presents the world premiere of Chinonyerem Odimba's poignant and life affirming Unknown Rivers. This new play, directed by Daniel Bailey, is a testament to the extraordinary powers of female friendship - where there's turmoil, trauma and hardship, there's also love, bravery and hope, making it possible to go with the flow... and live.

Since her ordeal five years ago, nineteen-year-old Nene rarely leaves home. Secure within her mum's embrace, Nene now keeps the outside world securely on the other side of her bedroom window.

But weekly visits from her best friend Lea start to fill the void and on one unexpected day, when she is finally beyond the walls of her sanctuary with her vibrant, funny, and spirited girlfriends, a long-forgotten spark is powerfully reignited in Nene, one which will change her direction forever...

Chinonyerem Odimba is a playwright, director and poet. Her theatre work includes Joanne and Amongst the Reeds (Clean Break at The Yard); a modern retelling of Twist (Theatre Centre); Medea (Bristol Old Vic) and We Too, Are Giants (Kiln Theatre). More recently, a new play Princess & the Hustler toured across the UK for Eclipse Theatre/Bristol Old Vic/HullTruck. Chinonyerem is the Writer-in-Residence at Live Theatre/Northumbria University for 2018/2019. Her work has been shortlisted for several awards including the Adrienne Benham Award, Alfred Fagon Award, and the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. She is the joint winner for the 2018 Sonia Friedman Award for a new play How to Walk on the Moon written for C4/Talawa Theatre. She also writes for radio, and a new 30-minute Television drama for 4Stories/Channel 4 is currently in production.

Daniel Bailey was appointed Associate Director of The Bush Theatre this year. He was Associate Director at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which he joined as part of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme. His work has included artist development programmes for writers, theatre-makers and directors. His directing work at Birmingham Rep included Blue/Orange; Concubine; Stuff; I Knew You; Abuelo; Jump! We'll Catch You; Made in India/Britain and Exhale. Other work as theatre Director includes My Darling Wife (Talawa); Pre-Judgment Day and Covered (both New Heritage Theatre). His work as film director includes On Belonging; Malachi; Floating on Clouds and Y.O.L.O. He has also previously been Resident Director at The National Theatre Studio, Associate Artist at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and Resident Assistant Director at The Finborough.

Priority Booking is now open for members of Hampstead, including under 30 members of Hampstead Theatre's Downstairs Club - a free membership providing access to priority booking and the popular £10 and £5 tickets. Public Booking will open Monday 29 July 10.30am.

Book all four Main Stage shows for the price of three. Offer ends midnight Monday 5 August.

If you are aged 16 - 30 and love new and original theatre then The Downstairs Club is for you. Our young persons membership scheme is absolutely free to join and offers Priority Booking for every Hampstead Main Stage and Downstairs production - including access to the £5 tickets Downstairs. Under 30s just need to email and we will activate your membership today.

Applications for Hampstead's INSPIRE Programme will open soon. Please visit for more details about how to apply.

The INSPIRE Programme is an opportunity for playwrights with new ideas, talent and energy to develop their craft under the mentorship of award-winning playwright Roy Williams for a year. We are looking for innovative and lateral thinkers, dedicated to creating entertaining and original theatre.

We are opening our month-long script submissions window up to a year-round submissions programme from 1 August 2019. We hope to get to know and learn more about writers we have not previously heard from. This will allow writers to send us their work whenever it is ready, rather than waiting until August each year. Please visit more information about submitting your script to Hampstead.

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