Lucas Hnath, Trevor Nunn, Noel Coward, and More Set For The Orange Tree Theatre's Upcoming Season

Learn more about the full lineup here!

By: May. 11, 2023
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Lucas Hnath, Trevor Nunn, Noel Coward, and More Set For The Orange Tree Theatre's Upcoming Season

The Orange Tree (OT) has announced its first full year of programming under new Artistic Director Tom Littler. It features world and European premieres by Zoe Cooper and Lucas Hnath; revivals from Mustapha Matura, Noël Coward and Oliver Goldsmith; directors including Trevor Nunn and Matthew Dunster; and Niamh Cusack headlining the first major London revival of Polly Stenham's breakout hit That Face.


Niamh Cusack will make her OT debut in the autumn with Polly Stenham's That Face, which won the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award, the TMA Best New Play Award, and the Critics' Circle Award. Mustapha Matura's Meetings follows, with JMK Award winner Kalungi Ssebandeke directing this first major UK revival.

2023 culminates with Tom Littler and Francesca Ellis, directing the 250th anniversary production of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer; alongside the OT's annual family show, Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol based on Charles Dickens' novel, adapted and directed by Becca Chadder. In January, Zoe Cooper returns to the OT following the hit premieres of Jess and Joe Forever and Out of Water with her new play Northanger Abbey, inspired by Jane Austen's novel, directed by Tessa Walker - in a co-production with the Octagon Theatre Bolton, the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough and Theatre by the Lake.

2024 will also bring in a production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn; the UK premiere of Kate Attwell's Testmatch directed by Diane Page, a co-production with ETT (English Touring Theatre) and Octagon Theatre Bolton; a rediscovery of Noël Coward's Suite in Three Keys directed by Littler; and completing the season, the European premiere of Lucas Hnath's Red Speedo directed by Matthew Dunster and co-produced with David Adkin. Priority booking for these 2024 productions is open to Members now, with public booking opening in the autumn.

This summer will see the brand-new season open with the OT's inaugural Greenhouse Festival showcasing the theatre's OT New Artists programme and marking a new collaboration between the OT and the drama school LAMDA, including the creation of a new Associate Director position. Headlining the Greenhouse Festival will be four productions by graduating LAMDA students, directing modern classics with their fresh and exciting takes on Ross Willis' Wolfie (directed by Martha Barnett), Enda Walsh's The Small Things (directed by Robert Elwood), Sophie Treadwell's Machinal (directed by Anna Hampton) and Eugène Ionesco's The Chairs (directed by Saniya Saraf).

The OT's Community team continue their longstanding projects to connect young people with Shakespeare with the return of Primary Shakespeare and Shakespeare Up Close, with a retelling of Hamlet for primary school audiences, and a choice for secondary school students of Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, in collaboration with Guildford Shakespeare Company. OT Community will also be welcoming back Flute Theatre as an Associate Company at the OT with a production of Twelfth Night directed by Kelly Hunter for autistic individuals and their families.

A selection of these newly announced productions will be available to watch on-demand thanks to the continuation of OT On Screen, allowing greater access for audiences worldwide to connect with the OT digitally.

Tom Littler says today "We're excited to announce this year of great theatre at the Orange Tree. It builds on the OT's history of a creative conversation between classics and new work, contemporary revivals and work with and for young people. The Orange Tree is a wonderful space to get to the heart of a play; to the human experience at its centre. These very different plays are united by their compassion and their heart."

Hanna Streeter, Executive Director, says today "I'm absolutely thrilled about this year-long season in which Tom has honoured the OT's history of producing early career artists while celebrating some of the greats. We are privileged to be partnering with so many amazing theatres, companies and producers, and it's with thanks to them, along with our Patrons, Members and loyal audiences, that we can deliver such an ambitious programme."

Polly Stenham's

THAT FACE

Directed by Josh Seymour

9 September - 7 October

Press night: Wednesday 13 September at 7pm

OT on the screen: 10 - 13 October

It's a different world, with different rules.

Niamh Cusack leads a revival of Polly Stenham's astounding 2007 debut. When Mia is expelled from boarding school, her mother Martha isn't interested. Martha prefers to hang out with her son Henry. And now her estranged husband Hugh, who's runoff to Hong Kong with his new girlfriend, is charging back threatening to sort things out. What is there to sort out? Everything is fine.

Polly Stenham's plays include That Face (Royal Court Theatre and the Duke of York's Theatre), for which she was awarded the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright 2007 and TMA Best New Play 2007. Also at The Royal Court Theatre: Tusk Tusk and No Quarter. Her other playwriting credits include Hotel and Julie (both National Theatre).

Josh Seymour directs. His theatre credits include The Narcissist (Chichester Festival Theatre), Musik and The Pet Shop Boys (Edinburgh Festival/Arts Theatre), Adding Machine (Finborough Theatre) and One Arm (Southwark Playhouse), for which he won Best Director at the 2016 Off-West End Awards.

Mustapha Matura's

MEETINGS

Directed by Kalungi Ssebandeke

A co-production with the JMK Award

14 October - 11 November 2023

Press Night: Wednesday 18 October at 7pm
OT On Screen: 14 - 17 November

Dis country still must have people who know how ter eat an cook good food

Suited, booted, and stuffed with American burgers and fries, Hugh walks out of a meeting and buys a mango on the street. To the bemusement of his high-flying wife Jean, Hugh becomes obsessed with the foods of his Trinidadian childhood and hires a cook, Elsa, to indulge his nostalgic passion. Mustapha Matura's razor-sharp comedy is about identity, belonging and the cost of progress.

Following his performance in 2019's Blood Knot and his OT playwriting debut Prodigal for Inside/Outside in 2021, Kalungi Ssebandeke returns to the OT as the winner of the prestigious 2023 JMK Award. The OT follows Mustapha Matura's Play Mas in 2015 with the first major UK revival of Meetings: an atmospheric, entertaining, and poignant play set to capture the sights, sounds and smells of the Caribbean.

Mustapha Matura's (1939 - 2019) plays include As Time Goes By (Traverse Theatre, Royal Court Theatre), Another Tuesday, More More, India, Party, and My Enemy (Institute of Contemporary Arts), Bakerloo Line, Nice (Almost Free Theatre), Black Slaves - White Chains, Play Mas, Rum an' Coca Cola (Royal Court Theatre), Bread (Young Vic), Dialogue (Institute of Contemporary Arts), The Coup (National Theatre), A Dying Business, One Rule (Riverside Studios), Independence (Bush Theatre), Meetings (Hamstead Theatre), Playboy of The West Indies (Tricycle Theatre), A Small World (Southwark Playhouse), Welcome Hom Jacko (The Factory), and Trinidad Sisters (Donmar Warehouse).

Kalungi Ssenbandeke is a director, writer and actor. He recently directed Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp for the newly formed drama school Bristol School of Acting founded by Stuart Wood with co-artistic director NANCY MEDINA the incoming Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic Theatre. Prior to that, he worked as Director in Residence at Tonbridge School, whilst also directing NT Connections play Remote by Stef Smith for White City Youth Theatre at Lyric Hammersmith. He is also returning to the OT after performing in Blood Knot and writing Prodigal a short play for their Inside/Outside series. His further acting credits include Othello (The Watermill Theatre). His film credits include Columbite Tantalite and for television Dr Who. As a writer, his debut play Assata Taught Me premiered at Gate Theatre in 2017 starring Adjoa Andoh and Kenneth Omole directed by BAFTA Nominated Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre Lynette Linton. Both plays (Assata Taught Me and Prodigal) are published by Bloomsbury and Nick Hern Books respectively.

The JMK Trust was founded in memory of James Menzies-Kitchin, a young director of great promise who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 28, to give opportunities to theatre directors of similar ability and vision. Each year it gives one prestigious award to enable an outstanding applicant aged 35 or under to create their own production of their choice of text. Its intensive development and selection process has itself given powerful impetus to the best theatre practitioners of the future. Previous winners have become major players in British theatre, including Thea Sharrock, Orla O'Loughlin, Bijan Sheibani, Joe Hill-Gibbins, Natalie Abrahami, Roy Alexander Weise and Polly Findlay.

Oliver Goldsmith's

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER

Directed by Tom Littler with Francesca Ellis

18 November 2023 - 6 January 2024

Press Night: Wednesday 22 November 2023 at 7pm

OT On Screen: 16 - 19 January

Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no fibs.

Christmas at Hardcastle Hall, where guests are assured of a hearty welcome. The gramophone is playing a Charleston, cocktails are in the shaker, and romance is in the air. Kate Hardcastle can't wait to meet her intended iancé, Charles Marlow - but when Marlow finally turns up, he's not the shy and retiring man anyone was expecting. Wily Kate soon realises that faint heart never won fair husband...

Oliver Goldsmith's (1730 - 1774) most famous works are his novel The Vicar of Wakefield, long poem The Deserted Village, and play She Stoops to Conquer.

Artistic Director of OT, Tom Littler directs, with OT Community Director Francesca Ellis. Littler's theatre credits include The Circle (Orange Tree Theatre), Saturday Night (Jermyn Street Theatre, Arts Theatre), A Little Night Music (Central Theatre) Good Grief (Theatre Royal Bath), Dances of Death (Gate Theatre), Martine (Finborough Theatre), Miss Julie and Creditors (Theatre by the Lake, Jermyn Street Theatre), Tonight at 8.30, Cancelling Socrates, The Odyssey, 15 Heroines (Jermyn Street Theatre) Cabaret (English Theatre Frankfurt, Deutsches Theater Munich), and Hamlet (Guildford Shakespeare Company).

Shakespeare Up Close

MACBETH and ROMEO AND JULIET

A co-production with Guildford Shakespeare Company

5 - 10 December 2023

Designed to support GCSE curriculum teaching, these two fast-paced, 90-minute productions bring to life Shakespeare's original text with clear and dynamic storytelling.

MACBETH: In a post-apocalyptic world, a bloody war draws to its conclusion. The celebrated warrior Macbeth and his ambitious wife, are propelled headfirst into a chilling quest for ultimate power, fuelled by supernatural powers beyond their control. The war maybe over, but the battle for the throne has only just begun. Directed by Gabriella Bird (The 4th Country, The Park Theatre, 2022; Creative Associate Jermyn Street Theatre, 2020-21).

ROMEO & JULIET: Set against the backdrop of modern school-life, a long-held family feud spills out into school canteens and corridors; at home, strict family ties strain to keep control. At an exclusive society party, a young couple meet, igniting a passion that sets all Verona alight. To stay together, they must risk everything. Directed by Indiana Lown-Collins (JMK Award Winner 2022; Shakespeare's Globe Associate Director, 2023)

Co-produced with the award-winning Guildford Shakespeare Company, two of Shakespeare's most popular and exciting plays visit the OT following an extensive regional schools' tour.

Becca Chadder's

TINY TIM'S CHRISTMAS CAROL

An adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Adapted and directed by Becca Chadder

18 December - 6 January 2024
Press performance: Wed 20 December 2023 at 2.30pm

When Bob Cratchit takes over the company from his old boss Ebenezer Scrooge, he discovers it's tough at the top. In fact, he works so hard that this year he might cancel Christmas. So now it's up to Tiny Tim to remind his father of the story of Scrooge and the true meaning of Christmas. Charles Dickens' much-loved Christmas story is reinvented for families with children aged five to ten. Packed with laughter, music and a heart-warming message, Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol is the perfect introduction to theatre and to A Christmas Carol.

Becca Chadder is a writer and director. Her writing credits include Through The Looking Glass and The Girl of Ink and Star (The Watermill Theatre), La Voison (Vault Festival). Her directing credits include As You Like It (Orange Tree Theatre, Primary Shakespeare), La Voison (Vault Festival), The Poison Belt (Jermyn Street Theatre).

Zoe Cooper's

NORTHANGER ABBEY

From the novel by Jane Austen

Directed by Tessa Walker

A co-production with the and Octagon Theatre Bolton, the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake Keswick

24 January - 24 February

Press Night: Wednesday 24 January 2024 at 7pm

OT On Screen: Tue 21 - Fri 24 May 2024

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of any sort of ... disappointed love


Catherine Moreland knows little of the world, but who needs real-life experience when you have novels to guide you? Catherine seizes her chance to escape her claustrophobic family and join the smart set in Bath. Between balls and parties, she meets worldly, sophisticated Isabella Thorpe - Iz, to her friends - and so Cath's very own adventure begins.

Zoe Cooper is a playwright. Her latest play The Kiss was performed as part of the OT's Inside/Outside Series in April 2021. Her previous play Out of Water also played at the OT in 2019. It was produced in association with the RSC. Out of Water was named as a finalist in the 2020 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, shortlisted for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Awards 2019, and nominated for the Best New Production of a Play Award in the Broadway World UK Awards.

Tessa Walker is a theatre director and dramaturg. Upcoming productions include Biscuits for Breakfast (Hampstead Theatre). She was Associate Director at Hampstead Theatre from 20-1 - 2023 where she directed Ravenscourt and Big, Big, Sky. Other recent productions include Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann (Pilot Theatre, tour), Symphony of Us by Paul O'Donnell (Coventry Cathedral, Coventry City of Culture) and The Glad Game by Phoebe Frances Brown (Nottingham Playhouse and tour)

As Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre she directed Bright Places, Jekyll and Hyde, 101 Dalmatians, The Whip Hand, Looking for John, Folk, The Quiet House, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol, The Mother, Circles, Back Down, 366 Days of Kindness and How to be a Hero.

Other directing includes: The Snow Queen (The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff), The (The Royal Exchange, Manchester), The Glee Club (Hull Truck), The Company Will Overlook a Moment of Madness, (The National Theatre of Scotland), Dream Pill, Dancing Bears (Soho Theatre), The Red Helicopter (The Almeida), She From the Sea by Zawe Ashton (LIFT), Harm's Way by Zawe Ashton (The Lowry, Manchester), Black Crows (Arcola Theatre), Orange (Script Cymru), Debris (Theatre 503,BAC Critics' Choice Season, The Traverse Edinburgh and Staatstheater Biennale, Germany).

William Shakespeare's

TWELFTH NIGHT

Adapted and directed by Kelly Hunter
A co-production with the Flute Theatre

29 January - 20 February


Flute Theatre creates ground-breaking productions of Shakespeare for autistic individuals and their families. In the 90-minute performance, up to 12 participants sit with the actors on the OT stage and experience Shakespeare's story through sensory games, which everyone plays together. Each performance is adapted to the specific needs of the participants, however complex they may be.

Anton Chekhov's

UNCLE VANYA

Adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn
Production supported by Derek Robinson

2 March - 13 April 2024

Wednesday 6 March 2024 at 7pm

I cannot go on living in the country. Human beings were not meant to live in the wild

Sonia and her Uncle Vanya lead an uneventful life on their country estate, animated only by visits from the dashing local doctor. But when Sonia's famous father and his glamorous new wife unexpectedly turn up, old grudges return, and new desires ignite. In the heat of summer, tempers boil over and forbidden lusts threaten to end in catastrophe. 

An unmissable opportunity to see Chekhov's tragi-comic masterpiece about the frustrations of rural life and middle age performed in the most intimate surroundings.

Trevor Nunn has now directed all 37 of Shakespeare's plays. From 1968 to 1986, he was the longest serving Artistic Director of the RSC, directing much of the Shakespeare canon, as well as Nicholas Nickleby and Les Misérables. From 1997 to 2003, he was Director of The National Theatre, where his productions included The Merchant of Venice, Summerfolk and The Cherry Orchard, as well as Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady and Anything Goes. He has directed the world premieres of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia and Rock 'n' Roll, Cats, Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard and The Woman in White. Other theatre includes, Timon of Athens and Skellig (Young Vic), The Lady from the Sea (Almeida), Hamlet, Richard II and Inherit the Wind (Old Vic), A Little Night Music (London/New York), Cyrano de Bergerac and Kiss Me, Kate (Chichester Festival Theatre), Flare Path, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Tempest and The Lion in Winter (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), A Chorus of Disapproval (West End), Beckett's All That Fall (London/New York), Relative Values and Agnes Colander (Bath Theatre Royal/West End), Schikaneder (Vienna), Love in Idleness, Fiddler on the Roof (West End). Opera includes, Idomeneo, Porgy and Bess, Così fan tutte and Peter Grimes (Glyndebourne and Salzburg) and Katya Kabanova and Sophie's Choice (Royal Opera House). His television credits include, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Three Sisters, Othello and King Lear; and for film, Hedda, Lady Jane, Twelfth Night and Red Joan.

Kate Attwell's

TESTMATCH

Directed by Diane Page

A co-production with ETT and Octagon Theatre Bolton

20 April - 18 May 2024

Press Night: Wednesday 24 April at 7pm

Lord's, present day. The Women's Cricket World Cup: England versus India. There's a rain delay. Stuck in the same locker room together, tensions mount, ambitions are laid bare and a whole new tactical game begins. Calcutta, 1800. Two British administrators encounter challenges on the field of play that threaten the entire regime. In this game of integrity and power, past and present collide.

Kate Attwell is a playwright, television writer and devised theatre maker. She is currently working on commissions for Manhattan Theatre Club, A.C.T., EST and Playwright's Horizons. Her previous productions include So Long Willy, and her work has been developed at Portland Centre Stage at the Armory, The Bushwick Starr and New York Theatre Workshop.

Diane Page returns to the Orange Tree to direct for a third time, following revered productions of Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman in 2022, and as the 2021 JMK Award winner, directing Statements After An Arrest Under The Immorality Act. Her other credits include Julius Caesar (Shakespeare's Globe and Globe on Tour), Lost and Found (Royal Opera House), Out West (Co- director, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre).

Noël Coward's

SUITE IN THREE KEYS

Directed by Tom Littler

24 May - 6 Jul 2024

Press nights: Wednesday 5 June 2024 at 2.30pm: Double bill - Shadows of the Evening and Come into the Garden, Maud
Wednesday 5 June 2024 at 7pm: A Song at Twilight

In a luxury Swiss hotel suite, three separate stories unfold. In the full-length A Song at Twilight, an elderly writer faces blackmail at the hands of an ex-lover threatening to expose his secret past. Shadows of the Evening and Come into the Garden, Maud form a perfect double-bill, combining a late-life love triangle and a fizzing comedy about Americans abroad.

Noël Coward was one of the premiere entertainers of the 20th Century. Nicknamed, "The Master," Coward was a playwright, a lyricist, a composer, an actor, a singer, a director, and a producer. He has over fifty of his plays published, including The Young Idea, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, Hay Fever, Private Lives, A Design for Living, Tonight at 8:30, Present Laughter, This Happy Breed and Blithe Spirit.

Artistic Director, Tom Littler, directs. For his biography see page 3.

Primary Shakespeare

HAMLET

3 June - 5 July 2024

Shakespeare's most famous tragedy is brought to life in a fast-paced, interactive production accompanied by workshops for younger school audiences aged 7 to 12. Over 30 years Primary Shakespeare has introduced tens of thousands of young people to the magic of Shakespeare and live theatre.

Lucas Hnath's

RED SPEEDO

Directed by Matthew Dunster

A co-production with David Adkin

13 Jul - 10 Aug 2024

Press Night: Wednesday 17 July at 7pm

Ray lives to swim. He is within touching distance of Olympic glory and a life-changing sponsorship deal. But everything changes when performance-enhancing drugs are discovered in the club's refrigerator. As tensions run high, Ray's brother wants them destroyed, his coach wants to call the authorities, his ex-girlfriend doesn't want to know, and Ray wants the drugs back. A thriller played at the breakneck pace of an Olympic sprint, Red Speedo tackles the unforgiving weight of success in a world where the only crime is getting caught. Lucas Hnath is one of America's most exciting contemporary playwrights, whose A Doll's House Part 2 was recently seen at The Donmar Warehouse. Matthew Dunster directs this European première, fresh from his hit West End productions of Shirley Valentine, 2.22: A Ghost Story and Hangmen.

Lucas Hnath is an award-winning playwright whose plays include A Doll's House, Part 2 (South Coast Repertory and Broadway), The Christians (Humana Festival), A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney (Soho Rep), Red Speedo (Studio Theatre), nightnight (Humana Festival), Isaac's Eye (Ensemble Studio Theatre), and Death Tax (Humana Festival, Royal Court Theatre). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2015 Whiting Award, a Whitfield Cook Award, two Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citations and a Windham Campbell Prize for drama.

Mathew Dunster's directing credits include Shirley Valentine (Duke of York's), 2:22 (Apollo), True West (Vaudeville Theatre), Oedipus (Bunkamura Theatre), Hangmen, (Royal Court Theatre, Golden Theatre), Liberian Girl (Royal Court Theatre) The Seagull, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), Love's Sacrifice (RSC), The Lightning Child, Doctor Faustus (Shakespeare's Globe), The Love Girl & The Innocent, You Can Still Make a Killing (Southwark Playhouse), Mametz (National Theatre Wales), Before the Party (Almeida Theatre), A Sacred Flame (ETT), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Royal Exchange Manchester), Mogadishu (Royal Exchange Manchester and Lyric Hammersmith), The Most Incredible Thing (Sadler's Wells), and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Royal & Derngate, Northampton). His writing credits include Children's Children (Almeida Theatre), You Can See the Hills (Royal Exchange Manchester), You Used To, Tell Me, The Glazier, The Bank, and Two Clouds Over Eden.




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