Lyric Hammersmith Reveals 2024-25 Season, Including Revival of OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD and More!

Tickets go on sale from 11.00am GMT on Monday 19 February.

By: Feb. 15, 2024
Lyric Hammersmith Reveals 2024-25 Season, Including Revival of OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD and More!
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The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre has announced its new 2024/2025 season, featuring a revival of the Olivier Award-winning play Our Country’s Good, written by Timberlake Wertenbaker and directed by Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan. For this major revival Timberlake Wertenbaker revisits her seminal play to address questions surrounding justice and prison systems under British rule. The revival plays at the Lyric from 05 September – 05 October. 

The Lyric’s 2024/2025 programme features national co-productions with some of the UK’s most prominent theatre companies, bringing this new season of work to audiences across the country. 

Lorraine Hansberry’s ground breaking civil rights drama, A Raisin in the Sun, is re-lensed by Artistic Associate Tinuke Craig in a co-production with Headlong, Leeds Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse, touring across the UK, before coming to the Lyric from 08 October - 02 November. Revelatory, pioneering and challenging, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun broke barriers as the first play by a Black woman on Broadway. Directed by Tinuke Craig (Jitney, The Color Purple), this classic play remains relevant and powerful in a world still divided by inequality.

Following the success of the 2022 Festival, For the Culture: Celebrations of Blackness returns this autumn after the newly launched podcast with in-depth conversations between Black British artists as well as the For the Creatives networking event, which took place in Spring 2023. Curated by Associate Director Nicholai La Barrie, the 2024 For the Culture Festival takes place over three days from 24 - 26 October in thematic conjunction with A Raisin in the Sun’s run in the Main House. Since its launch in 2022, the festival continues to uplift and inspire the next generation of performers, creatives, and activists of the Black British diaspora.

Following the critically-acclaimed Jack and the Beanstalk in 2022, award-winning writer Sonia Jalaly and director Nicholai La Barrie join forces once again and bring a brand new take on the magical fairy tale of Aladdin, continuing the Lyric’s long history of bringing some of the finest and most entertaining pantomimes to London. 

Completing this season is Play On!, the musical based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, conceived by Sheldon Epps and based on the book by Cheryl L. West, which explores the swinging kingdom of Harlem in the 1940s. Directed by Talawa Theatre Company Artistic Director Michael Buffong and featuring Duke Ellington’s timeless music, the large scale-touring production set in New York’s Cotton Club will celebrate its London premiere from 28 January – 22 February, in a co-production with Talawa Theatre Company, Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Wiltshire Creative, and Bristol Old Vic. 

Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director & CEO of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, said:  “I am honoured to be directing Timberlake Wertenbaker’s seminal play, Our Country’s Good. Through the story of transportation of criminals, the play explores the morality of crime and punishment; asking audiences to consider justice itself. If rules are made by those in power, can the desperate and destitute be held accountable for breaking them? Does sending people away, banishing them, solve societal problems? Written in 1988, it feels terrifyingly relevant now.  I couldn’t be more excited that Timberlake is revisiting the script and that audiences will experience this modern classic afresh.

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience world-class theatre and over the next year our work will be seen by more audiences than ever before as we collaborate with some of the UK’s most exciting theatres and touring companies from across the country.

We are excited to be collaborating with Headlong alongside Leeds Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse with the ground-breaking play by Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun. Directed by our Artistic Associate Tinuke Craig this classic family drama explores race and class, coming to the Lyric following a UK tour.

In January 2025 our collaboration with Talawa Theatre Company will culminate in the London premiere of Play On! This imaginative, ambitious musical will tour right across the country. With our producing partners, we hope this production will increase the visibility and profile of UK Black and Global Majority theatre professionals nationwide. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Play On! is a high-octane musical set in the swinging kingdom of Harlem in the 1940s.

From a 1940s Harlem in New York, to the Australian shores of 1788, our beautiful Frank Matcham auditorium is your portal to new worlds in 2024. Let your imagination take you away. We cannot wait to welcome audiences near and far for unforgettable nights at the theatre.”

OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD

A Lyric Hammersmith Theatre production
Written by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Based on the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally
Directed by Rachel O’Riordan
Designed by Gary McCann

Thursday 05 September - Saturday 05 October 2024
Press Night: Wednesday 11 September 2024

“Spewed from our country, forgotten, bound to the dark edge of the earth…”

Thomas Barrett, aged 17. Transported seven years for stealing one ewe sheep.
James Freeman, aged 25. Transported 14 years for assault on a sailor.
Dorothy Handland, aged 82. Stole a Biscuit.

A ship, sailing 15,000 miles to Australia, is crammed with Britain’s convicts – a punishment for their crimes. After a life-threatening voyage they arrive in 1788. But keeping the colony disciplined is a brutal job, and cruelty is rife. To keep the convicts in line and attempt to ‘civilise’ this often desperate, violent, poverty stricken group, a young ambitious lieutenant, Ralph Clark, decides they should perform a play.

With a mostly illiterate cast, rising mistrust amongst the ranks, and the leading actor facing the gallows, this is a one of a kind theatre production…

In this brand new production, Timberlake Wertenbaker revisits her seminal play examining power and justice in the British justice system. Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan (A Doll’s House, Iphigenia in Splott) directs this Olivier award winning classic based on the extraordinary true story of Australia’s first penal colony. With deportation as punishment more relevant than ever before, Our Country’s Good takes on new meaning in 2024.

Timberlake Wertenbaker, Writer, said: “I’m delighted to come back to the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre because it’s such a beautiful and vibrant theatre and the audience always feels very lively there. Rachel and I have had many conversations and I look forward to working with her on Our Country’s Good. Since the play first appeared, some things seem to be repeating themselves like the threat to the theatre and the cruelty of prisons but some perceptions have changed as we have become more aware of certain aspects of our history.  We hope to reflect some of that.”

YOUNG LYRIC

In response to Our Country’s Good, Young Lyric will create a digital education pack and produce a series of insight interviews with key members of the creative team. In addition, a series of teacher CPD workshops will run alongside this production to support the teaching of Our Country’s Good on the AQA Drama and English Literature curriculum specifications.

Timberlake Wertenbaker (Writer) grew up in the Basque country and lives in London. She is one of the UK’s leading playwrights and her work is performed worldwide. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an Olivier Award and the New York Drama Critics Award for Our Country's Good and a Writers' Guild Award for Three Birds Alighting on a Field.  Jefferson’s Garden won the 2016 Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play and opened in Washington in January 2018.

Other plays include: Winter Hill (Octagon Theatre), My Father, Odysseus (Unicorn Theatre), We Sell Right (Salisbury Playhouse), The Ant and the Cicada (Royal Shakespeare Company), Our Ajax (Southwark Playhouse), The Love of the Nightingale (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Line  (Wilton’s), Galileo's Daughter (Theatre Royal, Bath), After Darwin (Hampstead Theatre), The Ash Girl (Birmingham Repertory Theatre),  The Break of the Day (Out of Joint),  Three Birds Alighting On A Field, The Grace Of Mary Traverse, Abel's Sister and Credible Witness (Royal Court Theatre).

Translations and adaptations include: Jules and Jim, Britannicus, Antigone, Elektra, Hecuba, Wild Orchids, Jenufa, Filumena, The Thebans, Mephisto, False Admissions and Succesful Strategies. Timberlake has undertaken many adaptations for radio including Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

Timberlake is currently writing a new play for The Globe Theatre and adapting Amets Arzallus’ and Ibrahima Balde’s Minan (Little Brother) for the Arte Drama Theatre Company in the Basque County. 

Rachel O’Riordan (Director) is Artistic Director and CEO of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre where she launched her critically acclaimed debut season in Autumn 2019 with a triumphant adaptation of A Doll’s House by Tanika Gupta. She most recently directed Romeo & Julie, by Gary Owen, at The National Theatre and Sherman, which received five star reviews and is currently in development for a film adaptation. She also directed the sold-out remount of Iphigenia in Splott at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in Autumn 2022, which was featured as one of The Guardian's 50 best theatre shows of the 21st century and was Number 1 in The Guardian's Top 10 Theatre Productions of 2022. At the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, she co-directed the Lyric’s 2020 summer reopening production Out West.  Other Lyric shows include Love, Love, Love by Mike Bartlett, in the 10 year anniversary revival; Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane with Chichester Festival Theatre. Previously, she was Artistic Director and CEO of Sherman Theatre, Wales from 2014 and transformed the venue which won The Stage’s prestigious Regional Theatre of the Year Award in 2018. Directing credits include the Olivier Award-winning Killology, Bird and Iphigenia in Splott. She was Artistic Director of Perth Theatre, Scotland between 2011 and 2014 and won The Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland for Best Director and Best Ensemble for The Seafarer by Conor McPherson. From 2002 to 2011, she co-founded and ran Ransom Productions in Northern Ireland. She has been named as one of the most influential people in UK Theatre in The Stage 100. Published work includes Women in Irish Theatre.        

A RAISIN IN THE SUN

A Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Headlong, Leeds Playhouse & Nottingham Playhouse co-production
By Lorraine Hansberry 
Directed by Tinuke Craig
Tuesday 08 October - Saturday 02 November 2024
Press Night: Friday 11 October 2024

In a rented apartment on Chicago’s South Side, the Younger family is full of hope, dreams, grief, and big plans. Their beloved father has died, and the money from his life insurance policy could change their lives.

Mama wants to put down roots in a home of her own. Her daughter Beneatha has her heart set on becoming a doctor. But her son Walter Lee thinks the money is his to spend — and he’s willing to sacrifice his values and his family to get what he wants. Each must face what it means to escape the confines of a segregated society. How do you create a meaningful life in a world designed to keep you down? 

Groundbreaking, pioneering and challenging, Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" broke barriers as the first play by a Black woman on Broadway. Directed by Tinuke Craig (Jitney, The Color Purple), this classic family drama full of humour and heart, remains relevant and powerful in a world still divided by inequality.

YOUNG LYRIC

In response to A Raisin in the Sun, Young Lyric will deliver a performance project with young people from the Global Majority exploring the intersection between gentrification and discrimination through the lens of the contemporary world they live in. This project will culminate in a performance sharing at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

Tinuke Craig’s (Director)  previous directing credits include The Big Life (Stratford East), Blue (English National Opera), Trouble in Butetown (Donmar Warehouse), Jitney (Headlong / Leeds Playhouse and Old Vic), Last Easter (Orange Tree), Aisha (the black album) (Old Vic), Crave (Chichester Festival Theatre), Hamlet For Young Audiences (National Theatre), Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith Theatre), Vassa (Almeida Theatre), The Color Purple (Leicester Curve/Birmingham Hippodrome), random/generations (Chichester Festival Theatre), I Call My Brothers (Gate Theatre), dirty butterfly (Young Vic). Assistant Directing includes: wonder.land (National Theatre), Hamlet, All’s Well That Ends Well (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The Changeling (Young Vic Theatre). Tinuke trained at LAMDA and received the Genesis Future Director Award 2014. In 2015-2016 Tinuke was the Gate’s Associate Director and she is currently an Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre. She is a former Baylis Director at the Old Vic.

PLAY ON!

A Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Talawa Theatre Company, Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, and Wiltshire Creative co-production
Conceived by Sheldon Epps
Book by Cheryl L.West 
Music by Duke Ellington
Directed by Michael Buffong
Tuesday 28 January - Saturday 22 February 2025
Press Night: Friday 31 January 2025

A new Jazz musical based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”

What does it take for a woman to make it in a man’s world?

Meet Vy, a talented songwriter looking to make it big in the 1940’s Harlem scene. She quickly learns from her uncle Jester that women will never be taken seriously in a man’s world. But, like many a strong hero, she refuses to accept defeat. Through her gender fluid cunning, she meets club owner The Duke and sensational nightclub singer Lady Liv and is swept up in a syncopated symphony of melodies, mistaken identities and romance. Who will come out on top? 

Play On! is set in the jazz scene of New York’s Cotton Club. This stylish retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Talawa’s Artistic Director Michael Buffong (A Kind of People, Royal Court; All My Sons, Talawa and Royal Exchange) fuses the thrilling music of Duke Ellington with street dance choreography.

Prepare to be wowed by this musical spectacular that will have your toes tapping and hands clapping along with the timeless soundtrack.

YOUNG LYRIC 

In response to Play On!, Young Lyric will deliver a schools’ response project for West London secondary schools. Students will explore characters and themes of the production during a series of free in school workshops. The culmination of the project will see students perform their work in the Lyric’s Main House.

Michael Buffong (Director) is the artistic director of Talawa Theatre Company. He has previously directed Private Lives, All the Ordinary Angels, Six Degrees of Separation, On My Birthday and the multi-award winning A Raisin in the Sun for the Royal Exchange Theatre. Most recently he has directed A Kind of People (Royal Court), Guys & Dolls, King Lear, and All My Sons (Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre).

Other theatre credits include: God’s Property (Talawa Theatre Company, Soho Theatre and the Albany); The Serpent’s Tooth (Talawa Theatre Company and Almeida Theatre); Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (Royal National Theatre); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Leicester Curve); Crawling in the Dark (Almeida); To Kill a Mockingbird (West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep); Little Sweet Thing (Hampstead Theatre); Raising the Roof (Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue); Long Time No See and Unfinished Business (Talawa Theatre Company); Souls (Theatre Centre); The Prayer (Young Vic Studio); Stories From Mean Street (New End Theatre, Hampstead); Airport 2000 (Leicester Haymarket); Brother to Brother (Lyric Hammersmith); Scrape Off the Black (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and In Pieces (Coventry Belgrade).

Film and television credits include: Tales From The Front Line (Talawa), Holby City, EastEnders, Admin, Placebo, Calais Rules, Doctors, Casualty, Comedy Shuffle, Hollyoaks, Feeling It, Blazed and Simple!.

Radio credits include: Oliver: From London to Lagos, and Talawa Stories: Running With Lions (Radio 4).

ALADDIN

A Lyric Hammersmith Theatre production
Written by Sonia Jalaly
Directed by Nicholai La Barrie
Saturday 16 November 2024 – Saturday 04 January 2025
Press day: Saturday 23 November 2024

Your wishes have been granted, for Aladdin is the Lyric’s 2024 panto! Soar above the streets of Hammersmith with our panto heroes Aladdin and Jasmine for an adventure you won’t forget.

Following the success of Jack and the Beanstalk in 2022, award-winning writer Sonia Jalaly and director Nicholai La Barrie join forces once again to bring us a brand new take on the story we all know and love, with added chart-topping tunes, side-splitting comedy and a fresh yet familiar Lyric twist.

Ticket prices increase with demand, so book now to save 30% off tickets for a limited time only. (Subject to T&Cs*)

Sonia Jalaly (Writer) is a writer and theatre maker from Manchester. Her theatre credits include: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre; Catch commissioned and toured by Clean Break; Happy Birthday Without You toured to Kiln Theatre and Paines Plough’s Roundabout at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has also devised and written a number of community theatre shows: Cold Chips And Pick N Mix for Royal Exchange Theatre; Bump for Kiln Theatre; We Want To Be Frank and The Competition for Company Three; She Is On Her Way for Clean Break.

She was a member of BBC Writersroom Comedy Room 2018 and has since written for a number of CBBC and CBeebies shows including Supertato, Class Dismissed, Justin’s House, Swashbuckle and Biff and Chip.

Nicholai La Barrie (Director) is a theatre and film director, Associate Director of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and has been a MOBO Fellow. His credits as director for the Lyric include God of Carnage; Jack and the Beanstalk, and as a dramaturg; Feels and The Mob Reformers. His work in theatre includes Romeo & Juliet (Manchester Royal Exchange), Tina - The Tina Turner Musical as Resident Director (Australia & previously West End), Portrait For Posterity(Arcola Theatre), Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama), Grey, There is Nothing There (Oval House), White (Edinburgh Festival), Gob (London International Festival of Theatre), The Book of Disquiet (Blue Elephant Theatre), I’ll Take You There (Gate Theatre), and Chet Baker: Speedball (606 Jazz Club). His film credits include Hamlet Sort Of, North East South West, Aingeal, Dark Stranger (2009 Official selection Caribbean film festival).

FOR THE CULTURE: CELEBRATIONS OF BLACKNESS FESTIVAL

Third year of events honouring Blackness through art, performance, conversation, love, and joy

Curated by Associate Director Nicholai La Barrie 
Thursday 24 - Saturday 26 October 2024        

This autumn, the Lyric is delighted to announce the return of For the Culture: Celebrations of Blackness Festival, following its launch in 2022. Taking place over three days in October 2024, there will be a series of events featuring music, art, workshops, food, and exhibitions creating a space for Black British creatives to come together and celebrate with the community. 

This year, the festival will run in conjunction with our Main House production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Artistic Associate Tinuke Craig, to facilitate intergenerational conversations on the role and necessity of telling this ground-breaking civil rights story in 2024. 

Further festival details to be announced.




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