Major Caryl Churchill and Somerset Maugham Revivals Lead New Orange Tree Theatre Season

Blue Heart

The September 2016-February 2017 Orange Tree Theatre season will feature the first major revivals of Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart and Somerset Maugham's last play Sheppey, as well as a new play from Zoe Cooper, the English language premiere of Roland Schimmelpfennig's Winter Solstice, and an Elinor Cook adaptation of children's story Extra Yarn.

The season begins with Zoe Cooper's Jess and Joe Forever (September 8-October 8), directed by Derek Bond. Nicola Coughlan and Rhys Isaac-Jones star in this Farnham Maltings and Orange Tree Theatre co-production. David Mercatali returns to the Orange Tree to direct Churchill's inventive double bill Blue Heart (October 13-November 19), first seen in 1997 at the Royal Court. It's a co-production with Tobacco Factory Theatres, where it plays September 22-October 1.

Paul Miller directs Sheppey (November 24-January 7), which plays on the idea of "charity begins at home" when an unassuming East End barber wins the lottery, and Cook's adaptation of Mac Barnett's Extra Yarn, about a girl who transforms her world through knitting, is the Christmas show (December 16-January 7). It's directed Imogen Bond and features music by Tom Deering. Finally, German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig's Winter Solstice (January 12-February 11), which examines the resurgence of the far right in Europe, will be directed by Ramin Gray in a co-production with Actors Touring Company.

Twelfth Night

Already announced, Miller's production of Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears returns to the Orange Tree this summer (June 30-July 30) and then tours with English Touring Theatre. Venues are now confirmed as Exeter, Harrogate, Barnstaple, Cheltenham, Doncaster, Oldham, Coventry, Poole and Huddersfield. Take Part, the Orange Tree's education and participation programme, has several upcoming projects: The Tempest, Flute Theatre's production for young people with autism, coming to the Orange Tree October 25-November 4; a Shakespeare Up Close production of Twelfth Night aimed at secondary school students (March 18-25); and contributions to Fun Palace (October 2) and London Children's Bookswap (February 11).

The Orange Tree Extras series includes performances from poet John Hegley, soprano Susan Bullock, music group Instant Sunshine. Olivier Award-winner Chris Green's creation Ida Barr brings her Artificial Hip Hop, and Barb Jungr returns to sing the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Winter Solstice

Paul Miller, now in his third season as Artistic Director, comments: "More exciting new partnerships, two rare revivals, two premieres and a new piece for children: the Orange Tree continues to mix the best drama in its unique way and in its unique space. We have comedy and cabaret, Shakespeare for students and a special production for people with autism, alongside relaxed performances for three of our shows. The Orange Tree is playing to more and more different audiences, innovating and expanding our work even as we continue to live without regular Arts Council funding. Our partnership with the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames is crucial and we at the OT salute the Council's staunch support for us at a time when pressure on local council budgets is acute: they truly value the arts. Winning last year's Peter Brook Empty Space Award was a high point - with this season, we aim to build still higher."

There are £12 tickets available to under-30s across 90 performances, plus £15 previews for all. The number of seats in the theatre will increase from 168 to 180 from September 2016. Priority booking for members is now open, and public booking opens on May 19 at 10am. For more information and to book tickets, call 020 8940 3633 or visit orangetreetheatre.co.uk



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