Almeida Theatre announces new season packed with world premieres

The Almeida Theatre has announced new plays including a work inspired by Donald Trump as well as productions of classics starring Simon Russell Beale and Patsy Ferran.

Almeida Theatre new season
Simon Russell Beale and Patsy Ferran

Simon Russell Beale will take the title role in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard the Second, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins and designed by Ultz. It will run from 10 December 2018 to 2 February 2019, with tickets going on sale on 22 October.

For the first time, the north London theatre is collaborating with National Theatre Live to broadcast the production on 15 January 2019 to cinemas in the UK and internationally.

A new adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters by Cordelia Lynn, referencing modern-day London as well as the original 1901 Russian setting, will run from 8 April to 1 June, directed by Rebecca Frecknall and designed by Hildegard Bechtler.

The cast will include Pearl Chanda and Patsy Ferran who is in Frecknall’s acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke that opened at the Almeida in March and transfers to the Duke of York’s in the West End from 10 November 2018 to 19 January 2019.

Summer and Smoke at Almeida Theatre
Natthew Needham (John Buchanan) and Patsy Ferran (Alma) in Summer and Smoke. Photo: Marc Brenner

Three Sisters will see the return of the annual Almeida For Free festival of free performances, talks and masterclasses for people aged 25 and under. It follows the success of the two previous festivals during Summer and Smoke and Hamlet which drew in 2,300 young people.

The Almeida’s artistic director, Rupert Goold, has also today announced the world premiere of Shipwreck by Anne Washburn, whose previous works include the stage adaption of The Twilight Zone and Mr Burns: A Post Electric Play.

With design by Miriam Buether, Goold will direct the play which promises to be a “sinister and sensational” new play inspired by the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. It will run from 11 February to 30 March.

Goold will also direct the world premiere of The Hunt, a new play by David Farr based on the critically acclaimed Danish film thriller Jagten by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm. It follows the success of David Eldridge’s adaptation of Vinterberg’s film, Festen, for the Almeida in 2004.

Running from 17 June to 3 August, The Hunt tells the story of a lonely teacher who unwittingly finds himself being hounded by members of his small community in northern Denmark. Goold described it as “a terrifying examination of accusation and denial”.

The last of the new productions announced today is Vassa, a new adaptation by Mike Bartlett of Maxim Gorky’s 1910 play Vassa Zhelznova. Directed by Tinuke Craig, the “savagely funny” play follows the fortunes of a declining family dynasty where the father is dying, the son is spying, the wife is cheating, the uncle is stealing and the mother is scheming.

Bartlett’s previous plays for the Almeida include Albion, Game and King Charles III while his writing for television includes Doctor Foster, Trauma and current BBC1 drama Press. Vassa will run from 7 October to 23 November 2019.

Goold said: “It is incredibly exciting to be announcing this slate of work today, featuring artists new to the theatre, alongside names more familiar to the Almeida.

“The season begins with two plays which explore the seduction of power, one written at the end of the 16th century about an English king and one hot-off-the-press digging into the current American political culture.

“The former sees director Joe Hill-Gibbins return to the theatre, following his compelling production of Little Revolution in 2014, alongside Simon Russell Beale, who played Macbeth here in 2005, in a role that has been waiting for him.

“The latter brings the fearlessly original Anne Washburn back to the Almeida after Mr Burns and The Twilight Zone.”

The Almeida has also today announced a new Youth Advisory Board which will be a group of young people aged between 18 and 25 who will advise on key areas of the company’s work. Goold said they would be “a group of fiercely intelligent, talented young people who will be offering thoughts, suggestions and guidance to the Almeida management team on all aspects of the theatre’s operation”.

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