• THE BELARUS FREE THEATRE, GREYSCALE AND ALMEIDA LAB FOR ALMEIDA FESTIVAL 2011
  • STEPHEN POLIAKOFF TO DIRECT WORLD PREMIERE OF HIS NEW PLAY MY CITY
  • NEIL LABUTE TO DIRECT UK PREMIERE OF HIS PLAY REASONS TO BE PRETTY

As Michael Attenborough’s production of David Eldridge’s new play The Knot of the Heart opens at the Almeida, he announces the Company’s bold plans for summer and autumn 2011.

For the Autumn Season, Stephen Poliakoff will direct the world premiere of his new play My City, followed by Neil LaBute returning to the Almeida to direct the UK premiere of his play Reasons To Be Pretty.

Through July the Almeida Festival will play host to two exciting international collaborations with the Belarus Free Theatre Company and Greyscale as well as the production of a new play by the Young Friends of the Almeida (LAB).

Michael Attenborough said: “As I enter my tenth year here I am as committed as ever to a bold, exciting and diverse programme. Our artistic ambition is shown not only in the production of three premieres this year, but by the scale of our Almeida Festival. I am delighted that Stephen Poliakoff has chosen the Almeida to launch his first new play for 12 years and that we continue to be Neil LaBute’s English home as he directs his Broadway hit Reasons To Be Pretty . Our Festival is an integral part of our programme and will play host to the internationally renowned Belarus Free Theatre and the innovative British company Greyscale, alongside the production of a new play by the Young Friends of the Almeida. It is a season where we are home to the new, the original and the unexpected.”

Attenborough’s production of The Knot of the Heart opens on 17 March, running to 30 April 2011. The cast comprises Kieran Bew, Abigail Cruttenden, Lisa Dillon, Margot Leicester and Sophie Stanton.

This is followed by James McDonald’s production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance which begins performances on 5 May, with press night on 12 May and runs to 2 July 2011. The cast is Lucy Cohu, Diana Hardcastle, Ian McElhinney, Imelda Staunton, Tim Pigott-Smith and Penelope Wilton.

The Almeida, a 325 seat theatre in the heart of Islington, London, produces a diverse range of British and international drama, as well as an annual summer festival and a year round programme of events, workshops and productions under the banner of Almeida Projects – the theatre’s education and community programme. Funded by Arts Council England, the theatre raises £1.2 million annually which, with ticket sales, contributes to their £3.9 million turnover. With tickets ranging from £8 – £32 and many concessions available, the Almeida’s access policy ensures regular assisted performances throughout the year. As well as free wi-fi, the theatre’s cafe and bar provides a large selection of food and drinks throughout the day.

The Almeida Theatre is supported by Arts Council England.

STEPHEN POLIAKOFF TO DIRECT WORLD PREMIERE OF HIS NEW PLAY MY CITY
Stephen Poliakoff will direct the world premiere of My City, his first new play for 12 years. My City will run at the Almeida from 8 September – 5 November 2011 with press night on 15 September. Designs are by Lez Brotherson with lighting by Oliver Fenwick and sound and music by Ben and Max Ringham. Public booking opens for My City on 9 May 2011, with casting to be announced shortly.

How would you feel if, 15 years after you last saw them, you bumped into the one person who had the biggest influence on your life?

On a dusky evening, Richard Kenton finds his primary school headmistress lying on a park bench in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. As he becomes reacquainted with her and the other teachers that helped shape him, memories of their vivid and imaginative lessons come to life and their tales of London inspire him once more.

Stephen Poliakoff’s first new theatre play for over a decade celebrates the power of storytelling to raise the human spirit. Award-winning playwright, director and scriptwriter, Poliakoff began his career in the theatre becoming resident playwright at the National Theatre at the age of 22. He won the Evening Standard most promising playwright award in 1976 for Hitting Town and City Sugar and has since written over 20 plays which have premiered in the UK including Pretty Boy, Heroes, Strawberry Fields, Breaking the Silence, Coming In To Land, Sweet Panic, Blinded by the Sun, Talk of the City and Remember This. He wrote and directed his first feature film Hidden City which was selected for the Venice Film Festival in 1987. His extensive credits for television and film include the award-winning Caught on a Train, Bloody Kids, She’s Been Away, Close My Eyes, Century, Shooting The Past, Perfect Strangers, The Lost Prince, Friends and Crocodiles, Joe’s Palace, and most recently, Glorious 39 which starred Julie Christie, Romola Garai, Christopher Lee, Bill Nighy, Eddie Redmayne and David Tennant.

NEIL LABUTE TO DIRECT UK PREMIERE OF HIS PLAY REASONS TO BE PRETTY
Neil LaBute returns to the Almeida to direct the UK premiere of his latest play, Reasons To Be Pretty. Reasons To Be Pretty will run at the Almeida from 10 November 2011 – 14 January 2012 with press night on 17 November. Designs are by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Fergus O’Hare. Public booking for Reasons To Be Pretty opens on 9 May 2011, with casting to be announced shortly.

Greg is overheard admitting that his girlfriend Steph is no beauty, but that he wouldn’t change her for the world. She is devastated; he can’t quite see what he’s done wrong. Meanwhile, Greg’s best friend Kent alternates between boasting about how gorgeous his wife Carly is, and chasing after a hot new colleague.

Reasons to be Pretty, which received its world premiere at MCC’s Lucille Lortel Theater in 2008, examines our perception of beauty and asks whether it is as much of a curse to be conventionally attractive as it is to be considered ugly.

Neil LaBute returns to the Almeida Theatre to direct the European premiere of his Reasons To Be Pretty, the third in a trilogy of plays about physical appearance – the first two being The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. The Almeida began its relationship with LaBute in 2000 when it presented his bash: latter-day plays. Their close association with the playwright continued with productions of The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, The Mercy Seat and In a Dark Dark House. LaBute’s other plays include Autobahn, Fat Pig, Some Girls, This Is How It Goes , and In A Forest Dark and Deep which opens at the Vaudeville Theatre tonight. LaBute received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at the Royal Court Theatre and attended the Sundance Institute’s Playwrights Lab. His films include In the Company of Men, for which he won the New York Critics’ Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession and The Shape of Things – a film adaptation of his play by the same title. LaBute is the author of several fictional pieces that have been published in The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy among others, and Seconds of Pleasure, a collection of his short stories was published by Grove Atlantic.

ALMEIDA FESTIVAL 2011

This summer the Almeida throws its doors open to its annual festival which celebrates the best of international theatre. Over four weeks (6 – 31 July) the Almeida will present the unexpected as the theatre plays host to two acclaimed companies and puts the work of its Young Friends company centre-stage. In addition there will be a programme of one off events, to be announced shortly. The Festival will enable audiences to hear new and diverse theatre voices, bringing a fresh perspective to the Almeida’s work. Public booking opens for the Almeida Festival on 9 May 2011.

Greyscale

Formed by a group of established directors, writers, actors and designers Greyscale theatre company will take over the Almeida for two weeks and turn the building into a theatre brothel. Performances of The Theatre Brothel are 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 July at 7.30pm. All tickets are £15.

Performed in manner of spaces in and around the Almeida, audiences are invited in to buy the experience they want or maybe need! This collaboration promises to be a provocative and challenging exploration into how we engage with theatre and how our perceptions of it can be altered.

There are currently 15 members of Greyscale theatre company, formed in 2009 by Lorne Campbell and Selma Dimitrijevic. Since their inception they have produced work in partnership with Northern Stage, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Theatre Royal Bath, Arts Council England, Warwick University, Oran Mor and the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Belarus Free Theatre

Recently described as the ‘bravest theatre in the world’ the innovative Belarus Free Theatre is a company operating under extreme conditions – each time they perform in their home of Minsk they and their audience face arrest. This underground Theatre Company, founded in 2005 by Natalia Koylada and Nikolai Khalezin, joins the festival to perform the UK premiere of Eurepica. Challenge. Performances are from 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 July at 7.30pm with a matinee on 23 July at 2.30pm. All tickets are £15.

Eurepica. Challenge. is a collection of 14 plays from 13 European countries. This is a genre defying theatrical experience that shines a light on the challenges to individual countries and the world at large.

In 2008 the Belarus Free Theatre performed at Soho Theatre with their productions of Being Harold Pinter and Generation Jeans. Last year, Dreams, written by Natalia Kolyada, formed part of Soho Theatre’s Russian Festival.

LAB

The festival ends with a run of performances by the Young Friends of the Almeida (LAB). This company of young people, with their own creative Board, have responded to the creative work of the Almeida’s 2010/11 season and devised their own play based on their experiences. Directed by Lu Kemp and performed by the young people, this is where the theatre celebrates the transition of its young audiences from explorers into performers. The company of 19, aged between 14 and 25, will play three performances on 29 July at 7.30pm and 30 July at 5pm and 8pm. All tickets are £15.

Director and dramaturge Lu Kemp has previously directed The Thirteen Midnight Challenges of Angelus Diablo for the Royal Shakespeare Company/Latitude Festival, One Thousand Paper Cranes for the Tron Theatre/Imagination Festival, Beautiful Cosmos and Room for the Tron Theatre, If That’s All There Is for the Traverse and How to Tell the Truth for the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Public booking opens on 9 May 2011.

 

Release issued by: Premier PR

LINKS

Almeida website