Kwame Kwei-Armah will launch his first season as Artistic Director at the Young Vic with a series of performances starting with a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night will have music and lyrics by critically acclaimed songwriter Shania Taub, their reworking of Shakespeare’s comedy was first performed at The Public Theater in New York in 2016.

Following Twelve Night will be the modern classics, The Convert (Friday 7 Dec 2018 – 19 Jan 2019) and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (14 Feb – 30 March 2019).

Written by Tony-nominated writer Danai Gurira The Convert portrays Rhodesia in 1896 and explores the impact of colonialism and Catholicism on black identity.

From prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train takes places in a prison in Rikers Island New York. Confronted with a charismatic born-again serial killer and a sadistic guard, we follow the story directed by Kate Hewitt of a frightened young man accused of murdering a cult leader.

The performance of Twelve Night will be designed for the Young Vic stage by Rob Jones with Oskar Eustis co-directing with Kwame Kwei-Armah. A first round of casting has been announced including, Gabrielle Brooks (Viola), Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria), Jonathan Livingstone (Antonio) and Silas Wyatt-Barke (Sir Andrew Aguecheek).

Speaking about the Young Vic, Kwame Kwei-Armah said, “My first season as Artistic Director will attempt to balance on those shoulders the things that are important to me: joy, community, politics.” He went on to say that Twelve Night is a show that, “stands community members shoulder to shoulder with professional artists, it’s filled with joyful, soulful music by Shaina Taub; it’s a celebration.”

Additional projects and performances at the Young Vic have been announced for 2018-19. Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace (15-25 Aug 2018 – Clare Studio) is a tantalizing, poetic play. Directed by Debbie Hannan (2018 Genesis Future Director Award Winner) the story weaves the spiritual into the political and interrogates the idea that humans cannot change.

Taking theatre beyond the stage, YV Unpacked aims to deliver the highest quality theatre to the community. Shows will be performed at refugee centres, prisons, community hubs and homeless shelters. First to see daylight will be Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, directed Caroline Byrne. Exploring the theme of what it means to be English, My England is a celebration of playwrights from across regions of England.

Monologues will be recorded and shown on the Young Vic social media channels. Confirmed commissions include work from: Lucy J Skilbeck, Omar El-Khairy, Polly Stenham, Barrie Rutter, Jack Thorne and May Sumbqanyambe.

The worlds of live performance, virtual reality and animation are blurred with Jordan Tannahill’s Draw Me Close, a preview of the National Theatre and National Film Board of Canada production. Presented by Young Vic it aims to create a vivid memoir about the relationship between a mother and her son in the wake of her terminal-cancer diagnosis.

Performances at the Young Vic will be running throughout 2018-19: Twelve Night (2 Oct – 17 Nov 2018), The Convert (Friday 7 Dec 2018 – 19 Jan 2019), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (14 Feb – 30 March 2019), Things of Dry Hours (15-25 Aug 2018).