Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse, Giles Croft, has today revealed plans for the fiftieth anniversary of its iconic building, which was opened by Lord Snowdon on 11 December 1963 under the leadership of John Neville, Frank Dunlop and Peter Ustinov. Reflecting the rich array of work produced there over the last half century, this year's programme contains the wide range of ambitious and high quality drama that has established The Playhouse as one of the leading regional theatres in the UK.
Giles Croft says: 'I am delighted to introduce a season of work in our 50th anniversary year which exemplifies all that Nottingham Playhouse is, and has been, about. A classic book adaptation new to Europe, an international festival visit, and a national tour, for two works we have produced in Nottingham, a world premiere by a distinguished regionally based writer, co-productions with exciting and innovative partners, the revival of works not seen anywhere since our early years, showcasing a great actor such as Ian Bartholomew in a new Shakespeare production, and the 30th pantomime by Kenneth Alan Taylor, one of the country's legendary Dames; all these are in the best traditions of The Playhouse, since the days John Neville proclaimed it would be a 'theatre that belongs to everybody'.
That spirit continues to this day, and is bolstered by the ground-breaking work delivered by our Youth Theatres, ensembles, education and outreach work. In this climate of funding reductions and the overall pressure on spending, we are proud of our ability to present this robust, engaging and diverse range of work.'
Kicking it all off is a critically acclaimed world premiere of a new adaptation of Phillip Pullman's I Was A Rat!, in a co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company, The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, and Teatro Kismet (Bari, Italy), which runs at The Playhouse from 26th March to 13th April.
Immediately following this, is Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse's co-production of the European premiere of Matthew Spangler's stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's international best seller The Kite Runner. When it was first produced by The San Jose Repertory in 2009, the work picked up five San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Awards. This eagerly awaited production, directed by Giles Croft, opens on 26th April and runs to the 18th May. It has also been handpicked to feature in The Brighton Festival in late May and then goes on to Liverpool for June.
The Kite Runner is quickly followed by the magical children's show Grandpa in My Pocket - Teamwork! in late May. This first-ever stage version inspired by the hugely popular CBeebies series, brings the Sunnysands characters and places to life with songs, dance, puppetry and a brand new story told by a young ensemble cast. The colourful pirate adventure with hero Grandpa and his Shrinking Cap, is written by Mellie Buse and Jan Page, directed by Rosamunde Hutt, and runs from 23rd to 31st May before heading on an 18 week nationwide tour.
This summer, another Nottingham Playhouse production tours to the Spoleto Festival in the US. Following our acclaimed presentation of The Burial at Thebes at the 2008 Festival, Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company returns to Charleston with celebrated actor/director Steven Berkoff's distinctive adaptation of Sophocles' classic Greek tragedy Oedipus, from 4th- 8th June.
Hot on the heels of this comes The Ashes by critically-acclaimed writer Michael Pinchbeck. Returning by popular demand, after its hugely successful premiere in autumn 2011, the play recounts the tale of Nottinghamshire cricket hero Harold Larwood, his feud with Australian batting legend Don Bradman and the infamous Bodyline tour of 1932. This is a dramatic tale of conflict between two countries, two classes and two men played out on the pitch and in the pavilion. The production, directed by Giles Croft, runs from 27th June to 6th July to coincide with the Ashes Test Match at Trent Bridge.
Autumn begins with George Orwell's dark vision of the future, Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-production with Headlong, in a new adaptation created by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan. The definitive book of the 20th century is re-examined in this radical new staging by one of the country's most exciting touring companies. This major new co-production explores the world inside Winston Smith's head, as well as the world without, and catches the euphoria and bliss buried deep underneath the cold face of Big Brother. Directed by Robert Icke, the production runs from 13th to 28th September.