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Kwame Kwei-Armah announces new 2020 season at Young Vic

Will Longman
Will Longman

Artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah has announced his next season of work at the Young Vic, featuring Cush Jumbo taking on Hamlet, retellings of two classic plays, and a 24-hour endurance performance.

The season will begin in February 2020 with Nora: A Doll's House, a retelling of Ibsen's play by Stef Smith. Directed by Elizabeth Freestone, the play is a co-production with Citizens Theatre, who staged the production in March of this year and was described by The Scotsman as a 'a beautiful and explosively significant piece of theatre'. It will run from 6th February.

It will be followed by another retelling of a classic story as Nmon Ford's Orfeus: A House Music Opera premieres at the Young Vic. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, the piece will blend the lines between house music, musical theatre and opera to bring the Greek myth to life from 14th April.

In June, Nat Randall and Anna Breckon's feat of endurance performance and live cinema, The Second Woman, will open in London as part of a co-production with London International Festival of Theatre. Inspired by the 1997 John Cassavetes film Opening Night, 100 different men will be invited to star opposite Virginia who will perform the exact same scene over and over again for 24 hours, at the conclusion of which he must make a bold decision.  It will be filmed live by multiple different cameras, and audiences can choose to watch as much as they would like of the day-long spectacle. Casting and a specific date are yet to be announced.

From 6th July, Cush Jumbo will then make her Young Vic debut in the title role of Greg Hersov's production of Hamlet. The productions will have designs by Anna Fleischle, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Adam Cork and casting by Sophie Holland.

 Ruth Negga will also perform at the Young Vic for the first time, starring in Marina Carr's play Portia Coughlan, directed by Caroline Byrne. Academy Award-nominee Negga will play the titular character in the play, who is celebrating her 13th birthday, and fifteen years since the death of her twin brother Gabriel. The play will run from 16th September.

Announcing the season, Kwei-Armah said: "My hope is that these plays and these players will do more than just entertain us, they will reflect and refract the times we are living in."

The Young Vic has also announced a series of music and club nights in its Maria studio space. Kwei-Armah said: "We are extremely lucky to have some beautifully versatile spaces at the Young Vic, and it has been an ambition of mine to explore new ways in which to use these spaces in order to play with art and form, and to challenge expectations of how people can engage with our theatre.

"We cannot wait to invite audiences to experience the Young Vic in an entirely new way, with a series of club and gig nights hosted in The Maria. We hope we'll see you there!"

Marianne Elliott's production of Death of a Salesman is currently running at the Young Vic's Main House, with Kwei-Armah's collaboration with Idris Elba, Tree, set to open there in July.

Photo credit: Sam Carpenter (flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Originally published on