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NEWS: Bridge Theatre announces plans to reopen with star-studded rep season

London Theatre Company has announced its repertoire plans to reopen the Bridge Theatre during September and October 2020, “assuming that the Government gives the go ahead for indoor performances with socially distanced audiences”.

The plan is to start with David Hare’s play Beat the Devil about the playwright’s own experience with the Coronavirus and the politics of its handling, performed by Ralph Fiennes.

Eight of the actors (Monica Dolan, Tamsin Greig, Lesley Manville, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas and Imelda Staunton) from the series of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads which London Theatre Company made for BBC1 this summer will reprise their performances on The Bridge stage.

Three monologues – An Evening with an ImmigrantQuarter Life Crisis and Nine Lives – from Inua Ellams, Yolanda Mercy and Zodwa Nyoni will run alongside them, the first two played by their authors, the third by Lladel Bryant.

A statement from the Bridge Theatre read:

“As you’ll know, the Government is embarked on a phased return for the performing arts. We are hoping that we will get the green light to open with a reduced capacity of 250 seats and stringent safety measures, and we are inviting audiences from today to book seats with the assurance that, of course, if the season is delayed there will be automatic refunds for any performances that can’t go ahead.

“We are all excited at the prospect of reopening The Bridge after a hiatus of five and a half months but, needless to say, the safety of audiences and the well-being of all those who work at the Bridge remain our chief concern.”

The Bridge’s Repertory Programme

David Hare’s Beat The Devil

27 August to 31 October 2020
Ralph Fiennes will make his Bridge Theatre debut performing David Hare’s monologue Beat the Devil, a new play written as a response to the author’s experience of contracting Coronavirus. Nicholas Hytner will direct with designs by Bunny Christie, lighting by Jon Clark, sound by Gareth Fry and music by George Fenton.

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

7 September to 31 October 2020
Following the television broadcast in June this year, eight of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues will be performed in repertoire at the Bridge Theatre.

They are as follows:

  • Monica Dolan in The Shrine directed by Nicholas Hytner
  • Tamsin Greig in Nights in the Gardens of Spain directed by Marianne Elliott
  • Lesley Manville in Bed Among the Lentils directed by Nicholas Hytner
  • Lucian Msamati in Playing Sandwiches directed by Jeremy Herrin
  • Maxine Peake in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet directed by Sarah Frankcom
  • Rochenda Sandall in The Outside Dog directed by Nadia Fall
  • Kristin Scott Thomas in The Hand of God directed by Jonathan Kent
  • Imelda Staunton in A Lady of Letters directed by Jonathan Kent

Ten of the original pieces were re-made with the addition of two new ones written by Bennett last year. For these performances at the Bridge, Alan Bennett has generously waived his royalty. Earlier this summer, he and the actors, directors, producers and senior crew of the new BBC1 series of Talking Heads donated their fees to NHS Charities Together – generating over £1 million that will be used to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients as they continue to tackle the Covid crisis and its aftermath.

Inua Ellams’ An Evening With An Immigrant

18 September to 15 October 2020
Written and performed by Inua Ellams, The Bridge will present Ellams’ and Fuel’s production of An Evening with an Immigrant, with music selection by DJ Sid Mercutio.

Born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in what is now considered by many to be Boko Haram territory, Inua Ellams left Nigeria for England in 1996 aged 12, moved to Ireland for three years, before returning to London and starting work as a writer and graphic designer. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, Ellams will tell his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, directing an arts festival at his college in Dublin, performing solo shows at the National Theatre and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home. 

Yolanda Mercy’s Quarter Life Crisis

7 October to 17 October 2020
Yolanda Mercy will perform her one woman play Quarter Life Crisis, directed by Jade Lewis at The Bridge. Previously seen in London at Soho Theatre in 2017 and 2018, Quarter Life Crisis was adapted for radio and broadcast on BBC Radio 1xtra.

Alicia is a hot mess. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. Swiping left, swiping right to find the perfect match. Even though she’s a Londoner, born and bred, the scent of Lagos peppers her existence in the ends. Everyone around her seems to know where they’re going in life, but she’s just trying to find ways to cheat growing up and keep her 16-25 railcard. What does it mean to be an adult and when do you become one?

Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives

Poet and playwright Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives will be performed by Lladel Bryant and directed by Alex Chisholm, presented by The Bridge. Developed at West Yorkshire Playhouse (now Leeds Playhouse), Nine Lives received a UK national tour before it received its London premiere at the Arcola Theatre.

Fleeing from his home where a fresh wave of homophobia threatens his life, Ishmael has sought sanctuary in the UK.  Dispersed to Leeds, Ishmael waits to hear his fate, he waits for a new life to begin amongst strangers. But not everyone is bad… can he find a place to call home again? Some of us wanted to stop being afraid. Some of us wanted to find ourselves. Some of us wanted to belong.  Zodwa Nyoni threads together humour and humanity to tell the real personal story behind asylum headlines.

from News, Reviews and Features – My Theatre Mates

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