The Royal Court’s 2019 line-up looks great, from a controversial play about Tibet to the latest from the ‘Cursed Child’ team. Boss Vicky Featherstone takes us through the highlights…
‘Cyprus Avenue’ (February 14-March 16)
The larger Downstairs theatre will play host to three plays this season, the first of which is the previously announced return of David Ireland’s Stephen Rea-starring, bad taste sectarianism satire ‘Cyprus Avenue’. The timing is pointed. ‘It feels incredibly important in terms of the conversation about Northern Ireland and Brexit,’ says Featherstone, who directs.
‘White Pearl’ (May 10-June 8)
‘White Pearl’ is a comedy from unknown 24-year-old Thai-Australian Anchuli Felicia King that was sent to Featherstone and immediately prompted her to shove it on the main Downstairs stage. ‘It’s a story of intercultural racism in East Asian women working in a skin-whitening start-up and she’s written it like a big West End comedy,’ she enthuses, clearly having high hopes for the piece, which is directed by King’s peer Nana Dakin.
‘The End of History…’ (June 27-August 10)
Last up Downstairs, the ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ dream team of playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany chip in with ‘The End of History…’. Don’t go expecting wands or wizards in a play Featherstone describes as ‘a very humble piece about matriarchal socialism’ that looks at the legacy of Greenham Common (or lack thereof).
‘Superhoe’ (January 30-February 16)
The five-show season in the Upstairs theatre kicks off with Nicôle Lecky’s self-performed ‘Superhoe’, about a young girl whose parents think she just likes to spend time in her room ‘but via Instagram she’s got involved in something much, much darker’. Jade Lewis directs.
‘Inside Bitch’ (February 27-March 23)
Clean Break, who work with with women with experience of the criminal justice system, return with ‘Inside Bitch’, a formally radical autobiographical show devised and performed by Clean Break Members Lucy Edkins, Jennifer Joseph, TerriAnn Oudjar and Jade Small, alongside writers Stacey Gregg and Deborah Pearson.
‘Pah-La’ (April 3-27)
The big news Upstairs is that ‘Pah-La’ – about an exiled Tibetan nun who decides to self-immolate – will be staged, following a controversy earlier this year when writer Abhishek Majumdar accused the Court of withdrawing it for fear of offending the Chinese. It’s all smoothed over now, Featherstone assures us. Debbie Hannan directs.
‘Salt’ (May 14-June 1)
‘Salt’ (aka ‘salt.’) is Selina Thompson’s brilliant and challenging 2017 Edinburgh Fringe smash in which she recounts an emotional voyage she took on the old transatlantic slave routes. Check out our 2017 Edinburgh Fringe review. Directed by Dawn Watson.
‘Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner’ (July 4-27)
This ‘incredibly funny and very, very vicious’ play by Jasmine Lee-Jones is about a teenage girl exasperated by the influence TV star Jenner wields as a role model, who comes up with several plans of action to deal with the problem. Directed by Milli Bhatia.
The season will also include:
- A Brexit weekender (March 29-30) featuring various responses to Brexit including the final performance of avant-garde musician Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band
- ‘Dismantle This Room’ (April 1-27), an interactive thought experiment on reforming the theatre world that ran to acclaim at the Bush Theatre this summer
- The final series of the Simon Stephens-hosted Playwrights’ Podcast will return starring Jez Butterworth, David Eldridge, Peter Gill, Zinnie Harris, Winsome Pinnock and Laura Wade
- Three new £10,000 bursaries in partnership with Kudos to support established playwrights who lack the means to support themselves
- An international residency for ten European playwrights
- On April 13 ‘Passage: A Windrush Celebration’, a series of seven filmed monologues about the Windrush Generation, curated and produced by Lynette Linton with Christopher Haydon will be screened in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs along with panel events and festivities will drop – further details coming soon.
Check out the current Royal Court listings here.