Artistic Director Rachel Edwards introduces the 2020 season for the Boulevard Theatre:
“I can’t wait to finally open our doors in a few weeks’ time with the London premiere of Ghost Quartet. I can hear the team rehearsing in our beautiful new building and it already sounds fantastic.
In the 2020 season, there is a wonderful mixture of plays that are notably different from one another. The same can be said of the exceptional directors that we are welcoming through our doors for the first time; Bill Buckhurst, Terry Johnson, Anthony Neilson, Yaël Farber and Kathy Burke. It is a chance to explore, to experiment, and to understand the potential of this extraordinary new space. I am also delighted to announce that playwright Abbie Spallen will be the first Boulevard Theatre commission. With a distinct lack of female voices from Northern Ireland on the London stage, this commission feels timely, urgent and exciting.
It’s an honour to be at the helm of one of the many theatres opening in London at the moment. It is heartening to know that more and more people are seeking out reasons to come together to listen to stories and to share experiences. At its heart, theatre creates community, conversation, understanding and ultimately empathy. I hope that the Boulevard can play its small part in creating an environment where all those things are possible.”
The Boulevard Theatre is located in the heart of Soho in Walker’s Court. The venue is situated in the exact location where owner Fawn James’ grandfather Paul Raymond opened the original Boulevard which became home to the Comic Strip. Architects SODA studio, in collaboration with theatre specialists Charcoalblue, have designed an innovative new flexible space which features Europe’s most advanced revolving theatre and a two-floor glass bridge leading to a restaurant and bar area.
From 24 October the Boulevard Theatre’s inaugural production Ghost Quartet will run alongside a packed roster of late-night and Sunday performances. These will include the West End’s newest female-led improv night THE YES QUEENS curated by Julia Clare with guest performers such as Pippa Evans and Luisa Omielan. Award-winning comics Kiri Pritchard-Mclean and Nina Conti present the best in established and emerging comedy talent with LATE NIGHT SCENE. New music night SOHO SOUNDS: JAZZ, curated by the Copasetic Foundation, will feature performers including David McAlmont, Tony Kofi and Vimala Rowe. Curated by Nadim Naaman, FINALE will feature West End stars such as Nathaniel Morrison, Fra Fee and Sabrina Aloueche performing stripped back show tunes. The Black Cat Cabaret will present AFTER DARK, a new cabaret night hosted by Dusty Limits. SUNDAY SERVICE: CONCERTS will see an eclectic classical music programme, curated by Katy Hamilton and Benjamin Cox, including iyatraQuartet, the Hermes Experiment and The London Klezmer Quartet. Artists confirmed so far for SUNDAY SERVICE: POETRY include Inua Ellams, Richard Scott and Mona Arshi. SUNDAY SERVICE: PODCASTS takes the freshest voices out of your headphones and into our auditorium, and will feature popular titles such as Standard Issue, Freelance Pod and The Showstopper! Podcast.
THE NEW SEASON
GHOST QUARTET – LONDON PREMIERE
24 October 2019 – 4 January 2020
Press night: 31 October 2019
by Dave Malloy
Directed by Bill Buckhurst
The premiere season of the Boulevard Theatre opens with Ghost Quartet by three-time Tony Award-nominated writer Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Octet and Preludes).
Bill Buckhurst directs and reunites the creative team behind his sell-out production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which transferred from a pie shop in Tooting, to the West End, and eventually to a sell-out New York run, with musical direction and supervision by Benjamin Cox, design by Simon Kenny, movement direction by Georgina Lamb, lighting by Emma Chapman, sound design by David Gregory and casting by Will Burton CDG.
The cast includes Carly Bawden (Romantics Anonymous, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Niccolò Curradi (Hotel for Criminals, New Wimbledon Studio), Maimuna Memon (Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Zubin Varla (Fun Home, Young Vic).
Ghost Quartet is an intoxicating musical of love, loss and spirits – of both the spectral and alcoholic kind. Wildly inventive, Malloy’s piece draws inspiration from a rich tapestry of work from Arabian Nights and Edgar Allan Poe to Stephen King, Grimms’ fairy-tales, Stephen Sondheim and Frozen, woven together by jazz, gospel, honky-tonk, folk ballads, electro-pop and jazz.
THE SUNSET LIMITED – LONDON PREMIERE
16 January 2020 – 7 March 2020
Press night: 21 January 2020
by Cormac McCarthy
Directed by Terry Johnson
The 2020 season at the Boulevard Theatre begins with the London premiere of multi award-winning writer Cormac McCarthy’s gripping play about redemption, faith and free will. The Sunset Limited will be directed by Olivier and Tony Award-winner Terry Johnson (Mrs Henderson Presents, La Cage aux Folles and The Graduate.) Cormac McCarthy’s other celebrated works include The Road, All the Pretty Horses and No Country for Old Men.
Two men meet on a subway platform; the chance encounter instantly changing the trajectory of both their lives. Thrown together, their conversation quickly turns to the most essential and existential questions facing humanity. While their beliefs seem irreconcilable, the answers they seek could mean the difference between life and death.
Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A number of his works have been adapted into films including All the Pretty Horses, The Road and four-time Academy Award-winning No Country for Old Men.
Terry Johnson is the recipient of major theatre awards including the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical 2010, Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival and Critics Circle Best Musical 2009 for La Cage Aux Folles. He won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 1994 and 1999, Playwright of the Year 1995, Critics Circle Best New Play 1995, The League of American Theatres and Producers Best Touring Play 2001. Other awards include Evening Standard Theatre Awards, two Writers Guild Best Play Awards, Time Out Best Play Award, the Mayer-Whitworth Award and the John Whiting Award. He is a former Literary Associate at the Royal Court Theatre where he has had five of his own plays; Insignificance, Cries From The Mammal House, Hysteria, Hitchcock Blonde and Piano/Forte produced, and has directed two further premieres including Joe Penhall’s Dumb Show.
19 March 2020 – 30 May 2020
Press night: 25 March 2020
by Lucy Prebble
Directed by Anthony Neilson
The first London revival of The Effect, by award-winning Lucy Prebble (A Very Expensive Poison, ENRON, The Sugar Syndrome), will be directed by Anthony Neilson (The Tell-Tale Heart, National Theatre; The Prudes and Unreachable, Royal Court).
The Effect won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play when it opened at the National Theatre in 2012. Award-winning writer Lucy Prebble places modern medicine under the microscope, examining the fallout from a collision between love and science.
Connie and Tristan meet; symptoms develop. Racing hearts. Lost appetites. Erratic emotions. Is this the frenzy of falling in love, or simply side effects from the new anti-depressant drug they’re testing? Addiction comes hard and fast. But have the clinicians running the trial lost control?
Lucy Prebble is co-executive producer and writer on the BAFTA and Emmy award winning HBO drama Succession, for which she was also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award. For television, a brand-new series starring Billie Piper I Hate Suzie (Sky/Bad Wolf) which she has written and co-created is in production and will air in 2020. She is the creator of the ground-breaking TV series Secret Diary Of A Call Girl (ITV/Showtime), and has recently made a pilot for HBO starring Sarah Silverman. Lucy writes for Frankie Boyle’s New World Order (BBC) also appearing as a guest on the show and regularly features on the panel on Have I Got News For You (BBC). For theatre, her credits include A Very Expensive Poison (Old Vic), The Effect (National Theatre) which won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play in 2012, ENRON (Royal Court Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, West End and Broadway) and The Sugar Syndrome (Royal Court) which won the George Devine Award. Lucy also writes video games and a weekly Tech column for the Observer newspaper.
Anthony Neilson’s work in theatre as a writer includes The Tell-Tale Heart (National Theatre), The Prudes, Unreachable, Narrative, Get Santa!, Relocated, The Lying Kind, The Censor (Royal Court), Penetrator (Royal Court, Edinburgh Festival), The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Royal Court, Tron, Edinburgh Lyceum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, UK tour), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Edinburgh Lyceum), Realism (Edinburgh Lyceum), The Haunting of Hill House (Liverpool Playhouse), God in Ruins (Soho Theatre), The Séance and The Menu (National Theatre), Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness (Theatre Royal Plymouth, UK tour), Stitching (Traverse, The Bush), The Night Before Christmas (The Red room, Soho Theatre, Southwark Playhouse), Normal: the Dusseldorf Ripper (EIF, Finborough Theatre). Directing credits include Marat/Sade, The Drunks (RSC), The Big Lie (Latitude Festival) and The Death of Klinghoffer (Scottish Opera, Edinburgh International Festival).
HELLO AND GOODBYE
4 June 2020 – 25 July 2020
Press night: 12 June 2020
by Athol Fugard
Directed by Yaël Farber
From Tony Award-winning playwright Athol Fugard, Hello and Goodbye is a searing exploration of the claustrophobic hold the past can have on the present. Directed by multi award-winning director Yaël Farber (Blood Wedding, Young Vic; The Crucible, Old Vic; Mies Julie, Riverside Studios).
It’s been fifteen years since Johnny and Hester Smit have seen one another – not since the day Hester fled to Johannesburg in search of a different life. While Hester’s world has expanded – not always for the better – Johnny’s life has been reduced to the four walls of the rundown family home, and his role caring for their infirm father.
Suddenly Hester returns one night to claim the inheritance she believes to be rightfully hers. What begins as the siblings’ search for their legacy quickly becomes a desperate pursuit for truth, understanding and a future free from the shackles of their shared heritage.
Athol Fugard has been working as a playwright, director and actor for over fifty years. In June 2011, he received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award. In November 2011 he was the inaugural Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University, and in 2014 he was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Award from the Japan Art Association was presented in 2016 at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. His plays include The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, No-Good Friday, Nongogo, Blood Knot, Hello and Goodbye, People are Living There, Boesman and Lena, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Dimetos, The Island, A Lesson From Aloes, ‘Master Harold’ …and the Boys, The Road to Mecca, A Place With the Pigs, My Children! My Africa!, Playland, Valley Song, The Captain’s Tiger, Sorrows and Rejoicings, Exits and Entrances, Victory, Coming Home, The Train Driver, The Bird Watchers, and The Blue Iris.
Yaël Farber is an international director and playwright. Recent directing credits include Blood Wedding (Young Vic), Boesman and Lena (Signature Theatre, New York), Hamlet (Gate Theatre, Dublin and St Ann’s Warehouse, New York), Knives in Hens (Donmar) and Les Blancs (National Theatre). Yaël’s acclaimed touring production of Mies Julie (writer and director) travelled most recently to Les Bouffes du Nord in Paris and received three international awards at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival. Her production Nirbhaya (writer and director) received four international awards and toured extensively to critical acclaim. Her 2015 world premiere of Salomé (writer and director) at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC was nominated for ten Helen Hayes Awards, won seven, and went on to play at the National Theatre. Her critically-acclaimed production of The Crucible (Old Vic) was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Revival.
16 September 2020 – 21 November 2020
Press night: 24 September 2020
by Billy Roche
Directed by Kathy Burke
Celebrated actor and director Kathy Burke (Lady Windermere’s Fan, West End; Blue/Orange, Sheffield Crucible) directs this bittersweet story of music, memories and moving on by acclaimed writer Billy Roche (Wexford Trilogy).
All his life, cobbler Terry has spent his days tending to his neighbour’s soles. It’s now time for his apprentice to take over, and Terry finds himself handing down two types of keys… In the corner of the shop sits a piano, and come closing time the workers transform into The Cavalcaders – legendary local barbershop quartet.
While the group may be pitch-perfect onstage, they often seem to find themselves tone-deaf when it comes to relationships. In a close-knit Irish community, lives, loves and longings overlap as easily as the Cavalcaders’ melodies, and private lives have never stayed private for long.
Billy Roche’s plays include A Love Like That (The Civic), Maynard Perdu (Menapia Theatre), Of Mornington (Abbey Theatre), Tales from Rainwater Pond (Irish Rep, New York), Lay me down softly (Abbey Theatre, Dublin/ Wexford Arts Centre, Tricycle Theatre), On Such as We (Peacock Theatre), The Cavalcaders (Tricycle Theatre, Royal Court, Abbey, Peacock Theatre), Amphibians (RSC), Belfry (Winner of the Time Out Award), Poor Beast in the Rain (Winner of the George Devine Award), A Handful of Stars (Winner of the John Whiting Award, The Bush). Screenplays include Clean Break, Trojan Eddie and The Wexford Trilogy (BBC). Billy’s short story Table Manners from the Tales from the Rainwater Pond collection also formed the basis for the script Eclipse by Conor McPherson which won critical acclaim at the New York Tribecca Film Festival 2009. He wrote the novel Tumbling Town and the short story Tales from Rainwater Pond.
Kathy Burke has worked extensively in theatre, film and television for over thirty years. She enjoyed a hugely successful acting career which included winning best actress at Cannes for the film Nil By Mouth and much loved TV shows, Harry Enfield and Chums and Gimme Gimme Gimme. In 2001 she gave up acting as a first-choice career to focus on theatre directing which was less profitable but more satisfying. She has directed plays by Jonathan Harvey, debbie tucker green, Joe Penhall and Oscar Wilde. In 2020 she will also be co-directing I Think We Are Alone with the renowned physical theatre company Frantic Assembly (touring). Kathy Burke’s All Woman (Channel Four) was her first attempt at documentary presenting and has been a huge success.