Made In Northampton a success for regionally-produced drama

The Hook

Northampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatre continues to make its mark on quality regionally-produced drama as its home-grown productions continue to go from strength to strength.

The 2015 Made In Northampton season has just been announced by the venue’s artistic director James Dacre.

His second season at the venue brings together some of the country’s top theatre-makers, to create original, wide-ranging and bold new productions.

That includes the world premiere of Arthur Miller’s The Hook, marking the centenary of the celebrated playwright’s birth.

The season includes new commissions from writers Dawn King, Ron Hutchinson, Georgia Pritchett and Oladipo Agboluaje among others, and will see Made in Northampton productions touring to over 24 venues nationwide.

Introducing the season, Dacre said: “Our Made in Northampton 2015 season aims to reflect the energy and range synonymous with Royal & Derngate, staging classic stories in imaginative new ways and premiering stories that need to be told today.

“This new season of epic plays looks back to the 12th Century Northampton of King John and forward to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World of 2540.

“In the company of some of our largest ever casts, audiences will enter the Elizabethan garden of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed, the Brooklyn waterfront of Arthur Miller’s The Hook, the terrifying Victorian world of Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight, the frozen land of Georgia Pritchett’s The Snow Queen and the Parisian streets of Cyrano De Bergerac.

“But wherever and whenever these plays are set, they have been chosen or commissioned because I believe that each reflects and considers an experience of life in Britain today.”

On the Royal stage, the season starts in April with Cyrano De Bergerac, in a co-production with Northern Stage of Anthony Burgess’ translation of Edmond Rostand’s epic play.

It will be directed by Northern Stage artistic director Lorne Campbell, who said: “This is a play of true scale, and Royal & Derngate and Northern Stage collaborating again in this way allows us both to create something this ambitious for our stages.

“It is a remarkable play in a remarkable version. An epic and profoundly human love story about the greatness and weakness that lives in all of us.”

King John

Also in April, to mark the 800th anniversary year of the Magna Carta, Dacre directs Shakespeare’s King John in the 12th century Holy Sepulchre Church in Northampton.

Partly set in Northampton, Shakespeare’s early history play charts one king’s struggle to retain the crown against claims that he is not the rightful heir.

This ambitious new production will see a large company of actors and musicians transport the church back in time to a 12th century world of politics, power struggles, unlikely alliances and inheritance battles.

Written during a time of great political uncertainty, King John will explore, in this election year, whether the power struggles of the ruling class have changed.

The production, which will tour nationally, sees Royal & Derngate co-producing for the first time with Shakespeare’s Globe.

Amid the political tensions of 1950s America, Arthur Miller’s The Hook was suppressed by the FBI for fear that it could cause unrest in New York’s dockyards.

Royal & Derngate and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse will co-produce the world premiere of Miller’s ‘play for the screen’ adapted for the stage by Emmy Award-winning Ron Hutchinson and directed by James Dacre.

Sixty years on, the dockyards of Brooklyn’s epic waterfront will come alive on the Royal stage for the extraordinary story of Marty Ferrara, a longshoreman who challenges the mobsters and gangs of ‘50s New York and takes a stand against the corruption he witnesses from the authorities who control the docks.

The story of a close-knit community grappling with a world of crime and punishment, of changing industry and immigration from abroad, The Hook is a study in integrity and betrayal, charting one man’s struggle for meaningful change.

Aldous Huxley’s ground-breaking novel Brave New World is brought to life in a new version by multi-award-winning young playwright Dawn King (Foxfinder, Ciphers), opening at Royal & Derngate before a major national tour.

First written in 1932 this world premiere production is directed by James Dacre. Brave New World marks the latest co-production with Touring Consortium Theatre Company, following on from the success of Regeneration and To Sir, With Love, and will embark on a nationwide tour after opening in Northampton in September.

In October, Lucy Bailey will direct Patrick Hamilton’s powerful psychological drama Gaslight, a classic mystery thriller in which a marriage is shaken to its core.

For Christmas 2015 on the Royal stage, the theatre presents a new version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen by Emmy Award-nominated comedy writer Georgia Pritchett (Miranda, My Family, Not Going Out).

Even further ahead, in February 2016, Royal & Derngate will collaborate with English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston on a major revival of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed.

The production will open at Royal & Derngate ahead of a national tour, completing its run at the Rose Theatre Kingston.

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