Power and abuse. Donmar 2017 spring season courts controversy

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London’s Donmar Warehouse fearlessly explores politics and the abuse of power in a spring season, announced this week, which includes Lenny Henry making his debut at the venue.

New work includes a musical with the impossibly long-title, The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company, which may not be catchy but it does what it says on the front of the script.

Artistic Director Josie Rourke and Executive Producer Kate Pakenham’s Power Season has a new play by Steve Waters examining the 1981 split in the Labour party; a revival of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui starring Lenny Henry; and the Kids Company musical.

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Limehouse (March 2-April 15) is a new play that imagines what happened when, in 1981, the ‘Gang of Four’ met to break from Labour and form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Playwright Steve Waters returns to the Donmar after his acclaimed play Temple, teaming up with Olivier-winning director Polly Findlay.

Lenny Henry will star in Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (April 21 – June 17). This satirical masterpiece, about the rise of a demagogue, will be given a new translation by Pulitzer-, Olivier- and Tony-Prize winning American playwright, and author of Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris. Simon Evans will direct.

Actor Hadley Fraser, Donmar Artistic Director Josie Rourke and composer Tom Deering have teamed up to create a new musical, edited from the transcript of a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company (June 24 – August 12) will be directed by the newly-appointed artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, Adam Penford.

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Josie Rourke said: “Kate Pakenham and I want the Donmar to step up to what’s happening, and so we have worked with a seriously great group of artists to create the Power Season.

“Here is a new musical and two plays that concern themselves with truth and accountability; democracy and demagoguery; passion, despair and the rebirth of hope.

“Throughout this season, characters fight for, rise to and exercise their power. In creating the Power Season, we’re trusting that theatre will deploy its power to speak with swift and urgent clarity into the present.

“Launching the Power Season is Limehouse, a new play from our political history that speaks to our political present.

“Steve Waters returns to the Donmar with another thrilling drama that imagines what happened behind closed doors during a pivotal moment in history – the formation of the SDP, which split the Labour party in 1981.

“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is a timely comic parable about the rise of a demagogue. The stellar Simon Evans will direct, with some Chicago Jazz Age flair along the way.

“Finally, I have teamed up with Hadley Fraser, an actor I have had the immense pleasure of directing in several shows at the Donmar, including my current production of Saint Joan, along with the dazzling young composer Tom Deering.

“These two young artists are part of musical theatre’s future. Together, we are creating a new musical based on a House of Commons Select Committee evidence session about Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company which examines how civil society holds itself to account”.

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