War & conflict. Drama with conscience in Arcola Theatre winter season

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London’s Arcola Theatre has announced its winter season, with new plays by David Greig, Ron Hutchinson, Christina Lamb, Belarus Free Theatre, Christine Bacon, Sergio Blanco and Henry Naylor.

Making the announcement, artistic director, Mehmet Ergen, said: “These exciting new plays focus on mental health – the afflictions of schizophrenia (Tomorrow I Was Always A Lion), trauma (Drones, Baby, Drones) and guilt (Thebes Land) – and on physical danger; the danger that comes from living in conflict zones (Angel) and repressive regimes (The Island Nation).

“They are plays about the individual under stress, and society under threat. They affirm Arcola’s commitment to bold, provocative work which is socially and politically engaged, and which is accessible to all”.

The season begins with Belarus Free Theatre’s Tomorrow I Was Always A Lion (from Oct 19) by Arnhild Lauveng, based on I morgen var jeg alltid en løve, and directed by Vladimir Shcherban. Cast: Grace Andrews, Oliver Bennett, Emily Houghton, Samantha Pearl and Alex Robertson.

The drama probes the nature of psychosis and recovery. Based on the extraordinary memoir by Arnhild Lauveng, it tells a unique personal story of living with and recovering from schizophrenia.

Christine Bacon’s The Island Nation (from Oct 26) is directed by Ria Parry with a cast of Claire Dargo, Ayesha Dharker, Bally Gill, Clive Hayward, Nikki Patel and Neran Persaud.

The Island Nation is a visceral, revelatory new play about a modern conflict. Sri Lanka, 2009. A 26-­year civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers is coming to an end. The United Nations, the media and all independent witnesses are banned from entering the war zone.

Nila, a young Tamil woman, is trapped in rebel­-held territory. Rebecca, a British aid worker, is desperate to get her out. Erik, a Norwegian politician, thinks he has a plan for peace. But nothing is certain – and nobody is safe.

Drones, Baby, Drones an umbrella title, returns to a battlefield previously visited by Anders Lustgarten’s Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre.

Two new plays – This Tuesday and The Kid – by David Greig, Ron Hutchinson and Christina Lamb are directed by Nicolas Kent and Mehmet Ergen and star Anne Adams, Joseph Balderrama, Sam Dale, Raj Ghatak, Tom McKay and Rose Reynolds.

“War isn’t what it used to be,” In the words of former U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates. “From now on, it’s drones, baby, drones”.

As Barack Obama prepares to leave office, five of our finest political writers and directors probe behind the scenes of America’s drone wars, with two vital and exposing tales of power, sex and infighting at the top of the Washington establishment.

Nicolas Kent, former artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre, returns to Arcola to direct This Tuesday, an urgent political thriller by Emmy award winner and Olivier nominee Ron Hutchinson (Moonlight and Magnolias, Rat in the Skull,) and Chief Foreign Correspondent of the Sunday Times, Christina Lamb (I Am Malala, Farewell Kabul).

A CIA director is waiting for news in a Washington hospital. A White House adviser is in bed with a young intern. A Pentagon General is working out in a gym. It is 5am Tuesday, and they all have a decision to make…

Mehmet Ergen directs The Kid, a gripping new play by multi award-­winning playwright David Greig (The Events, Glasgow Girls).

When a Hellfire missile lands on a wedding party in Pakistan, the shockwaves are felt at a dinner party 7000 miles away. In matters of life and death you need a little distance – but for two drone operators celebrating a successful mission, the hard-­hitting reality is close to home.

This provocative double bill lays bare the moral dilemmas created by drones, and asks what remote-­controlled conflict will mean for the future of warfare and our world.

Henry Naylor’s Angel (from Nov 21) is set in Syria, 2014. There’s a siege as fierce as Stalingrad. ISIS, having steam-­rollered through Iraq, expect to take the town easily. But the citizens have found a heroine: a crackshot sniper, with 100 kills to her name. And she appears indestructible. She’s the Angel of Kobane.

Inspired by an extraordinary modern legend, Angel is the critically ­acclaimed new drama from playwright Henry Naylor.

Following a sold­-out run in Edinburgh, where it won a prestigious Fringe First award, it premieres in London for 4 weeks only.

Formerly a head writer of Spitting Image, Naylor has written for some of the most famous names on television, including Alistair McGowan, Lenny Henry and Rory Bremner. After The Collector and Echoes, Angel becomes the third of his plays to transfer to Arcola.

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Sergio Blanco’s Thebes Land, running from Nov 30, is an electrifying tale about retribution and justice, love and masculinity. It played sold­-out runs in eight countries across Europe and Latin America.

Acclaimed actor and writer Trevor White (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, West End; Enron, Royal Court) and Alex Austin (Fury, Soho Theatre; Yen, Royal Court) interrogate one of the rarest and most shocking crimes known to man, with the on­-stage participation of convicted patricide, Martin Santos.

This daring new play teases the boundaries between truth and lies, what you know and what you think you know. It has been created in collaboration with celebrated Franco-­Uruguayan playwright Sergio Blanco and award­-winning director, Daniel Goldman.

Interestingly we’re told that “Thebes Land is presented with the consent of all parties and in accordance with Home Office regulations. It will be staged inside a large protective cage”.

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