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NEWS: Royal Court Extras – Playwrights’ Playwrights

In 1952, George Devine took over the reins of the redesigned Royal Court Theatre under the umbrella of theEnglish Stage Company. Their remit was to produce new British work and classic revivals with the focus on itbeing a writer’s theatre.As part of their upcoming Court Extras programme, the Royal Court continue to flythe flag for classic revivals by producing Playwrights’ Playwrights, four rehearsed readings at the Duke of York’s Theatre during June and July. Four prominent playwrights will direct a Royal Court classic of their choice, with just two days towork with a cast and put their own individual stamp on their chosen classic by way of preparation for a Fridayafternoon reading.Writers Nick Payne (Wanderlust), Polly Stenham (Tusk Tusk), Roy Williams (Sucker Punch) and David Eldridge (Market Boy) make up the Royal Court’s team of directors each given the task of choosing their all-timefavourite Royal Court play.Opening with Payne directing Kenneth Lonergan’s The Starry Messenger on Friday 29th June at 2pm, theDuke of York’s will also play host to Stenham directing John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger (6th July at 2pm), Williamstaking Barrie Keefe’s Abide With Me (13th July at 2pm) and closing with Eldridge directing Robert Holman’sAcross Oka (20th July at 2pm).

Each of the plays have something unique to offer this season: 2009’s The Starry Messenger has never beenperformed in the UK, Look Back In Anger is considered by many to be the turning point of British Theatre in the20th Century, as a timely revival Abide With Me is as relevant a piece of social commentary as it was when firstproduced in 1976 and Holman’s Across Oka stands tall as a significant a piece of human drama.

Artistic Director Dominic Cooke believes, “Playwrights often make fine directors of other writers’ work.” Withthis in mind, their choices have always been significant; from Mamet’s Speed The Plow and Glengarry GlenRoss through to Pinter’s Old Times and Brecht’s The Mother. The 2008 season was dedicated to the workof Caryl Churchill who celebrated her 70th Birthday. The focus on the writer interpreting the work of othersreinforces the Royal Court’s standing as the writer’s theatre and yet again promises an eclectic and vital rangeof theatre’s most important work.

This is the fifth Playwright’s Playwright season. Launched in the summer of 1999 and performed at the Duke ofYork theatre, subsequent seasons ran Autumn 1999, 2004 and 2008.

The Playwrights’ Playwrights series runs from 29th June to 20th July. Tickets from £8 (concessions £6). For more information call020 7565 5000 or visit royalcourttheatre.com.

By Shane Morgan

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