Bea Roberts’ And Then Come The Nightjars opens Theatre503’s autumn season, marking the theatre’s first co-production with Bristol Old Vic.
This poignant and uncompromising play is one of the two winners of Theatre503’s inaugural international Playwriting Award and was selected from over 1600 submissions. And Then Come The Nightjars charts a farm’s struggle to survive the march of history. Fierce with rage yet achingly tender, this is a story of enduring friendship and a requiem for rural England. Reflecting on the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001, Nightjars sees how, ten years on, scars are still evident on the landscape and also on the relationships of those the disease affected.
This heart-wrenching play explores the devastating effects of the pandemic which saw the slaughter of four million animals, the virtual closure of the countryside and the postponement of a general election. Against this backdrop Roberts depicts an intimate friendship between two world-weary men.
Roberts is devoted to making work that challenges both herself as a writer and also her audience’s attitudes towards the West Country world that she hails from (A Younger Theatre). And Then Come The Nightjars will be Bea’s first full length production and is directed by Theatre503’s Artistic Director Paul Robinson, who comments: “I’m so excited to be directing Nightjars. The first time I read it, it made me a) cry in public and b) miss my bus stop by about a mile and a half. It is both hugely personal and nationally significant at the same time. Bea is a hugely talented writer who has already made quite an impression in Bristol. I am lucky to have assembled an incredible cast including RSC veteran David Fielder and a creative team including Olly Fox (National Theatre, Young Vic, Royal Court) who I’m confident will do justice to this fantastic piece.”
Bea Roberts is currently on commission with the BBC, has had work on at the Tobacco Factory, Lyric Hammersmith and Bristol Old Vic and her most recent play was the award-winning Infinity Pool. The Theatre503 Playwriting Award provides an unprecedented opportunity for playwrights at all levels. Two winners were selected for the highly prestigious award (Valhalla will also be staged as part of the autumn season) which includes a £6,000 award and a full production. The final stage of the process featured an industry leading panel featuring Dennis Kelly, Roy Williams and Henry Hitchings. Dennis Kelly (‘Matilda the Musical’, ‘Orphans’), whose career began at Theatre503, said of the award: “Money is great, but it only goes so far. What’s really amazing is that they’ve attached a production to it… it’s so important to get that work on.”
Theatre503 is unrivalled in its support of new writers, reading and reporting on more unsolicited scripts than anywhere in the country. The next Theatre503 Playwriting Award will be open for applications from Autumn 2015, with the selected winner being staged in 2017.
Writer Bea Roberts
Director Paul Robinson
Designer Max Dorey
Composer Olly Fox
Sound Designer Max Perryment
Michael David Fielder
And Then Come The Nightjars
Wednesday 2nd – Saturday 26th September 2015
Tuesday to Saturday, 7.45pm, Sunday, 5pm
Running time 1 hour 30 minutes (no interval)
Notes Ages 12+
Twitter @theatre503, @bea_roberts, #NightjarsPlay
Thursday 16th July 2015