- Bush Theatre to open in March 2017, following the largest capital project in the theatre’s history
- Substantial boost in artistic development will see engagement with further 200 artists each year through new Studio
- Additional performance spaces allowing over 50% increase in produced, co-produced and commissioned productions
- Aim of increasing visitors to the venue by over 60%
£10 seats for every performance to further increase accessibility
- Diverse new season announced across two performance spaces
- Building to be launched by a week-long celebration under the banner of “Making Space”, which will include Black Lives, Black Words
- Programme in Theatre includes work from Jamie Lloyd, Rajiv Joseph, Taylor Mac, Nadia Fall, Robert Hastie and Chris Thompson.
- Inaugural Studio space programme to include work from Barney Norris, Alice Hamilton, Nassim Soleimanpour, Omar Elerian and Sophie Wu
- Bush’s new Studio will be a home for emerging artists and producers
- Three new associate artists; Milk Presents, Deafinitely Theatre and ANTLER
Nine recipients of ‘Project 2036’, year-long bursaries of £10,000 to BAMER artists
- A new Emerging Writers’ Group for 2016, with two of the 2015 cohort now under full commission
In March 2017, following a landmark year taking plays into the communities of West London, the Bush Theatre will return home following a £4.3m revitalisation of the venue. The year-long redevelopment has been driven by the aim of realising Artistic Director Madani Younis’ vision for a theatre that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of London today.
The Bush Theatre strives to create a space which nurtures, develops and showcases the best of new artists and their work; reflects the local, national and international communities and encourages the diversification of artists and artistic leadership in the UK. In its first season back at the Bush, 50% of the programme comes from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) writers. This will coincide with a new cohort of resident artists and associates, further reinforcing the Bush’s commitment to increasing the diversity of the work and the artists presented onstage. This comes hot on the heels of the announcement of UP NEXT, a two-year programme to champion the next generation of BAMER artists, funded by Arts Council England’s Sustained Theatres fund.
Madani Younis said, “With the global political context shifting, and the emergence of pervasive right wing politics, it’s more important than ever that artists and theatres agitate as well as entertain. With the redevelopment of our building, we are proud to be able to embrace new voices who will breathe life into this remarkable building. It’s their stories of joy, love, anger and (most of all) hope that will inspire a new generation of audiences. This year has rocked our very foundations: we might be less assured but we are more honest and I can’t wait to begin to fight back when we reopen the Bush in 2017.”
March 2016 marked the beginning of a major redevelopment of the Bush Theatre, led by architects Howarth Tompkins. Upon reopening, the building will be more sustainable and entirely accessible, with a new entrance, front-of-house area and exterior garden terrace to the main street. This sees a significant growth for the Bush since moving from above the pub on Shepherd’s Bush Green in 2011 – which will see audience grow from 16,000 to a projected 60,000 in just six years. This will also see the programme increase by over 60% and the number of artists increase by over 50%.
The New Season:
From April to November 2017, the Bush Theatre will present three new commissions, three world premieres, two European premieres and one production that will tour nationally.
Guards at the Taj (7 April – 20 May) by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, will receive its European premiere directed by Jamie Lloyd, who makes his Bush directorial debut. The production won the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play when it premiered at the Atlantic Theater in New York. This will be followed by the European premiere of Hir (15 June – 22 July) by Taylor Mac, an artist and writer whose performance launched this year’s LIFT Festival and whose recent 24-Decade History of Popular Music put him at the forefront of alternative responses to American culture. The production will be directed by Nadia Fall, who returns to the Bush following the acclaimed Disgraced. Then in the autumn, the Bush Theatre commission Of Kith and Kin (18 October – 25 November) by Chris Thompson, last at the Bush with Albion, will be presented in co-production with Sheffield Theatres and directed by Sheffield Theatres’ new Artistic Director Robert Hastie.
Artistic Director, Madani Younis said: “Over the past few years I have realised that we have more ideas and artists than we have opportunities in our theatre. The redevelopment of our building and the introduction of the Studio will give us more creative space for writers and artists to thrive. Our aim is to use this to help us better reflect the diversity and vibrancy of work of our city. It’s refreshing that this season of six plays includes emerging and established artists from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. But diversifying the audience is as important, and to support this, I’m delighted that at least 20% of the tickets in this season will be available for just £10, largely thanks to our new Count Me In ticket.”
Ahead of the first production, the new Bush Theatre will be launched in March 2017 by a week-long celebration under the banner Making Space. Making Space reflects the Bush’s wider ambition for the future. For just over a week, every room of the transformed building will be ignited in a celebration of the diverse talent that will shape the venue for the next generation. The theatre’s doors will be open to the community that surrounds it with a free programme of events for local residents, a first look at work by Associate Artists and the Emerging Writers’ Group, and the launch of a new community programme. At the heart of this will be Black Lives, Black Words which explores the black diaspora experience in some of the world’s largest multicultural cities. Black Lives, Black Words gives voice to an international collection of contemporary black writers and asks ‘Do black lives matter today?’
The Bush is also launching a new talent development strategy designed to revolutionise the diversity and quality of artists and artistic leadership in the UK. From 2017, a new cohort of artists will become part of the fabric of the Bush. This includes three Associate Artists on attachment to the Studio: Milk Presents, Deafinitely Theatre and ANTLER. They will work alongside three Project 2036 practitioners – a programme that will offer a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) playwright, director and producer a £10,000 bursary each year. Supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the first intake of artists is: Alison Holder (Producer), Rikki Henry (Director) and Hannah Khalil (Playwright). These artists join the previously announced Emerging Writers’ Group (EWG).
2016 saw the Bush move its theatre to the streets of Shepherd’s Bush – borrowing new and iconic spaces all with their own histories and tales of the local community. In this season of work the theatre welcomed new audiences and residents by offering a number of free and subsidised theatre tickets to local people.
Madani Younis took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. This year, he directed the world premiere of Zaida and Aadam by Gbolahan Obisesan and revived 2015’s critically acclaimed production of The Royale by Marco Ramirez. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.
Rajiv Joseph‘s Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama, and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. Joseph’s New York productions include Guards at the Taj (Atlantic Theater Company, 2015) which was awarded the 2016 Obie award for Best New Play and the Lucille Lortel award for Outstanding Play, The North Pool (Vineyard Theater, 2013), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Second Stage Theatre, 2011), Animals Out of Paper (Second Stage Theatre, 2008), The Leopard and the Fox (Alter Ego, 2007), Huck & Holden (Cherry Lane Theatre, 2006), and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre, 2006). Other recent plays include Mr. Wolf (South Coast Repertory, 2015), The Lake Effect (Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey, 2013) and Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre in Houston, 2011).
Jamie Lloyd is the Artistic Director of The Jamie Lloyd Company. His recent work, presented by The Jamie Lloyd Company, includes Doctor Faustus (Duke of York’s) and The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class, Richard III, The Pride, The Hothouse and the Olivier Award-nominated Macbeth (all at Trafalgar Studios). His other recent work includes Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory; Evening Standard Award nomination for Best Director); Urinetown (St James & Apollo); The Commitments (Palace); Cyrano de Bergerac (Roundabout Theatre Company; American Airlines Theatre, Broadway); The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic); She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre; WhatsOnStage Award nomination for Best Revival); The Faith Machine and the Olivier Award-winning The Pride (Royal Court); Inadmissible Evidence, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the Evening Standard Award-winning Passion and Polar Bears (Donmar Warehouse); Piaf (Donmar Warehouse, Vaudeville Theatre, Teatro Liceo in Buenos Aires & Nuevo Teatro Alcala in Madrid; Olivier Award nomination for Best Musical Revival, Hugo Award for Best Director, Clarin Award for Best Musical Production, ADEET Award for Best Production); The Little Dog Laughed (Garrick); Three Days of Rain (Apollo; Olivier & WhatsOnStage Award nominations for Best Revival); The Lover and The Collection (Comedy Theatre); Elegies: A Song Cycle (Arts); The School for Scandal (Theatre Royal, Bath); Salome (Headlong); Eric’s (Liverpool Everyman); and The Caretaker (Sheffield Crucible & Tricycle).
Barney Norris was born in Sussex in 1987. Upon leaving university he founded the touring theatre company Up In Arms with the director Alice Hamilton. His plays include Visitors (Up In Arms, Arcola, Bush and tour) and Eventide (Up In Arms, Arcola and tour). His first novel, Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain, is published by Doubleday, and he is also the author of a book on theatre, To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill, published by Seren. He won the Critics’ Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright in 2014, was named as one of the 1000 Most Influential Londoners in 2015, and was the Literature nominee for the South Bank Sky Arts Times Breakthrough Award in 2016. He is the Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain is currently Waterstone’s Book of the Month.
Alice Hamilton is co-artistic director of Up in Arms. Work for the company includes German Skerries (Orange Tree), Eventide (Arcola and tour), Visitors (Bush, Arcola and tour), Fear of Music (tour with Out of Joint), Missing (Tristan Bates) and At First Sight (Latitude Festival and tour). Other directing work includes Orca (Papatango/Southwark Playhouse) and Orson’s Shadow (Jagged Fence/Southwark Playhouse). She worked as Staff Director on Man and Superman at the National Theatre, and has directed development workshops and rehearsed readings with the Royal Court, National Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, and High Tide.
Taylor Mac (who uses “judy”, lowercase sic, not as a name but as a gender pronoun) is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer. Judy’s work has been performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center, The Public Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, Los Angeles’s Royce Hall, Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, Stockholm’s Sodra Theatern, the Spoleto Festival, San Francisco’s Curran Theater and MOMA, amongst others.
Nadia Fall trained at Goldsmiths College (MA Directing) and on the NT Studio’s Directors programme. Previous work at the Bush Theatre includes Disgraced. Directing credits include The Suicide, Our Country’s Good, Dara, Chewing Gum Dreams, Home, Hymn, The Doctor’s Dilemma (all National Theatre), Way Upstream (Chichester Festival Theatre), Hobson’s Choice (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), How Was it for You? (Unicorn Theatre), Sticks & Stones (Polka Theatre), The Maids (Lyric Hammersmith), Miss Julie (Croydon Warehouse Theatre), Wild Turkey (Site Specific).
Nassim Soleimanpour is from Tehran, Iran. His plays have been translated into more than 20 languages. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award.
Omar Elerian is an Italian/Palestinian theatre director, trained at Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School in Paris. As the Associate Director at the Bush he is in charge of the Associate Artists attached to the building, as well as being involved in all the programming, producing and artistic development activities. For the Bush, he has directed One Cold Dark Night by Nancy Harris and Islands by Caroline Horton. He was also Associate Director on The Royale by Marco Ramirez, Perseverance Drive by Robin Soans and Chalet Lines by Lee Mattinson. Other directing credits include acclaimed site-specific production The Mill – City of Dreams (Bradford, Yorkshire), Olivier nominated You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy (The Stage Best Solo Performance Award winner), Testa di Rame (Festival Inequilibrio, Italy) and Les P’tites Grandes Choses (Maison de Arts du Cirque et du Clown, France).
Sophie Wu is a well-known actress and writer for screen and stage. Her debut play, Sophie Wu Is Minging, and Looks Like She’s Dead, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and transferred to the Soho Theatre. She is developing original TV projects with Charlie Brooker’s company, House of Tomorrow, Roughcut and Kudos and has a script commission for ‘Minging Lizzie’ for Channel 4.
Chris Thompson’s plays include Albion (Bush Theatre) and Carthage (Finborough Theatre). Carthage won a Pearson Playwrighting Award and was nominated for Best New Play and Most Promising New Playwright in the OFFIE awards.
Robert Hastie is Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, where his inaugural season – including Of Kith and Kin – has just been announced. He was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He most recently directed Breaking the Code (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Henry V (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the inaugural production in Artistic Director Tamara Harvey’s first season at Theatr Clwyd. He is Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse, where his recent work includes acclaimed productions of My Night With Reg by Kevin Elyot (also West End – Hastie was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards; and the production was nominated for Best Revival at the Olivier Awards), and Splendour, by Abi Morgan. Hastie recently completed the first stage of the Donmar Warehouse’s ten-year long My Mark project with Michelle Terry, undertaking and filming interviews in schools nationally to document the views of those eligible to vote for the first time in the 2025 general election. His other directing credits include Carthage, Events While Guarding The Bofors Gun (Finborough Theatre), Sunburst (Holborn Grange Hotel), Sixty-Six Books: In The Land Of Uz, Middle Man, David and Goliath, Snow In Sheffield and A Lost Expression (Bush Theatre).
Up In Arms is a multi-award-winning touring theatre company from the south west of England, led by Barney Norris, Alice Hamilton and Charlie Young, and produced by Farnham Maltings. Previous work includes: German Skerries (Orange Tree and tour), Eventide (Arcola and tour), Visitors (Arcola, Bush Theatre and tour), Fear of Music (tour with Out of Joint) and At First Sight (tour and Latitude Festival). www.upinarms.org.uk
Farnham Maltings is a cultural organisation, based in south west Surrey, that exists to encourage the people of Farnham and further afield to participate in, shape and understand the world in which we live. They believe that by being actively creative, connecting with others and articulating new ideas they will foster a happier, healthier and more inclusive set of communities. www.farnhammaltings.com
Sheffield Theatres is the largest producing theatre complex outside of London, home to three theatres: the Crucible, the Studio and the Lyceum. This year, the Theatre celebrated unprecedented success at the UK Theatre Awards, winning in 5 categories, including for Best Musical Production for both Show Boat and Flowers For Mrs Harris. It was named one of the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatres in 2015 (UK Theatre Awards – Regional Winner for Yorkshire and Humberside) and its track record for creating ambitious and exciting work was recognised in 2013 and 2014 when it was crowned Regional Theatre of the Year Award for an unprecedented two consecutive years in the Stage Awards.The company produces a diverse programme of work, spanning a range of genres: classical revivals, new work, large-scale musicals and innovative and immersive theatre experiences. It presents the best shows currently on tour in the UK and works with theatre artists locally and nationally to nurture and develop new creative talent.
Combining classic and contemporary programming with a bold and ambitious approach, Sheffield Theatres has firmly established itself as one of the country’s leading theatres.
Alison Holder, Project 2036 Producer. Alison is currently producer of a one-woman production, Becoming, and recently staged a rehearsed showing after a week’s residency at the Arcola Theatre. She’s Assistant Producer for Orlando Gough’s a capella group The Shout, who recently reformed and performed at the Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival at Kings Place.
Rikki Henry, Project 2036 Director. Rikki Henry was a 2015 BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship, and as a Genesis Future Directors Award recipient he directed Creditors at the Young Vic, also last year. Rikki studied film production at the University for the Creative Arts. Previously at the Young Vic, he directed the Young People’s production of The Government Inspector. As Assistant Director at the Young Vic, his work includes Vernon God Little, Annie Get Your Gun, and the Young People’s productions of Uncle Vanya and King Lear. Other recent directing work includes: From Dover to Calais (ATC/Bristol Old Vic/Young Vic); Jitney (monologue by August Wilson) (Trafalgar Arts/The Old Red Lion); Woza Albert! (staged reading) (Albany/Stonecrabs Theatre); and The Moment Before (Warehouse Theatre Croydon/Strawberry Picking Festival). Rikki’s assistant directing credits also include: When the Chickens Came Home to Roost, Urban Legends (National Theatre Studio), and Ghosts or Those Who Return (Arcola).
Hannah Khalil, Project 2036 Playwright. An award-winning writer, Hannah’s first short play, Ring, was selected for the Soho Theatre’s Westminster Prize and her first full- length piece, Leaving Home, was staged at The King’s Head. A commission for Rose Bruford at Battersea Arts Centre followed, and Hannah subsequently received support from The Peggy Ramsay Foundation to write Stolen Or Strayed, which received a Special Commendation in the Verity Bargate Award.
Milk Presents make daring, accessible performance that transcends gender and sexuality. The company is made up of artists Ruby Glaskin, Adam Robertson and Lucy J Skilbeck. Milk Presents formed at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2010 and went on to become an Associate Artist of The Point Eastleigh in 2011 and an Associate Company of Derby Theatre in 2015. Their most recent production JOAN (Scotsman Fringe First, Stage Edinburgh Award, Spirit of the Fringe Award), a drag king play about Joan of Arc, was co-produced with Derby Theatre and is touring Spring/ Autumn 2017. Past productions include Milk Presents Self Service (2014), A Real Man’s Guide to Sainthood (2013), Bluebeard A Fairytale for Adults (2012). Milk Presents curate club nights, symposiums, workshops and community projects, including creating a cabaret for the Welcome Collection’s Late event: MACHO in April 2017. Their current work is commissioned by the Jerwood Home Run Commission with Camden People’s Theatre and will run there three weeks in September 2017.
Deafinitely Theatre. Founded in 2002, Deafinitely Theatre is an independent, professional Deaf-led company. Their bilingual productions – in British Sign Language and spoken English – are made from a Deaf perspective and aim to provide a platform for untold Deaf stories, reflecting and exploring Deaf culture by bringing it centre stage. Recent productions include: Grounded (Park Theatre), Something Else (Stratford Circus Arts Centre and tour), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Globe Theatre), Two (Southwark Playhouse).
ANTLER is an award-winning company, telling stories through theatre and film. Their latest show If I Were Me underwent research and development supported by Arts Council England and Old Vic New Voices Lab, won the Pulse Festival Suitcase Prize, 2014, previewed at Camden People’s Theatre and ran at The Underbelly (Edinburgh Fringe, 2015) and the Bush Theatre (RADAR, 2015). Other credits include: Where The White Stops (Bush Theatre RADAR Festival, New Diorama INCOMING Festival, Tour), This Way Up and Maria, 1968 (Edinburgh Fringe, 2012). 2013 saw ANTLER’s debut short, Emmeline, become a multi-award winning film.
7 Apr – 20 May
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour
Press night: 11 Apr, 7pm
Captioned: 27 Apr, 7.30pm
Audio described: 6 May, 2.30pm
26 Apr – 27 May
WHILE WE’RE HERE
A Bush Theatre, Up In Arms and Farnham Maltings co-production
Written by Barney Norris
Directed by Alice Hamilton
Designed by James Perkins
Press night: 28 Apr, 7pm
Captioned: 12 May, 7.45pm
Audio described: 13 May, 2.45pm
15 Jun – 22 Jul
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Taylor Mac
Directed by Nadia Fall
Press night: 20 June, 7pm
Captioned: 7 Jul, 7.30pm
Audio described: 15 Jul, 2.30pm
24 – 29 Jul
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour
Directed by Omar Elerian
Press night: N/A
20 Sep – 21 Oct
RAMONA TELLS JIM
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Sophie Wu
Press night: 22 Sep, 7pm
Captioned: 13 Oct, 7.45pm
Audio described: 7 Oct, 2.45pm
18 Oct – 25 Nov
OF KITH AND KIN
A Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production
Written by Chris Thompson
Directed by Rob Hastie
Designed by James Perkins
Press night (Bush Theatre): 20 Oct, 7pm
Press night (Sheffield Theatres): 19 September, 7.45pm
Captioned: 3 Nov, 7.30pm
Audio described: 11 Nov, 2.30pm
Count Me In: £10 (Theatre)
Adult: From £20 (Theatre) and £10 (Studio)
Count Me In tickets are just £10 and are available for performances in the Theatre. These are unreserved tickets which will be allocated to a seat on the day of performance. Audience members might not be sitting next to the people they booked with but will be guaranteed a seat.
Concessions: Bush Locals, Senior Citizens, Disabled and Unemployed patrons, and Bush Connect (Students and U26) members will be eligible for concession prices.
Booking: Phone 020 8743 5050
In person Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ