In a major shift of artistic policy, Tom Littler today announces the relaunch of Jermyn Street Theatre as a producing theatre as he reveals his first season as artistic director. Having previously operated as a receiving house, producing one or two productions a year over the 23 years of its history, from this autumn the theatre will produce its own work, and collaborate with regional theatres and other companies on co-productions.
Littler’s first season opens with the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Blinding Light, a specially commissioned drama about the life of August Strindberg. This will be followed by the world premiere of Judith Burnley’s Anything That Flies, directed by rising star Alice Hamilton. Littler’s production of Miss Julie, in a new version by Brenton, will play in November, following its run at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. A co-production with the English Theatre Frankfurt of The Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by Lotte Wakeham, plays in December. Throughout the autumn are a number of literary and gala events on Sunday evenings.
Littler is also launching a major fundraising campaign to raise £300,000 over his first year, of which the first £70,000 has been secured.
Littler said: “Jermyn Street Theatre is an arthouse jewel in the West End’s crown. Over the next few years, our audiences will see outstanding plays and musicals – both revivals and new writing. In this tiny, magical theatre, you can see great actors up-close. Our work will be bolder and more ambitious than ever before. It will be intellectually curious, international, and liberal in outlook: plays to make you think, laugh, and cry.”
Howard Brenton said: “Jermyn Street Theatre is a tiny furnace of theatrical invention, radiating its influence way beyond its size. It’s a delight to have been commissioned to write the first play of Tom Littler’s first season as Artistic Director. Tom and I share an obsession with the great and still controversial Swedish playwright, August Strindberg – he’s directed versions I’ve made of The Dance of Death and Miss Julie.”
Penny Horner, Executive Director said: “After four brilliant years, we are sad to say goodbye to Anthony Biggs, but excited to welcome Tom Littler as our new Artistic Director. For the past 23 years we have been a home to outstanding plays and musicals in the middle of the West End. We are very excited to be working with Tom as this new chapter begins, and look forward to celebrating our 25th birthday in 2019 as a thriving producing theatre.”
The ESCAPE season explores what it means to run away: to escape from reality; to flee your country; to break the rules; or to let danger roam free.
The season opens with the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Blinding Light, a Jermyn Street Theatre commission, opening on 12th September with previews from Wednesday 6th September. The Blinding Light is about Strindberg’s notorious breakdown in Paris in 1896, which he called his ‘Inferno period’. Abandoning theatre, living a life of squalid splendour, Strindberg practices alchemy. In his hotel room he attempts to make gold by finding the philosopher’s stone, the secret of creation. As his grasp of reality weakens his first two wives visit him to bring him to his senses. But their interventions spin out of control. And – are they really his wives at all? Tom Littler directs this Jermyn Street Theatre production.
The world premiere of Anything That Flies, by Judith Burnley, opening on Friday 20th October with previews from Wednesday 18th October, directed by rising star Alice Hamilton, acclaimed for her productions of Barney Norris’s plays. Anything That Flies is set in London in 1991 just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. When a German carer arrives to look after an elderly Jewish emigré, their developing relationship uncovers a past of secrets and lies. Burnley’s play is a powerful exploration of the lives of refugees and those who find themselves ‘citizens of nowhere’. This is a Jermyn Street Theatre production.
The world premiere of Howard Brenton’s version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie opens on Wednesday 15th November, with a preview on Tuesday 14th November. This is the first revival of Miss Julie in the West End since 2000. Tom Littler directs Charlotte Hamblin, James Sheldon, and Izabella Urbanowicz in Strindberg’s drama, set on Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden in 1888. In the kitchen of a country house, Miss Julie, a young aristocrat, embarks on a dangerous game of seduction and power-play with her father’s manservant. This is a co-production between Jermyn Street Theatre and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, where the production opens on 4th July.
The season concludes with a riotous production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, in an adaptation, originally created for Peepolykus, opening on Friday 8th December with previews from Wednesday 6th December. Just three actors play a host of characters – sometimes at very high speed – to tell Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes story. Lotte Wakeham, associate director of the RSC’s Matilda, directs this co-production between Jermyn Street Theatre and English Theatre Frankfurt, the largest English-language theatre in mainland Europe.
Sundays see a range of theatrical and literary events. These include a new one-woman show based on the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Wife, performed by the Poet Laureate’s daughter, Ella Duffy (29th October), Posting Letters to the Moon featuring Simon Williams and Lucy Fleming reading the letters of Fleming’s parents Celia Johnson and Peter Fleming (Sunday 19th November), readings from Lord Wavell’s iconic 1944 poetry collection Other Men’s Flowers (Sunday 26th November), and a star-studded fundraising gala with the charity Give a Book (Sunday 10th December).
Previews and Ticketing
Subscription pricing is available: patrons booking for all four productions will receive their fourth ticket for free.
Each production will have 100 £10 tickets available for under-30s.
All preview tickets will be priced at £15.
The season goes on sale 1st August.
Littler announced new appointments to the Jermyn Street Theatre team:
- The two founders of the theatre, Penny Horner and Howard Jameson, continue as Executive Director and Chair of the Board.
- Stella Powell-Jones, a rising star in the New York theatre scene, where she ran a repertory theatre with Eve Best, joins as Deputy Director, sponsored by the Carne Trust.
- Julia Mucko joins as Resident Producer.
- Tom McClane-Williamson joins as Trainee Director on a placement from Birkbeck College.
- Natasha Rickman, founder of Women at RADA, joins as Artistic Associate.
Casting and Employment
Littler has committed Jermyn Street Theatre to a 50/50 equal representation policy. Across each year of work, women will make up at least 50% of all performers and backstage teams. He has also re-committed the theatre to the Equity Fringe Agreement, which guarantees that all performers will be paid a fair and legal wage
Jermyn Street Theatre
16b Jermyn Street,
London, SW1Y 6ST