Scottish playwright David Greig’s first season leading the Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, which includes four world premieres, has been announced.
Greig, the writer of acclaimed plays such as The Events, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, Dunsinane and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, said: “I am honoured and privileged to be taking up the artistic directorship of a theatre which has meant so much to me personally and which sits at the heart of both Edinburgh’s cultural life and Scottish theatre at large.
“The theatre is the last place where we sit together in a room and have an unmediated collective experience,” continued Edinburgh-born Greig, who is a major figure in British theatre.
“My hope is that The Lyceum will start conversations with artists, with audiences and with the city itself. It will be a home for multiple voices in the birthplace of The Enlightenment and the Athens of the North… which brings me to the first production of my inaugural season, let me tell you a bit about why I’ve chosen these shows….”
SEASON TICKET PRODUCTIONS
1 – 15 October 2016
The Suppliant Women by Aesychlus in a new version by David Greig
a co-production with Actors Touring Company
The Suppliant Women was written 2500 years ago. It’s one of the very earliest Greek plays to have survived. Written by Aeschylus on the eve of a democratic revolution in Athens it comes to us, remarkably, as a document of the earliest moments of theatre. But for all its fascination and mystery, this story of Egyptian refugee women sailing to Greece to seek sanctuary could have been written about the world today. Working on the adaptation for this production I felt like a literary Indiana Jones uncovering the covenant. I could feel the energy of the text pulsing through two millennia.
Director Ramin Gray and composer John Browne worked with me to create the play The Events and I am delighted to have got this band back together for my first show at The Lyceum. It is a special thrill that 50 young women from Edinburgh will work alongside us – forming the Chorus, just as citizens of Athens would have played their part in the original production.
27 October – 12 November 2016
Jumpy by April De Angelis, starring Daniela Nardini
April De Angelis is one of my favourite contemporary writers and Jumpy, her recent West End hit, has all her hallmarks: it’s centred round a fascinating, complicated female character, it’s incisive, it’s intelligent and above all, it’s very, very funny.
On one level, Jumpy is the simple and funny story of a mother and her wayward daughter. But on another level it explores what it means to be a woman in the modern world, Our production is going to bring a distinctly Scottish twist to this urban comedy, and I couldn’t be more delighted that Daniela Nardini will be taking on the mighty central role of Hilary and that Cora Bissett will direct – I’m sure she’ll bring her trademark heart and wit.
13 January – 28 January 2017
Picnic at Hanging Rock a new play adapted from Joan Lindsay’s novel by Tom Wright
presented by Malthouse Theatre Melbourne and Black Swan State Theatre Company
This January I loved The Weir, it felt somehow right to have a ghost story for the New Year. So for this coming January I thought it would be great to have another story of haunting and mystery… this time not from rainy Ireland but from the dust and shimmering heat of colonial Melbourne. A classic novel, celebrated film and now a thrilling and acclaimed play, this is the story of an ill-fated girls school trip to the bush and its horrifying consequences.
I think a big city like Edinburgh deserves international work all year round, not just in August, so I’m delighted to be welcoming Matthew Lutton and his Malthouse Theatre company from Melbourne to Edinburgh to give us a genuine taste of Australian heat to warm us up, and then chill our spines, in January.
9 February – 4 March 2017
The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
I love The Winter’s Tale! It’s one of Shakespeare’s last plays and like its companion, The Tempest, it contains complexity, comedy, darkness, loss and ultimately magical redemption. It’s quite simply the work of great writer at the top of his game. It’s a story of love and betrayal set against a backdrop of countryside and court. If you forgive me revealing my own secret vice – with its deeply human portrait of a marriage, and it’s background of comic rustics it’s not dissimilar to a recent storyline in The Archers!
I’m very pleased that Max Webster will direct the play – he loves music and theatricality as much as he loves Shakespeare. He wants to bring a distinctive Scottish musical flavour to the pastoral scenes in the play so I think we can expect to see something truly transformative and magical on the stage in February.
10 March – 1 April 2017
Noël Coward’s Hay Fever
a co-production with Citizens Theatre
As a playwright, I revere Noël Coward. No other writer has such control over theatrical structure combined with such wit and insight into human relationships. Because he’s a writer of comedy, Coward can be underestimated. The upper class country house characters he writes about sometimes seem distant to us today. But, to me, this gilded world is just a microcosm of our own. In it, Coward finds sharp shards of truth about all of us that are as likely to provoke tears as laughter.
We already know Dominic Hill as one of Scotland’s most accomplished directors of tragedy. Dominic’s passion for this classic comedy reveals a different side to him and his insight will bring a refreshing and fascinating new perspective to a Lyceum favourite.
29 April – 13 May 2017
Charlie Sonata by Douglas Maxwell
Douglas Maxwell is the Scottish writer who has influenced me the most, he has the heart, comedy, and storytelling brio that can’t fail to lift the spirits. Watching one of his plays is like being lifted off your feet and swept along on a crazy night out with your best friend.
I first read this play on a plane journey. The story of charming hopeless Charlie on a mission to save a life had me hooked right away. When I found myself in tears at the end, with my hand grabbing the knee of the passenger beside me, having to explain to the stewardess that I was all right, “it’s just a play I was reading”, I knew I had to bring it to the stage. With Matthew Lenton, a great stylist of Scottish theatre in the director’s seat, it is sure to make for a compelling evening. Just make sure you’re sitting next to someone whose knee you feel comfortable grabbing!
20 May – 10 June 2017
Glory on Earth by Linda McLean
Growing up in Edinburgh and haunting the Royal Mile every festival, I have always been fascinated by the story of John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots. So when Linda came to me with this idea I was immediately grabbed. The simple romance of Mary, the young and inexperienced Queen, pitting herself against Knox, the revolutionary radical, is a subject ripe for drama. Setting a decadent and corrupt royal regime against a movement full of religious zeal and puritan politics doesn’t seem so different from the world of Islamic State, or Saudi Arabia. So it’s a story which has deep resonance to us today. But, above all, in the dance and sparring of Mary and Knox we find, I think, a human story which compels across centuries.
I’m going to direct this play myself. I couldn’t resist it. Linda is a writer whose work is characterised by poetry, mystery and emotional depth so I feel incredibly lucky to get the chance to bring this World Premiere to The Lyceum.
ADDITIONAL SHOWS IN SEASON 2016/17
As well as our Season productions, we will be working with partners across Scotland to bring even more drama to The Lyceum stage this year. Our annual Christmas show is joined by a selection of other, additional shows. 2016/17 Season Ticket Holders will be entitled to discounts on all of these additional shows and full details can be found in the Season Ticket Holder newsletter.
4 – 21 August 2016
Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart
in association with Edinburgh International Festival
I am passionate about mixing theatre and music, and I’m also very keen to open up The Lyceum’s work into new and different spaces, so I was thrilled to get the chance to work with the amazing Karine Polwart on her first theatre show playing in our rehearsal rooms as part of the International Festival this summer. Wind Resistance starts with the local, a meditation on a small patch of moorland just off the A68 to Jedburgh, Fala Flow. From here Karine spins stories, songs, reflections and fictions on everything from birds, to medicine, to the tactics of Sir Alex Ferguson and ultimately a deep sense of the interconnectedness of our lives.
14 – 24 September 2016
Dundee Rep Ensemble present
The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil by John McGrath
It was 43 years ago that Clive Perry and Richard Eyre first welcomed The Cheviot into The Lyceum in an electrifying production by 7:84 which changed Scottish theatre and perhaps Scottish politics forever. Last year Joe Douglas and Dundee Rep Ensemble revived the show and found that in the post-referendum Scotland the play is as electrifying, as entertaining, as pertinent and as surprising as it ever was. I believe the theatre is fundamentally a democratic place – it’s a place where debate and dispute, thought and memory are transformed into what John McGrath himself called ‘a good night out.’ So, I’m incredibly proud to be able to echo history and to welcome the show from Dundee.
26 November – 31 December 2016
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll in a new version created and directed by Anthony Neilson
I’ve loved Lyceum Christmas shows since being taken to them myself in the 70’s and 80’s. Then in the 2000’s I took my own kids. The Lyceum at Christmas means magic to me, it means music, it means classic stories brought to life, and above all it means being transported into another world. I’m determined to uphold that tradition and so it seemed obvious to me that my first Christmas show should be Alice – a story of adventure and curiosity, a story of magic, and mystery, humour and grace.
Alice is going to be created by two of my favourite theatre makers, Edinburgh born writer/director Anthony Nielson, and composer Nick Powell who promise a proper Victorian toy box of a show, a trip down the rabbit hole which will delight and surprise.
A Number by Caryl Churchill
in partnership with the Edinburgh International Science Festival
Caryl Churchill is a contemporary playwright whose work plays cleverly with form. A Number is one of her most fascinating and accessible plays: a gem-like two hander about genetics. Salter, a patriarch, has cloned ‘a number’ of children from a first original child whom he abandoned. He has to face the consequences of his actions as his first son, and some of the others come to confront him. All the sons are played, of course, by the same actor.
I first saw this play at the Royal Court in 2002, unsurprisingly it made me think about identity, nature, nurture and the implications of our genes, but I was surprised that I found it so emotionally powerful. Zinnie Harris is of course one of Scotland’s most talented playwrights but she is also the perfect director to unlock this delicate, extraordinary, beautiful and thought-provoking play.
The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other by Peter Handke
Peter Handke’s play without words is a European classic. Who couldn’t relate to its elegant premise: the simple joy of people watching for an hour in a town square? But Handke’s work has a depth to it, as well, an ache for connection, a sense of the gaps between us, and the secret moments we yearn to share. When I noticed that it has ‘450 characters’ I suddenly thought – wouldn’t it be brilliant to find a cast of hundreds of people of Edinburgh to fill The Lyceum and to realise this extraordinary theatrical piece together. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to end the Season than to celebrate The Lyceum, and Edinburgh than in the pure spectacle of us all sharing the same space for an hour in an extraordinary shared event.
The company will be spending a whole year working on this project and, who knows, you may even end up being part of it – email [email protected] if you’re interested. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to end the Season than to celebrate The Lyceum and Edinburgh in the pure spectacle of us all sharing the same space for an hour with this extraordinary event.
Season Tickets are on sale from Tuesday 3 May 2016
Public on-sale: Saturday 11 June 2016
For more information, visit www.lyceum.org.uk
Last year, David Greig took part in AAA’s My Edinburgh series – READ IT HERE