As part of its 100th birthday celebrations, the Liverpool Playhouse will re-launch the Studio with the world première of a new play from Lizzie Nunnery, The Swallowing Dark, in a co-production with London’s Theatre503.
Directed by Theatre503’s co-Artistic Director Paul Robinson, the production will be on at the Playhouse Studio from October 20 to 29 before heading to London in November, with Wil Johnson and Allyson Ava-Brown cast in the lead roles.
The première of The Swallowing Dark marks the first time that the studio space has been used for performances at the Playhouse since 1996. Originally opened in 1969, the studio has acted as a crucible for creativity alongside the programme of the main house. Over the years it has been a platform for a host of directors, actors and writers including Ramin Gray, Pip Broughton, Ian Hart, Andrew Schofield, Heidi Thomas, Jonathan Harvey and Alan Bleasdale.
The new studio will be a flexible space that will provide an opportunity to showcase new writing as well as a nurturing environment for the Everyman and Playhouse’s Youth Theatre along with hosting plays for young people, workshops, and readings.
Following rehearsed readings at 2009’s Everyword Festival and another in Sao Paulo on a British Council-led visit to Brazil, The Swallowing Dark was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2010. It is the story of refugee Canaan and his son who have escaped the horrors of Zimbabwe under Mugabe.This psychological thriller explores how a life can hang on the telling of a good story.
Lizzie Nunnery’s Intemperence was shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award in 2007, while she was also one of the writers of the critically acclaimed Unprotected, which was awarded the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. Her latest play, A Word Doesn’t Exist was performed at the Everyman last year as a promenade piece alongside six others during the Unbound season.
The Swallowing Dark will be directed by Theatre503’s co-Artistic Director Paul Robinson whose recent directing credits include Porn the Musical, which won an Offie Award for best New Musical, The Lifesavers, nominated for Best New Play by TMA in 2009 and Manor House, written by Mark Ravenhill.
The intense two-hander will feature Wil Johnson as Canaan and Allyson Ava-Brown as his Martha. Johnson is best known for his role as DI Spencer Jordan in nine series of the BBC’s Waking the Dead, he was also in Noel Clarke’s Adulthood and was last on stage in Birmingham Rep’s Serious Money. Ava-Brown recently appeared in Birmingham Rep’s The Wiz and in ITV’s Secret Diary Of A Call Girl.