This autumn, the Playhouse has recruited rising star director Robert Icke to open the season in high comedic style with Ben Jonson’s classic farce The Alchemist. The season that follows includes a rich array of visiting productions and culminates with the joyous Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto, this year in the form of Jack and the Beanstalk.
In the recently reborn Studio, the world première of Joe Ward Munrow’s debut play, Held, will be complemented for the first time by visiting productions and the annual Everyword Festival of new writing will inhabit the whole building.
And for spring 2013, the Playhouse will première a new Roger McGough adaptation of a classic Molière comedy, to be directed by Gemma Bodinetz and toured nationally by English Touring Theatre, reuniting the team behind Tartuffe and The Hypochondriac.
Gemma Bodinetz, artistic director of the Everyman and Playhouse, said: “This season includes a rich variety of worldpremières, brave adaptations and exciting new talent. Whether it is the first play by an emerging writer or the production of a 17th century classic, our aim is to dazzle and exceed expectation.
“Our newly opened studio is already proving to be the crucible of big ideas in an intimate setting whilst the Playhouse will be turning some classics on their head with wit and courage. As YEP goes from strength to strength, as the Everyman grows day by day, the Playhouse remains exquisitely playful and ever more courageous.”
First performed by the King’s Men in 1610, Ben Jonson’s 17th century comic satire still retains piercing resonances with contemporary society with its themes of greed, desire and morality. The Alchemist is the tale of ‘master conman’, Face, and the not-so-trusty tricksters, Subtle and Dol who target London’s rich, vain and greedy, dispensing spurious charms and promises of gold.
The Playhouse Studio continues to establish itself as a breeding ground for new talent, presenting the first play by a graduate of the Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) Young Writers scheme. Joe Ward Munrow’s Held was developed during his time with YEP, before receiving a rehearsed reading at the Everyword Festival in 2011.
The annual Everyword Festival returns in October to the Playhouse and Studio with another week of events, rehearsed readings and workshops with some of the leading lights in new writing from around the country – which last year included Mike Bartlett, Punchdrunk and Nabokov. The festival has previously featured many work-in-progress readings of plays which have gone on to the Everyman and Playhouse stages, such as Unprotected, Lost Monsters, The Swallowing Dark, and now Held.
The year ends with the rock ‘n’ roll panto making its return to the Playhouse. This year, Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton will bring their trademark style to Jack and the Beanstalk, performed by a multi-talented ensemble of actor/musicians. This production will include an ‘autism friendly’ version of the production following last year’s success.
The highest quality companies from around the UK continue to visit the Playhouse stage this autumn. English Touring Theatre visit with Somerset Maugham’s classic murder mystery The Sacred Flame directed by Matthew Dunster (Mogadishu). Wayne McGregor and Random Dance return to the Playhouse in October with FAR and much-loved company Kneehigh bring a real treat with their production of Steptoe and Son, adapted and directed by Emma Rice from Ray Galton & Alan Simpson’s classic television series.
Northern Broadsides make a welcome return to Liverpool with Deborah McAndrew’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s A Government Inspector, transferring the action from Russia to the Pennines. Pilot Theatre bring an exciting version of Alan Sillitoe’s legendary classic novel The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. For the first time the Studio will also host visiting productions. Hugh Hughes brings his latest Hoipolloi show Stories from an Invisible Town to the Studio as he recalls tales from his childhood memories, and The Useful Donkey Theatre Company present A Day of Pleasure, performed by Stuart Richman – a founding member of the Liverpool Everyman – and directed by Neil Sissons.
The theatres strive to offer audiences a breadth of choice and will continue to offer more twilight performances in the autumn. Audiences will be able to see performances at 5.30pm of The Alchemist and Held, while there will be three twilight performances of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Touring productions The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Government Inspector will also include a 5.30pm performance. The Season Saver will be available on all main house productions, excluding Jack and the Beanstalk, in the autumn season, offering deals for multiple bookings. No booking fees will be applied to the advertised ticket price.
Everyman and Playhouse productions are also going from strength to strength away from home. The 2009 Everyman production of The Caretaker with Jonathan Pryce has just opened to unanimous acclaim at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music, where it runs until June 17. After its five Olivier Award nominations, the Playhouse co-production of The Ladykillers with Fiery Angel will embark on a 26 week tour of the UK and Ireland beginning in September. And the 2010 Playhouse production of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Kim Cattrall and directed by Janet Suzman will be remounted at Chichester Festival Theatre in September.