Paul Miller's third season as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre features the first major revivals of Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart and Somerset Maugham's last play Sheppey, plus the English language premiere of Roland Schimmelpfennig's Winter Solstice, Zoe Cooper's new play Jess and Joe Forever and Mac Barnett's children's story Extra Yarn adapted by Elinor Cook for Christmas, plus French Without Tears returns prior to a national tour.
The season opens on 12 September (previews 8 September) with the world premiere of Zoe Cooper's play Jess and Joe Forever, a Farnham Maltings and Orange Tree Theatre co-production, directed by Derek Bond. The play is about friendship, growing up and trying to fit in, set across several summer holidays. Nicola Coughlan and Rhys Isaac-Jones play Jess and Joe. It will then go on tour.
The first major revival of Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart, first seen in 1997 at the Royal Court. David Mercatali returns to the Orange Tree following his production of Alice Birch's Little Light to direct this double bill of theatrically inventive plays Heart's Desire and Blue Kettle. It is a co-production with Tobacco Factory Theatres where it plays from 22 September – 1 October before opening at the Orange Tree on 18 October (previews 13 October).
Paul Miller directs the first major production of Somerset Maugham's final play Sheppey, opening 28 November (previews 24 November) plays on the idea of 'charity begins at home' when an unassuming East End barber wins the lottery.
Mac Barnett's enchanting children's story Extra Yarn about a little girl who transforms her world through knitting is adapted by Elinor Cook with music by Tom Deering for the festive period. Opening on 19 December, it's directed by Imogen Bond.
The English language premiere of Winter Solstice by prolific German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig will be directed by Ramin Gray in a co-production with Actors Touring Company, opening on 18 January 2017 (previews 12 January). A family Christmas is interrupted by a surprise visitor in a play that looks at the resurgence of the far right in Europe.
As previously announced, following the return of Paul Miller's critically acclaimed sell-out production Terence Rattigan's comedy French Without Tears to the Orange Tree from 30 June – 30 July, this autumn the production will tour with English Touring Theatre. Venues are now confirmed as Exeter, Harrogate, Barnstaple, Cheltenham, Doncaster, Oldham, Coventry, Poole and Huddersfield.
Take Part, the OT’s education and participation projects, span every generation from those in Primary Schools to residents of care homes, both within our local community and 12 surrounding boroughs. Our co-production with Flute Theatre brings their production of The Tempest for young people with autism from 25 October – 4 November, as well as our own Shakespeare Up Close production of Twelfth Night (18 – 25 March) aimed at secondary school students. Plus the OT is part of widespread projects Fun Palace (2 October) and London Children's Bookswap (11 February).
There will be relaxed performances for Jess & Joe Forever, Extra Yarn and Twelfth Night in addition to audio-described performances of all productions.
Orange Tree Extras, a popular series of one-offs and short runs of the best comedy, music and theatre features poet John Hegley, internationally renowned soprano Susan Bullock, comic song from music group Instant Sunshine, Olivier Award-winner Chris Green's creation Ida Barr brings her Artificial Hip Hop and the return of Barb Jungr – this time singing the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Paul Miller comments: “More exciting new partnerships, two rare revivals, two premieres and a new piece for children: the Orange Tree continues to mix the best drama in its unique way and in its unique space. We have comedy and cabaret, Shakespeare for students and a special production for people with autism, alongside relaxed performances for three of our shows. The Orange Tree is playing to more and more different audiences, innovating and expanding our work even as we continue to live without regular Arts Council funding. Our partnership with the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames is crucial and we at the OT salute the Council’s staunch support for us at a time when pressure on local council budgets is acute: they truly value the arts. Winning last year’s Peter Brook Empty Space Award was a high point: with this season we aim to build still higher."
Public booking opens 19 May at 10.00am*
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*Booking for French Without Tears already open