Bush Theatre reveals new season packed with new writing

Last Updated on 1 July 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

Bush Theatre in west London has lined up a programme of new plays by writers including Ella Road, Tyrell Williams, Igor Memic and Benedict Lombe

Bush Theatre whats on
Artwork for Fair Play, Red Pitch, Old Bridge and Back Up! at the Bush Theatre

London’s Bush Theatre has unveiled a new season filled with new writing including plays by Ella Road, Tyrell Williams and Igor Memic.

Road’s play, Fair Play, in December will be an exploration of the underside of women’s athletics, while Williams’ Red Pitch in February is a coming-of-age story about three friends facing the closure of their local football pitch.

With theatre company Papatango, the Bush will premiere Memic’s Old Bridge this October – a love story set against the war and upheaval in the former Yugoslavia.

Work lined up in the Bush’s studio includes Pink Lemonade, written and performed by Mika Onyx Johnson, and 10 Nights in collaboration with Graeae and Tamasha theatre companies.

The programme also sees the return of Travis Alabanza’s acclaimed Overflow as well as Back Up! – the first show from the Bush’s Young Company set up last summer. There will also be an audio-video installation, Keep a Light on For Those Who Are Lost, created with the theatre’s resident Neighbourhood Company.

After months of digital work and other projects, the theatre building in Shepherd’s Bush reopened for live performances with Harm in May which will be followed by Benedict Lombe’s previously announced new play, Lava, from 9 July.

Artistic director Lynette Linton said: “We’re beyond excited to welcome our Bush family back into the building. We reopened our doors for our local community on 6 August and, throughout the pandemic, we’ve been producing work in person, online and within the community.

“But this launch marks a significant return to the live work that’s so important to us, a season of stories that reflect the community on our doorstep and will help audiences understand the world around them.”

The audio-visual installation, Keep a Light On For Those Who Are Lost will be available at set times from 1 to 15 July and also available to watch online. It is described as a dark fairytale inspired by experiences of the past year, the importance of rituals, and the desire to reach out to the ones we love.

It was created by the theatre’s resident adult company, the Neighbourhood Company, working online since October with lead artist and director Abigail Graham and writer Titas Halder. Entrance to the exhibition in the Bush Theatre building and online will both be free.

The world premiere of Lava by Congolese-British writer Benedict Lombe runs in the main house, the Holloway Theatre, from 9 July to 7 August, with opening night on 14 July. It will also be available to watch online from 16 to 21 August.

Performed by Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, it follows a woman who sets out on a journey to explore her own history, going back to the turmoil of Mobutu’s Congo, growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, moving to Ireland and finding love in a hostile England.

It is directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike with design by Jasmine Swan, lighting design by Jai Morjaria, sound design by Josh Anio Grigg, video design by Gino Green, movement direction by DK Fashola, music by Andrew Wildgoose and casting by Chandra Ruegg.

Back Up!, created by the theatre’s Young Company and its director, Katie Greenall, will be performed on 21 August. It is the first show developed with the company of local young artists set up last summer and it will present thoughts and ideas that they have been sharing over the past year. It features design by Georgia Wilmot and movement direction by The Pappy Show.

Travis Alabanza’s acclaimed solo show, Overflow, returns from 31 August to 9 October in the main house after its debut at the Bush last year. Directed by Debbie Hannan, it will again be performed by Reece Lyons. It is a hilarious and devastating look at women’s lives through their experiences of bathrooms.

Old Bridge by British Bosnian writer Igor Memic will run in the main house from 21 October to 20 November, with opening night on 27 October. It was the winner of Papatango‘s 2020 new writing prize, telling an epic story that explores the impact of war in the former Yugoslavia and the love and loss of those who lived through it. It will be directed by Selma Dimitrijevic.

The Bush will present the world premiere of Ella Road’s Fair Play from 3 December 2021 to 22 January 2022, with opening night on 8 December. Directed by Monique Touko, it focuses on the friendship of two women in the world of athletics and the challenges they face when their relationships, bodies and identities are pulled into public scrutiny. It follows Road’s debut play The Phlebotomist at Hampstead Theatre which was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Tyrell Williams’ Red Pitch will premiere in the main house from 16 February to 26 March 2022, with opening night on 22 February. It will be directed by Daniel Bailey, the Bush’s associate director.

Set in south London, Red Pitch is a fast-paced and sharp-edged new play telling a powerful story about gentrification and the impact of relentless regeneration on communities. Williams, who was on the BAFTA Elevate scheme, was co-creator and co-writer of viral web series #HoodDocumentary which was commissioned for pilot episodes by BBC Three.

Performance dates for shows in the Bush’s smaller studio are still to be announced, dependent on the Government’s easing of social distancing.

Shows will include Edinburgh Fringe hit Pink Lemonade, written and performed Mika Onyx Johnson and directed by Emily Aboud. Presented in association with The Queer House, it is an autobiographical piece of storytelling about Mika’s journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery.

For Shahid Iqbal Khan’s 10 Nights, Bush Theatre has teamed up with Tamasha Theatre Company, which champions a new generation of ethnically diverse artists, and Graeae, which cultivates the best in Deaf and disabled talent. Directed by Kash Arshad, it is a moving and funny new play telling the story of one man’s journey of self-discovery and facing the consequences of your actions.


About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.