Deborah Warner plans The Tempest as part of Bath season

Last Updated on 16 April 2022 by Showcall Editorial Team

Theatre and opera director Deborah Warner has announced her first season as artistic director of the Ustinov Studio at Theatre Royal Bath. Tickets on sale now

Deborah Warner
Deborah Warner, the new artistic director of the Ustinov Studio in Bath

A new season of theatre and opera has been announced for the Ustinov Theatre at Theatre Royal Bath by its new artistic director, the award-winning director Deborah Warner.

The season will open with her new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, followed by a re-staging of Benjamin Britten’s cantata, Phaedra, originally presented at the Royal Opera House.

Phaedra also forms the inspiration for a newly-commissioned dance piece, Minotaur, from renowned choreographer Kim Brandstrup, performed in a double bill with Phaedra.

The season will continue with a new production of one of the earliest English operas, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, directed by Isabelle Kettle and conducted by Michael Papadopoulos.

The latest season will end with a specially commissioned new work ¡Showmanism!, devised and performed by theatre-maker and artist Dickie Beau, celebrating the history of the theatre in all its forms.

Warner said: “I am excited to propose a new kind of programme for the Ustinov Studio. The past eight years have established the Studio as an undeniable and powerful force in contemporary theatre. As we enter a new decade it is essential that both this standing, and the theatre’s reputation, continue to flourish and build.

“Where the recent emphasis has been on UK premieres of existing international work, I am proposing shifting that emphasis, instead including revivals of major classics alongside the development of new plays/theatre work – interpreted in the broadest sense – ie adaptations of existing novels, staging of poems, presentation of new theatre artists and their work etc.

“In addition I am proposing a major commitment to a music theatre programme – ie classical song in the form of song cycles, fully staged performances of this most theatrical genre, cantatas, solo/duo voiced pieces etc as well as an annual staging of an opera each year.

“Whilst this kind of programme is more usually found in a festival situation, I think it is extremely well suited to a space committed to pushing and broadening our ideas of theatre.

“The principle of the programme is one of diversity, with a repertoire constantly challenging and nudging ideas of theatre.”

Danny Moar, director of Theatre Royal Bath, added: “Deborah’s track record as an extraordinary theatre-maker of international renown speaks for itself. Her appointment cements the Ustinov’s reputation as one of the country’s leading studio spaces and her opening season promises a thrilling new direction for the venue and its audiences.”

Conductor and pianist Richard Hetherington, who is head of music at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, will join Warner as director of music for the Ustinov Studio.

Warner’s new production of The Tempest will run in the Ustinov Studio from 1 July to 6 August 2022, with a cast including Dickie Beau as Ariel, Gary Sefton, William Chubb and Stephen Kennedy.

The creative team will also include designer Christof Hetzer, whose opera designs have been seen internationally, and lighting designer Jean Kalman was has created the lighting for many theatre and opera productions around the world. Sound design and music will be by Mel Mercier.

Dickie Beau returns to the Ustinov Studio from 11 November to 10 December in his show, ¡Showmanism!. The creative team also includes dramaturg Rupert Christiansen, director Jan Willem Van Den Bosch, designer Justin Nardella, lighting designer Marty Langthorn and sound designer Dan Steele.

The show spans a “haunted landscape of performance” that stretches back for thousands of years, tracing its roots and branches across unexpected realms. A live lip-synching archive, Dickie summons spirits of ritual and transformation, from Greek tragedians to pantomime dames, from Beckett to the bodhisattvas of Buddhism.

He embraces the politics and puzzles of performing personhood in and out of the spotlight. Both meta and physical, and sometimes a little bit mystical, he channels a multitude of voices into a love letter to the origins and orientations of performance.

Respectful of its forebears, yet irreverent in form, ¡Showmanism! promises to be a “vivid poem-in-motion” which says things both outward and inward, about itself, about art, about the world and about being human.

Britten’s Phaedra, directed by Warner, runs from 12 to 23 August, featuring mezzo-soprano Christine Rice and design by Anthony McDonald. It forms part of a double bill with Minotaur, written and choreographed by Kim Brandstrup, with a company including the Royal Ballet’s Kristin McNally and Jonathan Goddard.

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, directed by Isabelle Kettle, will run from 14 October to 5 November, with musical direction by Michael Papadopoulos and design by Hyemi Shin.

Tickets for The Tempest, Dido and Aeneas, and Phaedra and Minotaur are on sale now.

About Mark Ludmon 317 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.