Park Theatre unveils new plays for reopening season

Park Theatre has announced its autumn 2021 season including plays Park Bench, When Darkness Falls, A Place for We, Flushed, Sold, and 39 and Counting

Park Theatre 2021
Park Bench, A Place for We, When Darkness Falls, Flushed, Sold, and 39 and Counting

Park Theatre in London has unveiled its reopening season including ghost story When Darkness Falls, the world premiere of Archie Maddocks’ A Place for We, and a double bill of plays celebrating women’s strength.

The building in Finsbury Park will reopen for live performances on 4 August, starting with the second part of two-act drama, Park Bench. This piece of new writing by Tori-Allen Martin, commissioned over the pandemic, tells the story of Liv and Theo who reconnect online after a year apart.

Act one is a free 10-minute drama available online from today (22 June) but act two will see the couple meet face to face in the building’s Park200 space in a live performance running from 4 August.

When it reopens, the building itself will have completed a major refurbishment including a bigger front-of-house area, a new dedicated box office and improved accessibility throughout.

After Park Bench which runs to 14 August, Park200 will stage James Milton and Paul Morrissey’s When Darkness Falls from 18 August to 4 September. Directed by Paul Morrissey, it is described as a “spine-chilling ghost story that delivers a twisted, terrifying and thrilling tale that will haunt you forever”.

Based on real accounts, it sees a history talk on Guernsey’s paranormal past reveal horrors in the island’s more immediate present. It features illusions designed by John Bulleid, an associate of the Inner Magic Circle, with Silver Star whose other credits include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The London run will be followed by a UK tour, beginning at Theatre Royal Winchester from 16 to 18 September 2021 and including Mast Mayflower Studios from 20 to 25 September. Casting and further dates are still to be announced.

The world premiere of Maddocks’ A Place for We, postponed from last year because of the pandemic, will run from 7 October to 6 November. The much-anticipated new work was shortlisted in 2017 for both the Bruntwood Prize and the Alfred Fagon Award.

Presented by Talawa Theatre Company with Park Theatre, it is a bittersweet comedy that holds the mirror up to the ever-changing face of London’s communities in search of their common beating heart, telling the story of Trinidadian funeral director Clarence and fifth-generation Irish pub owner George. It is directed by Talawa’s artistic director Michael Buffong.

In Park90, a double bill titled Say It, Women will run in October and November, featuring two untold stories celebrating women’s strength.

The first is Flushed, written and directed by Catherine Cranfield, which runs from 12 October to 6 November, presented by Cranfield and Elis Shotton’s Theatre Unlocked in association with Grace Dickson Productions and Park Theatre.

When Marnie is diagnosed with a rare medical condition, she and younger sister Jen grapple to come to terms with its life-changing impacts. Flushed is about the everlasting bond developed between the cubicle walls. The cast includes Elizabeth Hammerton and Iona Champain.             

The second part of the double bill is Sold by Amantha Edmead, which runs in Park90 from 18 October to 6 November. It tells the story of Mary Prince who was born into slavery in the British colony of Bermuda and went on to become an autobiographer and champion of freedom.

Mary’s words about the harsh realities of enslavement and how it felt to be separated from family, loved ones and to be owned, bought and sold gave voice to those that are often silent, silenced, ignored or spoken for. Her book had an electrifying effect on the abolitionist movement, helping to free many Africans in bondage. 

A forgotten true story told through theatre, song, live drumming and dance, this piece of Black British theatre – which received acclaim at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and London’s Vault Festival – is inspired by the storytelling traditions of the West African griot. It is directed by Euton Daley with a cast including Edmead and Angie “Amra” Anderson. It is presented by Kuumba Nia Arts and Unlock the Chains Collective in association with Park Theatre.

Students from Oxford School of Drama’s one-year acting course will perform Shireen Mula’s new play, 39 and Counting, in Park200 from 8 to 11 September.

Directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley, it features 18 characters who loved women that were killed by men. They are the brothers, sisters, best friends, nieces, nephews and cousins of the deceased whose lives have been disrupted and torn apart by violence. It aims to dispel many of the myths around violence to women. 

The theatre’s artistic director, Jez Bond, said: “We can’t wait to reopen our doors this August – not only with a brilliant programme of shows, but with a newly refurbished building too. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has supported us so far, and I look forward to giving audiences the warm and safe welcome back they deserve.

The larger front-of-house area features a new mezzanine extension providing more space to eat and drink as well as improved flow of customer traffic.

The downstairs bar has been extended with an open-plan pizza kitchen. The old kitchen has been transformed into a new, dedicated box office space with improved accessibility for staff and customers.

TV screens have been installed for both Park200 and Park90 spaces so that latecomers will miss as little as possible before being admitted at an appropriate moment.

Accessibility has been improved with enhanced signage throughout the building and modifications to the toilets. Staff and visiting companies will also benefit from a new stage management office and improved backstage offices.

Park Theatre will be reopening in line with the latest guidelines from Government and SOLT (Society of London Theatre).

Park Theatre’s executive director, Rachael Williams, said: “We’re thrilled to be reopening our venue after over a year of closure. We have always prided ourselves on being a warm and welcoming venue to visit, and that’s why we’ve ensured we have appropriate measures in place to make sure audiences are safe and comfortable.

“We’ve invested in hand-sanitising stations, an enhanced cleaning regime and contactless ticket technology and will be requiring all audience members to wear face coverings unless exempt.

“We’ll be publishing all this information in our pre-show email and on our website so customers know what to expect and, as always, our friendly team will be happy to help with any additional questions.

“We’ll be proudly displaying the SOLT See It Safely mark and are so looking forward to having audiences back in our newly refurbished theatre.” 

parktheatre.co.uk

About Mark Ludmon 248 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre as well as hospitality and drinks after starting out on 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 has also been on the judging panel for the Olivier Awards. He can be found tweeting as @MarkLudmon and writing about theatre at https://markludmon.com.