Royal Court reveals re-opening season featuring new Caryl Churchill play

Last Updated on 17 May 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

London’s Royal Court Theatre lines up premieres of plays by Caryl Churchill, Aleshea Harris and Al Smith plus return of Jasmine Lee-Jones’ Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner

Royal Court Theatre new season

The Royal Court Theatre is to reopen in June with a season featuring new work including a short play by Caryl Churchill.

Alongside Churchill’s What If If Only, the line-up includes Is God Is by Aleshea Harris, Rare Earth Mettle by Al Smith and The Song Project created by Chloe Lamford, Wende, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Imogen Knight. It also sees the return of Jasmine Lee-Jones’ award-winning Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner.

The Royal Court’s artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, said: “After the huge success and collaborative adventure of Living Newspaper – when we made 98 films working with over 300 freelancers, reaching 46 countries and with audiences in their thousands – we are now proud to be re-opening our building with four pieces of work by eight writers which were all postponed by the sudden onset of the global pandemic. We are also thrilled to be announcing a new short play written at the height of this time by Caryl Churchill.

“It is testament to the vision and questing of the playwrights and artists at the Royal Court that the work programmed two years ago is still way ahead of its time. In fact, seeing through the new optics of our post-pandemic and ruptured world, these pieces now seem more acute, more urgent and more universal than ever. The Royal Court was created in 1956 to be ahead of public taste and consciousness and if anything, this work proves that that mission is as alive now as it ever was.”

The Glow by Alistair McDowall, Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks by Sarah Hanly, A Fight Against… by Pablo Manzi and Two Palestinians Go Dogging by Sami Ibrahim will be at the theatre in the first half of 2022.

After its sold-out premiere at the Royal Court in 2019, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner will return in Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 16 June to 27 July, directed by Milli Bhatia. Through a young black woman’s experiences online, it explores cultural appropriation, queerness, friendship and the ownership of black bodies.

The creative team includes designer Rajha Shakiry, lighting designers Jessica Hung Han Yun and Amy Mae Smith, sound designer Elena Peña, movement director Delphine Gaborit, associate designer Jemima Robinson and assistant director Shereen Hamilton.

The Song Project, subtitled “Some things can only be sung”, has been created by designer Chloe Lamford, Dutch singer and composer Wende, composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and choreographer Imogen Knight, with words by EV Crowe, Sabrina Mahfouz, Somalia Nonyé Seaton, Stef Smith and Debris Stevenson. It will run in Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 17 to 28 August.

Through music performed live by Wende and a company of musicians, the work explores the hopes and anxieties we all face, diving into the messiness of birth, death, rage, grace, friendship, motherhood, mothers, loss and ageing.

The UK premiere of Is God Is by Aleshea Harris will run in Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 10 September to 23 October, directed by Ola Ince. Originally staged Off-Broadway in 2018, it follows 21-year-old twins Racine and Anaia who travel from “the Dirty South” to the California desert after receiving a letter from the mother they thought was dead.

Churchill’s new play, What If If Only, currently running at 14 minutes, will be staged early evening from 29 September to 23 October in Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, directed by James Macdonald. All the Royal Court has revealed so far is the teaser lines: “’Make me happen’. Your partner has died – could things have been different?”

Al Smith’s “epic” new play, Rare Earth Mettle, runs in Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 10 November to 18 December, directed by Hamish Pirie. Described as a brutally comic exploration of risk, delusion and power, it sees the three worlds of a doctor, a Silicon Valley billionaire and an indigenous community collide on a Bolivian salt flat.

The Royal Court will also present Living Archive in Jerwood Theatre Upstairs – a series of events and bespoke interactive experiences providing “an alternative and decolonising lens on what the building has been and does”. It is described as “an imaginative playground, a portal that reimagines the history of the Royal Court in order to redefine its future. It aims to enlist radical thought and imagination” and “resist the idea of ‘canon’ and instead bring attention to work which has been erased or not been brought to the attention of our audiences”.

The theatre also announced that it has teamed up with the Berliner Theatertreffen Stückemarkt festival on five new podcasts as part of a special takeover of the Playwright’s Podcast. Playwright Simon Stephens talks to the festival’s six writers about their lives: Jude Christian, Laurence Dauphinais, Eve Leigh, Sam Max and Ta-Nia (aka Talia Paulette Oliveras and Nia Farrell).

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.