London theatres unite for 2012 festival

Composer Jonathan Dove, playwright Tanika Gupta and directors Peter Brook and Rufus Norris are among the artists creating productions for World Stages London, a theatre festival which is being staged by eight of London’s leading producing venues in 2012.

As exclusively revealed by The Stage in August last year, the event is a collaboration between Battersea Arts Centre, the Bush Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Royal Court, Sadler’s Wells, Somerset House, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Young Vic.

Running from April next year, the eight shows that form the festival are being created to celebrate the “exhilarating cosmopolitan diversity of London”.

Festival co-directors David Lan and Nicola Thorold said that London theatres have “never collaborated in this way before”, adding that the festival reveals that theatres “can achieve so much more than we can on our own”.

The producing venues will work with 12 UK and international companies to stage the shows, which include Wild Swans, a play based on Jung Chang’s book of the same name.

Directed by Sacha Wares, it will run at the Young Vic from April 13 until May 13, and is being staged in conjunction with American Repertory Theatre and Actors Touring Company.

Meanwhile, the Lyric Hammersmith will stage Three Kingdoms, by Simon Stephens, which is a co-production with No99 Theatre and Munich Kammerspiele, while BAC has teamed with theatre company WildWorks to create Babel, which will be a site-specific production at a venue yet to be revealed.

Babel, running from May 8 to May 20, will feature a cast of 500 professional and amateur performers, and is being produced in collaboration with the Lyric Hammersmith, TRSE and the Young Vic.

Elsewhere in the festival, Peter Brook will co-direct musical play The Suit at the Young Vic. He has written this with Marie Helene Estienne, who will also direct. The show is based on Can Themba’s fable and has an original score composed by Franck Krwczyk.

As part of the event, the Bush Theatre will host Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur’s production of The Beloved, and Sadler’s Wells, TRSE and Kneehigh have teamed up to produce Wah! Wah! Girls, a musical by Gupta, which will be staged at the Peacock Theatre in London, before moving to TRSE. It will be directed by Emma Rice.

Finally, the Royal Court and Young Vic are collaborating on Yoruba, which is a project directed by Norris and featuring the contributions of five writers from different countries, while Dove is working on a community opera project, which looks at how climate change affects communities around the world. The opera is a collaboration between Somerset House, the Opera Group and King’s College London, and will run in May and June 2013. When it is staged at Somerset House, it will also be shown simultaneously in Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town.

More information can be found at www.worldstageslondon.org.uk

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster