Josie Rourke unveils debut Donmar season

Josie Rourke has announced her debut season as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in London, launching with a revival of George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer in February.

Rourke, who succeeds Michael Grandage at the venue, will direct the opening play, as well as the third production in the season – Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt’s Cold War satire, The Physicists, in a new version by Jack Thorne. This marks the play’s first major revival since Peter Brook’s British premiere in 1963 for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The line-up is completed with a revival of Robert Holman’s 1987 triptych of plays about war, Making Noise Quietly, directed by Peter Gill.

Rourke told The Stage she saw the season an “evolution” of the kind of work that the Donmar had staged before, and said that The Recruiting Officer, written in 1706, would be the first play from that era the venue has staged.

She added: “I’ve been thinking very hard about what my great nights in the Donmar have been and how to celebrate what is so beautiful and extraordinary about it as a theatre. I think there are a number of things that these plays do very specifically, that the Donmar does beautifully well.

“With The Recruiting Officer you’ve got something that is inclusive, that includes the audience, that has a boldness and an epic sweep to it, and has a rawness and immediacy. It’s a celebration of acting and an ensemble piece. With Making Noise Quietly, what the Donmar can also offer is a sort of poetic lyricism – it’s a space for reflection, for stillness and silence, as well as noise and music – and then, with The Physicists, it’s a great European play and more than that, it’s a play that asks a really sharp moral question.”

The opening season sees Rourke working with a number of former colleagues from the Bush Theatre, which she leaves to take up her role at the Donmar. Thorne has been a regular writer at the Bush for much of Rourke’s tenure, while designer Lucy Osborne, who is part of the creative team on The Recruiting Officer, was associate designer at the Bush.

Michael Bruce, who was composer on attachment at the Bush, has been appointed composer in residence at the Donmar and will work on both of Rourke’s plays in the opening season. Bruce was the winner of the Notes from The Stage competition, run by The Stage in 2007 to discover an emerging theatre composer. Meanwhile, Anthony Weigh, who was previously an associate playwright at the Bush, becomes an associate at the Donmar, where he will both write himself and oversee the commissioning of new work and adaptations for the venue.

Casting for the season has yet to be announced. The Recruiting Officer will run from February 9 to April 14, 2012, Making Noise Quietly from April 19 to May 26 and The Physicists from May 31 to July 21.

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