Madani Younis has unveiled his inaugural season as artistic director of London’s Bush Theatre, saying he intends to take more work “beyond the building”.
The season launches at the Bush’s new home in the old Shepherd’s Bush library on April 6 with Chalet Lines by Newcastle-based playwright Lee Mattinson. The play, which Younis himself will direct, is set in a Butlins holiday camp in Skegness.
It is produced in association with the Live Theatre in Newcastle and will transfer there in the autumn.
Younis, who arrives at the Bush from his role as artistic director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, said he wanted to see new writing “shared around the country” and the production marked the beginning of a policy that will see more work “going beyond the building and touring the country nationally”.
Chalet Lines will be followed in May by a double bill from two of the Bush’s new associate artists – Caroline Horton and Sabrina Mahfouz. Horton will perform her one-woman play You’re Not Like the Other Girls Chrissy, while Mahfouz will present Dry Ice, inspired by her own experience of working in a strip club, which has been directed – via internet video – by David Schwimmer.
The Bush will then host its first international co-production – The Beloved, with Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur, which will be staged as part of the World Stages London Festival in May and June. The main house season will then finish in July with the first ever theatre production by BAFTA-winning film maker Dominic Savage who has written and will direct Fear – about a late night robbery in London that goes wrong. Savage’s latest work for television is a five-part drama series entitled Love Life, starring David Tennant and Jane Horrocks, which is due to be screened on BBC One in May.
“My first season I hope will reflect the breadth of my intent,” Younis told The Stage. “I want to honour the past, but write a new present and new future and I think my first season reflects that.”
Describing the kind of work he intends to programme at the west London venue, he explained: “The one thing I’m clear about is you don’t come to the Bush Theatre because you want to hug. You come to the Bush Theatre because you want to be provoked. I think it’s really important that we have a new writing policy where we accept unsolicited plays, and from the breadth of our country.
“I have a really simple acid test for the plays that I choose. If it’s a play that could have been done five years ago, it’s probably not a play for me. If it’s a play that can wait to be done in the future, it can continue to wait. The urgency of the question that the play asks needs to demand that I put that play on.”
Throughout the season, the Bush will also be working with architect Haworth Tompkins to “test” a second smaller studio space in the Bush’s new home. Towards the end of the season, it will host its first ever production – Iron Shoes’ Mad About the Boy. In future seasons, it is hoped a full programme of work will run in the studio alongside the main space.
Younis also revealed that he wanted the Bush to undertake more site-specific work – both in London and across the country – and he was in discussions with Olympic organisers to deliver a site-specific production as part of the Hidden London festival during the 2012 games.
Meanwhile, the Bush has also announced a new collaboration with Spooks and Life on Mars producer Kudos to launch a writer’s development initiative. The programme will offer writers the chance to work with both organisations, hosting a three-day masterclass in September this year, and is intended to “encourage fluidity” between theatre and TV.
Younis also announced a series of new appointments. Horton and Mahfouz will be joined by Che Walker as associate artists, with Iron Shoes, Greyscale, Theatre Ad Infinitum and Julie’s Bicycle appointed associate companies. Meanwhile Omar Elerian has been appointed as the Bush’s associate director.