Michael Grandage has announced his first project after leaving the Donmar Warehouse – a 15-month season of work in the West End with casts including Judi Dench, Daniel Radcliffe, Simon Russell Beale and Jude Law and 100,000 tickets priced at only £10.
Grandage, who stepped down as artistic director of the Donmar last year, will himself direct all five productions: Privates on Parade starring Simon Russell Beale; Peter and Alice, a new play by John Logan, starring Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw; the first revival of The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh starring Daniel Radcliffe; A Midsummer Night’s Dream with David Walliams as Bottom and Sheridan Smith as Titania; and Henry V starring Jude Law.
The productions will all play at the Noel Coward Theatre and will be produced under the banner of the Michael Grandage Company, supported by commercial investment. However, whereas most commercial productions feature investment on a show-by-show basis, investors have put their money in for the whole season.
Grandage said he wanted to put together a “season of plays with a buzz for the next generation of theatregoers”.
He added that the idea for the season had come from the work he and MGC executive producer James Bierman had undertaken on the Donmar’s West End season at the Wyndham’s in 2008/9.
“One of the things that James and I did that was hugely important to us in terms of the many things we did together at the Donmar, was that season at the Wyndham’s. It was a moment when we realised that it is possible, even in the West End theatre, to reach out and engage a lot of young people. So, we’ve come at it from that point of view,” he told The Stage.
“We knew that in becoming a commercial production company in London we did want to hold on to some of the things that excited us from the subsidised sector. So, the central message of the season for us is that it will have over 100,000 tickets at £10 and alongside that we’re going to be putting on education initiatives and some free performances.”
The season will launch with Privates on Parade on December 1, 2012 and come to a close on February 15, 2014 with Henry V. All the productions will be designed by Christopher Oram, while lighting design will be by Paule Constable, except on Henry V where it will be by Neil Austin. The company will also be running a training scheme for young directors and designers to work on the productions.
As well as offering more than 200 tickets for every performance at £10 (24 of which held for sale on the day), every production will have at least one free performance for London schools and colleges focusing on first-time theatregoers.
Meanwhile, Grandage stressed that the discounted tickets would not be “200 stuffed up in the gods, its 200 all over the theatre so that we can be as democratic as possible in the distribution of those seats.”
Other tickets for the season will be priced at standard West End play prices – £27.50 and £57.50.