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Caryl Churchill and Katie Mitchell part of Royal Court’s 60th anniversary season

The Royal Court Theatre The Royal Court Theatre
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Caryl Churchill will address the perceived shortage of older women on stage with a brand new play as part of the Royal Court’s 60th anniversary season.

She is joined in the London venue’s season by playwrights including Pomona writer Alistair McDowall and director Katie Mitchell.

The venue has also announced a partnership with cinema chain Picturehouse, that will see a number of the theatre’s plays brought to screen.

Churchill’s play, in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, is called Escaped Alone and features a cast of four women in their 60s and 70s.

Directed by James Macdonald, it runs at the theatre from January 21 to March 12, with press night on January 28.

Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone said: “I think there is something very interesting in the fact Caryl has written a play for four women who are within her age range. The thing I find incredible about the play is its dramatic simplicity, the fact they are just having a cup of tea in a yard.”

However, she added that the play was also “one of the most challenging things you will ever read”.

“For me it’s a gesture to the fact you can be entirely domestic, and really care about a cup of tea with your friends, and also about the end of the world, all in one. Women can have it all,” she said.

It comes following ongoing criticism from performers within the sector that theatres do not adequately represent older women on stage.

McDowall’s play, set on Pluto, is called X and will be directed by Featherstone. It runs from March 30 to May 7, with press night on April 5.

Meanwhile, Mitchell will direct a new production called Ophelias Zimmer, which is a co-production between the Royal Court and the Schaubuhne Berlin.

The production explores the character of Ophelia from Hamlet and will have a text by Alice Birch. Design is by Chloe Lamford.

It runs from May 17 to May 21.

Elsewhere, the season also includes Anthony Neilson’s Unreachable, which he also directs.

It runs from July 1 to August 6, with press night on July 8. The play will be created in the rehearsal room.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home from the Wars also features in the season. It runs from September 15 to October 22, with press night on September 22, and is directed by Jo Bonney.

Also included in the season, which is called Sixty Years New, is Anna Jordan’s play Yen, which won the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2013.

It runs in the upstairs space from January 22 to February 13, with press night on January 25.

South African playwright Mongiwekhaya’s I See You will run in the upstairs space from February 25 to March 26, with press night on March 3, while David Ireland’s Cyprus Avenue runs from April 5 to May 7 in the same space, with press night on April 7.

Charlene James’ play, Cuttin’ It, will run at the theatre from June 24 to July 9, following a run at the Young Vic.

Meanwhile, in partnership with cinema chain Picturehouse the theatre will bring a season of screenings to Picturehouse Central in Piccadilly throughout 2016.

This will comprise productions that have been captured on screen previously, and will also feature panel discussions with the writers and directors of the original stage shows.

Further details have yet to be announced.

Featherstone said: “The programme encompasses the very best in new writing for theatre…Responding as ever to the writers, our work is challenging and ambitious and looks to our collective futures.”

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