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Ellen McDougall unveils inaugural season at the Gate

Ellen McDougall. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Plays hailing from Portugal, France, the US and Germany, and a collaboration with English National Opera make up Ellen McDougall’s first season as artistic director of the Gate Theatre.

McDougall was appointed in August last year, and took over at the Notting Hill venue in January.

Her inaugural season will open in September with an adaptation of Portuguese writer Jose Saramago’s short story The Unknown Island. Adapted for the stage by McDougall and Clare Slater, it is one of two productions in the programme McDougall is directing herself.

The other will be a cabaret opera, entitled Effigies of Wickedness, which features satirical songs that were banned by the Nazi regime.

The show is a co-production with ENO, and opens in May 2018, 80 years after the Nazis’ infamous Entartete Musik exhibition, which campaiged against what it described as degenerate music.

McDougall said the relationship with ENO stemmed from wanting to “challenge the way people think about opera and who opera is for”.

The season also includes the UK premiere of Suzy Storck by Magali Mougel, translated by Chris Campbell. It will be directed by French-Senegalese director Jean-Pierre Baro, who makes his UK debut with the production.

A revival of Anna Deavere Smith’s verbatim play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 – about the LA riots – and Falk Richter’s Trust, translated by Maja Zade and directed by Jude Christian complete the programme.

Every production in the season features a writer or director who is not from the UK, a move that McDougall said had been a priority when putting the programme together.

“That was absolutely one of the principles of putting the season together, that every show has to be international and the writer or the director must be from outside our borders. It feels as though that in itself is a political gesture at this moment in time,” she told The Stage.

McDougall added that she hoped the “eclectic range” of shows would cast the Gate’s space in a new light with each production.

“We totally pride ourselves that it’s different every time you come and I have deliberately chosen shows that I know will be directed in very different ways. I hope, if you came to every show, you wouldn’t recognise the room from the time before,” she added.

Ahead of the season, the Gate will host a collaboration with Fun Palaces on June 18, opening its doors to the public, and will take over a day of InTRANSIT festival on June 17, featuring workshops, performance and Cameroonian food.

The season at a glance:

The Unknown Island

By Jose Saramago, adapted by Ellen McDougall and Clare Slater
Directed by Ellen McDougall
September 14 to October 7, press night on September 18

Suzy Storck

By Magali Mougel, translated by Chris Campbell
Directed by Jean-Pierre Baro
October 26 to November 18, press night on October 30

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

By Anna Deavere Smith
January 11 to February 3, 2018, press night on January 15


By Falk Richter, translated by Maja Zade
Directed by Jude Christian
February 22 to March 17, 2018, press night on February 26

Effigies of Wickedness

Directed by Ellen McDougall
May 2 to June 2,2018, press night on May 14

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