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‘Stories for a Long Winter’ as Almeida Theatre announces Christmas and New Year season

PUBLISHED: 15:01 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:01 02 November 2020

The new socially distanced seating at Islington's Almeida Theatre

The new socially distanced seating at Islington's Almeida Theatre

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Three new plays are due to be staged at the Islington venue starting with Nine Lessons and Carols - Stories for a Long Winter - if the lockdown lifts

Actor Adrian Lester is due to appear in a play at The Almeida Theatre by his wife Lolita ChakrabartiActor Adrian Lester is due to appear in a play at The Almeida Theatre by his wife Lolita Chakrabarti

The Almeida Theatre is hoping to stage three socially distanced world premieres over Christmas and into the New Year.

If the lockdown lifts, the Islington venue has planned a winter season starting with a devised show called Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter, by playwright Chris Bush, director Rebecca Frecknall and a company of six actors and musicians.

It’s billed as a piece about connection and isolation “about lighting a candle to see us through the longest night and what we hold on to when we cannot hold each other.”

Artistic director Rupert Goold said: “It will reflect on a year of separation and the power of contact.”

Playwright Lolita ChakrabartiPlaywright Lolita Chakrabarti

Next up, the Almeida Young Company performs a new play The Maladies by Carmen Nasr and which recalls outbreaks of mass hysteria from 1508 to 2023 when an all female podcast investigates why a group of women in London suddenly lose the ability to speak.

Finally there’s Hymn, a searching new play “about masculinity and ambition” by Lolita Chakrabarti starring her partner Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani.

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Starting at a funeral, it portrays the deep bond between family man Gil, and restless Benny, asking what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.

Supplementing the live performances will be digital screenings and two recent productions of Albion and The Duchess of Malfi made available exclusively for schools.

The Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme also offers seven emerging playwrights 12 months of masterclasses to develop their own commission for the Almeida.

Goold said last month’s grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund had allowed them to stage the season of work playing through Christmas and into 2021 in a reconfigured auditorium with a reduced capacity of 120 - a third the usual size.

“Acknowledging the context and timing of our re-opening, we decided that it was imperative to produce new work this winter: to provide employment to staff and freelancers, to welcome our audiences, supporters and local community back into the building, and to reunite our young artist groups,” he said.

“Considerable work has gone into ensuring that the theatre is safe for audiences. For those who can’t make it to the Almeida, we will also be offering digital screenings to watch at home and we are delighted to offer schools exclusive access to films of two recent Almeida productions in the hope that this will help to fill the void of school theatre trips.

“Lastly, a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us with messages and generous

donations over the last seven months. Without them, we wouldn’t be in a position to present this season.”

Nine Lessons and Carols is due to open on December 2 until January 9 but timings may be impacted by the current lockdown. The Maladies is due to run from January 18 and Hymn from January 29. almeida.co.uk


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