Inevitably, the fact that this is his final year at the CFT has shaped Jonathan Church’s final season.
‘There is a fair amount of new work, a new musical, two new plays and a heavily-revised version of Half a Sixpence. All of these were projects in development, and because it was the last season, we have had to hot-house some of them to make sure we had them here. I think this is the most new work we have had in a season, which is great.’
Much of that new work will be in the Minerva where the season launches with a new musical, the world premiere of Travels With My Aunt, based on the novel by Graham Greene, with book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman and music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe.
Running from April 18- June 4, it will be directed by Christopher Luscombe, with a cast featuring Patricia Hodge (above left) and Steven Pacey.
Next up will be the second play from Mark Hayhurst whose Taken At Midnight was one of the big hits of the season before last. Taken At Midnight focused on the tragic fate of an imprisoned lawyer in Nazi Germany. Hayhurst’s second play First Light, again a world premiere, shifts the focus to the First World War (June 9-July 2, directed by Jonathan Munby).
‘We know a number of young men were executed for desertion during World War One in France. That happened even if they had been brave the week before. If you deserted, you were shot… The play looks at the story of two young men, based on a mixture of fact and fiction…
We’re always interested in finding those great period plays that are not often revivedJonathan Church
‘Not everybody has got a second play in them, but I think this play of Mark’s is absolutely spine-tingling.’
Topically, the season continues with the world premiere of Fracked!, a new play by Alistair Beaton whose previous CFT credits include working on Arturo Ui with Jonathan.
‘Alistair is a wonderful comedian and satirist,’ Jonathan said.
Running from July 7- August 6, it will be directed by Richard Wilson and star James Bolam and Anne Reid (above right).
As Jonathan says: ‘James is a well-known anti-fracking activist in the area! It’s about a woman played by Anne that becomes an accidental heroine. She causes a stir at a local meeting, and she ends up on YouTube. She ends up getting thousands of hits. It’s set in a place not unlike Chichester… deliberately not unlike Chichester!’
The season continues with John Galsworthy’s Strife (August 12-September 10, Minerva Theatre; director Bertie Carvel; cast features Julian Glover): ‘It’s very much in the vein of For Services Rendered. We’re always interested in finding those great period plays that are not often revived. Bertie is better known as an actor, but he brought me this incredible play from the era of Bernard Shaw, set in a tin mine which is on strike and all that means for the company and for the workers and their families. It’s a wonderful piece of drama.’
The Minerva season concludes with the National Theatre production of This House by James Graham, running from September 24-October 29 and directed by Jeremy Herrin.
Go to cft.org.uk for details of how and when to book.