This spring, 59E59 Theaters will once again welcome the Brits Off Broadway festival, an annual celebration of theatre from the U.K. that will run April 14 through June 28 in the company's three Off-Broadway spaces.
This year, the festival is co-curated with the London-based New Diorama Theatre (artistic director David Byrne), a company—previously showcased at Brits Off Broadway—dedicated to championing new and emerging theatre companies.
Highlights of the 2020 programming include The Habit of Art by History Boys playwright Alan Bennett; the devised It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, a re-staging of the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi for the rape of baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi; Olivier Award-winner Jon Brittain's cabaret musical A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad); Olivia Hirst and Byrne's true-crime thriller about the police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, and a solo piece inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography.
Check out the complete lineup below.
April 14–May 10
Wild Swimming by Marek Horn, directed by Julia Head
With Annabel Baldwin and Alice Lamb
Produced by FullRogue Theatre
Nell and Oscar meet on a beach in Dorset. It’s 1595… or maybe 1610. Oscar has been at university. Nell has been killing time. They will meet here, again and again, on this beach for the next 400 years. Stuff will change. As it does with time. They will try to keep up.
April 14–May 3
A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) by Jon Brittain, directed by Alex Mitchell, with music from Matthew Floyd Jones
With Sophie Clay, Matthew Floyd Jones, Madeleine MacMahon, and Ed Yelland
Produced by Silent Uproar Productions and James Seabright
A hilarious cabaret musical about depression, that explains, sings, and throws glitter about how it’s OK not to be OK.
April 23–May 24
The Incident Room by Olivia Hirst and David Byrne, directed by Beth Flintoff and David Byrne
With Katy Brittain, Colin R. Campbell, Peter Clements, Ben Eagle, Natasha Magigi, Charlotte Melia, and Jamie Samuel
Produced by New Diorama Theatre and Greenwich Theatre
It’s 1977, and the West Yorkshire Police are working on the biggest investigation in British history. We follow Sergeant Megan Winterburn as she joins the detectives working around the clock to find the man known as the Yorkshire Ripper. With public pressure mounting, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatening to take over the case herself, the police resort to increasingly audacious attempts to catch the killer.
May 6–May 31
It’s True, It’s True, It’s True by Billy Barrett and Ellice Stevens, directed by Billy Barrett, and created using a devising process with the cast and verbatim material
With Kathryn Bond, Sophie Steer, and Ellice Stevens
Produced by Breach and New Diorama Theatre
It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, winner of both a Fringe First and Total Theatre Award, restages the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi for the rape of baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Based on surviving court transcripts, this play dramatizes the seven-month trial that gripped Renaissance Rome and asks how much has changed in the last four centuries?
May 12–June 7
Ladykiller by Madeline Gould, directed by Madelaine Moore
With Hannah McClean
Produced by The Thelmas and Laura Elmes Productions
Ladykiller is a blood-soaked morality tale about victimhood, power and flipping the gender rule book on psychopathy-the (gruesome) quintessential jet-black comedy for the age of the gig economy.
May 29–June 28
THE HABIT OF ART by Alan Bennett, directed by Philip Franks
With Matthew Kelly and David Yelland, with Veronica Roberts, Robert Mountford, John Wark, Jessica Dennis, and Benjamin Chandler
Produced by Original Theatre Company and Anthology, with Peter Stickney and York Theatre Royal
Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W. H. Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first after twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station.
June 3–June 28
Dinomania devised by Kandinsky (James Yeatman, Lauren Mooney, and Al Smith), directed by James Yeatman, with music composed by Zac Gvirtzman
Produced by Kandinsky and New Diorama Theatre
One hundred and sixty-five million years ago, an iguanodon is killed in the heart of a rainforest. Time passes, the rainforest becomes Southern England, and every part of the iguanodon degrades and disappears–except one tooth. One hundred and ninety-seven years ago, in safe, affluent 1820s Sussex, a country doctor finds the tooth. But where does it fit in the story of an earth created by God just 6,000 years ago?
June 8–June 28
Orlando written and performed by Lucy Roslyn, directed by Josh Roche
Produced by BoonDog Theatre, in association with Jessie Anand Productions
Lucy Roslyn’s heartfelt piece is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s fantastical, historical biography of Orlando–a novel that chronicles the misadventures of an English nobleman, constrained by neither time nor gender, across more than 300 years of history. An homage to Woolf while deftly weaving a story for today, of a person looking to escape.