After the largest single investment in its illustrious 44-year history, the Bush Theatre is bouncing back with a varied programme… and cheap seats to tempt local residents.
Artistic director Madani Younis has had the chance to stamp his mark on the Hammersmith & Fulham Council-supported theatre that he arrived at in 2012.
When the Bush reopens in March 2017 in the former Shepherds Bush library building, Madani’s vision will ensure the historic theatre has more productions involving more artists, a greater focus on the area’s rich diversity, and a determination not to let ticket prices be a barrier.
Many tickets to shows will cost a tenner, bringing a trip to the theatre within many more people’s range.
During the year-long £4.3million revitalisation of the venue, the Bush has taken plays into the communities of west London.
The Bush Theatre’s (and Madani’s) mission is to create a space which nurtures, develops and showcases new artists and their work, and which reflects local communities while encouraging diversification.
In its first season back at the Bush, 50 per cent of the programme comes from black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, some of whom are refugees.
“It’s more important than ever that artists and theatres agitate as well as entertain,” said Madani.
“With the redevelopment of our building, we are proud to be able to embrace new voices who will breathe life into this remarkable building. It’s their stories of joy, love, anger and (most of all) hope that will inspire a new generation of audiences.”
The redesigned building at 7 Uxbridge Road will be more sustainable and entirely accessible, with a new entrance, front-of-house area and exterior garden terrace to the main street.
It is a transformation from the theatre’s humble origins in a cramped room above The Sindercombe Social bar in Shepherds Bush Green.
From April to November 2017, the Bush will present three new commissions, three world premieres, two European premieres and one production that will tour nationally.
Guards at the Taj (7 April - 20 May), by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, has its European premiere directed by Jamie Lloyd, making his Bush directorial debut.
It will be followed by the European premiere of Hir (15 June - 22 July) by Taylor Mac, directed by Nadia Fall.
In the autumn, the commissioned work Of Kith and Kin (18 October - 25 November) by Chris Thompson is performed, directed by Robert Hastie.
Meanwhile the theatre’s 70-seat studio features three world premieres. Writer Barney Norris and director Alice Hamilton collaborate on While We’re Here (26 April-27 May), Nassim Soleimanpour’s play Nassim (24-29 July) is directed by Omar Elerian, while Sophie Wu from the theatre’s emerging writers’ group, produces Ramona Tells Jim (18 September-21 October).
“The redevelopment will give us more creative space for writers and artists to thrive,” said Madani. “I’m delighted that at least 20 per cent of the tickets in this season will be available for just £10, thanks to our count-me-in ticket.”
The week-long relaunch party includes a free programme of events for local residents, a first look at new work and the start of a community programme.
The target of the revamp of the building is to see audience numbers grow from 16,000 to a projected 60,000 in six years.
For more details, visit: www.bushtheatre.co.uk.