As of October 2011, The Bush Theatre has been extremely fortunate to call The Old Shepherds Bush library its new home. The venue has ample room for a main stage and two further potential studio spaces. It is also full of character. The building feels warm and exciting and it has preserved various characteristics of its former use; bookshelves full of plays, novels and texts. The theatre is not only metaphorically, but literally, (and literary!), full of creativity and history. With welcoming staff and an air of progress, The Bush Theatre is in fine shape to take on Madani Younis’ inaugural season of theatre.
Launching his first season, Younis highlighted the wide diversity among the authors of the forthcoming plays. Coming from a multitude of backgrounds/experience, we can hope for a broad spectrum and representation of work. During the presentation Younis made it clear that he wants theatre at The Bush to be intriguing. You won’t go to The Bush Theatre for ‘a hug’, but ‘to be provoked’.
Younis (right) spoke with strong enthusiasm about the upcoming season, briefly introducing us to the plays and the reasons for choosing them. Similarly to how the Olympics will be a celebration of ‘the best of what is British’, Younis wants the theatre to celebrate ‘the best of what it is to be a theatre-maker in the U.K.’.
Younis will be directing the first production, Chalet Lines, by Lee Mattinson, which will also tour to Live Theatre, Newcastle, forming part of their Autumn Season. The other plays in the season include Dry Ice written and performed by Sabrina Mahfouz and You’re Not Like The Other Girls, Chrissy written and performed by Caroline Horton. Both plays will work as a double bill alongside Encounters written and performed by both Mahfouz and Horton, two of the new associate artists of The Bush Theatre. Next in line is the world-première of The Beloved by Amir Nizar Zuabi, which will see The Bush Theatre collaborate with a new independent Palestinian Theatre company, ShiberHur. Venturing in to the newer studio space behind the main theatre, Mad About The Boy by Gbolahan Obisesan follows. This ‘Edinburgh Fringe First Award’ winning piece will be the first to experiment with the fresh, sixty-seat, contemporary space. The season will conclude with another world-première. Multi award-winning documentary, film and television maker, Dominic Savage has written, and will direct, his first ever play for stage; Fear. In this piece Savage will cross the art forms, which seems to aptly endorse and compliment his transition from screen to stage.
Younis also spoke candidly about The Bush Theatre’s new partnership with Kudos Film and Television. Working with bushgreen, the theatre’s online resource for nurturing the work of playwrights, The Bush and Kudos have announced the Writers’ Co-Development Scheme. The aim is to find about ten new writers, who will be offered a three day master class in September this year, and ultimately support the potential outcomes of the work, be they theatrical or televised. Applications will be accepted from March 1st to June 1st 2012 and can be made through the theatre’s website: www.bushtheatre.co.uk. The Bush and Kudos are trying to find a more fluid way of writing between theatre and television.
In its new location, Younis informs us that The Bush Theatre has retained a core audience from its previous venue, based on the current productions; but will be appealing to a broader audience in the future with loyalty schemes and advocacy to see the theatre in a more multifarious light.
This year is the theatre’s 40th anniversary, and the overall feelings from this briefing are that of encouragement, grounded-hope and excitement. Younis appears poised to fan the embers of a conceivably fiery and stimulating season of theatre.