Arcola Theatre announces 20th anniversary season - Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre announces 20th anniversary season

  • New, year-long season celebrates 20 years of Arcola
  • 11 world premieres – from artists who helped shape Arcola’s first two decades, including Jack Shepherd, Barney Norris, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Leyla Nazli, David Farr and Tena Štivičić, and from a new generation
  • European premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline, a new staging of Death In Venice starring Greg Hicks, a new play by Mark Thomas, and special shows from Steven Berkoff and Inua Ellams
  • Season opens in February 2020 with The Cutting Edge, starring Maggie Steed
  • Diverse stories from across the globe, with a majority by female writers
  • Tickets from £12 – £30, with over 27,000 tickets available for £20 or less across the year, plus Pay What You Can continues every Tuesday
  • Relaxed performances and touch tours for all shows, available to book online now

Arcola Theatre today announces its 2020 Season: a special, year-long programme to celebrate the theatre’s 20th anniversary.

Mehmet Ergen and Leyla Nazli founded Arcola Theatre in a disused clothes factory in September 2000. 20 years later, Arcola is one of London’s leading producing theatres: a vibrant building which attracts over 65,000 people each year, produces acclaimed shows, and tours nationally and internationally.

In its first two decades, Arcola has helped to launch some of the leading lights in British theatre, providing early-career opportunities to artists including Aml Ameen, Zawe Ashton, Mike Bartlett, Alecky Blythe, Polly Findlay, Arinzé Kene, Lucy Kirkwood, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Lynette Linton, Michael Longhurst, Wunmi Mosaku, Barney Norris, Lyndsey Turner and Alexander Zeldin.

For this special 2020 season, familiar faces from Arcola’s first 20 years will return alongside exciting newcomers to kickstart the decade with brand new shows.

The programme’s blend of socially-engaged new writing, world drama and bold adaptations is typical of the work that Arcola has staged since its foundation.


THE CUTTING EDGE, written and directed by Jack Shepherd
Jack Shepherd was one of the first artists to stage work at Arcola. Maggie Steed stars in his new tragicomedy about life, money and art.

PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Jack Gamble
A European premiere from one of America’s most-produced contemporary playwrights, directed by Arcola’s Associate Director.

WE STARTED TO SING by Barney Norris
Five years after making his name at Arcola with Visitors and Eventide, Barney Norris returns with a new and deeply personal play.

THE DANCE OF DEATH by August Strindberg, adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, directed by Mehmet Ergen
Rebecca Lenkiewicz, whose work opened both the original and current Arcola buildings, premieres a new version of Strindberg’s classic. Arcola’s co-founder and Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen directs.

WOMEN WHO BLOW ON KNOTS by Ece Temelkuran, adapted by Leyla Nazli, directed by Lerzan Pamir
Arcola’s co-founder Leyla Nazli adapts the bestselling novel. A revolutionary road trip through the Middle East in the first months of the Arab Spring.

A new play by Mark Thomas, directed by Nicolas Kent
Award-winning writer, performer and provocateur Mark Thomas returns with a new solo show, directed by Nicolas Kent.

A DEAD BODY IN TAOS by David Farr, directed by Rachel Bagshaw, co-produced with Fuel
David Farr’s Crime and Punishment in Dalston (2002) was one of Arcola’s early hits. His new play explores what developments in artificial intelligence might mean for our understanding of death, consciousness and the soul.

GENTLEMEN by Matt Parvin, directed by Richard Speir
Matt Parvin trained as part of the Arcola Theatre Writers’ Programme in 2015. His blistering new drama tests the limits of retribution and the power of social status at university.

BROKEN WATER by Michele Winstanley, directed by Emma Faulkner, co-produced with Lightbox Theatre
Developed as part of Arcola’s 2014 Playwrought Festival, this award-nominated play traces three different women’s experiences of motherhood.

DEATH IN VENICE by Thomas Mann, translated by David Luke, adapted by Robert David MacDonald and Giles Havergal, directed by Philip Prowse
Greg Hicks returns to Arcola Theatre in a new production from director Philip Prowse, who was Co-Director of the Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre from 1970 to 2003.

OUR NAME IS NOT JOHN by Sarah Kosar
A strikingly original satire about patriarchal control through capitalism. Longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.

LOVE AND APOCALYPSE by Tena Štivičić
Tena Štivičić’s first English-language play, Fragile!, premiered at Arcola in 2007. Now, following the award-winning 3 Winters at the National Theatre, she marks Arcola’s 20th birthday with a brand new play.

THE APOLOGY by Kyo Choi, directed by Ria Parry, co-produced with Yellow Earth
Arcola reunites with the award-winning British East Asian theatre company Yellow Earth for a powerful human story about Korean ‘comfort women’.


Arcola also announces the first two special events in a series that will span the 20th anniversary year. Inua Ellams, writer of Barber Shop Chronicles whose first play was produced at Arcola, will stage an interactive, audience-led poetry event, Search Party. Steven Berkoff will return to perform They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Cable Street with musician Mark Glentworth. Other 20th anniversary events will be announced next year. 

Arcola’s co-founder and Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said: 

“Since we opened in 2000, Arcola has been a theatre for everyone. People from all walks of life have found a home here, whether on our stages or in our audiences. Our 20th anniversary season responds to the world around us, asking crucial questions about personal freedom and examining the societies we live in.”

Arcola’s co-founder and Executive Producer Leyla Nazli said:

“For 20 years we have supported and enabled thousands of theatre makers, helping to shape their careers and learning from them in the process. We are so pleased to welcome back some of these writers, directors and actors to Arcola in our 20th year, and we look forward to seeing what the next 20 years will bring.”

Also included in 2020 will be Arcola’s annual Grimeborn festival (programme to be announced), which makes opera accessible for the many through contemporary stagings and affordable ticket prices.

Arcola also announces relaxed performances and touch tours as part of the 2020 Season. Audience members can utilise a smart online booking system to register individual access needs, allowing for a completely independent booking experience.

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