by RITHIKA SIDDHARTHA
RUBASINGHAM PREVIEWS REVAMPED KILN’S PRODUCTIONS
A STAGE adaptation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and a play about parents vying for precious school admission places are due to feature this autumn at the refurbished Tricyle theatre.
Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham also revealed that the revamped venue will be known as Kiln theatre, a play on its location in Kilburn, north London, as well as denoting the idea of heat forging something new.
September marks the reopening of the venue, she said, adding there will be five world premieres and one musical as the new season kicks off.
Among the first to be staged and directed by Rubasingham herself are Holy Sh!t by Alexis Zegerman – a play about the lengths to which parents will go to get their children into a school of their choice – and the White Teeth adaptation.
“It is a comedy that turns dark,” Rubasingham said about Holy Sh!t. “It is also about how bonds of friendship are stretched by the competitiveness of school places and what happens when resources get more and more reduced.”
Smith’s White Teeth production will feature a cast of 14, with a live band on stage.
“It is a celebration of British identity, and immigration to the country. It is the messiness and the gooeyness of multiculturalism, celebrated through music, movement, and dance,” the director said in London last Wednesday (11).
Commissioned by the Tamasha Theatre company, Approaching Empty, by playwright Ishy Din, a cab driver turned writer, will be shown in the new year.
Set in a minicab firm in the northeast of England, in the post-Margaret Thatcher era, it focuses on a friendship against the backdrop of the economic decline in the region and the pressure it puts both on the friendship and the business, said Rubasingham.
Following that is The Son, the third part of a trilogy by Florian Zeller. Parts one and two, The Father and The Mother, were both shown at the Tricycle.
“We are really lucky to get the third part. This is a British premiere,” said Rubasingham of the plays, which explore parenthood.
Spanning four time periods (1959, 1988, 2019 and 2042), Samuel Adamson’s Wife features four couples and is a production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
“It examines the attitude to gay culture and sexuality as defined by society in those different time periods,” said Rubasingham.
Blues in the Night, a musical conceived and directed by Sheldon Epps, will be staged in the summer of 2019.
Rounding off the season is Indian playwright Anuapama Chandrasekhar’s When the Crows Visit, loosely based on Ibsen’s Ghost, set in Chennai.
“It is an examination of patriarchy in that society and how often patriarchy is perpetuated by women. The play is a story of a mother and a son where the son is implicated in a violent crime against women, and the lengths to which the mother will go to protect him,” she said.
Rubasingham also announced an increased capacity (292 seats) at the Kiln, with theatre-goers enjoying better sightlines, increased leg room and improved facilities.
“This is the next stage of the journey. It’s about becoming a better version of ourselves, a stronger version, a bolder version,” she said, noting the strong links with the local community which was consulted on the name change.
The Tricycle theatre traces its origin to 1929 when it was known as The Foresters Hall on Kilburn High Road. It was a meeting place for the Kilburn branch of the Foresters Friendly Society, which helped those in need “as they walked through the forests of life”.
In later years, the venue doubled as a music and dance hall, a place for social events and entertainment, an air raid shelter and a food distribution point. It was in 19080 that the Wakefield Tricycle Company, a touring theatre company founded by Kenneth Chubb and Shirley Barrie, made the Foresters Hall its home.
Rubasingham took charge as artistic director of the Tricycle in 2012, succeeding Nicholas Kent, who had been in that role since 1984. She said the renovation was about future proofing and also strengthening links with the local community.
In its past avatar, the Tricycle was known for its cutting-edge productions and political-themed plays.
Rubasingham said the new venue was committed to continuing what they used to do.
“In terms of diversity and gender, these are issues that are much more in the mainstream now. So in a way, I don’t think I have changed the agenda, but we are just more bolder and prouder.
“There is an incredibly diverse range of work, both in content and culture, and the plays do travel around the globe and back. These are important subjects that need telling.
“But ultimately we need to hear more and more good stories from a different perspective and different parts of the world and different agendas to show the variety of what is happening in different communities and different parts of society.”