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Paul Robinson announces his first season as Artistic Director of Theatre503

Theatre feature

PAUL Robinson has announced his first season as sole Artistic Director of Theatre503, as well as his vision for the award-winning venue in Battersea. He said:

“The foundation of my new vision is to evolve the company not only as one of London’s hottest new writing venues, but to expand our breadth of writers, to set this in context and to put the art at the heart of the place. The aim is to be the home of groundbreaking plays.”

Building on the theatre’s mission to stage new plays by first time writers, Robinson will direct the world premiere of Desolate Heaven, the debut play by Ailis Ni Riain who, earlier this year, was awarded the Tom Erhardt Bursary by the Peggy Ramsey Foundation. Desolate Heaven will run from February 5 to March 2, 2013.

Furthering this mission, Theatre503 has announced that Dennis Kelly (Matilda, The Musical and DNA), whose debut play Debris premiered at the Battersea venue, will join the theatre’s governing board.

Next year (2013) will also see the launch of the 503 New Writing Award, a prize sponsored by the Richard Carne Trust, which will honour an emerging, unproduced writer with a guaranteed production as part of the theatre’s main season.

Theatre503 will also introduce Second Look, a programme that will revive a neglected play from the 80s or 90s by giving it a second major production. The first such play, which will be announced shortly, will run from April 9 to May 4, 2013.

Robinson said: “There is a stunning array of plays which a generation who come to 503 missed out on. Anyone over 35 has their favourite memory from the Bush, the Trav, the Abbey, any number of regional theatre studios and is wondering why it was never revisited. Well it’s going to be.”

Another initiative will be Playwright Presents, which aims to build relationships between established playwrights and those yet to be discovered. Launching the inaugural season will be Caryl Churchill, Howard Brenton and Timberlake Wertenbaker, who will each present a rehearsed reading of a new play by a young, undiscovered playwright.

Speaking about her involvement Timberlake Wertenbaker said: “I’m extremely happy to be part of this great project supporting young playwrights. It’s always invigorating to hear new voices in the theatre and I’m very much looking to working with my protégée. I’m sure I’ll learn as much from her as she will from me.”

Robinson also reiterated Theatre503’s open unsolicited scripts policy, saying that “In a climate of increasingly stringent submission policies, it is vital that someone reads unsolicited scripts all year round and engages with the best of them. We believe that we’re the most suited to do this as we’re most likely to produce a brand new voice.”

Theatre503 has also announced the appointment of three new Associate Directors – Tom Littler (Shiverman, Blood Poetry), Gemma Fairlie (The Apathists, King Lear/The Seagull) and James Dacre (The Mountaintop) – and a new Associate Designer, James Perkins. Each has directed or designed outstanding productions at Theatre503 before and will work alongside new playwrights to develop plays into production.