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The Finborough Theatre announces the first season of its 40th Anniversary Year

Not Quite Jerusalem

Season preview

THE Finborough Theatre has announced the first season of its 40th Anniversary Year and it includes vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries.

The season opens – from February 4 to February 29, 2020 – with the English premiere of On McQuillan’s Hill, a vicious black comedy by the late Joseph Crilly, a playwright The Guardian called “Ulster’s Martin McDonagh”.

When proud IRA man Fra Maline is released from prison, his daughter throws a welcome home celebration at the local community hall. But with the Good Friday Agreement in a precarious state, it’s not long until bitter memories and secrets from the past are calamitously exposed.

On McQuillan’s Hill confronts the horrors of abuse and absurdities of sectarian violence, with insight and coruscating humour.

Next comes the first new UK production in 40 years of Paul Kember’s award-winning 1980 comedy-drama Not Quite Jerusalem. Commissioned to celebrate the Finborough’s 40th anniversary year, it runs from March 3 to March 28.

It’s 1979, and Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave have fled grim, divided England for the sun, sex, beer and bagels of a Israeli kibbutz. But they soon find that what was supposed to be a working holiday, turns out to be more like hard labour in 100-degree temperatures.

A play about what it means to be young, conflicted, English and a very long way from home, Not Quite Jerusalem won first-time playwright Paul Kember the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.

The season continues with the European premiere of Michael Melski’s smash-hit Canadian play Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, which runs from March 31 to April 25.

Teddy and Donner are two lonely working-class single parents who meet at their children’s minor league ice-hockey match. Love, violence and sport collide in this tender, uproarious, and occasionally disturbing story about competitive obsession and what it means to be a (single) parent.

Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad was named one of the ‘Top Ten Plays of The Year’ by The Toronto Star, was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award (Toronto’s Olivier Award), has toured Canada twice, and received over forty professional productions.

The season comes to an end with a classic Finborough Theatre rediscovery Women Without Men. A stunning early play by pioneer Irish female playwright Hazel Ellis, it runs from April 28 to May 23, 2020.

When enthusiastic young teacher Jean Wade arrives at Malyn Park Private School, her high ideals and friendly manner bring her into conflict with the sharp-tongued staff, whose cloistered existences are consumed by jealousy and petty feuds. A frank, affecting picture of working women in a man’s world, Women Without Men was originally produced at the Gate Theatre, Dublin in 1938, and now receives its long-overdue UK premiere.

Two major playwriting competitions also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020: The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on February 3 and closes on March 30, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on March 31. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson said:

“The first season of our 40th anniversary year features our usual inspiring and eclectic selection of world drama with plays from Northern Ireland, England, Canada and Ireland. As always, our programme is focused on vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries, and continues our commitment to never presenting work that has been seen anywhere in London during the last 25 years. In celebration of our 40th anniversary year, we have also undergone a major rebrand with a new logo, new designs for all our publicity, and – coming shortly – a brand new website.

“We would like to thank Bill Kenwright for his very generous donation to the Finborough Theatre. His support has made this year’s work possible.

“Do please consider celebrating our 40th birthday with us by becoming a Friend of the Finborough Theatre. We are a registered charity, and receive no public funding of any kind, so your membership plays a vital role in supporting one of London’s most acclaimed Off West End theatres. There are four categories of Friends, each named after a theatrical figure resident in nearby Brompton Cemetery, and each offering you a wide range of benefits in return for your support.

“I look forward to welcoming you.”

Also at the Finborough Theatre: Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams’ The Wind of Heaven (until December 21, 2019) and the world premiere of Scrounger (January 7 to February 1, 2020).

For more information, visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.