Sixty-Six Books: to Oct 29, 2011
Posted by: Carole Woddis on Oct 18, 2011 – 16.40pm
London W12 8LJ
7.30pm – 10.30pm (excl Oct 21)
Westminster Abbey perf:
12 hour overnight vigil: 7pm Fri – 7am;
3 hour ticket: 7pm – 10pm Fri, Oct 21
Oct 28, 24 hr perf: 7pm – 7pm
Ticket price includes food, drink and a goodie bag
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Oct 15, 2011
Lows plus highs equals a gargantuan triumph
If you’re going to open a new theatre you might as well do it with a bang.
Josie Rourke, the Bush’s outgoing artistic director due to take up the Donmar helm in the New Year, has opened a new Bush Theatre chapter with an epic onslaught. Sixty six new plays carved out of responses to the full sixty six books of the King James Bible by sixty six writers and songwriters.
Unless you’ve been away on a distant planet, you’ll know by now that this year was the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.
We’ve had any number of salutes and marathon stagings (viz Shakespeare’s Globe week-long readings of the entire bible at Easter). The RSC bring up the rear early in November with David Edgar’s new play on the subject, Written on the Heart.
But back to the Bush.
The new theatre, hewn by that magic magician of theatre conversions, Steve Tompkins, out of John Passmore Edwards’ delightfully proportioned Victorian library already presents itself as an open, friendly and flexible building with theatre seating for 140, a bar/cafe and open-to-all library.
As to the Sixty Six plays and playlets themselves – some last barely five minutes, most no more than about 15 – I only managed about 18 coming in at Ephesians and ending with Revelations.
With so many writers involved, there were bound to be highs and lows, some darker, some lighter. Laurence Marks’ and Maurice Gran’s Ephesus-Schmephesus was a particularly delicious send-up of St Paul telling his Jewish mother and local rabbi about his Damascean conversion, Chris Goode’s The Loss of All Things (Philippians) disturbing in its very contemporary, gay-toned imagery.
I was baffled sometimes by the tenuous links between the bible original and the modern response. But all were brilliantly performed and when you consider the logistics – 66 writers, 23 directors and 130 actors – not to mention the technical feat of converting the library into a working theatre in less than three months, it’s an extraordinary achievement.
Only time will tell how many of the plays will stand alone. But the new Bush is triumphantly up and running.
Sixty-Six Books is brought together by Artist Director Josie Rourke in collaboration with Christopher Haydon, Rachel Holmes and Ben Power.
Jeanette Winterson, Anne Michaels, Caroline Bird, Neil Bartlett, Maha Khan Philips, Daisy Hasan, Tom Wells, Stella Duffy, Andrew Motion, Wole Soyinka, Roy Williams, Sam Burns, Salena Godden, Tim Rice, Naomi Foyle, Mandla Langa, Jackie Kay, Neil LaBute, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Toby Litt, Nancy Kricorian, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian McHugh, Luke Kennard, Paul Muldoon, Owen Sheers, Jack Thorne, Nick Payne, Yemisi Blake, Michael Rosen, Nancy Harris, Nick Laird, Adam Foulds, Moira Buffini, Trevor Griffiths, Helen Edmundson, Suheir Hammad, Elinor Cook, Molly Naylor, Laura Dockrill, Steve Waters, Billy Bragg, Rowan Williams, Lachlan MacKinnon, Amy Rosenthal, Matt Charman, Wena Poon, Deirdre Kinahan, Marks and Gran, Chris Goode, Zukiswa Wanner, DC Jackson, Christopher Shinn, David Edgar, James Graham, Anya Reiss, Kamila Shamsie, Anthony Weigh, Brian Chaikwava, Helen Mort, Suhayla El Bushra, David Eldridge, Nathalie Handal, Enda Walsh, Anne Carson, Kate Mosse.
Obi Abili, Geraldine Alexander, Emma Amos, Nikki Amuka- Bird, Helen Anderson, Jade Anouka, Philip Arditti, Michele Austin, Rakie Ayola, Ian Bailey, Peter Bankolé, David Bark-Jones, Samuel Barnett, Hannah Barrie, Mark Bazeley, Alex Beckett, Sasha Behar, Lily Bevan, Oliver Birch, Mark Bonnar, Billy Bragg, Louise Brealey, Niall Buggy, Kate Burdette, Nicholas Burns, Nathan Bryon, Sean Chapman, Pandora Colin, Nigel Cooke, Philip Cumbus, John Cummins, Arthur Darvill, Peter De Jersey, Shaun Dingwall, Patrick Drury, Kate Duchêne, Daniel Easton, Caroline Faber, Leonard Fenton, Harold Finley, Abby Ford, Phoebe Fox, Andrew Frame,
Polly Frame, Philip Franks, Mariah Gale, William Gaunt, Becci Gemmell, Ruth Gemmell, Nicholas Gleaves, Linal Haft, Amanda Hale, James Hillier, Siu Hun Li, Kelly Hunter, Bettrys Jones, Aidan Kelly, Teddy Kempner, Gareth Kieran Jones, Beverly Klein, Nitin Kundra, Divian Ladwa, Penny Layden, John Light, John Lightbody, Ralf Little, Syrus Lowe, Alex MacQueen, Dominic Mafham, Róisín McBrinn, Katie McGuinness, Joshua McGuire, Pauline McLynn, Charles Mnene, Hattie Morahan, Peter Moreton, Alan Morrissey, James Northcote, Rob Ostlere, Alison O’Donnell, Jonjo O’Neill, Katherine Parkinson, Bill Paterson, Robin Pearce, Samantha Pearl, Bailey Pepper, Kathryn Pogson, Claire Price, Javone Prince, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Laura Pyper, Carrie Quinlan, Daniel Rabin, Miranda Raison, John Ramm, Christopher Ravenscroft, Richard Rees, Ben Righton, Sian Robins-Grace, Christian Roe, Ryan Sampson, Jamie Samuel, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Helen Schlesinger, Amit Shah, Kamila Shamsie, Owen Sharpe, Nav Sidhu, Malcolm Sinclair, Hugh Skinner, Robin Soans, Sarah Solemani, Rafe Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Shannon Tarbet, Catherine Tate, Michelle Terry, Ony Uhiara, Indira Varma, Anjana Vasan, Zoe Waites, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Rick Warden, Leo Wringer and Sophie Wu.
Solomon Boundy, Wezi Elliot, Joel Fender, Kwame Kwei-Armah jr, Breannan Leavey, Simmon Anthony Mitchell, Caspian Dumisani, David Moyo, Suriyan Naik, Daniel Vincent.
Directors: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson, Philip Franks, Peter Gill, Chris Goode, James Grieve, Titas Halder, Tamara Harvey, Robert Hastie, Olly Hawes, Christopher Haydon, Alice Lacey, Michael Longhurst, Róisín McBrinn, Joe Murphy, Nessah Muthy, Gbolahan Obisesan, Mark Rosenblatt, Josie Rourke, Richard Twyman, Charlotte Westenra, Philip Wilson, Abbey Wright and Madani Younis.
Designer: Amy Cook
Design Assistants: Sarah Booth, Guy Burnett, Hebe George, Claire Harrison, Tori Jennings, Natalie Moggridge
Lighting Designer: Will Evans
Assistant Lighting Designer: Nic Farman
Sound Designer: Matt McKenzie
Assistant Sound Designer: Tom Meehan
Associate Directors: Robert Hastie and Tamara Harvey
Assistant Director: Josh Seymour
Associate Producer: Lucy Oliver-Harrison
Casting Director: Sam Chandley
Composer: Michael Bruce
Pianists: Mia Soteriou, Harriet Oughton, Isobel Waller-Bridge
Company Stage Manager: Helen Gaynor
Deputy Stage Managers: Rachel Gillard, Rachael Miller
Assistant Stage Managers: Elisabeth Donaghy, Kathryn Linnell, Phillip Richardson,
Stage Management interns: Ingeborg Ugland and Sarah Barnes
The text of Sixty-Six Books – 21st century writers speak to the King James Bible is published by Oberon Books. www.oberonbooks.com
Close-Up Magic: 40 Years at the Bush Theatre is published on Nov 4, 2011 by Third Millennium Publishing. www.tmiltd.com
See www.bushtheatre.co.uk for full details