New £10 Lucky Dip Tickets

What’s up world! Lucky Dip Tickets have just arrived at “London’s most essential theatre” (The Guardian) and we can hardly wait to see them in action.

Billie Piper, Maureen Beattie and Thalissa Teixeria in Yerma at the Young Vic. Photo by Johan Persson
Almost all our shows sell out, with returns queues around the block for hits like Yerma and A Streetcar Named Desire. 

Want to make sure you see our award-winning productions? Enter: Lucky Dip Tickets for just £10…

So, how does it work?

Buy your ticket in advance, and find out your seat number just ahead of the performance. You might get one of the best seats in the house, or a standing spot. Here at the Young Vic, we don’t sell restricted view – so wherever you are, you’re guaranteed great sightlines.

Book now as there are a limited number of Lucky Dip tickets available.

A View from the Bridge wins two Tony Awards

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A View from the Bridge won two Tony Awards last night and we’re ecstatic. Ivo van Hove won for Best Direction and the show was recognised as the Best Revival of a Play. The critically acclaimed production was originally staged at the Young Vic in April 2014 and transferred to the London’s West End following a sold-out run. Later in 2015 it played a limited run at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway, produced by Scott Rudin and Lincoln Center Theater. A View from the Bridge has played a total of 276 performances across these three venues and has been seen by audiences across the globe via NT Live broadcasts.

The most laurelled show in the Young Vic’s history, the Tony wins brings the total number of awards won by the production on both sides of the Atlantic to 12. Awards include Olivier Awards for Best Revival, Best Actor (Mark Strong) and Best Director; London Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards for Best Actor (Mark Strong) and Best Director; Outer Critics’ Circle Awards New York for Outstanding Director of a Play; Drama League Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play; Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play and Outstanding Director of a Play; and a Theatre World Award for Mark Strong.

Take a look at the heartstopping trailer to A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic:

Accepting the Award for Best Revival of a Play, Producer of the Broadway production Scott Rudin said: “I especially want to thank Rebecca Miller for giving us the stewardship of her father’s remarkable play, Ivo van Hove who did it just, I think, absolutely remarkably, and David Lan and Young Vic who originated the production. We were the stewards of it, but honestly the real work was done by David and his team.”

Artistic Director of the Young Vic David Lan, added “It is the greatest play about immigrants – it felt like exactly the right time to do this play. It has been thrilling for us to bring it back to the city, where it’s a great song of the great people of New York.”

Accepting the Award for Best Director of a Play, Ivo van Hove said: “New York has been so welcoming to us this season. I’m so grateful to Scott Rudin who dared to bring the Belgian bad boy avant-gardist to a center of theatre life, to wonderful theatre life on Broadway.”

Daisy Heath, Lead Producer at the Young Vic, commented: “David told me about an incredible director called Ivo van Hove on my first day at the YV four and a half years ago. The original production was made by a dedicated group on The Cut in the summer of 2014 working to create the visions of both Ivo and Miller. Awards were honestly the last thing on our minds. So to have been recognised by Broadway and the Tony Awards is mind-blowing, a credit to everyone on and offstage in all three runs, and a source of deep pride for me.”

Lucy Woollatt, Executive Director of the Young Vic added: “The wins at the Tony Awards are a real achievement for all involved in the show’s life in the UK and US. Our talented team are supported by the Arts Council and our individual, trust and corporate donors. It’s this crucial support that allows us to program the work that we do and to give away 10% of tickets for free to young people and our neighbours.”
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In the press | Ivo van Hove talks to The New Yorker about his life as a director and bringing out the elemental drama of classic works.

Rave reviews + A Streetcar Named Desire, New York photos

A Streetcar Named Desire has opened to rave reviews at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Gillian Anderson is Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster is Stanley and Vanessa Kirby is Stella in Benedict Andrews’ award-winning production, which transferred to New York following a sold-out run at the Young Vic last summer.

Vanessa Kirby and Ben Foster in A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann's Warehouse. Photo by Teddy Wolff (3)

Vanessa Kirby and Ben Foster in A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Photo by Teddy Wolff

Read the reviews below and view the full selection of production photos on Facebook.

“A brave take on a classic play that envelopes the audiences in a timelessly primeval world” 
New York Times – read the full review

Gillian Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Photo by Teddy Wolff

★★★★
“Benedict Andrews’ poignant new staging of Tennessee Williams’s play feels utterly contemporary… Gillian Anderson haunts in this vital staging”

The Guardian US – read the full review

Ben Foster and Vanessa Kirby in A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann's Warehouse. Photo by Teddy Wolff

Ben Foster and Vanessa Kirby in A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Photo by Teddy Wolff

See Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois in our Young Vic short film, The Departure, inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire. The film takes place in the days before Blanche arrives at her sister Stella’s home.
Directed by Gillian Anderson and written by Andrew O’Hagan.

A Streetcar Named Desire plays in New York at St. Ann’s Warehouse until 23 June. Visit their website to book tickets.

Thanks for all your support | A note from our Executive Director

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Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, we are able to produce an ambitious programme in all of our three spaces, alongside our extensive neighbourhood-wide participation programme and our directors programme which is recognised as the most extensive in the country.

Public investment, record box office receipts (including from commercial transfers) and a high level of philanthropic giving enable us to keep our ticket prices low and to offer over half of our tickets for under £20, as well as 10% of our seats free to targeted audiences. Our sustained long term growth has only been possible because of sustained public investment, allowing the strategic risk taking that produces artistic and commercial success.

Last year we welcomed over 11,000 of our neighbours, young and old, to work with professionals on projects such as our Parallel Productions (non-professional versions of our shows), our Special Education Needs Festival and The Brolly Project which was created and performed by sex workers in response to our production of Measure For Measure.

Lucy Woollatt
Executive Director

From more about the Young Vic and how you can get involved, www.youngvic.org/about-us.

Curtain Call’s Exclusive Backstage Photography

Our good friends at Curtain Call took some stunning backstage photography of our recent YV productions and we’re excited to share some of the photos with you.
Curtain Call was founded by John Schwab and Matt Humphrey and together they are producing a book that will feature exclusive backstage photography of shows throughout London theatre from a unique perspective.

Take a look below for a glimpse into the unseen and intimate moments from some of your favourite shows.

A View from the Bridge – West End

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Emun Elliott & Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre.

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Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre.

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Phoebe Fox & Nicola Walker in A View from the Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre.

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Luke Norris in A View from the Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre.

Happy Days

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Juliet Stevenson (centre) in Happy Days at the Young Vic.

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David Beames in Happy Days at the Young Vic.

Ah, Wilderness! 

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George MacKay in Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic.

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Susannah Wise in Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic.

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Janie Dee in Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic.

Head over to www.curtaincallonline.com to see more of their work.

A Streetcar Named Desire transfers to New York!

We are delighted to announce that Benedict Andrews’ award-winning production of A Streetcar Named Desire will transfer to St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York for a limited run next year.

Streetcar will open in New York on 23 April 2016, with the stellar London cast reprising their roles for the run at St Ann’s Warehouse. Gillian Anderson returns as Blanche DuBois in “the performance of her career” (5 stars, Daily Telegraph) alongside the “explosive” (5 stars, Evening Standard) Ben Foster as Stanley Kowalski and Vanessa Kirby as Stella .

Gillian Anderson. Streetcar photo by Johan Persson.

Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photo by Johan Persson.

Have a look at the stunning production photos taken here at the Young Vic last summer as well as the incredible audience response to the “hottest theatre ticket of 2014” (The Guardian).

Public booking opens on 15 July with tickets for St. Ann’s members on sale from Friday 5 June. You can find dates, times and more info here. Plus, check out out our short film The Departure directed by and starring Gillian Anderson inspired by the show, and watch the video interview below to hear from Gillian on why playing Blanche in Streetcar was a “dream come true”.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is a Young Vic/Joshua Andrews co-production presented by St. Ann’s Warehouse. In association with Bruno Wang Productions.

A Note on the Visual Imagery of Happy Days by Beckett Biographer Jim Knowlson

Author’s note: The material here is presented in the form of a personal investigation rather than as a formal scholarly article in order to concentrate as much on the emergence of the evidence and its plausibility as on any claim itself, leaving it to the reader to decide how convincing that evidence is.

I was recently invited to contribute a ‘text revisited’ chapter to a Festschrift for a friend and proposed an essay entitled ‘Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days revisited’. This essay, due to appear in January 2012, published by Peter Lang, considers the role of music, song and poetry in the play (e.g. Yellen and Alger’s 1929 song, Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies and the unlikely medley of W. B. Yeats and Jerome Kern), its links with the visual arts and with philosophy and psychoanalysis, especially in the light of Beckett’s various 1930s notes. I also drew on certain of Beckett’s life experiences at that time, uncovered while researching my biography and suggested other literary sources of inspiration found in letters, some of which have only recently become accessible.

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Photograph of Frances Day for The Fleet’s Lit Up by Angus McBean (1938).

Looking at Happy Days again (after, in my case, a gap of almost thirty years), led me to focus attention on the startling visual images of Winnie, buried first up to her waist, then up her neck in the mound, and of her companion Willie, first seen in his boater with a club ribbon, then in a top hat and morning suit. Was there anything new to be discovered about the potential sources of inspiration for these images?

Let me first recapitulate what we already know about the play visually – or at least what we think we know. First, Dante: the Divina Commedia was, of course, one of Beckett’s favourite books in the whole of European literature and, in his magnificent illustrations to the Inferno, Gustave Doré memorably depicted Dante’s Damned with their heads or lower limbs protruding from the frozen lake or the ‘livid stone’. There are indications within the play that such a highly graphic, visual evocation of Hell may well have played a part in Beckett’s initial inspiration. But evidence has also come to light of Beckett’s interest in and close knowledge of modern movements in painting like German Expressionism and Surrealism, although he was much keener on the first than he was on the second. I therefore explored some affinities with modern painting in the light of Beckett’s German diaries. In addition, I noted that the closing frames of Buñuel and Dalí’s 1929 film Un chien andalou, with its image of two women buried up to their waists on the beach, had often been cited by scholars (including myself) as a potential source for Winnie’s progressive burial in the earth.

From my biography of Beckett, I included as a further possible source the photograph by Angus McBean taken to advertise the 1938 review The Fleet’s Lit Up of the actress Frances Day, buried in sand in a basket and, like Winnie, holding a lock of hair in her hand (with another unseen person holding up a mirror in his or her hand). The resemblances are striking. What has not been pointed out, however, is that Angus McBean used the same ‘half-buried in the earth’ motif in two other photographs: one of the British actress Flora Robson (also taken in 1938), with her bust again apparently bursting out of the earth, and one of gamine film-star Audrey Hepburn, photographed yet again, but in 1951, emerging from the sand, flanked by two classical pillars. So far, one might say, a moderately interesting ‘addition to company’ but nothing to get too excited about.

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Max Ernst Projet Pour un Monument à W. C. Fields

But recently an additional possible source of visual inspiration has emerged that I mentioned in the ‘Happy Days revisited’ essay only in two brief sentences and without any of the supporting evidence. In Charlotte, North Carolina (where two of our three children live with their families), the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, designed by Mario Botta, the architect of the MoMA in San Francisco, was built especially in 2009 to house the fine 20th century art collection of the Zurich industrialist Hans C. Bechtler (1904-1998) and his wife Bessie. It was gifted to the city of Charlotte by their son Andreas Bechtler and was opened to the public on 2 January 2010.

Shortly after the museum opened, I visited it twice. Walking round the gallery for the first time, I was astonished to see a remarkable, vividly coloured, kaleidoscopic oil painting by Max Ernst entitled Projet pour un monument à W. C. Fields, which appeared to bear striking resemblances to Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days. In the centre of the painting is a female figure, painted as a rotund, buxom torso in red, wearing an ornate hat and holding aloft an unfurled, multi-coloured parasol. The woman, as the accompanying audio guide explained, is based on the celebrated film actress Mae West. The right foreground is almost dominated by the large head of a male figure, wearing a top hat and reaching out his hand. The male head, the audio guide went on, is that of the comic actor W. C. Fields and the painting had apparently been inspired by the (unique) collaboration of Fields and Mae West on a 1940 Universal Studios’ film called My Little Chickadee. In English, the painting is known, in fact, as ‘Homage to W. C. Fields and his Little Chickadee’, although, for reasons that will become clear, it has been reproduced in relatively few books on Ernst.

Intrigued by the unusual light-filled setting of Happy Days and its internal preoccupation with the element of fire, it was the brightness of the colours of the painting, especially its fiery reds that also struck me forcibly. One aspect of the painting, dissimilar, it might appear, to Beckett’s play, was the presence of a small face looking on quizzically from the far left and echoing in its colours the large hatted head on the right. Was this a surrogate for the painter himself or for the observing spectator? Even here one is reminded though of the presence within Beckett’s text of the Shower and Cooker visitors, who, as Beckett himself commented very precisely, represented the spectator (SB, letter to Jacoba van Velde, 28 Feb. 1962), as well as the constant repetition of the motif of an observing eye: ‘Someone is looking at me still . . . Eyes on my eyes.’  Yet, in recognising various parallels between Ernst’s painting and Beckett’s play, I was concerned that I might be seeing what I wanted to see, the victim perhaps of what could be termed professional deformation.

Was there any connection between the play and the painting? And which came first, painting or play? The second of these questions was quickly answered, since the date of 1957 is inscribed with the artist’s signature on the canvas itself, printed on its gallery description and on a reproduction that I promptly purchased from the gallery shop. And we know, of course, that Beckett’s play was written in 1960-61. But when did Hans Bechtler purchase the picture for his private collection? And might Beckett have seen it in Paris before or even after it was purchased? In a general way, there were a sufficient number of personal links between Beckett and Ernst for Beckett not only to have been aware of Ernst as a powerful Surrealist presence (he refers to him, for instance, along with Hans Arp in 1937 in the fourth of his German diaries) but also to have taken an interest in his work. The German painter had after all briefly been married to Peggy Guggenheim, with whom Beckett had had a passionate sexual affair in late 1937 and early 1938, and, following a meeting between them in 1967 arranged by Werner Spies, a good friend of Max Ernst and a specialist on his work, Ernst went on to illustrate a trilingual edition of Beckett’s From an abandoned work. (See my note in The Beckett Circle, Spring 2008, vol. 31, no. 1)

An e-mail query next to the Bechtler Museum elicited the helpful information that Hans Bechtler had in fact purchased the painting in 1958. This was a little discouraging at first since it made it more difficult for Beckett to have seen the picture, since it had been held in a private collection from 1958 until 2010. But then, later the same day, a key piece of the jigsaw came in the form of a postscript from Hallie Ringle, a young researcher at the Bechtler Mueum who was looking into my queries, saying that the picture in question was reproduced in Patrick Waldberg’s 450 page biography of Max Ernst.

Now it is at a moment like this that a scholar’s antennae begin to twitch uncontrollably! For since I happened to know that Patrick Waldberg was a personal friend of Beckett, dining and playing billiards with him on many occasions, this was exciting news indeed. I also happen to possess copies of some of Beckett’s letters to Waldberg, which are preserved in the Bibliothèque Jacques Doucet in Paris.

A few days spent searching through these and other correspondences established that Beckett was indeed seeing Waldberg at the time he was writing his Max Ernst biography, meeting him either alone or with his second wife Liane for dinner early in 1958 and seeing him once in the company of Marcel Duchamp, probably on 26 June 1958. (SB, letter to Patrick Waldberg 13 June 1958). About that time Beckett also read several of Waldberg’s other books and it is clear that the art critic sent him complimentary copies of them, one being his Promenoir à Paris which Beckett read in only one session at the beginning of October 1960 (SB, letter to Waldberg , 5 Oct. 1960), just as he was starting to write Happy Days. Another was Waldberg’s 1961 book Mains et merveilles. Peintres et sculpteurs de notre temps which Beckett read in February 1962, before sending it on as a gift to Kay Boyle (SB, letter to Kay Boyle, 22 Jan. 1962).

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Patrick Waldberg and Max Ernst c. 1955

The link (if indeed there is such a link) would appear then to be with Waldberg’s biography of Max Ernst, which was published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert in December 1958. There, indeed, the ‘W. C. Fields’ painting is printed, but in black and white not colour, in the sixth and final section of the book, entitled ‘Suite sans Fin’, perhaps as a tribute to Beckett’s post-war story ‘La Fin’, first called and printed in Les Temps modernes as ‘Suite’!  In view of my previous comments on the intense, fiery nature of the colours of the original painting, the black and white character of the reproduction was initially disappointing. Yet the outlines of the two figures are much more sharply delineated in black and white than they are in the more kaleidoscopic painting. Interestingly too, in the same section there is another painting of the top-hatted head of W. C. Fields alone (pace Willie) also painted in 1957, which was owned by Patrick Waldberg. We cannot be certain that Beckett had his own copy of Waldberg’s handsome first biography of Max Ernst. There was no such copy in his library when he died. But then neither were there other books by Waldberg that we know for certain from the correspondence that Beckett both owned and read. He gave away hundreds of books, especially towards the end of his life.

However, I also learned from Werner Spies’ Max Ernst A Retrospective that to celebrate the publication of Waldberg’s biography of Ernst an exhibition of the painter’s work had been arranged at La Hune bookshop on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. I have not yet been able to establish whether the W. C. Fields painting was indeed exhibited there. But, even if Beckett had not been able to see it at an exhibition, it would have been surprising if Waldberg had not discussed the most recent of Ernst’s pictures with Beckett or shown him some of the illustrations from his biography of the painter during their multiple meetings in 1958. And we can almost guarantee that Beckett would have called at La Hune and have studied the book there.

So, even if he did not possess his own copy – which, in view of Waldberg’s habit of giving him copies, I still find highly likely – the odds are surely very high that he would have been acquainted with this particular painting, either through an exhibition or in the biography itself. Although the evidence remains circumstantial, it seems to me to be sufficiently convincing to establish at least a possible visual influence on Beckett as he came to imagine the appearance of the two figures in Happy Days.*

– Jim Knowlson

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* I am most grateful to Werner Spies, Anne Arikha and Shannon White and Hallie Ringle of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art for answering my queries and to John Pilling, Matthew Feldman and David Addyman for reading early versions of this note.

Happy Days runs at the Young Vic until 21 Mar. Click here to book now.