Holly Williams in discussion with David Lan

Young Vic production ofA Midsummer Night's Dream Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

It starts with a play – and a passion. The Young Vic may have developed a reputation as the home of so-called ‘director’s theatre’, offering radical takes on classic plays directed by the likes of Joe Hill-Gibbins, Ivo van Hove, Benedict Andrews, Carrie Cracknell and Simon Stone, but for artistic director David Lan, the really crucial component is still the play. The right director is the person who mounts a convincing case for urgently staging it right here, right now.

“What I start from is the premise that there’s no point doing the play unless we’re excited by what’s in the play,” he explains. “You’ve got to love it. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we’re doing it because Joe said, ‘I really really want to do it’.” It’s this compulsion to revisit a classic, looking anew at “how is this relevant now?” that often leads to the “most surprising and deep response.”

A surprising response to a well-loved play – including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its magic, fairies and romance – can raise hackles, even if it does spring from a director’s own love affair with the material.

Lan recognises that unusual stagings of classic plays make some audiences anxious.

“Part of my job is to find a way to say ‘it’s fine: it may not be exactly what you think it’s going to be, but it’s good! It’s real.  You’re not being cheated out of anything.’” Indeed, the hope is that by shaking off the shackles of over-familiarity, the play comes into a sharp new focus – as was the case with van Hove’s A View from the Bridge, Cracknell’s A Doll’s House or Stone’s Yerma.

“People say, don’t you sometimes want to get out of the way and just ‘do’ the play? But you can’t just ‘do’ the play,” Lan suggests. To him, any production is a series of choices, from what the actors bring to their parts to the visual world a designer creates. Any performance that has a director is, in a sense, director’s theatre because they guide these choices. “With any production, you’re always going to see the particular director’s take on the play; it just might not be a very interesting director!”

The notion, especially when it comes to Shakespeare, that actors should simply speak the text or trust the language is also naive. “A robot could just ‘say the words’, but an actor can’t, because they’re a human being and what they’re responding to is the meaning those words have in the situation they’re in.”

And this response can be – should be – complicated and multifaceted. If there’s one thing Lan really wants a Young Vic production to do, it’s to explore the contradictions inherent in being human, contradictions which the best dramatists reveal. They’re certainly there in Shakespeare.

Young Vic production ofA Midsummer Night's Dream Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

“We’re trying to say, all human life is here. And audiences feel that, they’re not patronised, the characters in this play are as complicated and complex as they are. Everybody’s life is a complete mess, everybody is going ‘god I don’t know what to do’ – and that’s in the plays. Don’t try to resolve it. Stage the contradiction.”

That means allowing the play to be complex: A Midsummer Night’s Dream might turn out to be stranger than we expect. The material shouldn’t be treated with stuffy reverence but as an obligatory dose of cultural medicine.

“It’s not to do with simplifying, or saying ‘oh this is a bit like a druggy rave so let’s get a lot of polythene…’ No bullshit, [but also] no worthiness, no saying it’s good for us.” Just the question: is there actually something there for us, today, in a certain play?

In attempting to answer this question, the Young Vic has become known for its distinctive takes on familiar works (not that, as Lan points out, the theatre would be considered radical compared to most European theatres) but while he’s “delighted that people think that if you go to the Young Vic you will get something special, or unexpected, or surprising”, he also hopes that people think of the Young Vic as a place where you still “really get the play.” That’s where it starts – and that’s where it ends, too.

By Holly Williams

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is running at the Young Vic until 1 April. Find our more about the show and book tickets here.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 “Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative” | A Midsummer Night’s Dream reviews

Director Joe Hill-Gibbins has teamed up with designer Johannes Schütz (Three Sisters) to dive into the subconscious of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, giving us a nightmarish #YVDream that everyone’s talking about.

See what the critics, press night guests and audiences alike have been saying in our round-up below.

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John Dagleish and Jemima Rooper as Lysander and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Keith Pattison.

🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Lust and violence are never far away. Delves into the collective unconscious.”
The Guardian | Read the full review here

🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative”
The Independent | Read the full review here

 

“I loved so much about last night. All one wants is for people to speak with their souls present, and to remind us that this language and the contradiction of peoples’ personalities shines across 500 years.”
– Fiona Shaw

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Check out what else audiences have been saying over on our Storify and catch #YVDream while tickets last at Young Vic until 1 April .

Meet the rest of the A Midsummer Night’s Dream Cast

The rest of the casting for Joe Hill-Gibbins’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream is in! Rehearsals have started and joining an already great line up is: Geoff Aymer (Tom Snout), Sam Cox (Robin Starveling), Aaron Heffernan (Francis Flute), Lloyd Hutchinson (Puck/Egeus), Douggie McMeekin ( Snug) and Melanie Pappenheim (Philostrate/Fairy). Find out more about the new cast members below.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at the Young Vic 16 Feb – 1 Apr. £10 tickets available. Book now.

Geoff Aymer geoff-aymer
For the Young Vic:
 Hamlet and Macbeth.
Theatre includes: Driving Miss Daisy (Canal Café Theatre/ Frinton-on-Sea Summer Theatre), Albatross 3rd & Main (Emporium Theatre, Brighton), To Kill a Mocking Bird (Barbican/ Regent Park Open Air Theatre), Cheese and Crackwhores (Soho), The Lightning Child, Macbeth (The Globe), Neighbors (Hightide Festival / Nuffield), That Old Feeling (The Mill at Sonning), Angel House (Eclipse Theatre, National Tour), Anansi Trades Places (Talawa Company / Shaw Theatre), Marking Time (Frinton-on-Sea Summer Theatre), Weights (Blue Elephant), Brixton Stories (Lyric Hammersmith), What’s in the Cat (Contact Theatre, Manchester / Royal Court), The Big Life (Theatre Royal Stratford East / Apollo), Pirandello’s Henry IV (Etcetera Theatre), Revolution (C-1 Venue, Edinburgh Festival), Evolution (C+3 Venue, Edinburgh Festival), Gagging for It (Gilded Balloon II, Edinburgh Festival), Newsrevue (The Canal Café), Assorted Foolishness (National Tour). Film includes: The Last Tree, Sket and RagTag. Television includes: Guerrilla, Eastenders, The A Force and The Real McCoy. Writing credits include: Anansi and The Magic Mirror (Talawa/Hackney Empire), The Oddest Couple (Theatre Royal Stratford East), What a Wonderful World (Blue Elephant) and Celador (Television Pilot).

sam-coxSam Cox 
For the Young Vic: Man – The Strangest Kind of Romance and My Dad’s a Birdman. Theatre includes: Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale, Pericles, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Doctor Scroggy’s War, Julius Caesar, Gabriel, The Tempest, Henry V, Anne Boleyn, All’s Well That End’s Well, Henry VIII (The Globe), The Crucible (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Twits  (Royal Court), The Trojan Women (Gate Theatre), Lovesong (Frantic Assembly Tour), The Deep Blue Sea (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Inherit the Wind  (Old Vic), Arcadia (Duke of Yorks), Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness  (Headlong Theatre), Oedipus (National Theatre), God in Ruins, Macbeth, King John  (RSC), Festen (Almeida Theatre/West End). Film includes:  Anna Karenina, The Look of Love, Wall, Agora and Hippy Hippy Shake. Television includes:  Father Brown, Borgia, Doctors, New Tricks, The Commander and Doctor Who. 

aaron-heffernanAaron Heffernan 
Theatre credits include: The Picture of Dorian Gray (The Abbey Theatre), Tender Napalm by Philip Ridley (Sugarglass Theatre), ‘Andorra, Lovers’, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Wonderful World of Dissocia: Equus, The Seagull, Tiny Dynamite (Samuel Beckett Theatre); The Threepenny Opera (Gate Theatre), The Little Shop of Horrors (Players Theatre), Oklahoma (Mill Theatre), Obama Mia (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Aaron has also performed in three sell-out Edinburgh Fringe runs with comedy sketch group A Betrayal of the Penguins and 3 sell-out runs with the puppet musical comedies Monster Clock, Human Child and Bears in Space with his company Collapsing Horse Theatre. Film credits include: Alpha Papa: The Alan Partridge Movie, ‘Love, Rosie’, The Long Walk and The Titan. Television credits include: Love/Hate, Discovery Obsessions and BBC2’s Mum.

Lloyd Hutchinson.jpgLloyd Hutchinson
For the Young Vic:  A Respectable Wedding, also directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, in 2007.
Theatre  includes: Plough and The Stars, Husbands & Sons, Collaborators (National Theatre), The Joke (Fuel Theatre), The Beaux’s Stratagem, The Observer (Royal National Theatre), A View From The Bridge (Liverpool Playhouse), Little  Revolution, Measure for Measure, The Lightening Play (Almeida Theatre), Particle of Dread (Signature Theatre/Field Day/ The Playhouse Derry), Boris Godunov, The Orphan of Zhao (RSC), The Birthday Party (Lyric Hammersmith), Twelfth Night (Wyndhams Theatre) and Rhinoceros (Royal Court). Film includes: Florence Foster Jenkins, Anonymous, Mrs Henderson Presents, Gladiatress, Boxed and With or Without You. Television includes: Catastrophe, White Gold,Silent Witness, Utopia, Casualty, Hatfields & McCoys, Hustle, Titanic, The Fades, Silk, The Bill, Midsomer Murders, Pulling Moves, Murphy’s Law, Lloyd & Hill, Rebel Heart and In Defence.


Douggie McMeekindm

Theatre includes: Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC), Rabbit, As you Like It, Boys, Macbeth, The Walmorth Farce, Uncle Vanya, For Emma, A Trip to Scarborough, The Duchess of Malfi, Under The Blue Sky (LAMDA). Television  includes: Harlots, The Crown and A Gert Lush Christmas. Film includes: The Call Up.

melanie-pappenheim

Melanie Pappenheim
Theatre includes:  Here All Night (Gare St Lazare Ireland), Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra (The Globe), Peter Pan (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Saint Joan, The Skriker (National Theatre), Dr Dee (Manchester International Festival/ENO). Opera includes: A Ring A Lamp A Thing and Ingerland (Royal Opera House). Film soundtracks include: Gangs of New York, Eyes Wide Shut, Jane Eyre, Pan and Everest.
Television soundtracks include:  Doctor Who. Film includes: The Alien, Strange Fish and Warren Beatty’s Coat.

Just announced: A Midsummer Night’s Dream + See Me Now

We have just announced 2 exciting new shows for 2017! Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic with a dark production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream designed by Johannes Schütz. And See Me Now shares the true stories of sex workers – a collaboration between Young Vic, Look Left Look Right and HighTide.   

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (17 Feb – 1 Apr 2017) 

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Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic with a thrillingly nightmarish take on Shakespeare’s Dream.

The dark heart of Titania and Oberon’s domain is explored as Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic’s Main House stage with a bold new production. In a world of grotesque transformations and sexual provocation, repressed conflicts between young lovers and their parents are released. There’s no magic in this place – manipulation leads to complications and desire becomes dangerous.

Design and light for A Midsummer Night’s Dream is by Johannes Schütz, with costumes by Michaela Barth, sound by Paul Arditti, movement by Jenny Ogilvie and dramaturgy by Zoë Svendsen.

Joe Hill-Gibbins follows his Measure for Measure with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other credits at the Young Vic include: The Changeling (The Maria , Main House), The Glass MenagerieThe Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Respectable Wedding.  Joe was Genesis Fellow at the Young Vic between 2010 and 2012. Other theatre credits include: Little Revolution (Almeida); Edward II (National Theatre); The Village Bike (Royal Court); and The Girlfriend Experience (Young Vic and Royal Court / Drum Theatre Plymouth). His opera credits include Powder Her Face (ENO).

Internationally acclaimed set designer Johannes Schütz returns to the Young Vic theatre after Three Sisters in 2012. His other theatre credits include: The Merchant of Venice (Royal Shakespeare Theatre), Big and Small (Barbican); On the Chimborazo (Münich Kammerspiele); Mama and the Whore (Schauspielhaus Bochum); Katherine of Heilbronn, Summer Folk (Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, In the Greifswald Street (Deutsches Theater Berlin); Schiff Der Träume, Hysteria and Macbeth (Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus). Johannes also worked on numerous productions for the Salzburg Festival and Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris. His publications include: Stages 2000-2007 and Johannes Schütz: Models & Interviews 2002-2015. His opera credits include: Orpheus and Eurydice and Ariadne on Naxos, works by Brecht and Schiller in Bochum and Mainz.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare runs 17 February – 1 April 2017 in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with design and light by Johannes Schütz, costumes by Michaela Barth, sound by Paul Arditti, movement by Jenny Ogilvie and dramaturgy by Zoë Svendsen.

 

See Me Now (11 Feb – 4 Mar 2017) 

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Photo by Damien Frost 

A new Young Vic, Look Left Look Right and HighTide co-production, See Me Now is created and performed by those who have been, or currently are sex workers.

Based on workshops and testimony given by the performers, writer Molly Taylor weaves together a series of moving and funny true stories in a production directed by Mimi Poskitt.

Neither victims nor villains but everything in between, See Me Now challenges the stereotypes and stigma around sex workers and celebrates the group of male, female and transgender performers who share their stories on stage.

Director Mimi Poskitt said: “Sex workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world. This project was born out of wanting to work with and understand more about who sex workers are. The industry is multi-faceted, often invisible, yet shrouded in controversy. Over the past year we have been fortunate enough to work with an awesome group of performers who have shared their own deeply personal histories. They are writers, teachers, musicians, cleaners, parents; they work in IT, in public services. By no means definitive, what they are creating reflects a kaleidoscope of life experiences; some touching, some tough, some hilarious.

A version of See Me Now was originally performed as part of The Brolly Project in August 2015, a Young Vic Taking Part project. The team worked closely with outreach projects across London to find a company of participants who have, or do work in the sex industry. The aim was to make an original performance created by the company, formed by whatever they chose to share. A reading of The Brolly Project took place in September as part of the 2016 HighTide Festival.

Molly Taylor is a writer and theatre-maker and an Associate of Look Left Look Right. Her other theatre credits include: The Neighbourhood Project (The Bush Theatre), What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (commissioned by the Wellcome Trust), My Desert Island (Old Vic New Voices) and Make We Waka (Lagos Theatre Festival/British Council). Molly developed her writing practice when on attachment at the National Theatre of Scotland; her one-woman play Love Letters to the Public Transport System had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 and has since been performed at the Royal Court and internationally.

Mimi Poskitt is the Founder and Artistic Director of Look Left Look Right. Her directing credits in theatre include work at the Royal Court, Roundhouse, Lyric Hammersmith, Covent Garden, Coney and the Old Vic New Voices. In addition, Mimi’s work has toured across the UK and worldwide including Sri Lanka, Australia and Nigeria. As an Assistant Producer for ITV and the BBC, she won a Royal Television Society Award for a documentary about 9/11 and was nominated for The Hospital Club’s h.Club 100, which recognises the most innovative and influential people in the British creative and media industries.

See Me Now created by Mimi Poskitt, Molly Taylor and the company and directed by Mimi Poskitt runs in the Young Vic’s Maria theatre 11 February – 4 March 2017. Sound is by Emma Laxton with music composed by Tom Parkinson.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday 28 September at 10am. You can become a friend and book today at www.youngvic.org

★★★★ for Joe Hill-Gibbins’ Measure for Measure

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The reviews are coming in for Measure for Measure. Read below to find out what the critics think and click here to see the amazing audience response so far.

★★★★
“A fast and furious staging – elusive, slippery and unshiftingly dark”
The Observer – read the full review here.

★★★★
“There are no half measures in Joe Hill-Gibbins’ radical version… an astonishing Romola Garai”
The Guardian – read the full review here

★★★★
“The most scabrously funny take I’ve seen on Shakespeare’s profound comedy… Romola Garai in wonderfully impassioned form”
Independent – read the full review here

★★★★
“Joe Hill-Gibbins is the perfect director to tackle Measure for Measure… side-splittingly funny… Romola Garai shines”
Time Out – read the full review here

★★★★
“A bold, wildly unorthodox staging with an audacious aesthetic”
Financial Times – read the full review here

★★★★
“Designer Miriam Buether creates…  a brilliant visual metaphor”
What’s On Stage – read the full review here

★★★★
“A radical Young Vic production”
The Arts Desk – read the full review here

★★★★
“Joe Hill-Gibbins is a madcap arch provocateur”
Sunday Times

★★★★
“Electrifying… riveting theatre”
Metro

“A characteristically take-no-prisoners production from a directorial iconoclast”
New York Times – read the full review here.

“Director Joe Hill-Gibbins offers a bold, anarchic take. Fresh, strange and irreverent.”
Evening Standard

Measure for Measure runs at the YV until 14 Nov. For more info and to book tickets, go to: www.youngvic.org/whats-on/measure-for-measure
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In the press: 
Joe Hill-Gibbins talks to The Independent on Sunday about the appeal of Measure for Measure

New Young Vic short film launched today – Bed Trick, inspired by The Changeling

Sinead Matthews in Bed Trick, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

Sinead Matthews in Bed Trick, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

Joe Hill-Gibbins, director of our sold-out hit productions of The Changeling, has written and directed a new short film inspired by the play.  Watch it now and read more from Joe in The Guardian about his experience.

Check out our other short films, coproduced with The Guardian, here.

Plus see behind the scenes photos on Facebook!

Bed Trick is sponsored by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg supports digital innovation at the Young Vic.

11 Questions with the cast of The Changeling: Howard Ward

Howard Ward

Tell us about your character.

Vermandero is an angry, passionate man.

Favourite word?

Family.

Proudest moment?

Having a family.

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?

Light dusting.

Favourite holiday?

The last one, and the next one!

Weirdest quirk?

Talking out loud to myself in public.

Favourite play?

The one I’m doing at the moment.

If you had one super power, what would it be?

The power to take away undeserved bonuses from overpaid people.

Do you have any regrets?

Nothing to speak of.

Favourite midnight snack?

Crumpets.

What were you doing at 17?

Doing my A levels, playing rugby and training to be a potter.