Hampstead Theatre announces 60th birthday season

Playwright and author of The Dumb Waiter Harold Pinter in 1962 Picture by Cecil Beaton, copywright T

Playwright and author of The Dumb Waiter Harold Pinter in 1962 Picture by Cecil Beaton, copywright The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's - Credit: Archant

Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter and Tennessee Williams’ The Two Character Play are among the Hampstead Theatre archive to be revived

Alfred Fagon playwright and author of Death of A Black Man

Alfred Fagon playwright and author of Death of A Black Man - Credit: Archant

Classic plays which premiered at Hampstead Theatre will be revived as part of its 60th birthday season.

The programme, to celebrate the venue's "ambitious history as a new writing theatre," includes Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter which ran in January 1960, and Tennessee Williams' semi-autobiographical The Two Character play, which had its world premiere at Hampstead in 1967.

Both were originally directed by theatre founder James Roose-Evans who lives in Belsize Park.

After announcing the founding of "a repertory for Hampstead" on the front pages of the Ham&High he raised the money by signing up sponsors and rattling a tin outside The Everyman.The opening production took place in the Moreland Hall in Holly Bush Vale in September 1959.

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Performed in chronological order, the four productions will be helmed by previous Hampstead Theatre directors including Alice Hamilton and Sam Yates.

The remaining plays in the season are Alfred Fagon's snapshot of the King's Road in the 1970s The Death of a Black, directed by Dawn Walton, and Marsha Norman's Pulitzer Prizewinning mother daughter two hander Night, Mother directed by current Hampstead artistic director Roxana Silbert.

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She said: "Selecting only four plays from Hampstead Theatre's massive backlist of world premieres was a real challenge and it really hit home just what a powerhouse this modest theatre is. The range, diversity and singularity of the voices is extraordinary, as is how often they bring untold stories into the light. Hampstead has always supported established writers and launched new ones by creating a space for artists to experiment and be heard. May the next sixty years continue this wonderful tradition."

The season will run in parallel with new writing in Hampstead's studio space Downstairs.

Hampstead classics opens on March 19 with The Dumb Waiter, Pinter's dark two hander about hit-men awaiting their next target. The Two Character Play runs from 24 April which Williams openly declared: "My most beautiful play since Streetcar, the very heart of my life".

The Death of a Black Man will run from 28 May until 27 June. Boxing champion, welder, actor poet and playwright Fagon was one of the first British black writers to have his work produced in the UK. The Alfred Fagon Award was set up after his sudden death at the age of 49 to support British black playwrights.

Bookings for the season at hampsteadtheatre.com

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