Following a sell-out run at the Gate Theatre, Ellen McDougall directs the critically acclaimed Dear Elizabeth, which returns for a limited run in September in a new theatre space for the Gate at Theatro Technis in Camden – a fully accessible space and a slightly larger auditorium to allow for social distancing. The production features two unrehearsed guest actors each night.
Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell were two of America’s most brilliant poets. From 1947 – 1977 they wrote over 400 letters to each other; spanning decades, continents and political eras. Their connection was messy and profound, platonic yet romantic, distant and intense. A love that resists easy definition.
For each performance two actors will take the roles of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, one will be a recent graduate who will be paired alongside a more established actor. They will meet each other, the audience, and the story of Robert and Elizabeth at the same time. The performers won’t know how the story ends: they will discover it with the audience
Cast includes Ronke Adekoluejo (Lava at Bush Theatre, Alex Rider, Been So Long), Eric Kofi Abrefa (Netflix The One, Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom), Esh Alladi (Out West – The Overseas Student at Lyric Hammersmith, Ordinary Love), Pepa Duarte (Netflix No One Gets Out Alive) Arthur Hughes (Netflix The Innocents and BBC’s The Archers), Jimena Larraguivel (Gate’s Faces in the Crowd and BBC’s Apple Tree Yard) and Mei Mac (BBC’s Call the Midwife and Young Vic’s Five Plays – Tongue). Further casting to be announced.
Ellen McDougall said ‘Dear Elizabeth resonates anew as we re-emerge from the COVID pandemic: it deals with our deep need to be with one another. It centres the unpredictable shape of real life. In Sarah Ruhl’s words: Not neat. Not two glorious Greek arcs meeting in the centre. Instead: the pear-shaped, particular, sudden, ordinary life-as-it-is-lived.
The casting model for Dear Elizabeth is so exciting: over 60 performers have done the show already including Tamzin Greig, Jade Anouka, Travis Alabanza and Tobias Menzies. For this new iteration, we are casting a new graduate in each performance alongside a more established actor – the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 have had such a tough start to their professional careers due to the COVID-19 pandemic – many have missed out on a showcase altogether. I’m so pleased Dear Elizabeth will provide an opportunity for us to introduce some of the most exciting new performers to a live audience for the first time.
Finally, it’s brilliant to be re-making Dear Elizabeth in the beautiful space at Theatro Technis, in the heart of Camden. Technis has a really similar feel to the Gate – a repurposed space for performance, that is welcoming and unpretentious. It’s fully accessible. It has historically served its local Cypriot community, and we share an international focus and close relationships with our local audiences. It is thrilling to have found a space that allows social distancing, and feels like such a natural home for our work.
Tamsin Greig said about the show ‘Dear Elizabeth was a thrilling theatrical experience to both participate in and, to watch the other performances. It was A heady cocktail of memory, poetry, surprise encounter, desire, longing, delicious playfulness and searing heartbreak. A love letter to love letters.”
The running time is approx 90mins (no interval)
All performances of Dear Elizabeth are on sale with socially distanced seating and mask wearing is encouraged. The auditorium is fitted with an air filtration system and extensive cleaning will be in place in all areas.
Dear Elizabeth runs from Wednesday 1 September to Saturday 18 September 2021