Nottingham Playhouse announces Spring and Summer Season for 2022


Nottingham Playhouse has confirmed its Spring and Summer Season for 2022.  The season comprises a long-awaited programme of work that was postponed from 2020 due to the first COVID 19 lockdown.

The season includes Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, Red Ellen by Caroline Bird, the world premiere of Nathaniel Price’s First Touch and the Sir Trevor Nunn directed World Premiere of stage musical premiere of Identical

Speaking about the announcement Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse Adam Penford said, “I’m proud that our Spring/Summer season contains four back-to-back world premieres. New writing is the heartbeat of theatre and we wanted to give the space over to living writers and their unique voices.

Many freelance theatremakers suffered over the last 18 months, and we were determined to honour our commitment to projects which had been interrupted by Covid, celebrating the rich talents of the freelance artists we work with.

The productions are linked by a search for belonging, identity and family; what is our place in the world and how do we connect with those around us.”

Full season details:

Taking audiences up to August next year, the season kicks off with the professional premiere of Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novel Private Peaceful, which runs from 12 to 26 February before embarking on a national tour.

The production tells the tale of the Peaceful brothers, Tommo and Charlie, who have a tough rural childhood facing the death of their father, financial hardship and a cruel landlord. Their fierce loyalty to each other pulls them through, until one day they both fall for the same girl. And then the Great War comes.  Dug into the trenches, 18 year-old Private Tommo Peaceful recounts a journey of courage, devotion and sibling rivalry on what may be his last night on earth. 

Director of Pentabus, Elle While directs this tale of a country lad fighting a war he doesn’t understand for people he cannot respect, features the ensemble cast of Daniel Boyd (Great Expectations – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Romeo and Juliet – Headlong Theatre) as Charlie Peaceful, Emma Manton (As You Like It – Watermill Theatre, The Wind In The Willows – New Vic Theatre) as Mother/Grandma Wolf, Daniel Rainford (Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia – Almeida Theatre, Horseshoes for Hand Grenades – East Riding Theatre) as Thomas 'Tommo' Peaceful and Liyah Summers (Henry VI Part 1 – RSC, Our Lady of Kibeho – Theatre Royal Stratford East) as Molly/Anna.  The Designer is Lucy Sierra, Lighting Designer Matt Haskins, Sound Designer Dan Balfour, Movement Director Neil Bettles, Composer Frank Moon and Casting Director Ginny Schiller CDG.

Private Peaceful was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Red House Children’s Book Award and won the Blue Peter Book Award and is acknowledged by Michael Morpurgo (War Horse, The Butterfly Lion) as his favourite work.

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Private Peaceful is followed in by the world premiere of the Nottingham Playhouse, Northern Stage and Royal Lyceum Edinburgh production of Red Ellen by Caroline Bird, which runs from 13 to 30 April.

This remarkable new play, from award winning poet and playwright Caroline Bird, tells the inspiring and epic story of Ellen Wilkinson, Labour MP, who was forever on the right side of history, forever on the wrong side of life.

Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen fights with an unstoppable, reckless energy for a better world. Running (quite literally in some cases) into the likes of Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway, she battles to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany; campaigns for Britain to aid the fight against Franco’s Fascists in Spain; and leads 200 workers in the Jarrow Crusade, marching from Newcastle through Nottingham and the Midlands all the way to London, delivering a petition which aimed to end unemployment and poverty. She serves as a vital member of Churchill’s cabinet, and has affairs with communist spies and government ministers. But, despite all of this, she still finds herself – somehow – on the outside looking in.

With casting to be announced, Red Ellen will be directed by Wils Wilson (Life is a Stream and The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – National Theatre of Scotland, I Want My Hat Back – National Theatre, Twelfth Night – Bristol Old Vic).

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Moving into early summer comes the world premiere of Nathaniel Price’s First Touch which runs from 7 to 21 May.

Clayton James, a 17-year-old Nottingham lad, dreams of becoming the next Viv Anderson. With a prodigious talent, the offer of a professional contract at a First Division club and a growing romance with girlfriend Serena, he appears to have the world at his feet.

But life at the beginning of the 1980s isn’t easy for Clayton and his family, trying to make it in an era of racism and hooliganism. And Clayton’s steelworker dad Patterson faces an uncertain future as the Thatcher government faces off against the unions.

When his charismatic and powerful former coach, Lafferty, returns after four years away, Clayton is forced to confront painful memories of the past. Can he protect his loved ones from the truth of what he endured?

Inspired by the recent football abuse scandals, First Touch is a gripping and heartfelt drama about what it takes to fulfil your dreams, by rising screenwriter Nathaniel Price (BBC’s Noughts and Crosses and Sky’s Tin Star). Directed by Jeff James (Persuasion – Royal Exchange Manchester, Noah and The Peacock – Nottingham Playhouse), the set and Costume Designer is Charlotte Espiner, Lighting Designer Hansjörg Schmidt, Sound Designer Kieran Lucas and Casting Director Polly Jerrold.

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Rounding off the season comes the eagerly awaited new musical adaptation Erik Kästner’s novel The Parent Trap, Identical, which runs from 26 July to 14 August. 

This twin-sational world stage musical premiere tells the classic story of twin girls separated at birth, reunited by chance at a summer camp ten years later. In an attempt to get to know their parents and reconcile the two halves of their family, they decide to swap places and live each other’s lives.

Identical is directed by Olivier and Tony award-winning Sir Trevor Nunn, who is responsible for some of the greatest hits in the world (Les Miserables, Starlight Express, Cats and Sunset Boulevard). Music and lyrics are by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the multi award-winning writers of the West End hit Honk!, who also created a new score for the international smash-hit Cameron Mackintosh/Disney production of Mary Poppins, and a book by Stuart Paterson.

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