The Donmar Warehouse has announced casting for the UK première of Dawn King’s The Trials directed by Natalie Abrahami. Stars of Netflix teen LGBTQ+ series Heartstopper, Joe Locke and Will Gao, have been cast in the jury, alongside Elise Alexandre, Francis Dourado, Jowana El-Daouk, Pelumi Ibiloye, Honor Kneafsey, Rue Millwood, Charlie Reid, Meréana Tomlinson, Taya Tower and Jairaj Varsani. They are joined by Nigel Lindsay and Sharon Small as defendants.
This Donmar LOCAL production runs at the Donmar Warehouse from 12 August until 27 August 2022. Over 50 £10 tickets per performance will be available to audiences under 30, with a special YOUNG+FREE performance for audiences aged 16-25 on 17 August.
Michael Longhurst, Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director said “Dawn King’s explosive new play about the climate crisis demands we consider the generation most affected. I am proud that as part of our casting process for The Trials the Donmar has created an extensive engagement programme with young Londoners from our community, opening routes into the industry and platforming the next generation of actors and activists.”
As part of the casting process, 1372 young people were engaged through schools and community groups and a further 206 young people were engaged in intensive development workshops for the play at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD), with support from National Youth Theatre. During this phase of the project, the participants worked with Dawn King, had sessions in voice, movement and performance skills, took part in sessions on climate activism, and devised new work on the subject of climate justice. Over half of the company will make their professional debuts at the Donmar this Summer.
Principal Lecturer and Course Leader of MA Applied Theatre at RCSSD, Professor Selina Busby, commented “This project is really exciting, the Donmar’s approach to involving local communities and young people in their work is unique and highly ambitious. We have loved partnering with them on the project and it was a vital opportunity for so many young people to be involved in theatre making at a time when cuts to school theatre provision and to the arts and youth services are reducing these opportunities.”
Working with Julie’s Bicycle and Donmar Associate Zoë Svendsen, and with guidance from the Theatre Green Book, the creative team for The Trials is focused on minimising the impact of the production on the environment. The aim is to create a piece of theatre in which every possible element is either reused or recycled and can be returned to the theatre ecosystem for use in future productions. The team will monitor and track the decision-making process in every department, collating their learning and ultimately generating a framework for sustainable productions at the Donmar and beyond.
Junior creatives are also being recruited to shadow the creative team in roles including Junior Assistant Set & Costume and Junior Assistant Director, supported by the Backstage Trust as part of the Donmar’s ongoing commitment to talent development.
Also announced today is the release of Climate Conversations, a new podcast series bringing together Donmar directors and leading climate and social justice thinkers.
This podcast series was recorded during an 18-month research project the Donmar is currently undertaking. Bringing together artists and staff, facilitated by Donmar Artistic Associate and Climate Dramaturg Zoë Svendsen, this research is exploring new ways of working and thinking in order to create the conditions for more climate-careful theatre-making. The first podcast will be available in July.
The full creative team for the production are Director: Natalie Abrahami; Designer: Georgia Lowe; Lighting Designer: Jai Morjaria; Sound Designer and Composer: Xana; Movement Directors: Anna Morrissey and Aaron Parsons; Video Designer: Nina Dunn; Voice Coach: Emma Woodvine; Associate Director: Joseph Hancock; Sustainability Consultants: Julie’s Bicycle; and Production Dramatherapist: Wabriya King
The Trials received its world première at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus in 2021 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. This production is generously supported by Adam and Victoria Freudenheim. The Trials Young Assistants’ Programme is generously supported by the Backstage Trust.