The Gate Theatre have announced their next production, Dear Elizabeth, a two-hander by award winning US playwright Sarah Ruhl will be performed by a series of guest actors including Travis Alabanza, Jade Anouka,Tim Crouch, Tamsin Greig and Alex Jennings.

Dear Elizabeth will run at the venue from 17 January - 9 February 2019.

For each performance throughout the run, two actors will take the roles of poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, whose correspondence, amounting to over 400 letters over their lifetime is a compelling and moving story of two soul-mates - an unconventional and intense relationship spanning decades, continents and political eras. The full cast will be announced in the new year.

Director Ellen McDougall said ‘One of the reasons this play feels so powerful is that it presents the idea that we can have intimate, intense relationships that resist easy definition. Robert and Elizabeth's relationship lived somewhere between a romance and a friendship and I want this piece to celebrate intimate relationships in all their forms.
For this reason, being able to present a multiplicity of voices telling this story - from performers, many of whom are writers, poets, artists, themselves, feels really exciting.

The two performers each night 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. The idea of reaching out into the unknown, and our need for one another, feels very prescient.

I very much hope that people will return to see ‘Dear Elizabeth’ more than once - to see how two very different people might meet each other and build a relationship in the act of performing it. We will be having two press nights, each with a different combination of performers, changing the ways the piece resonates.’

More cast and production info:

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include How To Transcend a Happy Marriage; For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday: The Oldest Boy: In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee for Best Play); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center); Orlando: Late: A Cowboy Song; Dear Elizabeth; Dead’s Men’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes award); Eurydice and Stage Kiss. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by the Lincoln Center Theater, off-Broadway at Playwright’s Horizons, Second Stage and at the Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country and have also been produced internationally and translated into over twelve languages. Rhul received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. She has received the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award, the Susan Smith Blackburn award, the Whiting award, the Lily Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights, and the MacArthur ‘genius’ award. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write was published by Faber and Faber and was a Times Notable Book of the Year. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Director Ellen McDougall is Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre. Previous credits at the Gate include - Effigies of Wickedness (2018), The Tale of the Unknown Island (2017) and Idomeneus (2014). Other credits include The Wolves (Royal Theatre Stratford East, 2018), a critically acclaimed production of Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, the Lyric’s annual pantomime – Aladdin by Joel Horwood (2016) and Cinderella by Tom Wells (2015), The Rolling Stone (Orange Tree Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange), The Remains of Maisie Duggan (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Glass Menagerie (Headlong), Anna Karenina (Manchester Royal Exchange), Henry the Fifth (Unicorn Theatre); Glitterland (Secret Theatre/Lyric Hammersmith) and Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre).
She was awarded an International Artists' Development Award (ACE/British Council) in 2012; she was the runner up in the JMK Award 2008 and directed A Kind of Alaska at BAC. Her production of Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre) was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2011. Ellen will direct Our Town at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2019.

Designer Moi Tran is a Visual Artist/Performance maker/Researcher and Designer, her practice is interested in the intersections between Contemporary Art and Performance. Upcoming Theatre includes: White Pearl (Royal Court); Summer Rolls (Park); Under the Umbrella (Belgrade/Tara Arts). Recent Theatre includes: Deluge (Hampstead); Roundelay (Southwark); Tamburlaine (Yellow Earth); The Manual Oracle (Yard/Anxiety Festival); Golden Child (New Diorama); Bandages (Corn Exchange, Newbury/Live, Newcastle/UK tour); Meat, The Whiskey Taster (Bush); Emoticon, Kafka Vs Kafka (Jack Studio); Concrete Jungle (Riverside Studios/Tobacco Factory); A Woman of Substance, The Death of Norman Tortilla (Tristan Bates); A Bacchae (Yard); Shrink (Old Red Lion); A Woman Alone (Tabard); Napoli (Leeds Playhouse); Imperial Fizz (Jermyn Street/Edinburgh Festival Fringe); The Jewish Wife (BAC); The Last Days of Limehouse (Limehouse Town Hall/Yellow Earth), Heaven In Berlin, Café Duende (Hobo); Hackney Wicked Festival (Peanut Factory); Kinetic Frentic (Site specific). Recent Opera includes: The Imperfect Pearl (Corn Exchange Newbury/St Georges/Kings Place London/UK Tour); Falstaff (Opera Berbiguieres, France). Recent Dance includes: Human Wall (V&A); Genus Classification by Altitude of Occurrence Vertical Series (Gallery 223); Temporality in a Cut (Display Gallery). Recent Art Performance includes: The Circuit- A Movement Scenario (OvalSpace/Rootstein Hopkins/SPILL). The Other day you sat too far away from me (Henry Moore Courtyard), SLEEP (Live Art Development Agency). Recent Film includes: Man X (Short), Bites (Short), Kolya (Short animation), Healthy, Join the Dots. Upcoming Awards/Commissions include: British Council/Taiwan Ministry of Culture Arts and Culture Fellowship in SEA. 2018-2019. Prague Quadrennial 2019. Recent Awards/Commissions include OV12 Attached Artist, LADA Artist DIY 2018, SPILL Festival 2018. JMK award for Design.
Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun works in theatre, from theatre to dance, circus and installations. Jessica has been nominated for the Off West End Award for’ Best Lighting Designer’ 2018. Lighting Designer credits include: Hive City Legacy (Hot Brown Honey & Roundhouse);The Party’s Over (Nonsuch Theatre Company); Gypsy Disco (Boomtown Festival); Becoming Shades (Chivaree Circus); Nine Foot Nine (Sleepless Theatre Company); The Human Voice (The Gate Theatre); Cuckoo (Metal Rabbit Productions); Forgotten (Yellow Earth & Moongate); Snowflake (Arts Old Fire Station) and One (Bert&Nasi).
Sound Designer Jon Nicholls is a composer and sound designer working across theatre, audio drama & VR. Recent music / sound-scores for theatre include Hamlet (RSC); Spring Storm, Beyond The Horizon and The Holy Rosenbergs (NT); Good Canary (dir. John Malkovich), My Brilliant Friend, Much Ado About Nothing (Rose); Touching The Void, Pink Mist, Medea (Bristol Old Vic), Yerma, Idomeneus (Gate); Bracken Moor, Mermaid (Shared Experience), Wonderland (Nottingham Playhouse), Our Country's Good (Ramps On The Moon); (the fall of) the Master Builder (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Mother (Bath Theatre Royal / Kiln), Trouble In Mind (Print Room).
He's also created music / sound designs for dozens of BBC audio dramas and features, most recently Ballad Of the Blade for Radio 4 in collaboration with poet Momtaza Mehri. He's currently working with the BBC on Turning Worlds, the sequel to the VR experience The Turning Forest which he scored last year.

Yasmin Hafesji is a director and dramaturg. Past dramaturgical credits include Omeros by Derek Walcott (Gate Theatre, 2017). She is currently working with the Lyric Ensemble as Assistant Director (Lyric Hammersmith, 2019) and is the Community Assistant at the Bush Theatre where she supports Community Associate Companies create centrepiece performances with non-professional actors. Yasmin trained under Natalie Abrahami through the Young Vic Intro to Directing Programme.

Sally Hardcastle is a performance designer and assistant based in London. Since graduating with a degree in Theatre Design from Rose Bruford College she has worked with organisations including Wild Rumpus, The Bread and Roses Theatre, 42nd Theatre Company, London Bubble and The Redbridge Drama Centre. She has assisted designers including Gary McCann, Hannah Wolfe and Takis. She is also co-founder of new theatre company, Matipo. Sally has a particular interest in new writing and community based theatre. She is currently designing Footprints In The Snow at the Winchester Discovery Centre.

Tim Crouch is an Obie-award winning writer, actor and theatre-maker. His plays include My Arm, ENGLAND (a play for galleries), An Oak Tree, The Author, Adler & Gibb, Beginners, and (with Andy Smith) what happens to the hope at the end of the evening. Tim also writes for younger audiences. A series of plays inspired by Shakespeare’s lesser characters includes I, Malvolio and I, Peaseblossom. For the RSC Tim has directed The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear and I, Cinna (the poet) – all for young audiences. Directing credits include Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore for the Unicorn Theatre, London, and The Complete Deaths for Spymonkey. Awards include a Fringe First, two Herald Angels, two Total Theatre awards, the Brian Way award for best children’s play and the 2010 John Whiting award. Tim is published by Oberon Books. He is currently under commission to the Ark, Dublin, the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre of Scotland and the BBC.

Travis Alabanza is a performer and writer based in London. Their theatre credits include Putting Words in Your Mouth (Roundhouse), Jubilee (Royal Exchange, Manchester and Lyric Hammersmith) and recently a sold-out, critically acclaimed run of their own show Burgerz (Hackney Showroom, Oval House, Royal Exchange). Outside of theatre, their writing and activism surrounding LGBTQ+ rights has appeared in Vogue, BBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Independent, and they have given talks at over 120 international institutions including The Tate, V&A, Harvard University, and Royal Academy of art.

Jade Anouka’s stage roles include The Greatest Wealth (The Old Vic), Queen Margaret (Royal Exchange), The Phlebotomist (Hampstead Theatre), Cover My Tracks (The Old Vic), Shakespeare Trilogy (Donmar Warehouse), Doctor Faustus (The Jamie Lloyd Company), Henry IV (St Anne’s Warehouse, New York), So Here We Are (Royal Exchange/High Tide), Chef (Soho), The Vote and Henry IV (Donmar Warehouse), Chef (Edinburgh Fringe), Omeros (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Clean (59E59 Theatres New York), Julius Caesar (St Anne’s Warehouse, New York), Clean (Traverse Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), Hamlet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Romeo and Juliet (Bolton Octagon), Wild Horses (Theatre 503), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare’s Globe / US tour), Blood Wedding (Southwark Playhouse), Twelfth Night (York Theatre Royal), The Taming of the Shrew (RSC), The Merchant of Venice (RSC), The Penelopiad (RSC/National Arts Centre Canada), Handa’s Surprise (The Little Angel Theatre). On television she has appeared in Turning Up Charlie, Cleaning Up, Trauma, Chewing Gum, Lucky Man, The Vote, Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo and Juliet, Doctor Who:The Bells of Saint John, Shakespeare Uncovered: The Comedies, Shakespeare Uncovered: The Tempest, Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet, Secrets and Words: Mightier Than The Sword, Law and Order:UK. On film, Jade has appeared in The Rhythm Section, Fisherman’s Friend, Baby Gravy, The Dark Channel, A Summer Hamlet, T-Police Field, A Running Jump, That Serious Face and Happy Hour. On radio she has appeared in Assata Shakur:The FBI’s Most Wanted Woman and World On The Move.

Tamsin Greig is an Award Winning actor of Stage & Screen. Her theatre work: A Kind of Alaska/Landscape (Pinter season (Harold Pinter Theatre), Labour of Love (Noel Coward Theatre); Twelfth Night (National Theatre), The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (iHo); Longing (Hampstead Theatre), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse - Olivier nomination for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’); Jumpy (Royal Court/Duke of York’s); The Little Dog Laughed (Garrick - Oliver Award Nomination for ‘Best Actress’ 2011); Gethsemane (National Theatre); God of Carnage (Gielgud); Much Ado About Nothing (RSC - Winner of The Critics Circle Award and Olivier Award for ‘Best Actress’ (2007); King John (RSC). Her film work includes Tamara Drewe (British Independent Film Awards Nomination – and an out of competition hit at Cannes); The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Breaking the Bank, Stop the World/ Television work includes: Elementary Episodes (5 Series- BAFTA nomination); White Heat; Friday Night Dinner (4 series BAFTA nomination);The Guilty – 3 part series, Diana & I,Emma; The Diary of Anne Frank; Love Soup (2 Series); Green Wing (2 Series – Royal Television Society's Award 2006/BAFTA Nomination 2006 - British Comedy Award Nomination 2005); Black Books (3 Series), People Like Us; Happiness.

Nigel Barrett is an award winning actor and theatre maker. He is a member of the shunt collective and has been working with Louise Mari since 2006, when they started the shunt lounge together – the infamous arts venue under London Bridge Station. He is also an associate director with Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre and Sabab, with whom he made The Arabic Shakespeare Trilogy for the RSC, Peter Brooks Bouffe du Nord and BAM New York.
His theatre work includes The Mysteries (Royal Exchange Manchester), 100: Unearthed (Wildworks), Party Skills for the End of the World (Manchester International Festival and Shoreditch Town Hall), Kingdom Come (RSC), Margate/Dreamland (Shoreditch Town Hall), Blasted (Barrel Organ / Styx), Big Bad Wolf in Baddies the Musical (Unicorn Theatre), The Eye Test (National Theatre), Everyone (Chris Goode and Co), The Iphigenia Quartet (The Gate), Cyrano De Bergerac (Northern Stage Co), Praxis Makes Perfect (NTW / Berlin Festspiele), Mad Man (Theatre Royal Plymouth), There Has Possibly Been An Incident (Royal Exchange Manchester), Get Stuff Break Free ( National Theatre), The Passion (National Theatre Wales/Wildworks ), Pericles (Regents Park) and Richard III - An Arab Tragedy (RSC).
Film and television includes, Doctor, Cycles, The Gospel of Us, The Boat, Hello You, Casualty, Meet The Piltdowns, Hairy Eyeball, Dawson’s Creek Special, The Mysteries, Deadline, The Lens, Sexual Healing, England My England.
Hannah Ringham is a co-founder and performer of the UK award winning performance collective SHUNT. Her recent theatre credits include Islands (Bush Theatre), The Architects (Shunt), The Present (Unicorn Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre), Cadavre Exquis (2012), Contain Violence – Site Specific (Lyric Hammersmith), Ooogly Boogly (2008), Tropicana (Shunt). She has performed and toured internationally with many other companies including Tim Crouch, Kassys (a collaborative performance with Kassys, The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma and Nicole Beutler), Caroline Horton, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Her recent theatre credits include The Mysteries (Manchester Royal Exchange); All's Well That Ends Well (The Globe); Bad Faith (Laban Centre), The Unknown Island (Gate Theatre). Her own recent work as an artist include Die or Run for the Arts in Mind festival in London and Free show (bring money) national touring, both with Glen Neath.

17 January – 9 February 2019
Press Night - 22 & 23 January
Young People’s Night - 25 January
Caption Night – 5 February
Evening performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances at 3pm
Ticket prices
Tickets From £12 (concessions available)
Phone 020 7229 0706