The West London theatre’s Spring programme for 2020 features the true story of a ballet superstar, an interrogation of motherhood and aging, and a compelling premiere about love and punishment in the Middle East.

Olivier and Emmy award-winning actor Brian Cox directs Nicole Ansari in Joshua Sobol’s Sinners, a dramatic tale of gender and punishment centred on a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

Highlights of the season includes Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act, the true story of a dancing megastar forgotten by history, starring Naomi Sorkin.

The Playground Theatre’s 2020 season foregrounds the work of female playwrights, directors and creatives with a wide-reaching programme of theatre and dance. Stand out productions include a play about the life of Ida Rubinstein, a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes who fearlessly courted controversy. Later in the Spring, Joshua Sobel’s Sinners comes to the theatre in a production directed by the award-winning actor Brian Cox and starring Nicole Ansari. The season also features Mum, the story of caring for an elderly relative with dementia, and Fragments, another show combining themes of memory, history and how we (re)write the past.

The season opens with Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act, the fascinating true story of a dancer whose career included working with Diaghilev, Nijinsky and Debussy. A Russian heiress, Rubinstein staked out a unique career working with the biggest names of the dancing world and rose to fame in Paris. Never shy of controversy, her scandalous portrayal of Salomé prompted her embarrassed family to commit her to an asylum. Her dramatic off-stage life also featured multiple bisexual love affairs, the assassination of her long-time lover Lord Moyne, and working as a nurse in both World Wars.

The role of Rubinstein is performed by Naomi Sorkin, former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Sorkin has a long-standing interest in Rubinstein and has previously portrayed her in the short film Madame Ida. Based on the original scenario The Interview that Never Happened by Irina Ioannesyan and Natella Boltyanskaya, Ida Rubinstein is directed and choreographed by Christian Holder, former lead dancer with the Joffrey Ballet company in New York.

Award-winning theatre makers Border Crossings bring The Great Experiment to The Playground Theatre from 18 – 19 February. Presented in association with the Dugdale Centre, Exchange Theatre and The Playground Theatre, this searing new play interrogates the aftermath of the abolition of slavery, including the compensation paid to slave owners and the Indian migrant labourers forced to work on plantations. This timely piece of performance also questions who gets to tell which stories, on stage and off.

On 21 February, Let’s All Dance in association with The Playground Theatre present Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. The company specialises in abridging and reformatting the classical repertoire into accessible, fun-filled productions aimed at children and families. Audience members are invited to join the dancers on stage for a photo opportunity post-show.

Joshua Sobol’s play Sinners comes to The Playground Theatre directed by Olivier and Emmy Award-winning actor Brian Cox and starring Nicole Ansari as a condemned English professor. Layla, the married teacher, has an affair with one of her married students, Nur. Fearing that the authorities will discover their secret and punish them both, Nur makes the dramatic decision to confess, but states that Layla seduced him. The consequences for Layla are devastating. Sinners will run from 26 February – 14 March 2020.

The struggles of caring for an elderly parent with dementia are explored in Mum by written by local writer and actress Juliet Cowen. Directed by Yasmeen Arden, the story follows Sorrel and Bun, who are trying their best to look after their un-well mother. As her hallucinations become more compelling and staying in the ‘real’ world becomes ever harder, the play considers the potential for humour in the darkest of situations, and the ever-changing role of mothers.

As part of the Playground Theatre’s ongoing commitment to developing new work, Girls at Night on the Internet will come to the venue in February to develop a new show exploring the shape-shifting world of online life, sexuality and gender, culminating in a sharing for an audience. The theatre’s Well Read, a script reading project created by The Playground Theatre in partnership with St Charles Hospital involving mental health and older adult patients will also continue. A second project created by the two partners, Well Written, was recently honoured at the London Region WEA Educational Impact Awards.

Speaking about the season, co-artistic director Anthony Biggs said “This season reflects The Playground's commitment to developing new theatre, and places community engagement at the heart of what we do. As we celebrate our second birthday, we thank all those who have helped us take flight. We have achieved so much in such a short time, and this has only been possible through the talent and commitment of our artists and staff, and the support of local people.”

Show information

10-11 Jan Twelfth Night
In the country of Illyria, twins Viola and Sebastian find themselves shipwrecked and separated after a violent storm, leaving them both believing each other to be dead. Here begins a journey of discovery within and through the rich and beautifully flawed characters of Twelfth Night.

In this new adaptation by Kirsty Bushell, presented by the internationally diverse All One Theatre Company, the production explores what happens when people try to fix their insides by changing their outsides. What happens to the characters as they relentlessly pursue their heart desires, at all cost.

Listings information
Friday- Saturday 7.30pm
Running Time: 2 hrs inc interval | Suitable for ages 12

23 Jan – 15 Feb: Ida Rubenstein: The Final Act
From Paris to Palestine, from dancing in the Ballet Russes to commissioning Ravel’s Boléro, Ida Rubinstein’s career as a dancer and impresario saw her working with artists such as Diaghilev, Nijinsky and Debussy. But despite her varied career and her fame in her own time, her name is all but forgotten,whilst her contemporaries live on in memory. Now Naomi Sorkin, actor and former Ballerina portrays the Russian heiress’ dramatic life: her scandalous Salomé that lead her embarrassed family to commit her to an asylum, her rise to the heights of fame in Paris, her bisexual love affairs, the assassination of her long time lover Lord Moyne, and her work as a nurse in both World Wars. Ida Rubinstein ,The Final Act combines text, movement, music, projections and film to evoke a long-gone era of theatrical extravagance.

Based on the original scenario The Interview That Never Happened by Irina Ioannesyan and Natella Boltyanskaya

Book by Christian Holder
Directed and choreographed by Christian Holder
Design by David Roger

Cast Includes:
Naomi Sorkin, Adam Clayton Jones, Marco Gambino, Darren Berry

Listings information
Monday - Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday matinees 1st, 8th & 15th Feb 2.30pm
Running Time:1hr 45 inc interval | Suitable for 12+

14 Feb: Girls at Night on the Internet: The Digital Error (R+D 2)

Slipping and sliding between traditional conventions of gender and sexuality we invite you to swim and bathe in a “secret” digital dimension. A nebulous “place” of intrigue, illusion, curiosity and motherboards, this radical new piece of interdisciplinary theatre explores how female, femme, queer and gender non- conforming people are expressing and interacting with their sexuality digitally. Challenging patriarchal perspectives of sexuality online, Girls At Night On The Internet: The Digital Error* combines theatre, film and queer feminist performance art in an eclectic, electric theatrical experience.

14 Feb – Free Sharing. Time tbc. Contact for details

18 – 19 Feb: The Great Experiment
We were taught in school about the Abolition of Slavery.

We weren’t taught about the huge compensation paid to the slave owners. We weren’t taught about the 2 million + Indian migrant labourers who were indentured to work in plantations around the world, replacing slave labour. The abolitionists, and Indian nationalists, called this a ‘new system of slavery’ - the ‘international shame of the Indian’. The roots of our Mauritian, Asian-Caribbean, Malaysian & African-Asian communities are all buried in this history, known as The Great Experiment.

As award-winning theatre-makers Border Crossings create their new play about these indentured migrations, the actors begin to feel the weight of history in their own lives and their responsibility to the past. Join us behind the scenes as we question who has the right to tell a story and who has the right to be heard.

Created by Border Crossings in association with Dugdale Centre, Exchange Theatre and The Playground Theatre.
Listings information
Time 7.30
Running Time:90 mins | Suitable for ages 14+

21 Feb: Sleeping Beauty
Let's All Dance returns with this much-loved ballet for the whole family. Dazzling dancers, Tchaikovsky's sumptuous score and gorgeous costumes bring this glittering classical ballet to life. A good fairy turned evil by jealousy casts a bad spell on a young princess. But an act of pure love will undo her magic, restoring her heart and bringing peace and harmony to the whole kingdom. This innovative company presents shortened classics to introduce children to the wonder and magic of live dance. Character and narrative led stories engage boys and girls from start to finish and are loved by all ages.

Photo opportunity with the dancers on stage after every show!

Listings information
Time 1pm & 3pm
Running Time: 50mins + photo opportunity | Suitable for all ages

26 Feb – 14 Mar: Sinners
Layla, a married English professor, has an affair with one of her married students, Nur. Out of fear that the oppressing authorities would find out and kill them both, Nur decides to confess, claiming that Layla seduced him. A fully staged production directed by Olivier- and Emmy Award-winner Brian Cox, the play examines issues of women’s rights, societal constraints, and what choices one makes for love.

Written by Joshua Sobol
Directed by Brian Cox

Nicole Ansari

Listings information
Time Mon-Fri 7.30, Sat Matinee 2.30pm
Running Time: 90 minutes plus interval | Suitable for ages 16+

15 Mar – 5 Apr: Mum
Mum is a play about identity, love and losing your mind.

Sorrel and Bun are struggling to manage their mum who has dementia.

Mum is struggling to manage the real world and the compelling world of her hallucinations.

The play asks the questions: What does it mean to be a mother? Who gets to decide what is real? And when is it OK to laugh instead of cry?

Written by Juliet Cowan
Directed by Yasmeen Arden

Listings information
Time Mon-Fri 7.30, Sat Matinee 2.30pm
Running Time: 90 plus interval | Suitable for ages 12+