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Hampstead heaps legit preems

Leigh returns to direct

A collection of premieres — one world, one European, one U.K. and one London — make up the fall season at London’s Hampstead Theater, where the slate finishes with a Mike Leigh-helmed staging of the writer-director’s 1979 play “Ecstasy.”

Under a.d. Edward Hall, the sole world premiere — in a venue previously associated almost exclusively with first productions of new writing — is “Tiger Country,” written and directed by Nina Raine (“Rabbit”). The drama explores ethical and personal decisions facing staff and patients in a frenetic London hospital. Running Jan. 13-Feb. 5, it will open within three months of Raine’s other new play, “Tribes,” bowing at the Royal Court Theater.

Leigh’s “Ecstasy” stint at Hampstead reps the writer-director’s return to the venue, where his 1977 play “Abigail’s Party” had its world preem. “Ecstasy,” about a group of working-class English friends, is set to play March 10-April 9.

South African scribe Athol Fugard will direct the European premiere of his play “The Train Driver,” following its debut in Cape Town earlier this year. Play runs Nov. 4-Dec. 4 with a Nov. 9 opening.

Hall himself will open the season with “Enlightenment” (Sept. 30-Oct. 30), a psychological thriller by Shelagh Stephenson first seen in 2005 at Dublin’s Abbey Theater. The season also includes the London premiere of Druid Theater Company’s production “Penelope” by Enda Walsh, as well as Melly Still’s “Beasts and Beauties,” first seen in 2003.

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