Biography of real-life figures, from the men behind “Monty Python” to Wallis Simpson to late British playwright Harley Granville-Barker, provides the key to Hampstead Theater’s newly announced 2011 season, which features three world premieres and a U.K. bow.
The characters of Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin appear in Steve Thompson’s brand new “No Naughty Bits” (Sept. 8-Oct. 15). Based on a real-life tussle between the TV networks and the courts, the play takes off from the point at which “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was first aired in the U.S. minus all its notorious rude or “naughty” bits. Hampstead a.d. Edward Hall will helm the production.
Former National Theater a.d. Richard Eyre (“Notes on a Scandal”) helms the world preem of “The Last of the Duchess” (Oct. 20-Nov. 26), Nicholas Wright’s adaptation of the biographical portrait of the last days of Simpson, the American divorcee who caused one of the scandals of the 20th century when her love affair with Edward VIII forced the king to abdicate.
“The Trial of Ubu” (U.K. premiere Jan. 18-Feb. 18), directed by Katie Mitchell, is a satire from Simon Stephens (“Punk Rock,” “Harper Regan”). It takes Pere Ubu, the megalomaniacal central character from Alfred Jarry’s 1896 satire “Ubu Roi,” and puts him in front of a U.N.-constituted international tribunal filled with absurd legal wrangling.
Season’s final new bio-play, Richard Nelson’s “Farewell to the Theater,” is set in 1916 Massachusetts. As war rages in Europe, playwright and director Granville-Barker (“The Voysey Inheritance”) finds himself with an academic, theater-obsessed community sparring with a group of British ex-pats. The world preem (March 1-April 7) reteams Nelson with helmer Roger Michell (“Notting Hill,” “Changing Lanes”) who premiered Nelson’s “Two Shakespearean Actors” and “Some Americans Abroad.”