Hampstead Theatre is delighted to announce further live productions for 2021.  Tennessee Williams’ The Two Character Play will run from 17 July until 28 August.  Sam Yates will direct this innovative, psychological thriller by one of the world’s great dramatists which originally premiered at the theatre in 1967.  Yates is making a highly anticipated return to the theatre following his Olivier-nominated production of The Phlebotomist (2019).  The world premiere of Big Big Sky,by Tom Wells will also run from 30 July until 11 September at Hampstead Downstairs.  This beautifully tender new play which explores nature’s influence on love, friendship and family will be directed by Tessa Walker, Hampstead Theatre’s new Associate Director.  Both productions will remain as originally sold, with reduced capacity and social distancing, for the duration of their runs should national restrictions be lifted. Tickets will go on sale from Thursday 20 May at 1030am at hampsteadtheatre.com.

Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Hampstead Theatre said:

Hampstead Theatre has historically embraced playwrights at all stages of their careers. 

Tennessee Williams was at the height of his when he chose to offer the world premiere of The Two Character Play, a very personal play, to James Roose Evans to direct.  It speaks volumes of the regard in which he held Hampstead as a leading artistic space for experimental work and I am excited by Sam’s vision for this gem from our Originals series.   

Tom Wells’ play is a very different theatrical voice: naturalistic, understated, bursting with humour and humanity.  I’m thrilled he has also trusted us with his Hampstead debut, the world premiere of Big Big Sky, which continues his longstanding collaboration with Hampstead’s newly appointed Associate Director, Tessa Walker.

Sam Yates, director of The Two Character Play said: 

I am honoured to be returning to Hampstead Theatre to direct Tennessee Williams’ play.  I am excited to present this production to audiences following the show’s cancellation last year.  The Two Character Play is form-busting and unique, celebrating the very process of making theatre.  The Company and I look forward to presenting our interpretation of Tennessee’s daring play this summer. 

Tom Wells, playwright of Big Big Sky said:

I’m really delighted to be working again with Tessa Walker – our first time together at Hampstead Theatre – with Big Big Sky.  It feels properly special to be making theatre again, and making it with such a brilliant director. 

The play is set in Kilnsea, where I grew up and where my Mum and Dad still live. It’s a small village on the very edge of East Yorkshire, windswept and sea-nibbled, but it has its own beauty, I think – a bit peaceful, a bit restorative.  Fingers crossed Big Big Sky can bring a bit of this to audiences in Hampstead.  Also a few jokes about oat slice, and some line dancing.  I think probably we need those at the moment too. 

Tennessee Williams, one of the foremost playwrights of the twentieth-century, spent over ten years writing the partly autobiographical The Two Character Play and called it ‘the very heart of my life’.  It first premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1967 directed by the theatre’s founding Artistic Director James Roose-Evans.


Sam Yates will direct The Two Character Play making a highly anticipated return to Hampstead Theatre following his Olivier-nominated and critically acclaimed production of The Phlebotomist (2019).  Yates’ recent theatre credits include A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard (online, 2020); Incantata by Pulitzer prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon (Galway, Dublin, New York, 2018- 2020); Glengarry Glen Ross (2017-2018) starring Christian Slater and The Starry Messenger (2019) starring Matthew Broderick and Elizabeth McGovern (London’s West End).


Designer, Rosanna Vize; lighting designer Lee Curran; sound designer, Dan Balfour; video designer, Akhila Krishnan, movement director, Malik Nashad Sharpe and assistant director, Lizzie Manwaring will complete the creative team for The Two Character Play.


Big Big Sky by Tom Wells is a beautifully tender new play which explores nature’s influence on love, friendship and family – the belief that anyone who’s lost can be found, even in the remotest of places.  Set in his hometown of Kilnsea, in East Yorkshire, Wells’ touching drama draws on the beauty of his local coastal landscape whilst also subtly highlighting the vulnerability of nature and the need for better care.


Tom Wells’ theatre credits include The Kitchen Sink, winner of Most Promising Playwright Critics Circle Award (2011) and George Devine Award (2012), Ghosting (Royal Court), Drip, which premiered as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 (Script Club/Boundless) and Cinderella; Dick Whittington And His Cat and Jack and the Beanstalk (all Lyric Hammersmith).  Other theatre credits include Folk (Birmingham Rep/ Hull Truck /Watford Palace) and About a Goth (Paines Plough / Play Pie and a Pint) which were directed by Tessa Walker.  Big Big Sky will be Wells’ debut at Hampstead Theatre.


Tessa Walker is Hampstead Theatre’s newly appointed Associate Director.  Big Big Sky will be Walker’s directorial debut at Hampstead Theatre and her fourth collaboration with Tom Wells.  Recent directing work includes The Snow Queen (Sherman Theatre), Jekyll And Hyde (Birmingham Rep) and The Whip Hand  (Traverse Theatre/Birmingham Rep).  She has also been the Literary Director at Paines Plough and a Literary Associate at the National Theatre of Scotland.

Walker will be joined by designer Bob Bailey, lighting designer Jai Morjaria and sound designer Laura Howard.


Acclaimed actors, Jennifer Daley, Jessica Jolleys, Matt Sutton and Sam Newton will perform in Big Big Sky, all making their debut at Hampstead Theatre.


Jennifer Daley will play the role of Angie.  Recent theatre credits include Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads by Roy Williams (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (Theatre Royal Haymarket).  Daley also plays the role of Amy Franks in BBC Radio 4’s longstanding drama series The Archers.   


Jessica Jolleys will play the role of Lauren.  She is a recent graduate of Rose Bruford College (2019).  Theatre work includes Jack and the Beanstalk (Theatre Clwyd).


Sam Newton will play the role of Ed.  Recent theatre credits include playing the main character, and narrator in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (National Theatre Productions, 2017, 2019), Phil Porter’s Sometimes Thinking (Frantic Assembly) and Nigel Slater’s memoir, Toast (The Lowry / The Traverse).


Matt Sutton will play the role of Dennis.  Recent theatre credits include James Graham’s The Culture – a Farce in Two Acts, (Hull Truck/Hull UK City of Culture), Deborah Bruce’s The House They Grew Up In (Headlong / Chichester Festival Theatre) and Richard Bean’s The Hypocrite (Royal Shakespeare Company, Hull Truck Theatre. and Hull UK City of Culture 2017).


Both productions will remain as originally sold, with reduced capacity and social distancing, for the duration of their runs should national restrictions be lifted.  In the event of the productions being postponed due to UK Government advice, full refunds or credit vouchers will be offered.


Hampstead Theatre will reopen from 28 May 2021 with Alfred Fagon’s darkly compelling, The Death of a Black Man (until 10 July) and the world premiere of Raya, by Deborah Bruce from 11 June until 24 July.  Dawn Walton, former Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre Company, will direct The Death of a Black Man which originally premiered at the theatre in 1975.  Raya will be directed by Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director Roxana Silbert.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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