Almeida lines up 'anarchic’ comedy on Rupert Murdoch for 2017 spring season

Written by Sebastian Whale on 20 January 2017 in Culture
Culture

Playwright James Graham will explore how Britain's most influential newspaper gave voice to a marginalised working class.

How a young and rebellious Rupert Murdoch re-wrote the rules of Fleet Street is the subject of a new play by Britain’s most pre-eminent political playwright.

INK by James Graham, writer of hugely popular production This House, will launch at the Almeida this June as part of the theatre’s new season exploring the “reality behind fiction”.

The production will examine how Murdoch's acquisition and rebranding of The Sun in 1969, and his approach to tabloid journalism, became ground zero for populism.

It will also pay homage to a bygone era in the newspaper trade. The comedy will be “very anarchic and very nostalgic about the lost traditions of Fleet Street,” according to INK director Rupert Goold, who is also the Almeida’s artistic director.

Speaking to the Guardian, Goold said the play would explore how the Sun gave the people what they wanted, and see how the media, in different forms, “prioritises stories and narratives over the facts and the truth”.

The exploits of a young Murdoch, Goold added, provided Graham with a litany of material. He described it as a “great role, very funny”.

Graham announced in December that he was penning a TV drama about the EU referendum, tackling what happened in the run-up to the vote on 23 June.

His other works include Coalition, a 2015 TV film about David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s horse trading in government.

His critically acclaimed political drama This House has also just moved to the West End following its run at the Chichester Theatre.

 

FIGURES OF SPEECH

The Almeida will also today launch a new digital film project in partnership with the Guardian, named Figures of Speech, which will “interrogate the vitality of speech, rhetoric, and what visionary leadership sounds like”.

The initiative will see actors and young leaders recreate some of history’s greatest speeches, from the British suffragettes to Mao Zedong, designed to explore the voices behind visionary leadership.

At midday Vanessa Redgrave will read Václav Havel’s ‘Words on Words’.

This feeds in to the theatre’s new season which looks to respond to the seismic shifts in the political, societal and cultural landscape.

Goolde said in a statement: “In the wake of 2016’s political events and ahead of the vast wave of international elections in 2017 - beginning today alongside the inauguration of the new leader of the free world - Figures of Speech will unearth the world’s most vital speeches for a new audience. We want to remember what leadership sounds like. At the Almeida we believe what changes opinion, narrative, momentum, are words. Words carefully crafted and meticulously delivered by inspirational women and men, wherever a meaningful audience can be found.

“It is up to us who hear these words, and watch these plays, to discover the truth.”

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