The UK premiere of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family - an acclaimed trilogy of plays by Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson set during the turbulent US Election year - are the first shows to be revealed as part of Brighton Festival 2017 (6-28 May) ahead of the full programme announcement next month.
Particularly topical with the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next US president taking place this week, The Gabriels is the acclaimed follow-up to Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays which was the theatrical highlight of the 2015 Brighton Festival. The landmark series from New York’s leading theatre company, The Public Theater, follows one American family in real time, tracking their lives throughout the election year of 2016. History, money, politics, art and culture are all on the table in this moving trilogy about a family celebrating, remembering and waiting for the world to change.
The first play Hungry places us in the kitchen of the Gabriel family of Rhinebeck, New York. The family discusses their lives and disappointments, as they fight the fear of being left behind and attempt to find resilience in the face of loss.
What Did You Expect? brings us back to the kitchen of the Gabriel family, with the country now in the midst of the general election for President. In the course of one evening in the house they grew up in, history (both theirs and America's), money, politics, family, art and culture are chopped up and mixed together, while a meal is made around the kitchen table.
The Gabriels gather once again in Woman of a Certain Age to await the result of the election. As they consider the future of their country, town and home, they compare notes on the search for empathy and authenticity at a time when the game seems rigged and the rules are forever changing.
On his intentions behind the piece, Richard Nelson has said: 'In troubled and troubling times, theater has not only an opportunity, but the responsibility, to portray this confusion, and articulate the ambiguities, doubts, and fears of its time. Of course, it is a great temptation, in troubled times, to try and use the theater as a weapon… but….as a playwright, I try not to be co-opted by arguments and agendas. In other words, my theater is not a place to shout in, or be lectured at, nor where we go to be incited; rather a place to come together, sit among strangers in the dark, and recognize the complexity of the world before us.'
One of the nation’s most prolific playwrights, Nelson wrote the book for the musical James Joyce’s The Dead, which earned him a Tony Award in 2000. Among his other works are Franny’s Way (Drama Desk Award nominee), Goodnight Children Everywhere (Olivier Award), Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony Award nominee), Some Americans Abroad (Olivier Award nominee) and Principia Scriptoriae (London Time Out Award). Nelson also won the 2008 PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award and a 2008 Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, both for his career. He is an honorary artistic associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has produced ten of his plays.
The Gabriels Marathons (all three plays): Sat 20, Sun 21 & Sat 27 May, 1.30pm, 4.15pm and 7.30pm. Hungry: Tues 23 May, 8pm, What Did You Expect: Wed 24 May, 8pm, Woman of a Certain Age: Thurs 25 May, 8pm
The full programme announcement is on 15 Feb 2017. Members' Priority Booking opens Thurs 16 Feb 2017. Public booking opens Fri 24 Feb 2017.
Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival international programme is kindly supported by Gatwick Airport and The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family by University of Sussex.