The Sherman Theatre's 2020 programme continues the theatre’s mission to tell local stories with global resonance and be the engine room for Welsh theatre.

This is the first season with new Artistic Director Joe Murphy at the helm and promises a year of compelling theatre made at the heart of the city, featuring seven Welsh plays, four world premieres and productions by Wales-based writers Brad Birch, Katherine Chandler, Tracy Harris, Daf James and Lisa Parry. 

Unveiling the 2020 programme, Joe said: “I’m thrilled to announce my first season at Sherman Theatre. It’s so exciting to launch a full year of work and to celebrate the depth of artistic quality available in Wales: the artists championed here are only the beginning of our commitment to being an engine room of Welsh talent. The 2020 Season puts the audience at its heart, offering high-impact, emotional stories rooted in Wales but relevant to the world. 

“This theatre belongs to the brilliant people of our brilliant city: somewhere to meet, share live experiences, and celebrate our culture. For me, it is the heart of Cardiff”

The Artistic Director revealed a new roster of Associate Artists with actor and writer Kyle Lima, writer and composer Seiriol Davies, designer Hayley Grindle and actor Suzanne Packer joining the team. Daf James becomes Writer in Residence and Katherine Chandler, Gary Owen and Patricia Logue return as Associate Artists.

Legendary Welsh actor Rhys Ifans will become Sherman Theatre’s Patron. Rhys who recently performed in National Theatre Wales and Royal Court Theatre’s production of Ed Thomas’s On Bear Ridge said: “It’s wonderful to have a space like the Sherman at the heart of the city.”

Rhys will champion the theatre’s Adopt a Seat campaign to help support the Sherman’s efforts as a registered charity to increase income through generous giving from trusts and individuals.

At the 2020 programme launch, it was announced that Sherman Theatre has become Wales’ first Theatre of Sanctuary. The status, awarded by City of Sanctuary, recognises the Sherman as somewhere refugees and asylum seekers can feel safe, welcome and supported. 

Julia Barry, Executive Director of Sherman Theatre said: “In recent years, through our Sherman 5 programme, and our work with volunteers and community partners, we have been fortunate to embark upon an enriching and engaging partnership with the refugee and asylum seeker community within Cardiff. It is a privilege to be awarded Theatre of Sanctuary status and we look forward to the opportunities it will afford us in further developing our relationships with this vibrant community in our city.” 

Sherman Youth Theatre will continue to develop the theatre makers of the future. The first play to be shown at The Sherman Theatre will be Vivienne Franzmann's The It which will then go on to be performed at the Connections Festival.

Their productions will include co-productions with Theatre Genedlaethol Cymru, the National Theatre and Theatre Uncut. The first co-production to be features will be the World Premiere of the previously announced Tylwyth by Daf James, a co-commission and co-production with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru directed by their Artistic Director Arwel Gruffydd. Taking an irreverent look at love, family and friendship, it is a provocative commentary on contemporary Welsh life, following a group of gay friends living in Cardiff.

Sherman Theatre’s fifth collaboration with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s NEW writing festival is the world premiere of Ripples by Sherman New Welsh Playwrights Programme participant Tracy Harris. This intense new play set in a group rehab centre in Bridgend is directed by Sherman JMK Directors Group participant Matthew Holmquist.

The 2020 season includes An Enemy of the People by Brad Birch which will be the first play Joe Murphy will direct as Artistic Director. This timely re-working of Brad’s 2016 adaptation of Ibsen’s original sets the play in the South Wales Valleys and is a gripping drama for the post-truth era.

The Olivier Award-winning partnership of Sherman Theatre Associate Artist Gary Owen and former Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan will reunite for the world premiere production of Romeo and Julie, co-commissioned and co-produced with the National Theatre. Set in Cardiff today, Romeo and Julie is a powerful and funny new play inspired by Shakespeare's romantic tragedy.

The Sherman will stage the world premiere of The Merthyr Stigmatist by Lisa Parry in a co-production with Theatre Uncut. The play was submitted and subsequently shortlisted for Theatre Uncut’s Political Playwriting Award 2019 on which the Sherman was a partner. Emma Callander, Theatre Uncut’s joint Artistic Director, will direct this fierce new play in which a Merthyr Tydfil school pupil claims to have the stigmata, the wounds of Christ. 

Last on the roster Sherman Theatre’s 2020 programme are the Christmas shows. The first will be a new production of Gary Owen’s A Christmas Carol directed by Joe Murphy. Gary has revisited his adaptation of the Dickens’ classic relocating the story to Victorian Cardiff where Ebenezer Scrooge learns that she can find happiness in compassion, kindness and love. For children, Katherine Chandler’s adaptation of the classic fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker / Y Coblynnod a'r Crydd will provide the perfect introduction to the magic of theatre. 

You can find out more about this exciting new programme here. 

The Sherman will continue to fund initiatives that will help new Welsh theatre talent grow. These initiatives include Unheard Voices programme for writers will ensure that unheard voices become heard and that new writing in Wales is more reflective of its diverse range of voices; The Open House scheme will further make available the resources of Sherman Theatre to Cardiff’s creative community and enable that community to use Sherman Theatre as their home; a partnership with BBC Writersroom Wales called Welsh Voices 19/20 and The Sherman’s Introduction to Playwriting initiative aiming to introduce young people aged 15-18 (GCSEs to A level) to writing for the stage.

Find out more about these initiatives.