Sarah Kane’s play Crave is to be livestreamed when it is staged for socially distanced audiences at Chichester Festival theatre this autumn. The revival of Kane’s troubling dramatic poem, starring The Crown’s Erin Doherty, is one of England’s first major productions during the pandemic to welcome a limited audience into the auditorium and simultaneously reach viewers around the world.
Chichester Festival theatre’s artistic director, Daniel Evans, said that amid the chaos caused by coronavirus “it is vital that theatre doesn’t lose its appetite for risk-taking – I believe both artists and audiences are hungry to be challenged”.
First staged in 1998, the play explores love and hope in a world of violence and madness. By the time Kane’s next play, 4.48 Psychosis, was produced the following year, the playwright had killed herself at the age of 28.
Crave had been scheduled to play in Chichester’s smaller Spiegeltent venue this year, but will now be presented to a reduced capacity in the main Festival theatre. Doherty, best known for playing Princess Anne in Netflix’s regal blockbuster, will star with Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films). Tinuke Craig directs.
Evans, who presented the complete works of Kane in 2015 when he ran Sheffield Theatres, said: “I can’t wait to see what the brilliant Tinuke Craig and her design team create, both for the live and digital audience. I’m also curious to discover how the play might shine a light on our experiences over the last months of isolation and disconnection.”
The production promises a “sound and videoscape” created by Craig and the designers Alex Lowde and Anna Clock. Crave runs from 29 October to 7 November, with the majority of the performances livestreamed. Most of this year’s high-profile theatre streams have either been of previously recorded productions, as for the National Theatre’s NT at Home series, or have been live broadcasts of actors performing in empty auditoriums, such as the Old Vic’s In Camera series.
In May, Chichester cancelled its 2020 productions as a result of the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The theatre had been due to start its annual festival season in July with South Pacific and The Unfriend, both of which it intends to reschedule to 2021. Last month, the theatre gave an open-air bank holiday concert featuring Omid Djalili and Giles Terera alongside Evans, who won two Olivier awards for best actor in a musical before he took over at Chichester, in West Sussex, in 2016. In November, Evans will host another concert, celebrating the songs of Stephen Sondheim, who turned 90 earlier this year. The theatre’s autumn season also features comedy nights, cabaret and circus.