The Genesis Foundation celebrates 20 years of international work with the Royal Court Theatre

11 October 2017


300 + PLAYS



Today the Genesis Foundation celebrates the 20th anniversary of its partnership with the Royal Court Theatre, a partnership which has enabled hundreds of writers from more than 70 countries, in over 40 languages to have their work read, developed and produced by the Royal Court Theatre’s International team, headed by Elyse Dodgson.

Elyse created the International Programme 20 years ago with the support of Genesis Foundation Founder & Chairman, John Studzinski who came to watch some plays that Elyse was presenting. She recounts that the first International season, featuring three European writers was “a complete disaster” and played to an almost empty auditorium. “But John loved it. He got it decades earlier than everyone else.” Today, the International department is central to the Royal Court Theatre and the Autumn / Winter 2017 season is a testament to the quality, strength and vision of its work.

Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, John Studzinski, said:

“The Genesis Foundation backs artistic leaders of vision, tenacity and passion for nurturing young artistic talent. In Elyse Dodgson, the Genesis Foundation found a partner who embodies all these qualities and more. Elyse’s energy and commitment to helping young talent has seen her work in more than 70 countries and with many hundreds of playwrights. Her impact on the world of theatre is immense and includes nurturing and supporting playwrights in war zones, countries that don’t have a culture of contemporary theatre or one where new voices struggle to write free from censorship. In all these places Elyse has immersed herself in the lives of these playwrights and ensured that the Royal Court reaches beyond Sloane Square to make a deep and lasting difference to the world of theatre.”

Elyse Dodgson said: “With John Studzinski and the Genesis Foundation’s dedicated support and commitment we have been able to respond to our changing world authentically and deeply through the long-term development of writers who are living lives we can hardly imagine. John and the Genesis Foundation change lives and help us all to understand who we are.”

The international playwrights programme by going to countries where there is often censorship, war and hardships of many types encourages playwrights to tackle subjects that have a direct bearing on the world around them. The Royal Court’s long term project, started in 2007, in seven countries in the Middle East has produced award winning plays from writers from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt which have travelled all over the region as well as to Europe. Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar’s work was recently presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

The current season at the Royal Court is largely devoted to the International Programme and its playwrights including the return to the Royal Court for Ukrainian playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit for the world premiere of Bad Roads, “a powerful, heart-breaking and bitterly comic account of what it is to be a woman in wartime” and the world premiere of Goats by Liwaa Yazji, a Syrian playwright and documentary filmmaker.

Elyse has engaged talent from across the theatrical world to be involved in the International Directors Programme including directors Stephen Daldry, Dominic Cooke, Rufus Norris and Phyllida Lloyd and Playwright Mentors Mike Bartlett, David Greig and Caryl Churchill.

Among the many awards received by plays created by the International Programme are an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Vasily Sigarev’s Plasticine and a Fleur Du Cap Award and the Naledi Award for Mongi’s I See You.