Less than six months after a body blow 100 per cent Arts Council funding cut, Hampstead Theatre has come back with a season of eight plays including work by Tom Stoppard and Richard Bean.

Soon after last November's announcement, the theatre's Artistic Director Roxana Silbert resigned, leaving Greg Ripley-Duggan in the hot seat.

The Gospel Oak resident has been associated with the new writing venue since the 90s, including a 10-year stint on the board, and a decade as execuive producer.

Times Series: Hampstead Theatre had a 100 percent Arts Council grant cut last NovemberHampstead Theatre had a 100 percent Arts Council grant cut last November (Image: © Daisy Hutchison)

Forced to re-think their business model, he has announced "a turnaround season" of eight plays; one UK premiere, and six world premieres including from Lauren Gunderson, screenwriter John Logan, and One Man Two Guvnors playwright Bean.

World renowned writer Tom Stoppard offerered the beleaguered theatre a revival of his 2006 play Rock ‘n’ Roll, which charts the significance of music in Czechoslovakia in the run up to the 1989 revolution.

Ripley-Duggan said: "A lot of people got in touch to ask 'how can I help?' I got a note from Tom in New York saying would we want to do Rock 'N' Roll, and it became a building block of the season."Times Series: Tom Stoppard lent his support to the funding hit theatre by offering a revival of his play Rock'n'RollTom Stoppard lent his support to the funding hit theatre by offering a revival of his play Rock'n'Roll (Image: Matt Humphrey)

Bean's comedy, To Have and To Hold, about adult children dealing with ageing, bickering parents in a retirement home, had been under commission for some years and will be directed by veteran Regent's Park actor Richard Wilson.

And Gunderson follows up her Hampstead Theatre success of I & You starring Maisie Williams, with Anthropology, an "AI thriller" about a silicon valley engineer who creates an avatar of her missing sister.

Meanwhile Logan, who penned the screenplays for Gladiator, Skyfall, and The Aviator, has constructed the knotty Double Feature, about tensions on two 60s film shoots featuring Hitchcock and Tipi Hedren and Vincent Price and Michael Reeves.

Times Series: Regent's Park actor director Richard Wilson will direct a new play by Richard Bean Regent's Park actor director Richard Wilson will direct a new play by Richard Bean (Image: Harry Livingstone)

Ripley-Duggan was planning to leave for pastures new when then Culture Minister Nadine Dorries announced a 15 percent movement of arts funding out of London.

"I had thought 'lets get the Arts Council grant sorted and find a new executive person to work with Roxana, and get the hell back to commercial theatre,' but when I read that interview I had a bad feeling in my gut," he said.

"It felt like politics, government intervention, and when you run something called Hampstead Theatre, and the objective is for Boris loyalists to send a clear signal to red wall constituencies that they are serious about levelling up, you know there has to be blood - Metropolitan pain."

In the event, English National Opera, The Gate in Camden, The Donmar Warehouse and Hampstead were the blood sacrifice.

"We knew they weren't going to salami slice, you were either in or out, but maybe the Arts Council felt we were robust enough to survive."

A phone call at 9am on the day of the announcement, was followed by three "miserable" weeks.

"It feels so personal. Running these places doesn't feel like work, it's your life, you invest so much in it, and it's such a massive vote of no confidence in your leadership, it's horrible. We figured we couldn't carry on doing what we were doing, and wondered would we have to run it like The Park, a curated programme of touring stuff?"

Ironically the £760,000 cut meant losing the theatre's outreach programme, but Arts Council transitional funding, tax relief, and generous philanthropic donations, have allowed a more ambitious programme of plays in both the main house and downstairs studio.

Ripley-Duggan concedes there were too many box office failures in the lead up to the cut, and says they shouldn't presume upon audience loyalty

"We had the worst year that I can remember, any audience understands the odd misfire, but when audience confidence is fragile they can wonder why bother?"

In a "transitional year" he knows they will have to draw audiences back with big name actors, and good directors like Nina Raine, Alice Hamilton and Jonathan Kent.

"I told the board we can't take a theatre that's dependent on £1.2 million philanthropy and a database of 60,000 who have all bought into a new writing venue, and turn it into something else, they will walk away. We know who the people are who have come to see work here. Let's give them what they want."

He pledges to stay until the theatre, which was founded 64 years ago by the visionary James Roose-Evans, is "stabilised, philantrophic donations doubled, and the box office firing," - adding that "commercial isn't a dirty word."

"No-one wants to give money to an unsuccessful theatre. Hampstead is still fundamentally a local theatre that exists through the goodwill of the people in the area who are proud to have a theatre of international status that punches way above its weight.

"There's a place in the eco-system for the sort of intelligent new text-based play that Hampstead does well; not formally challenging, but intellectually stimulating. We can live in a bubble in London but actually that's what most people in the UK want."

Hampstead Theatre's autumn season starts on September 18 and tickets are on sale now at https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/