Close-up: Tarell Alvin McCraney

With three new plays, the 27-year-old aims to change the face of theatreland
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The Independent Online

Exploring Yoruban cosmology, trawling through New York drag clubs and rebuilding the spirit of New Orleans post-Katrina – Tarell Alvin McCraney's life is nothing if not varied.

The 27-year-old actor-playwright from Miami made his London debut last year, and is back this autumn at the Young Vic with the same play, The Brothers Size, as well as a second in his "Brother/Sister" trilogy, In the Red and Brown Water, before taking a third to the Royal Court Theatre.

While the first of these plays is a sparse, intense fraternal drama drawing on hip-hop rhythms and west African mythology, the second is a coming-of-age story, and the third... well, the third will transform the Royal Court into a drag queen's boudoir as its Christmas show, Wig Out!, McCraney's exploration of gender-bending, which also opened in New York last week.

McCraney is a disciple of the British innovator Peter Brook, and shares his belief in the sanctity of theatre: "People are sitting together in a room, believing together in something they can't see. How many times are we in a situation when everybody's imaginations and beliefs are invited?"

That's another of McCraney's passions: ensuring those usually excluded by theatre are represented. Last year, he went to New Orleans to stage a play about Hurricane Katrina. And last week, he was haunting Manhattan's drag clubs at 3am, giving out Wig Out! flyers. "Not because I want these people's money, but because I want them to see this show. Without young people, without people of colour, without those who feel their voice doesn't belong, American theatre will lose all its richness."

'In the Red and Brown Water' and 'The Brothers Size', Young Vic, London SE1 (020 7922 2922,, to 8 November. 'Wig Out!', Royal Court, London SW1 (020 7565 5000,, from 20 November to 10 January