Ava: The Secret Conversations

A visually striking and enigmatic affair

Riverside Studios

Based on the book “The Secret Conversations” by Peter Evans and Ava Gardner.

A fading star of Hollywood’s golden age, now living a quiet life in 1980s London, hires a journalist to write her biography in order to bring in much needed income. The journalist can’t believe his luck. From poor Southern farm girl to a powerful Hollywood goddess her story is pure celluloid. A devastating beauty whose hard drinking, hard loving lifestyle kept the gossip columnists busy as her movies thrilled the punters. The ultimate femme fatale – Ava Gardner

Not always intentionally, Ava spills the beans on her three husbands to often humorous affect: Mickey Rooney, a serial cheater so notorious that even his mother warned Gardner about him; bandleader Artie Shaw “a dominating son of a bitch – always putting me down” and Frank Sinatra.. “We were fighting all the time. Fighting and boozing. It was madness. But he was good in the feathers”. This compelling new play f explores the fractured relationship between the public and private lives of one of Hollywood’s great icons.  59 Productions has created set design inspired by cinematic techniques and tools, and video design that brings to life Ava’s memories as she reminisces across a lifetime of glamour and gossip.

Ava: The Secret Conversations is now on at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith until Saturday 16th April 2022.

Opening Date

25 January 2022


16 April 2022

The Design

Translating the story into narrative and spatial diagrams

Design inspired by cinema techniques and tools

Staging design

Video design


Production Photographs

Selected Reviews

‘Director Gaby Dellal has worked largely in film and, alongside projection specialists 59 Productions, has created a show that splices film and theatre together with finesse.’

The Guardian

‘The lustrous production from director Gaby Dellal also involves beautiful set design from 59 Productions…and visual archive projections of photos and Hollywood scenery conveying cinematic touches that transport us back to the era.’

The Upcoming


Produced by

Karl Sydow

Directed by

Gaby Dellal

Adapted and written by

Elizabeth McGovern


59 Productions


Fotini Dimou

Lighting Design

Elliot Griggs

Sound Design

Ella Wahlström

Movement Director

Gemma Payne

59 Team

Design Directors

Leo Warner & Ben Pearcy

Set Designer

Hannah Rozenberg

Video Designer

Matthew Taylor

Associate Set Designer

Scarlett Moloney

Assistant Video Designer

Felix Green


Edd Stockton

Video Line Producer

Kate Stanley

Production Video

Richard Wells


Anna Jones