“I think English theatre is dead.” Edward Bond was not kidding.

“I think it serves no useful social, creative function,” he continued. “So I work mainly abroad.”

The 81-year-old poet, theorist and screenwriter has written more than 50 plays and is one of our greatest writers but, as you can see, he’s had an uneasy relationship with the theatre establishment.

It is for that reason his new work Dea will make its World premiere at The Secombe in Sutton on May 24, running until June 11.

He told us: “The last two productions of my stuff in London – one at Haymarket and one at the National Theatre – were rubbish.”

Unsurprisingly then, the man who helped bring down the theatre censorship laws with his 1965 play Saved will also be directing his own work.

He added: “I would like to create something here which you couldn’t do in the West End, you couldn’t do at the Royal Court, you couldn’t do at the RSC – and I know because I worked at these places.

“They are all part of the entertainment industry.”

Dea takes Greek and Jacobean drama’s fundamental problems of the family and war to depict a collapsing society and it is a show which he hopes will challenge and captivate his audience in a way he doesn’t feel English theatre does currently.

“What has happened to English theatre, English society, is it has become infantile. It is not dumbing down, it is actually becoming infantile. You turn on the television and it is infantile. You are patronised as if you are a little child.”

Whereas Bond contends that most theatre now appeals only to the emotions – victories, disasters, thrills and wows – he wants to engage the audience’s intellect as well.

He said: “They have evolved to work together but in our society we divide them like a guillotine - intelligence is for machines; emotion is for the audience, who have got to be stupid.

“They are treated like children and patronised. And that is very, very destructive. It didn’t happen in the great ages of drama in the past.

“It makes people increasingly passive and stupid.”

He added: “I would like to create a theatre for intelligent emotions. This would appeal, ignite, and activate the creative intelligence of the audience.

“To do that, you have to find that imagination which is also intelligent and not just fantasy.”

Clearly, it is quite a coup for Sutton Theatres to land the World premiere of Edward Bond’s new work.

Sutton Theatres’ executive director Beri Juraic was delighted to secure the playwright. He said: “He is not cherished enough by the British Theatre establishment although his plays are widely performed all around the world.

“This is a big accomplishment for Sutton Theatres and we are very excited about that.”

He added: “We try to combine something that is easily accessible with something that is challenging and create a destination for Sutton Theatres.”

Dea is at The Secombe from May 24 to June 11. Tickets cost £16 or £14 concessions and £12 members. Go to suttontheatres.co.uk

Like our Vibe page on Facebook for entertainment news, reviews, features and interviews from across south London.