19 April 2013
Reported by Catherine Love
Vicky Featherstone is beginning her tenure as the new artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre with an ambitious six week festival that looks both forwards to the future and back at the building’s history. Celebrating the central place that playwrights have always held within the theatre, Featherstone is handing the keys over to the writers and throwing open the doors, promising a “summer fling” that will be adventurous, challenging and ask the big questions.
Open Court, running from 10th June – 20th July, is being created and curated by a group of more than 140 writers, continuing the Royal Court’s commitment to presenting new voices and new forms. Speaking at the press briefing, Featherstone joked that “nothing is changing”, explaining her intention to keep playwrights at the core of the theatre’s artistic vision and let them lead the way. With this aim in mind, she approached the staff of the theatre for suggestions of writers they would like to see taking creative control, then inviting this pool of playwrights to take the reins over the summer.
Among the resulting programme of work will be a set of six plays in weekly rep in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, a nightly soap opera streamed live from the Bussey Building in Peckham, a series of surprise theatre experiences, a week dedicated to work made by children, a theatrical treasure hunt around the building, and the chance for audience members to hear playwrights read their own plays aloud. Provoked by Martin Crimp’s suggestion that theatremakers might be “scared of the big idea”, the theatre is also grappling with one big idea a week, curating short plays and events around themes such as sex, age and death.
Demonstrating a firm commitment to the future, Featherstone has invited playwright Anthony Nielson, known for his unconventional collaborative writing process, to explore new writing methods with six playwrights over the space of a fortnight. At the briefing, Nielson voiced concerns that theatre is not keeping up with the pace of change in the world, expressing his hope that new ways of working might help writers to “disable the inner censor”. The six writers taking part in this project are E.V. Crowe, Vivienne Franzmann, Robin French, Joel Horwood and DC Moore, with the results of the process to be presented in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs over three nights.
In the spirit of Featherstone’s motto that “no space should be safe from theatre”, even more events will be taking place outside the walls of the Royal Court. Continuing the Theatre Local scheme that was started under Dominic Cooke, US playwright Annie Barker will open her new play Circle Mirror Transformation, directed by James Macdonald, at the Rose Lipman Building in Haggerston from 5th July – 3rd August, while the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of David Greig’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart runs at the London Welsh Centre 12th July – 3rd August and then at the Bussey Building 5th – 9th August.
This varied and wide-reaching summer programme precedes Featherstone’s first full season of plays, commencing in September, which will be announced in June. When questioned, Featherstone revealed few details of her longer-time vision for the theatre, saying only that she has no plans to abandon full productions of new plays and that any change will be collaboratively led. Featherstone also announced her artistic team, with existing associate director Simon Godwin to be joined by Carrie Cracknell and John Tiffany. Lucy Davies, meanwhile, will be joining the Royal Court as executive director from the National Theatre of Wales.
At the briefing, Featherstone was joined on the stage of the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs by a selection of the many writers involved in this first season, immediately making a strong statement about the theatre’s continued commitment to new writing under her leadership. Among the writers in attendance was David Eldridge, who described Featherstone as “brave, terrific and playful”. The new artistic director’s hope is that this summer festival might be just as playful, eschewing consenus, asking both serious and frivolous questions, and promising a healthy dash of “naughtiness”.
For more information and full listings of the Open Court season, visit the Royal Court website.
06 April 2013
Reported by Natasha Tripney
This building was little more than a shell last time I was here: a cavernous space with light piercing the pitched roof, a thick crust of dust and loops of worm-white cables hanging from the ceiling like jungle creepers.
At the start of the year Southwark Playhouse was obliged to leave its atmospheric former home under the arches at London Bridge to make way for Network Rail’s redevelopment of the station. The Playhouse’s new home is a former warehouse on Newington Causeway, just north of Elephant and Castle, which when finished, will house two performances spaces, alongside a café bar, an onsite rehearsal space, and better dressing room facilities.
Behind a battered chipboard door, though the dust remains, the building is beginning to look a little more theatre-like and a little less warehouse-like than it did. The space has been carved into two studios, a boxed-in 120-seater called the Little and a bigger more versatile, high-ceilinged space called the Large.
It’s in the latter the Playhouse will be staging their first production in their new home in May with Tanzi Libre, the first major London revival of Claire Luckham’s 1980 play, Trafford Tanzi. Artistic Director Chris Smyrnios wanted to stage something bold and exciting to celebrate the opening of the new venue and to really show what the space was capable of – as a result, their first production will see a full-size professional wrestling ring erected within the theatre. The name of the play (which changes depending on in which city it is being performed) now makes reference the Mexican Lucha Libre style of wrestling, which the production will showcase. On the day I visit, he is holding wrestling auditions.
There’s a large Latin American community in Elephant and Castle and Smyrnios wants to stage work that appeals to and engages with this community. To this end they are also setting up a free ticket scheme for their opening production for Southwark residents. “It’s about getting people into the building,” Smyrnios explains, an act of reaching out and connecting with a new audience, making the community aware of the theatre’s presence and what it offers.
At the end of May, the venue’s smaller studio, The Little, will also open, playing host to the London premiere of the Fringe First-winning show, Juana in a Million, a one-woman play about the immigrant experience by the Mexican writer-performer Vicky Araico Casa.
The building still has a way to go. There are chairs piled high in what will be the bar, corridors filled with bales of insulation, ladders, planks and an abundance of dust; the space throbs with the sound of drilling, with builders banging and cranking, but the space is changing rapidly and Symrnios is confident the building will be ready for the grand unveiling in May.
Photos by Natasha Tripney
21 March 2013
Reported by Daniel B. Yates
The National Theatre have unveiled The Shed, their new temporary venue on the south bank to host new and visiting work into 2014. Built in partnership with Neptune Investment Management and in consultation with NT Associates, the building has been described somewhat bizarrely by project architect Paddy Dillon as like “Amish barns for which a community will come together for a weekend, saw joints, peg frames, and raise a whole building out of nothing.” Others have alluded to shades of the workhouse, albeit in fauvist red, or a primitivist power station chiefly due to the timber chimneys, the stack effect of which draws air from under seats for natural ventilation.
The venue seats around 225 with ticket prices at £12 and £20, and will play host to artists including debbie tucker green, Polly Findlay, Rufus Norris, Carrie Cracknell, Nick Payne, The TEAM, and Matthew Herbert. Whether a Visitors’ Festival scheduled for September, to feature artists outside the capital, will see the institution making best use of emerging nationwide and international networks remains to be seen.
Speaking at the launch Ben Power, Associate Director at the NT and in charge of programming at the venue, described it as purposed to “encourage risk and experimentation in artists, a place to reconsider their processes”. Power’s hope is that “the sometimes stately procession of work in the main spaces might be disrupted by visitors coming for short periods of time”, adding: “it’s important we put ourselves on the line a little bit.”
The programme will open with Table, written by Tanya Ronder and directed by Rufus Norris, with TEAM arriving in June with their Mission Drift. Future programming will include Home a verbatim theatre piece with music exploring social housing in London devised by Nadia Fall; nut, a new play by debbie tucker green opening in November; a new play by Tim Price on the Occupy movement directed by Polly Findlay, and one from Nick Payne directed by Carrie Cracknell for early 2014. A three week sound installation by electronic musician and composer Matthew Herbert represents plans to include other art forms.
Steve Tompkins, director of architects Haworth Tompkins described “the building yearning toward the river and Waterloo bridge where Michael Elliot stood observing the construction of Lasdun’s building”. Elliot’s enduringly influential speech Not Building for Posterity called for a looser, more demotic and flexible theatre architecture, representing then an attack on municipal centralised theatre, where now, on the other side of post-modernism, merges with visions of pop-ups and other transitory, precarious arts spaces.
Tompkins spoke of an architectural transaction between The Shed and the main spaces, the former to “illuminate the permanent building and have the permanent building illuminate the temporary.” This he saw as part of “making the building more porous towards its urban edges, both physical and cultural” providing a building that was “not authoritarian” and “less grown up”. For Power the venue was a place for the NT to be “representing diversity, and being at the vanguard of that.”
Text and photos by Daniel b. Yates (except initial photo by Samuel Smith)
27 February 2013
Reported by Tom Wicker
Actor Rupert Everett – currently starring as Oscar Wilde in the critically acclaimed The Judas Kiss – has won the fifth annual Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography, as announced at a ceremony this morning. Upon receiving the award, for his second memoir Vanished Years, Everett said “it couldn’t be a greater award to win.”
Also nominated were Simon Callow for Charles Dickens and The Great Theatre of the World; Arthur Laurents for The Rest of The Story; Michael Pennington for Sweet William; Sue Prideaux for Strindberg, A Life; and Kate Bassett for In Two Minds: A Biography of Jonathan Miller.
The prize is named in honour of deceased theatre critic and author Sheridan Morley, who wrote more than 30 books during his lifetime, including major biographies of Noel Coward and John Gielgud. Actress Isla Blair, one of the judges, praised Morley as someone who “really loved actors.” Aptly, this year’s shortlist was whittled down from more than 30 entries.
The ceremony was hosted at famed theatrical haunt The Garrick Club by the critic and broadcaster Ruth Leon, Morley’s widow and the prize’s founding trustee. Leon jokingly described the atmosphere of the canapé-laden event as “something between a Jewish wedding and a formal dinner.”
(Eternally youthful critic, actress and producer Blanche Marvin kindly took pity on Exeunt’s budget-constrained correspondent at this point, and proceeded to amass said canapés for consumption during the proceedings.)
The shortlist and winning title were selected by a jury comprising Blair, director Braham Murray and critic and journalist Mark Shenton. Calling Vanished Years “achingly funny and also deeply moving,” Blair went on to observe: “Rupert deprecates no one with his acerbic wit more than himself.”
Speaking to Exeunt afterwards, Mark Shenton paid tribute to Sheridan Morley as “a man who cared passionately about the theatre. This award cares passionately about the people who write books about the theatre, so it’s a perfect marriage.”
He revealed: “We had an awful lot to choose from and what was great was that they were very much firsthand accounts of the theatre, or an actor writing about the theatre, like Simon Callow. So there was such a range.”
Vanished Years was “outright hilarious but also really moving and surprising,” Shenton said. “These were the qualities that marked Rupert Everett out as the winner. We were all divided over the five titles individually, but the one book that united us was his.”
The Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography is supported by the Garrick Club of which Sheridan Morley was a lifelong member and by donations from the public, his friends and colleagues. It is administered by Oberon Books.
06 December 2012
Reported by John Murphy
The new Artistic Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse, James Brining, has unveiled the details of his spring and summer season for 2013.
In February the theatre presents a modern-day Doctor Faustus. Marlowe’s play will be staged in a co-production with Glasgow’s Citizen Theatre and directed by Dominic Hill. Casting has yet to be announced.
Following Faustus is Refugee Boy, Limn Sissay’s adaptation of Benjamin Zephaniah’s acclaimed novel, a tale of a teenage boy fleeing from his war-torn home country to a B&B in Berkshire. This is the first time it has been adapted for the stage and the production will coincide with a series of projects in collaboration with local schools and charities to raise awareness of the plight of asylum seekers.
Brining is continuing the long standing tradition of the West Yorkshire Playhouse to work closely with the local community; 2013′s Transform Festival of new work will see the theatre working with local talent in the region to create new, exciting productions both inside and outside the Playhouse with the aim of persuading locals to take a fresh look at their city.
The season closes with a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, a brand new case for the Baker Street detective. Sherlock Holmes: The Best Kept Secret is a new thriller featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters, written by Leeds playwright Mark Catley and directed by Nikolai Foster. Set two years after the events of The Reichenbach Falls, The Best Kept Secret will see Holmes and Watson battling to save his brother Mycroft’s life. With the upturn in popularity in all things Sherlock recently, this should be one of the theatre’s most popular productions next year.
For tickets and further information, visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse website.
02 November 2012
Reported by John Murphy
Sheffield Theatres have just announced details of their Spring/Summer season for 2013, which features Artistic Director Daniel Evans’ now trademark mix of big names and new talent with a focus on, and commitment to, art in the local region.
It’s worth noting that the Studio will be devoted entirely to premiering brand new productions, and that the tradition of holding a season of plays by the same writer (following the Michael Frayn and David Hare seasons of recent years) will not be repeated this time around; though Evans has said that this idea has not been shelved, rather moved to a new spot towards the end of the year.
The season begins with the previously announced production of The Full Monty, a new version of the hit 1997 film set in Sheffield. The film’s original scriptwriter Simon Beaufoy has also written the screenplay for the 2013 version, and Daniel Evans will direct a large cast including Kenny Doughty, Keiran O’Brien and Sidney Cole. The stripping steelworkers then tour the country following their residence at the Lyceum.
Also in February, the Crucible’s intimate Studio space will premiere Bull, the latest play from Mike Bartlett, which represents a real coup for Sheffield. The exciting young director Clare Lizzimore returns to the Crucible to helm Bull, following her excellent work on One Day When We Were Young last year as part of the Paines Plough Roundabout season.
The two major revivals this season are of works by DH Lawrence and Alan Bennett. For the former, Lynda Baron and Claire Price will take centre stage in March for a new version of The Daughter In Law, which sees the Crucible’s Associate Director Paul Miller direct Lawrence’s tale of a disintegrating family in a Derbyshire pit town. Alan Bennett’s The History Boys follows at the end of May – no cast has been announced yet, but Michael Longhurst will direct, fresh from directing Jake Gyllenhaal on Broadway.
Rounding off the season are two more intimate shows in the Crucible’s Studio. The intriguingly titled 20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield opens in April and sees the return of Sheffield’s People’s Theatre who promise, as the title suggests, 20 five-minute productions all about the Steel City. Finally, This Is My Family is a new musical comedy from Tim Firth, the man behind the phenomenon that is Calendar Girls. Daniel Evans will direct a cast including Janie Dee, Sian Phillips and Bill Champion.
For further details visit the Sheffield Theatres website.
21 October 2012
Reported by Natasha Tripney
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s return to the stage is one of the highlights of the Young Vic’s recently announced 2013 season. He’ll be starring in A Season in the Congo by Aimé Césaire, a play about the 1960 rebellion in the Congo and and the assassination of the political leader Patrice Lumumba. The production will be directed by Joe Wright following his debut at the Donmar directing Pinero’s Trelawny of the Wells. Ejiofor’s previous stage credits include an acclaimed performance in The Seagull at the Royal Court and an incredible, enthralling Othello, also at the Donmar.
Before that there will be a second chance to see Carrie Cracknell’s production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House - in a version by Simon Stephens – starring Hattie Morahan and Dominic Rowan. According to Daniel B. Yates’ review, Stephens’ adaptation, with “its crystal views of a shattered bourgeois family, remains an eloquent testimony to the residual, nagging, subordinate position of women in the household – as old and durable as fireplaces and the institution of heterosexuality itself.”
In February, the Young Vic will stage Feast, an exploration of the Yoruba culture written by five playwrights from across the world. Then in May the theatre will stage Public Enemy, a another Ibsen adaptation, this time by David Harrower, which will be directed by Richard Jones, whose past credits at the Young Vic include the Government Inspector; the final production in the Main House, to be staged in September, will be American Lulu, a reworking of Alban Berg’s unfinished opera by Olga Neuwirth. Set against a backdrop of 1950s New Orleans, the production will be directed by John Fulljames in a co-production with The Opera Group.
In the Maria, the Young Vic’s mid-sized studio space, there will be new work by Fevered Sleep with Above Me the Wide Blue Sky, in March, and Told by an Idiot, with My Perfect Mind, in April 2013.
For further details, visit the Young Vic website.
12 October 2012
Reported by Daniel B. Yates
Violent pickets by members of Greek Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in Athens late on Thursday led to the cancellation of the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi at the Hytiria theatre. The scene turned violent when the picketers began scuffling with riot police, who stood by while a writer for Lifo was verbally and physically assaulted by far-right party members including a well-known Golden Dawn MP.
Already cancelled a week earlier due to pressure from the far-right parliamentary group and religious organisations, the premiere was host to politicians from SYRIZA and the Democratic Left. Nikos Bistis of Democratic Left, said that requests for a public prosecutor to come to the theater were ignored
The newspaper Kathimerini reported that three Golden Dawn Members of Parliament were among the protesters, who thew yoghurt at the building, before going on to assault writer Manolis Vamvounis who was at the scene for Lifo magazine; the testimony of whom can be read here. This comes at a time when the far-right party is enjoying success at the polls on a platform of anti-immigration, antisemitism, the tightening of blasphemy laws and discrimination against gays. The Greek parliamentary body is currently considering suspending immunity from prosecution for members of parliament in the wake of Golden Dawn MP’s violent attacks on immigrants.
McNally’s play was first stage in New York in 1998, controversial for its homoerotic themes and depiction of Jesus administering a gay marriage between two of the apostles. In June the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church moved to have the play censored, while amidst an atmosphere of increasing religious authoritarianism, Golden Dawn were reportedly behind the recent arrest and detainment of a 27 year old man for blasphemy.
09 October 2012
Reported by Catherine Love
The Bush Theatre has announced the line-up for RADAR 2012, a three week festival this November exploring the future of new writing in the UK. Running from 7th-22nd November, the miniature season includes performances of work from writers such as Luke Barnes, Kieran Hurley and Ché Walker, as well as presentations of work in progress and debates involving a range of theatremakers.
Among the plays being showcased throughout the festival are Edinburgh hits Chapel Street, a two-hander about modern youth from Luke Barnes, and Kieran Hurley’s monologue Beats. Also arriving at the Bush following a run in Edinburgh is La John Joseph’s Boy in a Dress, a piece incorporating the performance traditions of vaudeville and striptease, and Anne Chmelewsky’s one woman comic opera The Looking Screen. The festival’s programme of new writing is completed by Lovesong, another musical piece written by Ché Walker with music from Omar Lyefook, and an English translation of Ivan Viripaev’s Illusions.
Engaging with ongoing discussions about how new writing is created and shaped in this country, the festival will be hosting a series of Platform sessions that ask questions about who new writing is for, how it is defined and developed, and what the future might look like. There will also be debates about the role of new writing within local communities and its relationship with evolving critical discourse.
In addition to presenting finished work, RADAR 2012 will include a second night of Bush Bounce, an opportunity for young artists to share work in various stages of development and across a variety of different genres. This free night of work in progress performances will be curated and hosted by Bush Associate Artist Sabrina Mahfouz.
For more information and tickets, visit the Bush Theatre website.
08 October 2012
Reported by Natasha Tripney
The line-up for the 2013 London International Mime Festival has been announced. The 18 day festival of visual theatre, circus and puppetry, co-directed by Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig, opens on the 10th January with Not Until We Are Lost by aerial theatre company, Ockham’s Razor – a show whose development we explored on the site earlier in the year.
As ever work will be staged across London in the Barbican Pit, Jacksons Lane, the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, the Roundhouse, Soho Theatre and at the Southbank..
Switzerland’s Zimmermann & de Perrot will be present their large scale circus piece Hans Was Heiri at the Barbican while there is further circus-based performance at Jacksons Lane,with Simone Riccio’s Nothing Moves If I Don’t Push It.
Stan’s Cafe present their recent piece, The Cardinals, at the Roundhouse and Belgium’s renowned Les Ballets C de la B present the UK premiere of The Old King at the Linbury Studio alongside Gandini Juggling who will be presenting their Pina Bausch homage Smashed, one of the stand out shows of the 2012 LIMF. Russian dance troupe Derevo will also presents their show Harlekin at the same venue.
Puppet company Blind Summit, whose last work The Table featured in the 2012 programme, will premiere their new piece, The Heads and puppetry will also feature in the new piece from Invisible Thread, Les Hommes Vides,
At the Southbank there will be a chance to see work by My!Laika and Circle of Eleven a alongside Plan B by Aurélien Bory’s Compagnie 111.
For full programme details, visit the LIMF website.
21 September 2012
Reported by Natasha Tripney
The Bush Theatre has announced its new season, its second under Artistic Director Madani Younis. It begins with Radar 2012, a three-week festival, set to run from 7th-22nd November, which will include new work by UK theatre-makers, including a Bush Bounce night of work curated by Sabrina Mahfouz.
This will be followed by the London transfer of DC Moore’s Straight, following its premiere at the Sheffield Crucible Studio this November. Based on Humpday, Lynn Shelton’s 2009 film about two straight men who make a gay porn film, and directed by Richard Wilson. it will open at the Bush on 27th November and run until 22nd December. Moore’s previous work includes the acclaimed The Empire, staged at the Royal Court in 2010, man-in-a-pub monologue Honest and The Swan, part of the National Theatre’s Paintframe quarter (also set in a boozer).
In February 2013, Unlimited Theatre’s Clare Duffy will present Money – the game show, starring Lucy Ellinson – currently to be seen in Will Eno’s Oh, The Humanity at Soho Theatre – and Brian Ferguson. This will be followed, in March 2013, by the new play from Bruntwood Prize winning playwright, Janice Okoh. Three Birds, another transfer – this time from Manchester’s Royal Exchange – will be directed by the Exchange’s artistic director, Sarah Frankcom and will run from 19th March to 20th April.
Younis’s second season has already sparked some interesting Twitter-based debate with Andrew Haydon praising the Bush’s positioning of itself as “London’s regional theatre” as an astute move which fills a neglected hole in London’s theatre ecology” while Matt Trueman questions the fact that the “Bush won’t have originated a new full production for 8 months.”
For further information on the season visit the Bush Theatre website.
17 September 2012
Reported by Catherine Love
The last show to be announced in the Southwark Playhouse’s final season under the arches of London Bridge Station is a new version of The Seagull, adapted by playwright Anya Reiss. This modern updating of Chekhov’s classic will be directed by Russell Bolam and presented as the penultimate show in the theatre’s main house.
Reiss is an alumna of the Young Writers’ Programme at the Royal Court Theatre, where her debut play Spur of the Moment was produced in 2010. Written when she was just seventeen, the play won Reiss the Most Promising Playwright awards from both the Evening Standard and the Critics’ Circle. This was followed in 2011 by The Acid Test, a second play at the Royal Court.
Reiss’ new adaptation of The Seagull transports the tragicomic tale to a contemporary setting, promising a version of the play that is “reignited for the 21st century”. The production marks a return to the Southwark Playhouse for director Bolam, who tackled Philip Ridley’s Shivered in the same space earlier this year.
It has also been confirmed that Matthew Kelly is to star as Dorn, with the rest of the cast yet to be announced. The production will run in the main house from 8th November – 1st December.
For more information and tickets, visit the Southwark Playhouse website.
14 September 2012
Reported by Catherine Love
Throughout September and October, The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick is presenting Heaven is a Place on Earth, an eclectic festival of performance that brings together ten pieces around the theme of faith. Each evening throughout the festival (running 25th September – 13th October) features two performances, which audiences can attend for a total ticket price of £10.
Questioning what faith might mean in our increasingly secular society, each of the shows explores this concept through different styles of performance, including puppetry, storytelling, music and animation. The festival opens with a double offering of solo shows from Greg Wohead, an Artistic Associate of the Yard, and Radio 4 writer John-Luke Roberts.
The second pair of shows both bring together theatre and visual art, incorporating elements of original artwork. Puffball, featuring artwork and text by Caroline Williams, is an examination of human empathy, while Jessie McLaughlin’s new show All One Fabric is a genre-crossing piece inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse.
The festival’s October programme, meanwhile, starts with a series of absurdist sing-alongs from female duo Molly and Me and a performance around the idea of protest and personal politics by Katy Baird and Jonathan May. This is followed by a double-bill of music, featuring a one-act opera and a new show by New Opera Hero.
The Yard’s consideration of faith closes with two fresh looks at ancient stories. Alex Rennie’s show centres around the Greek mythical figure of Sisyphus, while Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s The Evolution of Eve explores the many different incarnations of this Biblical character through the ages.
For more information and tickets, visit the website.
13 September 2012
Reported by Julia Rank
Soho Theatre’s Christmas season will feature an eclectic mix of theatre, comedy and cabaret, beginning with a transfer of Action to the Word’s “physical theatre horrorshow” production of A Clockwork Orange (19th November 2012 – 5th January 2013), which premiered at Edinburgh this summer. Alexandra Spencer-Jones’s all-male staging coincides the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Anthony Burgess’s notorious novel and stars Martin McCreadie as Alex.
Daywrite presents a new play by BAFTA winner Jack Thorne (The Fades, This is England), Mydidae (4 – 22 December 2012). Set in a bathroom, the play explores a relationship witnessed in a minute in devastating detail. Vicky Jones directs.
Richard Thomas (composer of Jerry Springer –the Opera) and performance artist David Hoyle present an adult-themed cabaret Merrie Hell, in which “bad fairies Hoyle and Thomas bring their own alternative Christmas celebration to Soho Downstairs for nights of sin and song” (29 November 2012 – 5 January 2013). Soho artistic director Steve Marmion’s comedy troupe Late Night Gimp Fight returns with a festive-flavoured edition of their dark sketches.
Popular Australian comedian Judith Lucy returns to London with her new solo show Nothing Fancy (19 November – December 1 2012) and her compatriot Sam Simmons, “Australia’s master of suburban surrealism” explores the furthest reaches of the human condition in About the Weather (3 December 2012 – 5 January 2013). South African comedian Trevor Noah also makes his London debut with his show The Racist (5 December 2012 – 5 January 2013).
For more information and tickets, visit the website.
12 September 2012
Reported by Tom Wicker
Sweden’s current impact on British culture looks set to spread to the stage next year, when Krister Henriksson – star of the original Wallander TV series – makes his West End debut co-directing and taking the lead in Doktor Glas. Adapted from the classic novel by Hjalmer Söderberg, the play is a co-production by London International Arts Theatre and Tabb AB. It will transfer to Wyndham’s Theatre from 16 April to 11 May 2013 following a hugely successful run at Sweden’s National Theatre.
“It is such an event for me to do this,” Henriksson said earlier today at the show’s press launch at Leicester Square Theatre. “Just getting here is a success.” To a ripple of laughter, he joked that the British weather made him “feel like I’m at home when I come to London.”
Henricksson is best known in the UK for his portrayal of the dour detective in Henning Mankell’s police drama. But he is also an accomplished stage actor, first achieving fame at the Stockholm City Theatre in the lead role of Peer Gynt. He has since performed in plays by Shakespeare, Strindberg, Ibsen, Pinter Miller and Beckett and worked alongside Ingmar Bergman in A Winter’s Tale at the Royal Dramatic Theatre.
Söderberg is one of Sweden’s most influential writers and Doktor Glas is both widely read and taught in schools. It tells the story of a nineteenth-century physician who is torn between morality and passion when he falls in love with the beautiful young wife of a corrupt clergyman.
The idea of bringing this “novel of crime and passion” to the stage originally came to Henriksson while filming Wallander. He talked passionately about how Doktor Glas “captures the soul of Sweden” and jokingly highlighted its similarities with the TV series that brought him international fame: “Melancholy loneliness and fog all of the time.”
Henriksson’s co-director Peder Bjurman revealed that staging such a well-known story in Sweden came with a strong sense of responsibility. “But we had to throw that overboard.” Bjurman’s background in fringe theatre gave him the confidence to explore different approaches to the text, to ensure that the final production captured the spirit of the original: “We couldn’t be nervous about taking it on.”Doktor Glas’s journey to London began when a British actress and fan of Henriksson’s work saw the play in Sweden and recommended it to Martin Witts of London International Arts Theatre. Witts also saw it and was impressed, but realised that the production’s size – what Bjurman calls its “cinematic scale” – could only be accommodated by a venue such as the Wyndham’s.
However, while Doktor Glas will be swapping countries, it won’t be changing languages; it will be performed in Swedish with English surtitles. When asked about this, Bjurman said that he would only consider translating it if it were to be performed by an English actor. But just as the characters’ emotional states were written into the scenery, he found it hard to imagine the play being staged in another language.
“And there’s something about the language,” Martin Witts observed. “You just get sucked into it.”
Doktor Glas will be at Wyndham’s Theatre from 16th April – 11th May 2013.