News

08 November 2013

A New Hope

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With OperaUpClose, producer Adam Spreadbury-Maher  and his team perfected the art of pub opera, first at Kilburn’s Cock Tavern and then at Islington’s famous King’s Head, where they continue to produce pocket size productions of operas old and new. Bolstered by a Whatsonstage and Olivier award a couple of years ago, they have now opened a venue in Islington, just up the road from the King’s Head, with the aim of presenting exclusively new theatre writing. With the same team running both the King’s Head and the new Hope Theatre, London’s oldest and newest pub theatres are neatly linked.

They’ve come to an agreement with Equity to overcome the common fringe problem of performers’ wages, guaranteeing that all actors will be paid a negotiated rate. As this will have to come from box office returns, the imperative to sell-out the 50-seater on an ongoing basis will keep them on their toes. It’s a welcome initiative, certainly for actors who are subjected to the usual euphemistic “profit share” arrangement, but also for audiences, as it requires the fringe to up its game across the board. If Spreadbury-Maher can pull it off, the spotlight will turn on all pub venues, certainly as far as finances are concerned.

They have come to an agreement with the brewers at the Hope and Crown in Upper Street (just down from Highbury and Islington tube station), which will help make the venture financially viable, and the name Hope Theatre has a serendipitously optimistic ring to it.

The theatre opened on 7th November with a double bill of plays that did well at this year’s Edinburgh Festival and, before that, were winners of the Stella Wilkie Award, whereby Spreadbury-Maher selected the most promising debuts by young writers from the East 15 Acting School. Sandpits Avenue and The League of St George both show the sort of quality that the new venue aspires to, with bold approaches to contemporary themes while playfully exploring traditional theatre forms.

Nathalie Wain’s Sandpits Avenue eschews a linear narrative for a patchwork of images, threaded together by verse that is as athletic as the recently graduated actors in Dominic Garfield’s fast-moving production. It smacks a bit of student experimentation of several decades ago but clearly shows an acute writing talent, with the action moving back and forth between a demoralized frontline troop in Afghanistan to the quiet backwater of a rural village where the frustrations of those left behind seethe.

Georgia Bliss’s The League of St George takes youthful energy onto a whole other level, with frequent punk-inspired explosions, as the cast pick up guitars and a drum-kit threatens the legal decibel level. It’s a witty and startling look at the sub-culture of late 1970s England, when multiculturalism was taking faltering steps. For the young cast, it must seem like pre-history but for some of us it’s an almost nostalgic wallow in our own youth, although it brings home that, no matter the social difficulties we experience now, things have moved on in the last few decades. It doesn’t shy away from the ugliest side of the times, as a confused gay skinhead struggles with his loyalties to both the firm and his Asian lover. It’s a thrilling and frightening attempt to tackle the complicit nastiness, if not downright evil, that has never gone away but which modern society tends to handle with kid gloves. Bliss’s vigorous script and Shabaneh Razvand’s equally direct production are certainly challenging, with great performances all round.

The next show couldn’t be a greater contrast, a musical about front of house staff called Ushers (you can almost hear the words “a hoot” already). So, a wide range of tastes should be catered for and The Hope Theatre looks set to become a destination for all adventurous theatregoers.


16 October 2013

Rufus Norris appointed Director of National Theatre.

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After the kind of heated speculation that could either be seen as a) befitting a national theatre as a widely-discussed public good, or b) a London-centric PR sideshow in lieu of any real discussion, Rufus Norris has been announced as the sixth boss of the NT in the fifty years since Hall, Olivier, Lasdun et. al. hauled up the Southbank’s national emblem amidst so much optimism and controversy.

At one point more than fifty individuals were being gently probed by the Succession Committee, while paraded through the media like so many princes awaiting a patricidical nod were names such as Michael Grandage, Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Daldry, Sam Mendes, and Danny Boyle.  A dual-directorship was floated in case the candidates thought there was something better to do than take on the 5 year minimum commitment, but there was no indication that the NT was considering such an arrangement. What followed was a series of people demurring from candidacy, such as Tom Morris of Bristol Old Vic, Dominic Cooke recently departed from the Court, and Associate NT director Marianne Eliot.

Norris trained as an actor at RADA before switching to directing because he was “too gobby”, going on to take charge of Arts Threshold, a now-defunct tiny fringe theatre in Paddington, which would lose its home under Norris to become Wink Productions, the director leaving in 2000. As he disclosed in a recent interview with the Guardian Norris was 36 before he earned “more than £10,000 a year” from working in theatre, praising “stamina” as the chief virtue required of his job.

In 2001 he directed a revival of David Rudkin’s Afore Night Come at Young Vic and went on to win an Evening Standard Best Newcomer award, becoming an associate director at the theatre from 2002-2007. Crossover came with David Eldridge’s adaption of Festen which transferred from The Almeida to the west end in 2004 with a subsequent Broadway run. His Broadway production of Les Liasons Dangereuses would accrue 5 Tony nominations in 2008. In 2011 he collaborated with Damon Albarn on the opera Doctor Dee for the Manchester International Festival, the same year in which he was appointed an NT Associate, where he has been responsible for both the largescale in Amen Corner and the brilliantly innovative in London Road which last year he described as the highpoint of his career thus far.

This sort of adaptability (the biggest myth about being a director according to Norris: “that you have a vision”), combined with no obvious hit-making director-writer relationships (he has worked with David Eldridge three times on Under the Blue SkyFesten and Market Boy; debbie tucker green on Two Women and Dirty Butterfly, and his partner Tanya Ronder on a number of projects), a strong hand in internationalism and limited experience in the administration and helming of a big organisation, make him a potentially exciting and somewhat unmappable appointment.

A quick poll round Exeunt editors and we’re broadly happy with it.  There was a sense that something may have been avoided in the shape of Edward Hall, a late front-runner, whose tenure at Hampstead has been decidedly mixed. Looking across the Thames toward Vicky Featherstone’s profound reinvigoration of the Court, the idea that a prior life-without-buildings could well be a strength is one we’re keen to entertain. Not being educated at Cambridge seems like a pretty revolutionary concept. The absence of Shakespeare on the CV stands out, and perhaps with a rebounding RSC what used to be a bone of contention might be usefully filleted (an RSC residency such as the one coming up at The Barbican might usefully concentrate Bardic energies). Of course, we’ll be keenly looking at the main stages for long hoped-for signs of life, checking to see how much of the vibrant, rejuvenating ethos of The Shed makes it into the building; how the commercial imperatives play out in the west end and NT Live.  And of course bringing you criticism of each and every NT production until the Thames swallows us all.

Rufus Norris will succeed Nicholas Hytner in April of 2015.

 


27 September 2013

Paul Robeson is Pretty Interesting, Right?

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Like other civil rights revolutionaries, Paul Robeson was plenty more interesting than the way we look back on him would care to admit.  Famous for his rendition of Ol’ Man River while performing in the original London cast and film of Show Boat, he went on to a prestigious stage and film career. When over the years he would become progressively too radical and outspoken for the establishment’s liking, he was branded a traitor to his country, harassed, and denied opportunities to perform or travel.

‘The Paul Robeson Art is a Weapon Festival’ will be at Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden from the 30th of September to 26th of October. Tony Benn, Jackie Kay, Ava Vidal, the Guardian’s Gary Younge and other performers, historians and commentators from Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and around the UK gather over four weeks, celebrating the life of one of the most censored and prominent victims of McCarthyism, and working out what he means for us today.

At the centre of the festival is Tayo Aluko’s multi-award winning play Call Mr. Robeson. The journey through his life and career highlights how his radical activism caused his downfall, and features his most famous songs and speeches. The play has been performed in the UK, Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria and in the USA, including New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2012.

It looks properly interesting, here the Tristan Bates page for you to go and check it out.


27 September 2013

Hofesh Shechter to be Guest Director at Brighton Festival

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Big time choreographer Hofesh Shechter will be directing the Brighton Festival 2014.

He really likes London-by-the-sea, and reckons Brighton has a magic to it that no one can explain. “Brighton has a magic to it that no one can explain” he said, and continuing in that vein “we’ve enjoyed the buzz, the lightness, energy, and the unexplainable essence of Brighton. … I feel a rush of excitement about the ideas I can contribute … well, delighted, is just a boring word.”

Shechter’s eponymous company has been a Resident Company of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival since 2008. In 2009 they debuted The Art of Not Looking Back, in 2010 Political Mother, while in 2013 Brighton Festival commissioned Nomad Land.  This year they will be presenting a co-commission Sun, the UK premiere of which takes places at Sadler’s Wells in October.

Here is the video trailer of Sun  which is nice, and reminds us of that time Terrence Malick nearly directed a BUPA ad.

The first Brighton Festival in 1967 included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Lawrence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin. In recent years guest directorships have been handed to Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael Rosen.

The full programme will be announced this February, and we’ll let you know about that.

 


19 April 2013

Vicky Featherstone Unveils Open Court Festival

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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

Southwark Playhouse Announces New Season

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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.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAAt 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.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAIt’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.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAAt 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

National Theatre Opens Shed on Southbank

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Text and photos by Daniel b. Yates (except initial photo by Samuel Smith)


27 February 2013

Rupert Everett wins Sheridan Morley Prize

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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

West Yorkshire Playhouse Announces New Season

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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

Sheffield Theatres Announce New Season

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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

Young Vic Announces 2013 Season

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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 those unable to see the theatre’s current production, Benedict Andrews’ Three Sisters, the production is now available for download on Digital Theatre.

For further details, visit the Young Vic website.


12 October 2012

Violent pickets force cancellation of Terrence McNally premiere in Athens.

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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

RADAR New Writing Festival at Bush Theatre

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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

London International Mime Festival 2013

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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

Bush Theatre Announce New Season

Reported by

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. 


On this page

08 November 2013

A New Hope

The opening of the Hope, London’s newest pub theatre.


16 October 2013

Rufus Norris appointed Director of National Theatre.

Adaptable director take over in 2015.


27 September 2013

Paul Robeson is Pretty Interesting, Right?

‘Art is a Weapon Festival’ at Tristan Bates in Covent Garden


27 September 2013

Hofesh Shechter to be Guest Director at Brighton Festival

along with new co-commissioned work.


19 April 2013

Vicky Featherstone Unveils Open Court Festival

Playwrights take the reins at the Royal Court.


06 April 2013

Southwark Playhouse Announces New Season

New venue opens with a wrestling match.


21 March 2013

National Theatre Opens Shed on Southbank

Temporary venue.


27 February 2013

Rupert Everett wins Sheridan Morley Prize

Vanished Years picks up Theatre Biography award


06 December 2012

West Yorkshire Playhouse Announces New Season

Including a Doctor Faustus update and a new case for Sherlock Holmes.


02 November 2012

Sheffield Theatres Announce New Season

Including the premiere of a new play by Mike Bartlett.


21 October 2012

Young Vic Announces 2013 Season

Joe Wright to direct Chiwetel Ejiofor.


12 October 2012

Violent pickets force cancellation of Terrence McNally premiere in Athens.

Writer beaten amidst increasing far-right activity.


09 October 2012

RADAR New Writing Festival at Bush Theatre

Exploring the future of new writing in the UK.


08 October 2012

London International Mime Festival 2013

Featuring work by Devero, Blind Summit and Compagnie 111.


21 September 2012

Bush Theatre Announce New Season

London transfers for DC Moore and Janice Okoh.