News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st April 2005

Shakespeare's birthday will receive a double celebration this year. On Saturday 23rd April Shakespeare's Globe will throw the theatre open to the public from 9.30am, with members of the Globe company, musicians and street performers on hand to recreate the atmosphere of Elizabethan times. There will be guided tours, members of the public will be able to perform their favourite Shakespeare speech from the stage, and Ken Campbell will perform Shall We Shog? a Bard centred entertainment in his idiosyncratic style. There will also be the traditional Sonnet Walks, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along routes to Bankside. Participants have a choice of two tours of Tudor London, starting from either Westminster or Shoreditch. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 10am to 12.45pm.

On Sunday 24th April the Royal Shakespeare Company will hold an open day in Stratford upon Avon from 11.30am, with free events, talks, demonstrations and opportunities to get creatively involved with company members. Events for which there will be a charge will include: From Stratford to Hollywood - Patrick Stewart and Samantha Bond talk about their journeys from the RSC to Tinseltown; Shakespeare's Bottom - Desmond Barrit, David Troughton and Malcolm Storry discuss playing the role; How Shakespeare Writes for Actors - director John Barton, Vanessa and Corin Redgrave in conversation; Star Tours - a comprehensive backstage tour, culminating in tea and cake in the Green Room; and The Big Garden Party - a chance to mingle with RSC stars over champagne and birthday cake, and to admire a special fashion show, plus dancing and fireworks.

On The Casting Couch at Shakespeare's Globe: Mark Rylance will be joined by Edward Hogg and Alex Hassell in the three actor production of The Tempest - supported by dancers Liz Collier, Fiona Creese and Sian Williams, and singers Daniel Auchincloss, Benjamin Bevan, Robert MacDonal, William Missin, Faye Newton, William Purefoy and Stuart Young; while Corin Redgrave, Jude Akuwudike, Matt Costain, Harry Gostelow, Iisa Ilona Jantti, Matilda Leyser, Robert Luckay, Marcello Magni, Victoria McManus, Jules Melvin, Patrice Naiambana, Alex Poulter, Laura Rees, Hilary Tones and Aaron Walker form the company of Pericles.

Hampstead Theatre is to stage two plays in repertoire exploring the anxiety of living in a climate of terror, performed by a company comprising Tom Brooke, Christine Bottomley, Ian Dunn, Rachel Sanders and Michael Mears directed Anthony Clark. Dennis Kelly's Osama The Hero examines what happens when an individual thinks outside of convention in a society made anxious by the threat of terrorist activity, opening on 9th May; with Jane Bodie's A Single Act, about four people unharmed, but still affected by a recent terrorist act in their city, joins on 16th May. They will be followed by the 2004 Chichester Festival Theatre production of Helen Cooper's Three Women And A Piano Tuner, a study of the choices women make between ambition and love, directed by Samuel West, from 20th June; and What the Butler Saw, Joe Orton's contemporary interpretation of a classic farce, directed by David Grindley, from 19th July.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Gregory Murphy's Off Broadway success The Countess, about the triangular relationship of Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his wife Effie, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, will open at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 4th May, prior to a transfer to the Criterion Theatre in June. The cast includes Daniela Denby-Ashe, Gerald Harper, Jean Boht, Deidra Morris and Linda Thorson, and is directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.

Applications are now being accepted for the Rupert Rhymes Bursary, an award of 2,000 by the Society Of London Theatre and the Theatrical Managers Association, to enable individuals working in theatre production or administration to undertake a theatre project that falls outside other funding schemes. Applications, which are considered quarterly, should be sent to The Presidents of SOLT and TMA, c/o Stage One, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET.

The American Theatre Wing's legendary Working In The Theatre seminars, televised panel discussions that include doyennes of the industry, which this year celebrate their 25th anniversary, are now available as free streaming video on the ATW's web site. Over 300 programmes offer a window on how the theatre works, packed with anecdotes about the joys, pitfalls, surprises and disappointments about a life in the business. They feature an array of theatrical talent, with writers, producers, directors, performers and technicians, from Jessica Tandy and Kim Hunter, through Edward Albee and Mel Brooks, to Brenda Blethyn and Nicole Kidman. The past 10 years of programmes are available on demand now, with select programmes dating back to 1987 also accessible, and work underway to digitise the remainder, back to 1979. Also on the site are 13 interviews conducted by the ATW in 2001 under the banner Guide To Careers In The Theatre, with participants that include director Susan Stroman, orchestrator Luther Henderson and lighting designer Jules Fisher. Collectively, the site now boasts more than 200 hours of streaming media, with both new and archival material being added regularly. The ATW site can be found via the link from New York TheatreNet in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Rufus Norris is to direct a new West End production of the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, with Denise Van Outen a possible star, produced by Bill Kenwright; that Lestat, the first stage musical written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, with a book by Linda Woolverton and Robert Jess, based on the vampire character in Anne Rice's novels, will open a pre Broadway season in San Francisco late this year; that Patricia Hodge will star in a West End production of Terence Rattigan's In Praise of Love in the autumn; and that the Abbey Theatre Dublin production of Dion Boucicault's The Shaughraun, directed by John McColgan, will transfer to London in May. The Rumour Machine grinds on.