News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st April 2010

LIFT - the London International Festival of Theatre will return as a full scale festival, presenting cutting edge companies from all over the world, from 23rd June to 17th July, after which it will become a biennial event again. The programme will feature 7 British premieres, and events, many involving audience participation, will include: Nalaga'at, the world's only professional company of deaf-blind performers, from Israel, with Not By Bread Alone and Cafe Kapish, where diners will be served by deaf waiters; Canadian company Mammalian Diving Reflex staging Haircuts By Children, where children are trained in hairdressing before offering their services to adult members of the public; and the Builders Association from New York examining social and digital media in Continuous City. Participating venues include the Barbican, National Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Southbank Centre and LIFT's own inflatable venue to be located in Canning Town. Further information can be found on the LIFT web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, a revised version of Martin Sherman's play about the final years of the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and his relationships with Jacqueline Kennedy, Maria Callas and his son, which premiered at Chichester Festival theatre last year, now retitled Onassis, but still featuring Robert Lindsay and directed by Nancy Meckler, will open a prospective pre West End season at Derby Playhouse on 10th September.

The summer season on the Southbank will include return visits by street dance company ZooNation's Into The Hoods, the hip-hop urban take on the story of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Into The Woods, which features characters from a number of fairytales, (but using hip-hop songs) directed and choreographed by Kate Prince, at the Royal Festival Hall from 30th July to 15th August; and Victoria Chaplin and Jean-Baptiste Thierree in their magic and circus show Les Cirque Invisible, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, from 5th to 25th August.

The National Theatre of Scotland's next season will include the final part of the Little Johnny trilogy, Little Johnny's Big Gay Wedding, devised and performed by Johnny McKnight, an interactive experience set at a wedding reception, directed by Julie Brown, opening at the Langside Hall in Glasgow, in June, a co-production with Random Accomplice; the premiere of Bryony Lavery's Beautiful Burnout, set in a Glasgow training gym, where five aspiring young fighters are learning the art of boxing, opening at the Pleasance in the Edinburgh Fringe, a co-production with Frantic Assembly; Gregory Burke's Black Watch, the site specific piece of verbatim theatre, based on interviews with former soldiers of the Blackwatch regiment who served in Iraq, directed by John Tiffany, which will tour from September; and David Greig's The Strange Undoing Of Prudencia Hart, a mix of ghostly storytelling, theatre and music, directed by Wils Wilson, playing in pubs in the Scottish Borders and beyond from November.

On The Casting Couch at the Open Air Theatre: Patrick O'Kane, Emma Cunniffe, Emily Taaffe, Oliver Ford Davies, Lucy May Barker and Susan Engel will lead the cast of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, opening on 2nd June; Daniel Weyman, Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, Jo Herbert and Anna-Jane Casey will head the company in Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, opening on 29th June; and Hannah Waddingham, Jenna Russell, Mark Hadfield and Mark Goldthorp will feature in the Stephen Soldheim-James Lapine musical Into The Woods, opening on 11th August.

English National Opera and theatre company Punchdrunk will stage the world premiere of an opera based on The Duchess Of Malfi, the Jacobean tragedy of a young widow's refusal to obey her brother's command never to remarry, music by Torsten Rasch, directed by Felix Barrett, in a vacant space in the Royal Albert Basin in Newham, East London, for 13 performances from 13th July. Part opera/part installation, the audience will wander through the space, as 17 performers and the ENO orchestra perform.

Stage One, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 17th to 19th June. This is an intensive course for anyone planning to produce or co-produce in theatre. The aim is to provide detailed information on how to set up a production at a regional theatre and bring it into the West End, for those who have not previously produced commercial plays, or have only limited experience, but posess a firm commitment to a career in theatre production. It will be conducted by leading theatre practitioners led by production doyenne Andrew Treagus. Sessions will include: acquiring rights, budgeting, co-producing, booking a tour, finding and contracting a theatre, raising funds and looking after investors, marketing, publicity and press. The closing date for applications is 12th April. Further information and an application form can be found on the SO web site via link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn will include Charlotte Eilenberg's Shrunk, about a psychoanalyst whose life is changed by the arrival of a new client, directed by Julian Birkett, opening on 21st May. The producer is Mark Shenton. Meanwhile the current OperaUpClose small scale contemporary production of Puccini's La Boheme, translated and directed by Robin Norton-Hale, will transfer to the Soho Theatre, from 27th July.

Forthcoming productions at the Palace Theatre in Watford will include the world premiere of Gary Owen's Mrs Reynolds And The Ruffian, about an unlikely inter-generational friendship in contemporary Britain. with Trudie Goodwin, directed by Brigid Larmour, opening on 20th April

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre. Upcoming highlights include Exposure, presenting snapshots of new opera - short extracts from recent works, new works and works still under construction, with a cast including Jacqueline Varsey, Hannah Pedley, Darren Abrahams, Dan Norman, Matthew Sharp and Maureen Brathwaite, from 14th to 17th April; the chamber opera Powder Her Face, music by Thomas Ades, libretto by Philip Hensher, about the sexual scandals surrounding Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, in the 1960s, with Joan Rodgers, Alan Ewing, Iain Paton and Rebecca Bottone, directed by Carlos Wagner, from 26th April to 10th May; and new dance works from 3rd to 6th June.