News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd March 2007

Arts Council England is asking the public to 'join a debate' about the future of the arts, answering questions such as What do you value about the arts?, When should an artist receive public money? and Should members of the public be involved in arts funding decisions?. It provides an opportunity to let ACE know that the primary purpose of the arts is not to 'promote inclusivity' or 'champion diversity' as they are not a branch of the social services, that creativity is the only yardstick, and that elitism is something to be celebrated, not denigrated. Whether ACE will take any notice of what people say if it is not what it wants to hear remains open to debate. Have your say on the ACE web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet

King Cotton, a play by Jimmy McGovern, from an original idea by Ian Brownbill, with music by Howard Goodall, directed by Jude Kelly, will premiere at The Lowry in Salford on 12th September. It tells the story of the depression in the Lancashire cotton industry caused by the American Civil War, told through the eyes of a mill worker and plantation slave, combining brass band music with the sound of the cotton field. Produced by The Lowry and co-commissioned by The Lowry and Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008

Six leading playwrights have joined forces to create A Chain Play, to be staged as a fundraising event at the Almeida Theatre, on 23rd March, directed by Tom Cairns. Samuel Adamson, Moira Buffini, David Hare, Charlotte Jones, Frank McGuinness and Roy Williams created the piece over the space of three months, with each writer given two weeks to write a 10 to 15 minute scene, before passing it on to the next member of the team.

Nicholas Kenyon, currently controller of the BBC's Proms, Live Events and television classical music, will succeed John Tusa as managing director of the Barbican in August, alongside Graham Sheffield, who continues as artistic director. As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the Barbican has also announced that Deborah Warner is to become an associate director, and that it will co-present London performances of the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Gregory Burke's Blackwatch - although not at the Barbican itself. The site specific staging of a piece of verbatim theatre based on interviews with former soldiers of the Blackwatch regiment who served in Iraq, was the most talked about show at last year's Edinburgh Fringe.

The spring season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury includes W Somerset Maugham's For Services Rendered, an 'anti-comedy' examining provincial middle class English life in the depression after the First World War, with Polly Adams, Tom Beard, Richard Clothier, Lucy Fleming, Christopher Good, Yvonne Riley, Olivia Llewellyn, Abigail McKern, John Nettleton, Issy van Randwyck, Simon Slater and David Yelland, directed by Edward Hall, opening on 7th March; The Story Of A Great Lady, written and directed by Ade Morris, looking at life, death and love through the eyes of three women, as they devise a performance about Boadicea, opening on 17th April; Jim Cartwright's The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, about a young woman discovers a gift to mimic the greatest female vocalists of the 20th century, directed by Tom Daley, opening on 25th April; and the return of the Propeller Theatre Company's productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Taming Of The Shrew, directed by Edward Hall, opening on 6th June.

On The Casting Couch: Iain Glen and Rupert Evans will star in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, directed by Charlotte Westenra, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 25th April.

The spring season at the Palace Theatre in Watford includes George Bernard Shaw's comedy Heartbreak House, telling what happens when an eccentric old sea captain, his two impossible daughters, and a variety of husbands, suitors and long lost relations come together for a county house weekend, with Teresa Banham, Jack Carr, Laura Elphinstone, Ian Hogg, David Killick, Dale Rapley, Suzan Sylvester, Martin Turner, Susan Twist and Howard Ward, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opening on 22nd March; and Gary Owen's We That Are Left, a love story set in both the Second World War and the present day, directed by Brigid Larmour, opening on 19th April.

The Edinburgh Fringe hit The Pool - City Of Culture?, a contemporary verse drama set in Liverpool, devised and performed by James Brough and Helen Elizabeth, will play at the Arts Theatre, near Leicester Square, from 3rd to 21st April. It follows a day in the life of cockney stranded in Liverpool and a local girl who comes to his aid. Brough and Elizabeth will return to the Arts Theatre later in the year with The Last Post, based on poetry from the First World War.

The Society of London Theatre is giving Mousetrap Theatre Projects a 450,000 grant over three years to fund the charity's development of younger theatre audiences, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This funding, from the Theatre Development Trust, will enable an expansion its programme of subsidised theatregoing for young people under 19, and to develop a new scheme to encourage 19 to 22 year olds to visit the theatre. Since its establishment 10 years ago as The Mousetrap Foundation, three quarters of London's state secondary schools have participated in MTP's programmes, and some 50,000 disadvantaged young people have attended London shows on a ticket priced from 3 to 5. Further information can be found on the MTP web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court will include the world premiere of Maureen McManus's The Ladies Cage, revealing the role played by women in freeing both the Irish from British rule, and themselves from male domination, with Jamie Belton, Colm Gormley, Tracy Kearney, Lucianne McEvoy, Rebecca Mordan, Nathan Rimell and Karren Winchester, directed by John Terry, opening on 23rd March, produced by Scary Little Girls Productions; Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning, the verse play set in 15th century, about a war weary soldier who wants to die, and an accused witch who wants to live, opening on 19th April, a co-production with doublethinktheatre and Mark Puddle; and Maxim Gorky's Lower Depths - Scenes From Russian Life, presenting an uncompromising a picture of the underclass of Russian society on the brink of the revolution, in a new version by Phil Willmott, who also directs, a co-production with The Steam Industry, opening on 17th May.