News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd September 2011

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has launched a campaign to debunk the 'conspiracy theories' surrounding the authorship of Shakespeare's works, given fresh impetus by the film Anonymous, which opens next month. The organisation has launched 60 Minutes With Shakespeare, an audio website featuring 60 actors, writers, directors and scholars from all over the world, including Simon Callow, Greg Doran, Margaret Drabble, Stephen Fry, Michael Holroyd, Antony Sher, Janet Suzman and Harriet Walter, who address the question in 60 seconds each. Further information can be found on the SBT web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Soho Theatre has made additions to its previously announced winter season, including Ex - A Play With Songs, book and lyrics by Rob Young, music by Ross Lorraine, charting what takes place when two former lovers meet in a bar, directed by Tricia Horns, opening on 10th November, a co-production with Two's Company; Blind Summit's Edinburgh Fringe hit The Table, devised by Ivan Thorley and Irena Stratieva, an adult story told with captions and puppets, with Mark Down, Nick Barnes, Sean Garratt and Sarah Calver, opening on 10th January; and the return of The Bee, adapted by Colin Teevan from the story by Yasutaka Tsutsui, exploring what happens when a family is taken hostage, with Hideki Noda and Kathryn Hunter, opening on 26th January, a co-production with Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in association with Noda-Map.

On The Casting Couch: Billie Piper, Kieran Bew, Sian Brooke and Tom Burke will feature in Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 17th November; and Lenny Henry, Claudie Blakley Clare Cathcart Chris Jarman Lucian Msamati Daniel Poyser and Michelle Terry will head the cast in Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, opening at the National Theatre on 29th November.

Natural Perspective Theatre Company will stage Jean Racine's Britannicus, in a new translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker, depicting Rome on the brink of disaster, with a combination of greed, hunger for power and paranoia driving Nero to make ever more destructive decisions, with Jude Akuwudike, Zoe Aldrich, Christopher Colqhoun, Matthew Needham, Sian Thomas, Alex Vlahos and Hara Yannas, directed by Irina Brown, at Wilton's Music Hall, in Wapping, from 13th October.

New York TheatreNet: Philip William McKinley, 'creative consultant/saviour' of Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark on Broadway will direct The Bible: The Beginning, a musical arena spectacular version of the Old Testament, book by Shaun McKenna, music by Michael Levine, Matt Rollings and Ryan Beveridge, lyrics by Maribeth Derry, on an American national tour in 2012 or 2013. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

The autumn season at the Polka Theatre for Children in Wimbledon will include Levi David Addai's I Have A Dream, in which a contemporary child falls asleep and wakes up in 1963 America, where he becomes friends with Martin Luther King Jnr's daughter, from 23rd September; the Banyan Theatre Company production of Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier, told with puppetry, music and storytelling, from 24th September; Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, adapted and directed by Jonathan Lloyd, co-directed by Jo Belloli, from 18th October; and E B White's Charlotte's Web, the story of a pig saved from being slaughtered by a spider, adapted by Joseph Robinette, music and lyrics by Charles Strouse, from 11th November.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Maintaining its position as the world's biggest festival, ticket sales reached an all time high of 1,877,119, up 2.6% from 1,829,931 in 2010. There were 21,192 performers in 41,689 performances of 2,542 shows in 258 venues, up from 21,148 performers in 40,254 performances of 2,453 shows in 259 venues last year. The Festival Fringe Society is already circulating information for companies wanting to appear in next year's Fringe, running from 3rd to 27th August. Interested parties can subscribe to receive a monthly email bulletin, and download a substantial amount of advice about venues, and mounting and selling a show - but they should remember to factor into their calculations that the average audience size for a Fringe show is 6 (or is that just an urban myth?). Further information can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Forthcoming productions at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester will include Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, directed by Sue Lefton, from 23rd September; Louis de Bernieres's Captain Corelli's Mandolin, adapted by Milke Maran, the love story set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Second World War, with Tony Casement, Roger Delves-Broughton, Gus Gallagher, Natuka Kakhidze and Mike Maran, directed by Levan Tsuladze, from 27th October, a co-production with Kote Marjanishvili Theatre in Tbilisi; and Beauty And The Beast, written and directed by Janice Dunn, with Ignatius Anthony, Roger Delves-Broughton and Jai Vethamony, from 2nd December.

The Scamp Theatre/Watford Palace Theatre production of Stick Man - Live on Stage, adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, music by Benji Bower, telling the adventures of bark-covered man who is constantly mistaken for an ordinary stick, with Brian Hargreaves, Mark Kane, Peta Dennis and Pieter Lawman, directed by Sally Cookson, will play a Christmas season at the Leicester Square Theatre, opening on 23rd November.

The Rumour Machine says: that the long running Broadway production of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago, which has just closed at the Cambridge Theatre, will reopen at the Garrick Theatre in November. The Rumour Machine grinds on.