News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd October 2008

The Society Of London Theatre is looking for 10 enthusiastic and knowledgeable theatregoers to join one of the judging panels for next year's Laurence Olivier Awards. Panellists will receive a pair of free tickets for all shows playing in the West End between 1st January and 31st December. There are four panels assessing Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates (covering work at the Almeida, Bush, Greenwich, Hackney Empire, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, New Wimbledon, Royal Court Upstairs, Soho, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Trafalgar Studios 2 and Tricycle). The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 80 play and musical performances, Opera and Affiliates about 20 each, and Dance about 40. Applications can be made online on the SOLT web site, which can be found via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet. Alternatively there are leaflets in all West End theatres. The deadline for applications is 28th November.

Shakespeare's Othello, with Lenny Henry, Conrad Nelson, Andy Cryer, Matt Connor, Richard Standing and Fine Time Fontayne, directed by Barrie Rutter (who will also appear), will open a regional tour at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on 14th February. It is a co-production with Northern Broadsides, known for its 'e bah gum' style of Shakespearian productions.

Eddie Izzard will play a season of his new show Stripped at the Lyric Theatre from 17th November to 12th December. Izzard recently completed a nationwide American tour, which culminated in 3 performances at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Meanwhile, Bill Bailey will bring his latest show Tinselworm to the Gielgud Theatre for a season from 10th November to 20th December, following performances in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year.

Maya Productions will stage Hackney Streets, a play for voices by Michael Rosen, directed by Christopher Preston, at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington, from 29th October to 2nd November. Four choruses will surround the audience in a 'live quadraphonic experience', on a journey though time in Hackney, meeting a cast of local characters from William Shakespeare to the inventor of plastic, (and the street cries of Ridley Road market) through their words.

The Barbican Theatre's BITE: 09 season will include the European premiere of Complicite's Shun-kin, a devised work inspired by two texts written in the 1930s by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, a tale of devotion, passion and power, where beauty is unforgiving and love is blinding, performed by a Japanese cast with English surtitles, directed by Simon McBurney, in February; and the National Theatre of Scotland/Dundee Rep's contemporary production of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, in a new version by Colin Teevan, an epic journey in search of fame and fortune, with the original cast, including Keith Fleming, Gerry Mulgrew and Anne Louise Ross, directed by Dominic Hill, in April.

Stage Entertainment, the European theatre conglomerate that last year bought See Tickets from the Really Useful Company to join with its existing ticketing services, has sold a majority shareholding of the merged company to Parcom Capital, a subsidiary of the ING Group. It will now operate under the name See Tickets International, and be the largest independent ticketing company in Europe, with a staff of over 900, selling over 40m tickets a year, making it one of the top 3 ticketing companies in the world. It incorporates the brands TopTicketLine in the Netherlands, Spain and France, See Tickets in England, Ticket Online in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Austria and in Belgium.

Cirque du Soleil will return to the Royal Albert Hall with Quidam from 4th January, followed by national tour that will run until April. The show features 52 performers from 10 countries in a unique mixture of circus skills, music and special effects, directed by Franco Dragone.

The Theatre Royal in Windsor is staging Agatha Christie's Murder On Air, three of Christie's radio plays, Personal Call, The Yellow Iris and Butter In A Lordly Dish, in the style of their original BBC broadcasts - performed on stage in an authentic studio setting with live sound effects, opening on 13th October. The cast will include two mystery guest stars at each performance chosen from a rosta that includes Nicky Henson, Hugh Fraser, Susan Penhaligon and Christopher Timothy.

Physical theatre company Footsbarn will bring its multinational carnival style production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a hit at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, to Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, playing in their iconic tent, from the 12th to 30th November.

The Golden Generation: British Theatre 1945 - 1968, an exhibition running at the British library until 30th November, demonstrates the variety, dynamism, and vision of actors, directors and writers that flourished in British theatre between the end of the Second World War, and the abolition of theatre censorship. It is a treasure trove of theatrical manuscripts, letters, photographs and oral history recordings. Highlights include the only surviving scripts of the first two plays by John Osborne, The Devil Inside Him and Personal Enemy, and a handwritten draft of The Entertainer sent to Laurence Olivier, alongside 'disgusted' fan letters, complaining about him playing such a role; Harold Pinter's scrapbook in which he pasted in reviews of his first play noting that 'Mr Pinter may well make some impact as a dramatist'; a handwritten draft of Pinter's The Homecoming, accompanied by letters of encouragement from playwrights Noel Coward and Samuel Beckett; and photographs showing how many playwrights developed their talent while acting in regional repertory theatres, including Peter Nichols, John Osborne, Harold Pinter and Charles Wood.

Forthcoming productions at Theatre 503 in Battersea include Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse's Warm, translated by May-Brit Akerholt, a poetic love triangle played out at the edge of an ocean, with James Chalmers, Valerie Gogan and David Hounslow, directed by Simon Usher, from 21st October; and Edinburgh Fringe hit and Musical Theatre Matters award winner Barbershopera, by Rob Castell and Tom Green, the story of how an unconventional quartet wins the Eurovision Song Contest, with Castell, Green, Mark Hole and Lara Stubbs, directed by Sarah Tipple, from 25th November.