News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th January 2001

The 23rd London International Mime Festival runs from 13th to 28th January, and features 18 companies from around the world, spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning and vaudeville. It begins at the Purcell Room with Moscow's cutting edge BlackSkyWhite company in Bertrand's Toys, a dream-like danse macabre inspired by Russian ancient ritual, commedia dell'arte, and expressionist and horror films, which was a hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. Performances are at various venues, including the ICA, Hoxton Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, The Circus Space, South Bank Centre and the National Theatre. Full details can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Prunella Scales and Timothy West star in the world premiere of The External by Rodney Clark at Theatre Royal Bath from 27th to 31st March, prior to a tour. It is the story of a distinguished academic, who is in reality a drunken philanderer with an eye for his young women students, but is protected by the loyalty and frustrated love of his colleague - until he goes too far. Ezra Hjalmarsson directs the prospective West End production.

Because I Sing is a choral extravaganza taking place at the Roundhouse on 31st March and 1st April. Five hundred singers from seventeen different choirs around London will perform a new ninety minute work by Orlando Gough with his choir The Shout. The eclectic mix of groups which includes the Metropolitan Police Male Voice Choir, the London Gay Men's Chorus, the London Diocese Deaf Choir, the Congolese Christian Choir, the Women's Institute Choir and the girls from the South Hampstead High School Choir should make for an interesting experience.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running this year from 5th to 27th August, has launched its nation wide programme of seminars to give would be producers an idea of what is involved. January dates and locations are 12th Cardiff, 13th Glasgow and Coventry, 14th Manchester, 26th Leeds and Cambridge, 27th London, and 28th Brighton. Further information and contact details to request a registration form can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

This year's repertoire for the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre season, running from 12th May to 23rd September will be: King Lear with Julian Glover, directed by Barry Kyle; Macbeth with Jasper Britton, directed by Tim Carroll; and Cymbeline with Mark Rylance, directed by Mike Alfreds. There will be two Globe To Globe international visiting productions. Umabatha: The Zulu Macbeth returns from 18th to 22nd April. Written by Welcome Msomi, it relocates the story of Macbeth in a 19th century Zulu context. Performed in Zulu with English surtitles, it incorporates music and dance, with a cast of forty. The Comedy Of Errors by the Nomura Mansaku Company from 18th to 22nd July, will be performed in Japanese by Kyogen actors. Kyogen is a stylised form of classical Japanese comedy depending on the voice and physicality of its performers.

Just when you thought you'd seen it all dept: The Haymarket and Strand theatres have instituted a "Ticket Cancellation Insurance Service". For just 1 per ticket (payable at the time of booking) they offer to exchange the tickets for another date should you need to do so - which they should do for free anyway. They'll be charging you extra for wearing out the carpet next.

The world premiere of Ritual In Blood by Steven Berkoff will be at Nottingham Playhouse from 25th May to 16th June, directed by Timothy Walker. The play is an account of events in Lincoln in 1255. When a boy was killed falling from a tree in the garden of a Jewish money lender, the townspeople laid a charge of ritual child murder against the Jewish community, resulting in the execution of eighteen people.

Walt Disney Theatricals is expected to mount its first revival of an existing musical, having acquired the theatrical rights to Carnival. The 1961 show, with book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Bob Merrill, is based on a story by Paul Gallico. It tells the story of a young French girl who joins a run down circus and becomes part of a puppet show. Disney has a number of other Broadway bound projects in the pipeline: Hoopz, the Savion Glover basketball musical which has been in development for some years with a number of different producers; Pinocchio, another long term project to be directed by Julie Taymor; and The Little Mermaid to be staged by Matthew Bourne. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, which is playing in Germany, is now not expected to reach New York.

The Royal Shakespeare Company summer season in Stratford will run from 21st March to 13th October. The stage and auditorium of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be radically redesigned by stage designer Alison Chitty, to create a single set for all three main house shows. It will expand and raise the acting area across the entire width of the theatre and the productions will be presented in a very spare and austere manner. The season comprises in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre: Hamlet with Samuel West directed by Steven Pimlott; Twelfth Night with Guy Henry, directed by Lindsay Posner; and Julius Caesar directed by Edward Hall. In the Swan Theatre: King John with Guy Henry, directed by Gregory Doran; Love In A Wood by William Wycherley, the rarely performed Restoration comedy, directed by Tim Supple; and Jubilee by Peter Barnes, a new satire on the founding of "the Shakespeare industry" by actor manager David Garrick, directed by Gregory Doran. In The Other Place: three further premieres, A Russian In The Woods by Peter Whelan, about a young soldier in the ruins of post Second World War Berlin caught up in a situation which puts his conscience on trial, directed by Robert Delamere; The Lieutenant Of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh, a black comedy on the subjects of cruelty to animals and Irish paramilitaries, directed by Wilson Milam; and The Prisoner's Dilemma by David Edgar, a contemporary epic dramatisation of attempts to resolve a bloody conflict on Europe's Eastern border, directed by Michael Attenborough. Further information from the RSC web site via the link from the UK Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

Last Word On: The New Year Honours In Lloyd George's day the public tried to buy Honours from the government - now the government tries to buy the public with Honours.