News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th October 2007

While presenting the National Theatre's Annual Report for 2006/2007, Nicholas Hytner announced some future plans, which include: Vanessa Redgrave reprising her recent Broadway performance of Joan Didion's monologue The Year Of Magical Thinking, based on her book of the same name, reliving the night that her husband died of a heart attack, as her daughter lay ill in a coma, directed by David Hare; George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, directed by Hyntner; a dance based collaboration between actress Juliette Binoche and choreographer Akram Khan; Samuel Adamson's reworking of Ibsen's Little Eyolf, directed by Marianne Elliott; Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, directed by Melly Still; Sophocles's Oedipus, with Ralph Fiennes, directed by Jonathan Kent; and new plays by David Hare, directed by Howard Davies, Michael Frayn, directed by Michael Blakemore, and Tony Harrison, about the classicist and poet Gilbert Murray. The long awaited Sunday opening at the National will finally receive a 4 month trial with matinees in autumn 2008. The National had a good year financially in 2006/2007, producing a surplus of 187,000, with turnover at a record 46m, and attendances of 722,000, which was 85% of capacity. There were 24 productions, 19 of which were new, with 3 touring the UK for 28 weeks, 1 transferring to the West End, and 2 transferring to Broadway. In total, 1.1m people saw performances given by the National during the year.

Details have been revealed about the previously untitled new play written and directed by Anthony Neilson, developed with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, which will open at the Soho Theatre on 5th December. It has been christened God In Ruins, and it looks at the phenomenon of men who recreate themselves in virtual worlds like Second Life, becoming gods in their own bedrooms. The company comprises Jude Akuwudike, Richard Atwill, Thane Bettany, Sam Cox, Brian Doherty, Ryan Gage, Emmanuel Ighodaro, Jason Nwoga, Patrick O'Kane, Mark Theodore and Joel Trill.

On The Casting Couch: Philip Quast, Douglas Hodge, Jason Pennycooke, Neil McDermott and Tara Hugo will head the cast of the musical La Cage Aux Folles, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark on 3rd December.

The 30th London International Mime Festival will run from 12th to 27th January, featuring companies from around the world spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning juggling and vaudeville, together with a programme of talks and workshops. International performers will include from France, Josef Nadj and Miquel Barcelo's Paso Doble, in which two tons of wet clay is transformed into a mammoth, constantly evolving art installation; from Russia, BlackSky White's 'preview of hell' Astronomy For Insects; and from Korea, Sadari Movement Laboratory's version of Georg Buchner's Woyzeck. British performers will include surreal adult puppet company Faulty Optic with Dead Wedding, based on Orpheus myth; Gandini Juggling, with Downfall; and Nola Rae with her biographical show Mozart Preposteroso. Performances will be at the Barbican, ICA, Laban, Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, Lyric Hammersmith, Shunt Vaults and South Bank Centre. Further information can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester includes Shakespeare's Coriolanus, with an all male cast, directed by Tina Packer, from 18th October; Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, with an all female cast, directed by Dee Evans, from 7th November; and Sleeping Beauty, by Janice Dunn, with Christine Absalom, Ignatius Anthony, Roger Delves-Broughton, Charlie Morgan and Tim Treslove, directed by Fine Time Fontayne, from 6th December.

Iris Theatre is to stage Tony Harrison's The Nativity from The Mysteries, his contemporary version of the medieval Mystery play cycle, an interpretation of bible stories as originally performed by medieval craft Guilds, at The Actors Church, St Paul's Covent Garden, from 13th to 24th November.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, a stage musical adaptation of the 1994 Australian film, about three drag queens on a road trip to Alice Springs, using existing disco songs, by original writer/director Stephan Elliott, writer Allan Scott and director Simon Phillips, which premiered in Sydney last year, will make its West End debut next autumn. The producers are the Really Useful Group and Back Row Productions.

The 2007/2008 season at Derby Playhouse includes Richard Harris's Stepping Out, the comedy about nine women (and one man) attending a tap dancing class in a London church hall, with Rosemary Ashe, Jenna Boyd, Michael Cahill, Suzie Chard, Anita Louise Combe, Sophie-Louise Dann, Kim Ismay, Yvonne Newman, Joanne Redman and Flik Swan, directed by Steven Dexter, with choreography by Nick Winston, opening on 18th October; Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate adventure Treasure Island, adapted and directed by Karen Louise Hebden, with music and lyrics by Brian Protheroe, opening on 29th November; the premiere of Stephen Lowe's The Devil's League, a comic drama imagining an encounter between Robert Maxwell and Brian Clough over the future of Derby County football club, directed by Alan Dosser, from 2nd February; Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Stephen Edwards, from 12th April; Tom Stoppards's Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the minor characters from Hamlet take centre stage, directed by Karen Louise Hebden, from 25th April; and Neil Simon's comedy The Odd Couple, about two men - a slob and a pedant - sharing an apartment after their marriages break up, from 7th June.

The worlds of theatre and broadcasting lost a legendary figure with the death of the writer, director, broadcaster, impresario and bon viveur Ned Sherrin, often dubbed 'today's Noel Coward'. Although probably best known for devising the groundbreaking satirical television show That Was The Week That Was, and presenting BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends, Sherrin also had a long writing collaboration with Caryl Brahms, which included the musicals I Gotta Shoe, Sing A Rude Song, Liberty Ranch, Nicholas Nickleby and The Mitford Girls, he wrote the narration for Side By Side By Sondheim, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance on Broadway, directed, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, A Saint She Ain't, A Passionate Woman, Salad Days, Bookends, Our Song and his conception of The Ratepayers' Iolanthe, which won a Laurence Olivier Award, and wrote two volumes of autobiography and several collections of quotations, essays and anecdotes.