News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th November 2010

Arts Council England has announced a new system for the administration of its grants from next year, which will lead to the number of organisations it funds being reduced by as many as 100 from the current total of 850. ACE will abolish the ongoing funding for companies such as the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company, and require all organisations to reapply for a grant every 3 years, although there may be some funding for up to 6 years. ACE claims that this will be more open and transparent, and that the process will be 'unbureaucratic'. However, at a time when less money is available, and ACE is being required to halve its own running costs, this will surely result in more money being spent on administration and less on productions. Full details of the new system can be found on the ACE web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It has been confirmed that Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, in which a disgruntled student in a girl's school in the 1930s claims that the two headmistresses are lovers, with Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Moss, directed by Ian Rickson, will open at the Comedy Theatre on 9th February. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions and Scott Landis.

Future productions at the Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court will include J M Barrie's Quality Street, a tale of romance, enchantment and the transformative power of love set at the time of the Napoleonic wars, with Tamzin Aitken, Daisy Ashford, Hannah Boyde, Kate Cooke, Alan Devally, Katie Ellen-Jones, Jack Hardwick, Catherine Harvey, James Rastall, Claire Redcliffe, James Russell and Zoe Thorne, directed by Louise Hill, opening on 2nd December, produced in association with Coracle; Graham Greene's The Potting Shed, in which an estranged son searches for the missing childhood memories that left him rejected by his father, alienated from his family and alone in the world, with Eileen Battye, Emma Beattie, Paul Cawley, Carl Ferguson, David Gooderson, Janet Hargreaves, Lorna Jones, Charlie Roe, Zoe Thorne, Mario Vernazza and Martin Wimbush, directed by Svetlana Dimcovic, opening on 6th January; and Emlyn Williams's Accolade, in which a novelist who about to be knighted finds that his personal life comes under scrutiny, directed by Blanche McIntyre, opening on 3rd February, produced in association with Nicola Seed.

At the 21st Empty Space Peter Brook Awards, for the support of new writers and directors in small studio spaces that receive comparatively little or no public funding, the main prize for went to the Finborough Theatre; The Royal Court's Theatre Local season, in which the company played in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, took the Dan Crawford Innovation Award; dreamthinkspeak theatre company received the Equity Ensemble Award; and Third Party and the New Diorama Theatre received the Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy Award, to enable them to produce new work.

The Faction theatre company will stage Friedrich Schiller's The Robbers, in a new version by Daniel Millar and Mark Leipacher, about two brothers locked in a dangerous competition for their father's love and a vast inheritance, with Alan Booty, Graham Bowe, Jamie Champion, Richard Delaney, Alexander Guiney, Antony Jardine, Paul Jellis, Dominik Kracmar, Michael Lindall, Lachlan McCall, Jonathan Plummer, Kate Sawyer and Edward Toll, directed by Mark Leipacher, opening at the New Diorama Theatre, north of Euston Road, on 10th November.

New York TheatreNet: Jason Miller's That Championship Season, about the reunion of a retired high school basketball coach and members of the team that he guided to the state championship 20 years earlier, during which secrets and recriminations emerge, with Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland, directed by Gregory Mosher, will open on Broadway at a Shubert theatre yet to be announced in March. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, a topsy-turvy love story involving fairies and members of the House of Lords, with Lewis Barnshaw, Anthony Delaney, Christopher Finn, Kingsley Hall, Tom Idelson, Matthew James Willis, Reuben Kaye, Adam Lewis Ford, Shane Lindley, Kris Manuel, Shaun McCourt, Matthew McLoughlin, Gianni Onori, Robin Rayner, Alan Richardson, Raymond Tait and Rob Wilshaw, directed by Sasha Regan, with choreography by Mark Smith, will play at the Union Theatre in Southwark from 17th November.

The 7th annual 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala will take place at the Old Vic Theatre on Sunday 21st November. A group of actors, playwrights and directors will come together on the evening of Saturday 20th November, and form teams to write and rehearse 6 short plays to be performed 24 hours later. Those involved will include actors Ronni Ancona, Richard Armitage, Kelly Brooke, Niamh Cusack, Toby Jones, Paterson Joseph, Ralf Little, Lesley Manville, Sienna Miller and Tim Piggott-Smith; and writers Richard Curtis and Jessica Hynes. The event will be compered by John Cleese.

The Ivy restaurant will host a play while diners eat from 8th to 12th November. Ronald Harwood's Heavenly Ivy looks at the restaurant's past, through the eyes of its maitre d' Mario Gallati and the drama critic James Agate, with Michael Pennington, directed by Sean Mathias.

Spartan Dogs will stage Ben Johnson's Jacobean London comedy The Devil Is An Ass, with Chris Bearne, Oliver Lavery, Stuart Brannan, Susan Moison, Phil Bishop, Jamie Partridge, Kitty Chapman, Oliver Powell, Lizzy Dive, Greg Snowden, Davin Eadie, Gareth Turkington, Alexander Hathaway, Sean Turner, Clive Keene and Emily White, directed by Kate McGregor, at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington, from 16th November.

Forthcoming productions at the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green will include the British premiere of Stuart Hoar's Bright Star, examining the conflict between love and ambition, based on the life of astronomer Beatrice Tinsley, with Brendon Gregory, Kate Harper, Jeff Mash, Matt Wilson and Michelle Witton,

directed by Ali Wall, from 9th November, produced by Firebrand Productions and Creative Cat; and the musical Just So, book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, music by George Stiles, adapted from Rudyard Kipling's animal stories, directed by Andrew Keates, opening on 2nd December, produced by Pulling Focus.

Alistair McGowan and Charlotte Page will perform Sincerely Noel, a selection of songs and poems by Noel Coward, directed by Brendan O'Hea, a revised version of the show seen at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe, at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from 9th December.