News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th August 2010

The Bush Theatre has announced its 2010/2011 season, comprising: the British premiere of Annie Baker's The Aliens, examining contemporary America by following professional dropouts who spend their days sitting in a coffee shop discussing music and the drudgery of work, directed by Peter Gill, opening on 20th September; the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh production of D C Jackson's My Romantic History, the tale of an office affair haunted by childhood sweethearts, with Iain Robertson, Rosalind Sydney and Alison O'Donnell, directed by Lyndsey Turner, opening on 25th October; a School Season, focusing on different facets of the education system, with John Donnelly's The Knowledge about a young teacher in a failing school who doesn't want to teach a group of kids how to cope with life that she is not sure how to do herself, directed by Charlotte Gwinner, and Steve Waters's Little Platoons, following a group of parents who take up the government's offer to start their own school, directed by Nathan Curry, opening on 17th January and playing in repertoire; and Deirdre Kinehan's Moment, depicting a family welcoming home a member after being in prison for a dark crime, who has news to share and a conscience to clear, directed by David Horan, opening on 28th February.

The autumn season at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch will include: Amanda Whittington's Ladies Down Under, a comedy in which four friends from a Hull fish packing factory celebrate jackpot success with a dream trip to Australia, with Diana Croft, Sarah Scowen, Lucy Thackeray and Helen Watson, directed by Matt Devitt, opening on 31st August; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, the Roman musical comedy inspired by the farces of Plautus, book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Bob Carlton, opening on 27th September; Chris Bond's version of the Victorian melodrama based on a true story The Mysterie Of Maria Marten And The Murder In The Red Barn, directed by Matt Devitt, opening on 1st November; and the traditional pantomime Aladdin, opening on 6th December.

New York TheatreNet: The just closed Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park production of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, featuring Al Pacino, directed by Daniel Sullivan, will transfer to Broadway for a 10 week season, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre from 19th October. Other casting, which previously included Lily Rabe, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Byron Jennings, Hamish Linklater and Jesse L Martin, has yet to be confirmed. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Cut-Outs On Concrete: The British Stage In Miniature is a series of events that will see live Victorian 'Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured' toy theatre performances projected onto the fly tower of the National Theatre at 10pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. The season will comprise: The Corsican Brothers or, The Fatal Duel, Dion Boucicault's tragic story of ill fated twin brothers and a deadly duel in the Forest of Fontainebleau, on 13th and 14th August; The Battle Of Waterloo or, The Countess Phedora's Curse a story centred on Napoleon's defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, on 20th and 21st August; and Blackbeard The Pirate or, The Jolly Buccaneers, relating swashbuckling high sea adventures of the infamous pirate of the Caribbean, on 27th and 28th August.

Meanwhile, indoors at the National Theatre, Hidden Corners is an exhibition of photographs by Miriam Nabarro, taken behind the scenes, in the two thirds of the building that is not accessible to the public, running from 19th August to 19th September. Nabarro has sought out these 'secret spaces' and with the aid of the technicians, actors and craftspeople who inhabit them, offers visitors a glimpse into a rarely seen world. To create these images she used a Hasselblad camera made in 1974, giving the resulting pictures a look often associated with Polariod pictures of the 1970s, when the National Theatre opened.

The autumn season at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark will include Accomplice: London, the European premiere of the New York phenomenon, a unique interactive theatrical walking tour/game, created by Tom Salamon and Betsy Salamon-Sufott, luring participants on a theatrical quest through Southwark, as 'accomplices' in committing a faux crime, and as the plot unfolds, gathering information and insider tips to help the 'perp' outsmart the 'bill', taking place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 4th September; Caryl Churchill's A Number, structured around the conflict between father and son, addressing the subjects of human cloning, identity and nature versus nurture, with Timothy and Samuel West directed by Jonathan Munby, opening on 4th October; and Ken Hill's Music Hall style adaptation of H G Wells's The Invisible Man, about a scientist who makes himself invisible in an experiment but is unable to reverse the process, directed by Ian Talbot, opening on 24th November.

The Plays That Changed My Life, recently published by Applause Books and the American Theatre Wing, offers readers a unique peek into the theatrical influences of some of America's most important dramatists. The book asks the question: What was the play that changed your life, inspired you, showed you something entirely new, or was so thrilling, surprising, breathtaking or poignant, that you were never the same? It is filled with tributes, memories, anecdotes and other insights that connect past to present and make this volume a must have for theatre enthusiasts. The contributors are Edward Albee, David Auburn, Jon Robin Baitz, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Charles Fuller, A R Gurney, Beth Henley, Tina Howe, David Henry Hwang, David Ives, Donald Margulies, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, John Patrick Shanley, Diana Son, Regina Taylor, and Doug Wright, with an introduction by Paula Vogel. All together, the playwrights featured here have won more than 40 Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Obies, and MacArthur genius grants.

The first Edinburgh Fringe transfer was announced before it actually opened. The Frantic Assembly/National Theatre of Scotland production of Bryony Lavery's Beautiful Burnout, set in a Glasgow training gym, where five aspiring young fighters are learning the art of boxing, with Ryan Fletcher, Eddie Kay, Vicki Manderson, Lorraine McIntosh, Taqi Nazeer, Henry Pettigrew, Ewan Stewart, directed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, will play at the York Hall Leisure Centre, in Bethnal Green, from 16th September.

Forthcoming productions at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston will include: in Studio 1, Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange, exploring medical ethics and racism through the case of a patient in a mental hospital who claims to be the child of an African dictator, with an all female cast, directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr, opening on 28th October, a Tiata Fahodzi production; and Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock, a play with music about an attempt to set up a union in an American steel town in the 1930s, directed by Mehmet Ergen, from 23rd November; in Studio 2, Bettina Gracias's Gandhi And Coconuts, about a woman who retreats into a fantasy world, directed by Janet Steel, from 24th November, a Kali Theatre production; and Upstairs, Harold Rome's Pins And Needles, a musical revue spoofing everything from fascist European dictators to the Daughters of the American Revolution, originally conceived for striking garment workers in 1937, directed by Mehmet Ergen, from 23rd November.