News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th November 1998

The Royal Shakespeare Company is continuing its co-production policy, despite criticism that Stratford has been reduced to a mere touring date, and that quality has been sacrificed for accessibility in the case of Richard III. Neil Bartlett will adapt and direct Marivaux's The Dispute, which will open in Stratford on 22nd February and then tour before transferring to the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith on 15th April. The premise is: how would four children kept in isolation from birth, react when exposed to the world? Also, PW Productions is to transfer the Stratford production of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape with Edward Petherbridge to The Arts Theatre from 5th January to 6th February.

The previously mentioned musical Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, based on Robert Aldrich's 1962 film, with book by Henry Farrell (from his original novel) music by Lee Pockriss, and lyrics by Hal Hackaday, will be showcased at Theatre Royal Brighton from 25th to 28th November. It features Millicent Martin, Jan Hartley, Paula Wilcox and Christopher Biggins, directed by David Taylor, choreographed by Gillian Gregory and produced by Michael Rose.

Emily Woof will perform the dance of the seven veils for Greg Hicks Herod, in Oscar Wilde's Salome, at the Riverside Studios from 24th November to 13th December. This is a joint production with The Gate Theatre and the National Theatre Studio, and is adapted and directed by Mick Gordon, from the Lord Alfred Douglas translation of the French original.

Thelma Holt will present a tour of the National Theatre production of Terry Johnson's Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle And Dick, when the run ends on 16th January. Meanwhile the National has announced that it will abandon its current policy of "bank raid" straight runs, and return to a proper repertoire of both production scheduling and casting in the new year. This will commence with Philip Ridley's Sparkleshark.

A new organisation representing the interests of songwriters will be formed on 1st January, when the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors merges with the Association of Professional Composers, and the Composers Guild of Great Britain, to form the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. BASCA chairman Guy Fletcher and APC chairman David Stoll will become joint chairmen of the new organisation.

As the Barbican's first international theatre season BITE 98 ends, plans are already advanced for a 22 week BITE 99 from next April. This will include a St Petersburg: Romance And Revolution Festival with the return of the Maly Drama Theatre in Calderon's Life Is A Dream; and Victory Over The Sun, a Russian opera reworked by students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Art; a collaboration with the London International Festival of Theatre on French choreographer Philippe Decoufle's Shazam!; the UK premiere of Laurie Anderson's staging of Herman Melville's Moby Dick And Other Stories; the London premiere of the Royal Lyceum Edinburgh production of Life Is A Dream, first seen at this year's Festival; and a plan by the Gate Theatre Dublin to stage all 19 plays by Samuel Beckett in 16 days.

The next show from the Reduced Shakespeare Company will be The Millennium Musical, which will present all the major events of the last one thousand years, in the company's inimitable style. The show premiered in America recently, and will find its way here sometime next year.

New Year productions at the Donmar Warehouse will be: Four American Plays, a season premiering the best of new American writing, directed by young British talent, from 16th February to 13th March; and a revival of C P Taylor's Good, the story of a well meaning liberal professor, who ultimately finds himself working in Auschwitz, directed by Michael Grandage from 18th March to 22nd May. Donmar's independent producing arm Warehouse Productions, will stage Tennessee William's Suddenly Last Summer, in which a young girl witnesses the rape and beating of her male cousin, for the West End in April. It will be directed by Sean Mathias, whose first essay into Shakespeare, the current National production of Antony And Cleopatra, has just taken a critical kicking.

Raymond Gubbay's next opera spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall will be Tosca, running from 18th to 26th February. It will be directed by David Freeman, with Susan Bulloch and Susan Murphy sharing the leading role, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Despite boasting a Shakespeare quote on its home page, the mindset at the Department of Culture is revealed by the listing of its responsibilities. While galleries, museums and libraries all rate as separate categories, drama, music, opera and ballet don't get a mention, but are all lumped under the umbrella title arts. No doubt the pseudo arts of the rock 'n' frock merchants, which are the real enthusiasm of this philistine administration, will be appearing shortly. Chris "Jonah" Smith has once again made it plain that he considers programming video games to be of more creative value than the performing arts. Check out the revised site via the link from our Organisations section.