News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th March 2008

The Royal Shakespeare Company is encouraging schools to take a more practical approach to Shakespeare, with a new manifesto called Stand Up For Shakespeare. This has been developed following a year long consultation with teachers, students, policy makers and theatre companies across the country, to explore what makes Shakespeare exciting and accessible for young people. It calls for schools to make Shakespeare's texts come alive in three ways: Do I On Your Feet - explore it actively, as actors do, rather than simply study it as a written text; See It Live - recognise the importance of seeing the plays actually performed; and Start It Earlier - begin studying in primary schools, to dispel the negative opinions gathered by students by secondary school age. Further details of the RSC's manifesto, together with over 200 messages of support from actors, directors, teachers, students and the RSC's President, the Prince of Wales, can be found on the RSC web site, via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

As part of its new writing programme, the RSC will stage a season at Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping, with the premieres of Adriano Shaplin's The Tragedy Of Thomas Hobbes, which is set in London in 1658 and revolves around England's most famous philosopher as he does battle with young scientists, directed by Elizabeth Freestone, opening on 9th December; and Marina Carr's The Cordelia Dream, with echoes of King Lear, as two rival musicians, an older man and younger woman, question the hatred they have used to outdo each other in pursuit of art, directed by Selina Cartmell, opening on 8th January.

The Arcola Theatre in Dalston's forthcoming production of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People, in a contemporary adaptation by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the story of one man's struggle to do the right thing and speak the truth in the face of extreme social intolerance, with Greg Hicks, directed by Mehmet Ergen, opening on 4th April, will be followed by Ibsen's The Lady From The Sea, in a new adaptation by Frank McGuinness, about a woman in an unhappy marriage who cannot escape her past, with Lia Williams, directed by Hannah Edinow, opening on 2nd May.

The spring season at the Library Theatre in Manchester will include Bryony Lavery's Frozen, about a distraught mother, an academic expert on serial killers, and a loner looking for a thrill, drawn together by the disappearance of a child, directed by Roger Haines, opening on 7th April; and Alan Ayckbourn's If I Were You, a portrait of a couple whose marriage is in need of a pick-me-up, directed by Chris Honer, opening on 2nd June.

Stage One and the Society Of London Theatre, in association with Arts Council England, are inviting further applications for a New Producer's Bursary. The bursaries are intended to support individuals in progressing their careers as theatre producers. Successful applicants will be able to use the bursary to develop and/or present a new production, or to support themselves while being an intern at an approved producer's office. In addition to a broad package of financial assistance of up to 15,000 per applicant, the scheme also provides the benefit of an established industry figure as a mentor for the project, and possibly shared office accommodation in Central London. The closing date for this round of applications is 17th April. Further information and an application form can be found on the Stage One web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, which painted a vivid picture of how grim it was 'up north' in the 1950s, through the anti hero who spends his days in a factory and his nights trying to forget, adapted by Amanda Whittington, with Daniel Crowder, Oliver Farnworth, Emma Gregory and Rebekah Manning, directed by Joyce Branagh, will play at Oldham Coliseum from 13th to 26th March, a co-production with Harrogate Theatre.

The 52nd National Student Drama Festival, recently reprieved from Arts Council England's 'death of 200 cuts', takes place in Scarborough from 15th to 21st March, open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. This year's plays will be Lost In The Wind devised by Lost Spectacles, Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing, When You Cry In Space Your Tears Go Everywhere devised by Tinned Fingers, David Auburn's Proof, Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs, Jackajack devised by Tucked In, Steven Berkoff's Metamorphosis, Strict Machine devised by Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland, Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, Martin Crimp's Fewer Emergencies, and Caryl Churchill's The Skriker. In addition to performances, the Festival also has an extensive programme of over 200 workshops, masterclasses, debates, street theatre and other events, with participants including Richard Beecham, Mike Bradwell, Tim Fountain, Richard Hurst, David Newman, Ian Reddington and Mark Rosenblatt, together with Scarborough's Cultural Godfather, Alan Ayckbourn. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

English Touring Opera opens its spring tour at the Hackney Empire on 13th March, which continues until 24th May. The repertoire comprises new productions of

Donizetti's Anna Bolena, directed by James Conway; Mozart's Don Giovanni, directed by Jonathan Munby and Soutra Gilmour; and Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, which relocates the biblical tale of Susanna and the Elders to the Appalachian mountains in America.

The Puppet Theatre Barge, currently moored at its winter home in Little Venice, is presenting afternoon performances of The Three Little Pigs And The Wolf and Captain Grimey, told with rod puppets, at weekends from 22nd March to 27th April, and daily from 5th to 20th April; and The Flight Of Babuscha Baboon, with marionettes, at weekends during May and June, and daily throughout the Spring Bank Holiday week. The 50 seater theatre created on a canal barge, now in its 26th season, presents marionette and rod puppet spectacles throughout the year. It spends July to October on the River Thames, giving performances at Henley, Marlow, Cliveden and Richmond, where this year it will premiere Footsteps In The Wilderness, and also presents school workshops. Further information can be found on the PTB web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Michael Gambon may return to the West End in Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, about a wealthy Hampstead aesthete and a shabby penniless poet; and that rock musician Pete Doherty is working with former band member Carl Barat on a stage musical, about the struggles of an up and coming band, which may premiere at the Donmar Warehouse next year, directed by Douglas Hodge. The Rumour Machine grinds on.