News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th May 2004

LIFT - London International Festival of Theatre - is celebrating its 24th anniversary of presenting cutting edge companies from all over the world, with this year's festival running from now until 21st June. Events include My Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair: A History Of The Car Bomb In The 1975-1991 Lebanese Wars by Walid Ra'ad's Atlas Group; Societas Raffello Sanzio, directed by Romeo Castellucci, the London episode of a cycle of performances created for ten European cities examining the nature of modern tragedy; Group F's Jouers de Lumieres, an open air exploration of light in cities by French pyrotechnician Christopher Berthonneau; The Living Image, a virtual reality installation exploring the urban landscape; and Feast, a project celebrating the growing season, by primary school pupils on an allotment, in collaboration with artists, a gardener and a chef. Participating venues include the Bargehouse, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Laban Centre, Purcell Room and Science Museum. Further information can be found on the LIFT web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Old Vic is promoting the UK launch of the New York '24 Hour Plays' concept, as a fundraiser for its New Voices programme, with six plays being written, cast, rehearsed and performed in one day. On the evening of Saturday 5th June, six writers, six directors and up to 24 actors will meet at the Old Vic, each bringing a prop and costume. They will then work overnight and through the next day, and six ten minute plays will be premiered before a gala audience at 7.30pm on Sunday 6th June. Amongst those who have already agreed to take part are writers Catherine Johnson and Kwame Kwei-Armah, and actors Emilia Fox, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Alex Jennings, Catherine McCormack, Paul Nicholls, Sophie Okenodo, Neil Pearson, Rosamund Pike, Kevin Spacey, Meera Syal, Penelope Wilton and Ray Winstone. Tickets for the performance will be priced from 50 to 250.

The London Bubble will be performing Alice Through The Looking Glass as an outdoor promenade production in parks, woods and open spaces around London from 1st July to 15th August. The locations are the previous haunts of The Old Royal Naval College Greenwich, Three Mills Island Bromley By Bow, and Valentines Park Ilford, plus for the first time, Sydenham Wells Park, Raphael Park Gidea Park, Manor Farm Park Ruislip, Southwark Park, Waterlow Park Highgate, Gunnersbury Park Chiswick and Oxleas Woods Shooters Hill. Jonathan Petherbridge adapts and directs. The shows will be accompanied by afternoon workshops for children. Further information can be found on the London Bubble web site via the link from the UK Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

Brian Parks's New York International Fringe Festival award winning comedy double bill Americana Absurdum, directed by John Clancy, will open at the new Menier Chocolate Factory space in Southwark on 17th May. In Vomit and Roses, a family funeral business resists corporate takeover as the kids prepare for their high school prom, and in Wolverine Dreams, an airliner crash brings about an unlikely union in a wrongful death lawsuit. The cast of nine: David Calvitto, Bill Coelius, Eva van Dok, Brian Dykstra, Leslie Farrell, Jody Lambert, Matt Oberg, Paul Urcioli and Nancy Walsh play a total of 40 characters. The producers are David Babani and Clancy Productions.

The Performing Right Society Foundation has pledged a further 1.5m to promote the creation and performance of a wide range of new music throughout the UK in 2004. This is done through showcases, education projects, commissions and live performances. The PRSF has a wide range of funding schemes which each have their own application deadlines spread throughout the year, and is recognised for its fast decision making and free expert advice service for applicants. In 2003 the PRSF made 355 awards totalling 1.4m. Details of how to apply can be found on the PRSF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Carnesky's Ghost Train is a combined fairground ride, multimedia art installation and theatre show, which premieres in University Square in Coventry on 14th May, and then tours through the summer to Manchester, Glastonbury Festival, and Trafalgar Square. Real ghost train carriages will take the audience through a labyrinth of live performance art, burlesque, magic, sound and illusion, like nothing that has been staged before. It features a cast of six performers, aerialists, dancers and mime artists, in an event conceived and directed by Marisa Carnesky, with illusions by Paul Kieve. The producer is Jeremy Goldstein. There are three shows an hour, and it runs from 2pm to 9pm.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's Adopt An Actor scheme for educational establishments worldwide is back again this year. Schools, colleges and universities can adopt a member of the company, and throughout the season regular bulletins are posted on the Globelink web site regarding his/her activities during the rehearsal and performance process. There is also an activity programme based on what 'their' actor is currently doing, such as researching the play, providing alternative casting options, and icebreaker games during rehearsals. Further details, including this year's 'orphan' actors can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Evans will be joined by Leigh Zimmerman as Ulla, Nicolas Colicos as Franz Liebkind, James Dreyfus as Carmen Ghia, and Conleth Hill as Roger De Bris in Mel Brook's The Producers opening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 9th November.

The 57th Aldburgh Festival, running from 11th to 27th June, features the world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies's The Io Passion, with libretto by Stephen Plaice, directed by Stephen Langridge, in which the relationship between a man and a woman is entwined with a ritual sacrifice on a Greek island. The Festival also includes much of Benjamin Britten's music written for children, and twentieth century composers remaking earlier musical forms. An exhibition of rare and unpublished works by Britten, Rumours And Visions, examines projects that did not come to fruition, such as material for a ballet to be produced with Sidney Nolan, and operas based on works by Leo Tolstoy and Beatrix Potter. Further information can be found on the Aldburgh web site via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Peter Hall is to direct an all star cast in Sheridan's comedy of manners The Rivals, opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket next April; and that the long gestation period of the Giles Havergal-John Barry-Don Black musical adaptation of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock is finally over, and it will premiere at the Almeida Theatre in the autumn, directed by Michael Attenborough, and produced by Bill Kenwright. The Rumour Machine grinds on.