News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th August 1998

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard III, starring Robert Lindsay and Anna Carteret, directed by Elijah Moshinsky, which opens in Stratford on 27th October, will transfer to the Savoy Theatre on 18th January, presented by Duncan Weldon. Adrian Noble's production of a new version of C S Lewis' The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe will play in Stratford at Christmas and then move to the Barbican.

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is presenting the British premiere of a current award winning Off Broadway success, Gross Indecency - The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde, from 18th to 26th September. Written and directed by Moises Kaufman, it features Corin Redgrave as Wilde. Kaufman uses various theatrical devices to bring to life original material from transcripts, diaries and letters about Wilde's arrest, trial and imprisonment. This year is the centennial of Wilde's release from prison. The production is looking for a West End transfer.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is still looking for business sponsors to contribute to the 6.5m needed to complete the project. Although current operations are running successfully with a turnover of 4.5m this year, they do not produce a profit which would enable the ccompany to expand its education and research facilities. The aim is to develop the undercroft beneath the centre as a permanent exhibition of Shakespeariana, opening in September next year. This will generate more income in itself, and allow the space occupied by the current exhibition to be transformed into the covered Inigo Jones theatre, enabling performances to be given all year round.

Jackie: An American Life, which recently completed a nine month Broadway run, is looking for a West End opening in the Autumn. It is a revue style show, taking a satirical look at mania surrounding the life of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, written and directed by Gip Hoppe. Eight actors play more than 100 characters in her life, with the help of vaudeville routines, song parodies, dances and 16-foot mardi gras style puppets. Make sure you don't get knocked over in the rush.

Public spending per head on the arts in the UK lags well below other European countries. In a study published recently by the Arts Council, we rank seventh in a list of ten, spending only 16.60, while the number one spends 59.20. In the UK theatres are supported in equal proportion by earned and contributed income.

National Theatre News: Hanif Kureishi returns to the stage in December, with Sleep With Me, a social comedy set on the eve of the millennium, about a group spending the weekend at a country house, wondering what the new century will bring - sounds more like 1950 to me. Imogen Stubbs and Douglas Hodge are to star in Trevor Nunn's 20th anniversary revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, a play about infidelity in Hampstead's literary and art set, opening on 24th November. Nunn will also direct a small scale production of The Merchant Of Venice in the Cottesloe next Spring.

Queen Margaret College Edinburgh, which recently received a glowing report from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, is to introduce a new Masters degree in Festival Management and Production. Professor Ian Brown, the college's drama head, will be the course director. Well if anywhere does it, it should be Edinburgh. Check out their site via the link in our Training section.

Australian choreographer Dein Perry, creator of Hot Shoe Shuffle and Tap Dogs - currently playing in Las Vegas - has a new show called Steel City which should arrive in London sometime next year.

The Rumour Machine says: that work is continuing on The Phantom Of The Opera - The Sequel with Frederick Forsyth writing the book and Don Black the lyrics; that Charles Strouse and Lee Adams are engaged on a stage musical based on the film Marty, with a book by Aaron Sorkin, to star Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame; and that Canadian publishing magnate Conrad Black (owner of the Daily Telegraph) is interested in buying the Playhouse Theatre - it would make a nice change for publishing fortunes to finance the performing arts instead of satellite television stations. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

The filching of Lottery funds to set up a sixth good cause - NESTA - so that David Putnam has something to do now the BBC have blackballed him, is already starting to affect the performing arts. Major Arts Council grants, which had been expected to be waved through, are being refused. Last week it was 28.5m for the Hackney Empire, this week it's 58m for the Harbourside Centre in Bristol. Of course there will never be enough money to satisfy every bid, but Hackney Empire had spent 1.5m of Lottery money on its application, and the Harbourside Centre 5m. Lottery funds shouldn't be being wasted in this way. With the state the Hackney Empire is in, 1.5m could at least have fixed the roof. The further turn of events is that both the Empire and Harbourside are considering legal action to challenge the decisions. The Women's Playhouse Trust took that route earlier this year, eventually accepting an out of court settlement for an undisclosed sum. While one sympathises with their frustration, court action will only mean more money which should be spent on the arts, finding its way into other people's pockets.