News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th December 2007

Following its inaugural event earlier this year, the Almeida Theatre has invited a further six leading playwrights to join forces to create Chain Play 2, to be staged as a fundraiser on 29th February, directed by Indhu Rubasingham. Stephen Adly Guirgis, Richard Bean, Neil LaBute, Abi Morgan, Mike Poulton and Tanya Ronder will create the piece over the space of three months, with each writer given two weeks to write a 10 to 15 minute scene, before passing it on to the next member of the team.

A one man show, An Audience With The Mafia, in which 'The Mercy Man', a character based on an assassin employed by the mob, played by an 'unnamed man', tells the stories of legendary Mafia figures over the last century, will play at the Apollo Theatre, from 21st January to 16th February.

The Theatre Royal in Norwich has reopened after a 10m refurbishment, designed by Tim Foster, which has seen its front of house facilities and auditorium transformed. By expanding into the bottom two floors of an adjacent building to house its restaurant and administration offices, and relocating the main entrance and box office to a new building linking the two, the bars and circulation space, formerly cramped, are now spacious, with floor to ceiling glass walls looking out on to Theatre Street. In the auditorium, which has been reseated throughout, the circle front has been moved forward and seats re-raked to increase leg room and improve sightlines, while the circle sides have been extended to meet the proscenium, creating a feeling of greater intimacy, and the acoustic brought up to concert hall standards. Dick Whittington with Colin Baker, Richard Gauntlett, Terry Molloy, Nicky Adams, Nick Staverson, Ali James, Georgina Todd and Tiffany Todd runs from 19th December.

Tara Arts's production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, drawing on Asian theatrical conventions, with Keith Thorne, Caroline Kilpatrick, Tom Kanji, Robert Mountford, Chris Jack and Jessica Manley, directed by Jatinder Verma, will play at the Arts Theatre from 10th to 27th January, opening a new national tour, which will include the Rose Theatre Kingston, from 25th February to 2nd March.

London Stage In The 20th Century by playwright, biographer and critic Robert Tanitch, recently published by Haus Publishing, is a true theatrical compendium of the millennium. This book covers, in chronological order, all the London premieres of the world playwrights, all the major classic and modern revivals, and all the major visitors from the five continents, year by year. Each entry has the date, author, cast, director, theatre and plot summary, together with quotes from the critics of the day, and many iconic illustrations, plus Tanitch's own idiosyncratic observations and commentary. An invaluable reference book for theatregoers and theatre practioners alike, it provides a witty and fascinating chronicle for the enthusiast, the student and the general reader.

Forthcoming productions at the New End Theatre in Hampstead include Thelma Ruby presenting That's Entertainment, a retrospective of her career, which has encompassed ENSA, Shakespeare and West End musicals, from 24th December; Jacques Brel - The Rage To Live, a one person play with music about the legendary writer and performer, written and directed by Judith Paris, with Anthony Cable, who also translated the lyrics, from 26th December; and Chekhov's Jokes, a triple bill about the sad comicality of everyday life, comprising The Proposal, The Bear and The Anniversary by Anton Chekhov, with Vera Filatova, directed by Alexander Markov, from 16th January.

Collaborators: UK Design For Performance 2003 - 2007 is an exhibition showcasing the work of contemporary British theatre designers, with hands on activities, installations, set models, costumes, lighting and sound. From pantomime and drama to opera and dance, in the UK and abroad, it brings together the work of over 100 of Britain's most creative theatre designers. The display includes works by three of the most internationally acclaimed set designers of recent years - Paul Brown, Richard Hudson and Ralph Koltai - including Brown's surreal designs for La Traviata at the Arena di Verona, together with Es Devlin's Laurence Olivier Award winning costume designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Dog In A Manger, and designs for Orestes 2.0 by recent Linbury prize winner Becs Andrews. The exhibition, organised in association with the Society of British Theatre Designers, runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until next November.

The second half of the 2007/2008 season at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh comprises: Six Characters Looking For An Author, adapted by David Harrower from the classic avant-garde drama by Luigi Pirandello, examining the nature of truth and reality, as six 'characters' arrive at a theatre where a director and acting company are rehearsing a play, and demand to tell their story, directed by Mark Thomson, from 15th February; Vanity Fair, adapted by Declan Donnellan from the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, satirising the ambitions and vanities of society in early 19th century England, through the lives of two girls, directed by Tony Cownie, from 14th March; and Trumpets And Raspberries, translated and adapted by R C McAvoy and A M Giugni, from the play by Dario Fo, a political satire in which the head of a large corporation is mistakenly surgically reconstructed as one of his employees, and finds himself chief suspect in a kidnap plot against himself, directed by Tony Cownie, from 18th May.

The Rumour Machine says: that Kristin Chenowerth may join the cast of English National Opera's production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide in June; and that the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago's production of Tracy Letts's August: Osage County, a family drama set in rural Oklahoma, which has just opened on Broadway may be London bound next autumn, courtesy of producer Robert Fox. The Rumour Machine grinds on.