News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th February 2001

The National Theatre has announced details of productions in the next two years as it celebrates its 25th birthday. Confirming recent rumours, Nicole Kidman will star in Ibsen's The Lady from The Sea, and Glen Close will make her UK stage debut in Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Trevor Nunn, although the dates are unconfirmed. Martin Clunes will make his National debut as Moliere's Tartuffe in a new version by Ranjit Bolt, directed by Lindsay Posner. Peter Hall will direct Euripides The Bacchae, in a new version by Colin Teevan, a major project which will reunite him with composer Harrison Birtwistle. The next musical will be Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific directed by Trevor Nunn. Previous productions which will be returning for limited runs are: Arthur Miller's All My Sons directed by Howard Davies (prior to a West End transfer in the autumn), and John Caird's production of Hamlet with Simon Russell Beale, following its world tour.

New plays will include: Mark Ravehill's Mother Clap's Molly House directed by Nicholas Hyntner; Charlotte Jones Humble Boy with Simon Russell Beale directed by John Caird; Tom Stoppard's trilogy set in 19th century Russia, following the three main characters over twenty five years, directed by Trevor Nunn; a comedy written and directed by Patrick Marber, provisionally titled Monsters And Dust; Sebastian Barry's Hinterland directed by Max Stafford-Clark, in a co-production with Out of Joint and the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; and Nicholas Wright's Van Gogh In Brixton.

The Lyttleton auditorium is to be reconfigured for an experimental season from October. In addition to changing the existing actor/audience relationship, a 100 seater studio space will be created for staging new writing in low cost short run productions. If successful the new configuration could become permanent.

When Gerry Robinson - the Peoples Philistine - became chairman of the Arts Council, it was generally felt that he had been sent in to give it a good kicking. At the time he indicated that one three year term would be enough for both him and the Council. Experience awakened him to the fact that the arts manage to do a remarkably large amount of work with a remarkably small amount of funding, and he went on to secure extra money from the government. Now he is to stay on for another three years "to finish the job of getting the arts on a sound footing". Living proof that exposure to the arts can have a civilising effect on anyone.

Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times is to be screened with the BBC Concert Orchestra performing the original Chaplain score, reconstructed by conductor Timothy Brock. This UK premiere will be at the Royal Festival Hall on 17th March.

Following on from the Gate Theatre Dublin project of staging all 19 Samuel Beckett plays in 16 days during BITE:99 at the Barbican, they have now all been filmed, with a star studded line up of actors and directors. The actors include John Gielgud giving his last performance as a mute standing on a black box submitting to the humiliating instructions of a character played by Harold Pinter in Catastrophe, the mouth of Julianne Moore in Not I; Michael Gambon and David Thewlis in Endgame; and Penelope Wilton as an old woman sitting in a rocking chair listening to her own recorded voice in Rockabye. Repeating their stage performances from last year are John Hurt (as an old man walking about listening to his own recorded voice) in Krapp's Last Tape and Rosaleen Linehan buried in sand in Happy Days. Directors of the films include Richard Eyre, Neil Jordan, Conor McPherson, David Mamet, Anthony Minghella and Karel Reiz. The project is collaboration between RTE, Channel Four, Tyrone Productions and the Irish Film Board. The films will be shown on Channel Four this summer.

Adventures in Motion Pictures has confirmed that its next new production will be Edward Scissorhands, choreographed and directed by Matthew Bourne, in March next year. Based on the 1990 Tim Burton film, the modern day fairy tale tells the story of an invented boy, left with scissors for hands when his maker dies, who lives a solitary existence until he meets a sympathetic Avon lady and her daughter. The show will feature original music by Danny Elfman, and it is expected to be staged at the Old Vic, where AMP will take up a residency from next year.

Rick Mather's master plan for the revitalisation of the South Bank Centre looks as though it might be the one which is actually put into practice. The first new building is largely underground, but rising to three storeys and roofed in grass, on what is now Jubilee Gardens. This is to house a centre for the British Film Institute, combining the National Film Theatre and Museum Of the Moving Image, and a replacement for the Queen Elizabeth Hall, plus a commercial development alongside to help to pay for it. Design submissions from shortlisted architects are sought by the end of this month, with a decision on the winner expected by the end of March.

World premieres from England and America and a transfer from Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre make up the Bush Theatre's spring season. Jonathan Hall's Flamingos, playing from 7th March to 14th April, is set in Blackpool and is described as "a team ride down the seafront of provincial gay life". Henry Adam's Among Unbroken Hearts, first seen at the Traverse last October, running from 25th April to 19th May, is about a surprise visit from a city dweller to a bleak Caithness coast. The Shepherds Bush Green theatre presents Blackbird by Adam Rapp, a love story set in New York about two people who don't know how to love, from 6th June to 7th July.

The summer season at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from 11th June to 18th August will comprise visits by the Kirov Ballet with new productions; Kirov Opera, again with new productions; La Scala Opera Ballet making its first appearance in London; San Francisco Ballet with three triple bills; plus the Royal Ballet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues will play at the New Ambassadors Theatre later this year; that Rupert Everett will feature in the title role of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray, adapted and directed by Philip Prowse, at the Old Vic later this year; and that the Pittsburgh Public Theater production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Alan Ayckbourn musical By Jeeves, with Martin Jarvis as Jeeves and John Scherer as Bertie Wooster, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, will transfer to Broadway. The Rumour Machine grinds on.