News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th November 2007

Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular, with Jane Horrocks, Jenny Seagrove, John Gordon Sinclair, David Bamber, David Horovitch and Lia Williams, directed by Alan Strachan, will open at the Garrick Theatre on 6th December. It tells the stories of three couples, through the events that take place in the kitchen, during three successive Christmas Eve gatherings. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

The Society Of London Theatre is looking for 14 enthusiastic and knowledgeable theatregoers to join one of the judging panels for next year's Laurence Olivier Awards. Panellists will receive a pair of free tickets for all shows playing in the West End between 1st January and 31st December. There are four panels assessing Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates (covering work at the Almeida, Greenwich, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court Upstairs, Soho, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Tricycle and Unicorn). The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 60 play performances or 20 musicals, Opera and Affiliates about 20 each, and Dance about 40. Applications can be made online on the LOA web site, which can be found via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet. Alternatively there are leaflets in all West End theatres. The deadline for applications is 30th November.

The Royal Court Theatre has confirmed its spring season. The British premiere of David Hare's The Vertical Hour, the story of an American war correspondent turned academic, who meets (and clashes with) her English boyfriend's father, while on holiday in rural Wales, with Indira Varma, directed by Jeremy Herrin, will open on 22nd January; Debbie Tucker Green's Random, about youth violence, with Nadine Marshall, directed by Sacha Wares, will open on 10th March; and Martin Crimp's The City, a darkly comic mystery in which three characters fight to make sense of a surreal and collapsing world, directed by Katie Mitchell, will open on 29th April. In addition, Mark Ravenhill's Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat, seen at the Edinburgh Fringe, co-produced by Paines Plough; and Mike Bartlett's Contractions, a dark comedy about an employer and employee who have been having an affair, directed by Lyndsey Turner, will run in 'off stage spaces' within the theatre building during April and May. In the summer, some of the most successful plays from the Theatre Upstairs will be presented under the banner Upstairs Downstairs.

Paines Plough has won the inaugural Ensemble Award at this year's Empty Space Peter Brook Awards, for the support of new writers and directors in small studio spaces that receive comparatively little or no public funding. It was presented in recognition of setting up a company of actors to work with playwright Mark Ravenhill to produce a series of shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe and in London. The Drum Theatre in Plymouth won the Studio Theatre Award, and the Young Vic received the Up And Coming Award, for theatres either still struggling for recognition after years of productions or recently opened venues, for its new studio spaces. The Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy Award, intended to go towards funding the rent required to give a production a further life, went to Sheffield Theatres' How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found by Fin Kennedy. The Dan Crawford Pub Theatre Award was won by The Bush Theatre.

Cilgwyn Theatre Company's radical reworking of the third book of Sir Edmund Spenser's 16th century epic poem The Faerie Queen, using circus techniques, physical theatre, puppetry and magic, with Catherine Cusack, Becca Cox, Iestyn Evans, Katie Green, Ryan Kiggell and James Thorne, will play at the Lillian Baylis Theatre from 13th to 29th December. It is the story of a female knight who, armed with only her goodness and a magic sword, sets out on an unenviable quest, exploring desire, conflict and the beauties and dangers of a world which is constantly transforming.

The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill Gate and Headlong Theatre have launched New Directions, a competition to create a radical restaging of a classic international text. It is open to emerging directors, theatre professionals who wish to cross over into directing, and established practitioners from other art forms looking to work in theatre. Entrants should choose a play from a range of classic playwrights, such as Goethe, Aeschylus or Moliere, which they must then reinvent for The Gate's studio space. The winner will have their vision turned into a full production at The Gate in June, with the possibility of a further tour by Headlong. Submissions must be received by 10th December. Further information and an application form can be found on The Gate web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Guest stars Jo Brand, Nichola McAuliffe and Alistair McGowan will join Carl Rosa Opera Company members Eric Roberts, Bruce Graham, Steven Page, Charlotte Page, Lesley Cox, Sophie-Louise Dann, Barry Clark, Donald Maxwell, Gareth Jones, Karl Daymond, Victoria Ward, Michael Kerry, Beverley Klein, Deborah Myers in The Mikado, Iolanthe and The Pirates Of Penzance at the Gielgud Theatre from 30th January.

Marking the current performances of its newly completed cycle, Wagner's Ring At The Royal Opera House, an exhibition at Covent Garden, running until February, charts the history of Wagner's Ring at the Royal Opera House. Programmes, photographs, designs, posters, treasures and memorabilia, from the first staging in 1892, conducted by Gustav Mahler, until the present day, illustrate the rich legacy of Wagnerian performances, and the singers, conductors, directors and designers who have contributed to these interpretations. It also includes costumes worn by Kirsten Flagstad, Berit Lindholme, Gwyneth Jones and Deborah Polaski as Brunnhilde, along with a selection of costumes from the 1974 Gotz Friedrich production. In an accompanying display, Clive Barda: The Power Of The Ring, images by opera and music photographer Clive Barda document the creative process of the new production, from rehearsal room and production studio through to performance.

The Kneehigh Theatre production of Annie Siddons's contemporary version of the Brothers Grimm fairytale Rapunzel, with characteristic puppetry, physical theatre, live music and animation, will play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the South Bank Centre from 18th December to 5th January, prior to a national tour.

The Rumour Machine says: that Kelsey Grammer may play former FBI chief J Edgar Hoover in the world premiere of a 'musical comedy fantasia' J Edgar!, book and lyrics by Tom Leopold and Harry Shearer, music by Peter Matz; that Richard Eyre will direct Ibsen's Ghosts, produced by Sonia Friedman; and that Sian Phillips and Andrea Riseborough will star in Jean Anouilh's Ring Around The Moon, directed by Sean Mathias - all in the West End next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.