News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th February 2006

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the full 12 month programme for its Complete Works Festival in Stratford upon Avon, which begins with special events celebrating Shakespeare's birthday on 22nd and 23rd April. Comprising 23 new RSC productions, 14 productions from visiting UK companies and 17 from international companies, it will be the first time that all of Shakespeare's plays and poems have been staged at the same event. Visitors will include the Peter Hall Company with Hall's first British production of Measure For Measure, Edward Hall's all male Propeller company with The Taming Of The Shrew; the Sheffield Theatres production of As You Like It, directed by Samuel West; the Berliner Ensemble with Richard II in German; and the Ninagawa Company with Titus Andronicus in Japanese. The festival will also feature four new commissions inspired by Shakespeare's plays: Rona Munro's The Indian Boy (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Roy Williams's Days Of Significance (Much Ado About Nothing), Leo Butler's One Of These Days (The Tempest) and Peter Straughan's Regime Change (Julius Caesar). Further information can be found on the RSC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sunday In The Park With George, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by James Lapine, directed by Sam Buntrock, will transfer to Wyndham's Theatre on 23rd May. Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell will lead the company, comprising Simon Green, Ian McLarnon, Mark McKerracher, Alasdair Harvey, Liza Sadovy and Gay Soper. The show is about the nature of art, telling the story of the creation of French Pointillist painter Georges Seurat's painting 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' and of the characters it portrays. It will be presented by Boyett Ostar, Chocolate Factory Productions, Neal Street Productions and Mark Rubinstein.

The spring season at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith will include the Improbable Theatre production of The Wolves In The Walls, a 'musical pandemonium' based on the book by Neil Gairman and Dave McKean, directed by Vicky Featherstone and Julian Crouch, with choreography by Steven Hoggett, opening on 12th April; and the return of Victoria Thierree Chaplin and Aurelia Thierre's Aurelia's Oratorio, their description defying display of stage illusion, inspired by music hall, variety and circus, opening on 16th May.

The Central School of Speech and Drama is one hundred years old this year, and will be holding a centenary celebration at the Old Vic Theatre on 4th June, with a show telling its history, masterminded by event stager extraordinaire Michael Parker. Central's Alumni Association is keen to hear from anyone who attended the school with whom they are not already in touch, and to receive memories of their experiences at Central to be included in a Centenary Book. Membership of the association is free, and it publishes a regular newsletter which is a good way to catch up on what erstwhile colleagues are up to now. If you are one of the lost alumni - or know of the whereabouts of one - you can step out of the shadows and find out more about how you can take part in the celebrations at the CSSD web site via the link from Training in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, a partnership between the writer's estate and producer Bill Kenwright, with exclusive rights to create new touring productions of Christie's original stage plays, has launched its first production. The Poirot mystery The Hollow, in which a supposedly staged murder turns out to be real, with Kate O'Mara, Tony Britton, Tracey Childs, Gary Mavers, Ben Nealon, Chloe Newsome and Fiona Dolman, has just commenced an extensive regional tour.

Oxford based Creation Theatre Company, best known for its open air Shakespeare seasons in unusual locations, has come indoors for the winter, and is presenting King Lear at the BMW car factory in Cowley, until 1st April. Fortunately it is not being performed amidst the production line, but in the Info Centre, which gives audiences an opportunity to view a display of celebrity minis from films such as The Italian Job and Austin Powers as they enter. The company is headed by Stephen Ley, Eleanor Montgomery, Charlotte Lucas and Jenni Maitland, and the director is Douglas Rintoul. Further information can be found on the CTC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Grumpy Old Women Live, inspired by (Eric Idle uses the phrase 'lovingly ripped off from' for Spamalot) the BBC2 series, will open a national tour of one nighters at the Wycombe Swan Theatre on 21st April. The celebration of the pre, peri and post menopausal female condition, co-written by Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder and script edited by Richard Herring, will feature Eclair, Dillie Keane and Linda Robson (whose combined age is unprintable acording to their publicity) directed by Chris George. The producers are Avalon Promotions and Liberty Bell Productions.

A veritable who's who in Broadway lighting design, led by doyenne Jules Fisher, makes up the faculty of the annual Broadway Lighting Master Classes, which will be held in New York from 22nd to 24th May. The accompanying Broadway Sound Master Classes, running from 19th to 21st May, will be led by Abe Jacob, the godfather of contemporary theatre sound design. In addition to the keynote speakers, both programmes include a visit to a new Broadway musical, complete with a backstage tour, a discussion with the design team, and in depth analysis of the production, plus a manufacturers showcase. Further information can be found on the Live Design web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.