News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th September 2004

In an unlikely alliance, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Little Angel Theatre are working on a joint marionette masque production of Shakespeare's epic poem Venus And Adonis. As well as marionettes, it will also feature rod, shadow and table top puppets, with narration by an RSC actor. The poem, which is the story of the Roman goddess of love and her passionate fixation with a beautiful young man, has been adapted by RSC director Gregory Doran, with Steve Tiplady as director of puppetry. The adult nature of the story (which naturally doesn't end happily) is considered unsuitable for the younger members of the Little Angel's usual audience. Marionettes have been specially crafted in the workshops of the Little Angel in Islington and the costumes made by the RSC wardrobe department in Stratford. The production will premiere at the Little Angel from 14th October to 6th November prior to a six week run at The Other Place in Stratford.

The 12th London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 18th and 19th September. A record number of 585 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the Lyric Hammersmith, Old Vic, The Place, Royal Court, Dominion and Soho theatres, St John's Smith Square concert hall, BBC Bush House, Television Centre and White City Media Village, Alexander Palace theatre and TV studios and Channel 4 buildings, the BFI Imax, Gaumont State Kilburn, Granada Tooting and Phoenix cinemas, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others the restored Hackney Empire, LSO's new St Luke's concert hall, and RADA's new Vanbrugh theatre. There will also be talks, conducted walks and other accompanying special events taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. Last year, over 350,000 visits were made during the two days. Entrance is free, but because of limited access, a few of the buildings require prebooking. Further information and how to obtain a directory of participating buildings can be found on the London Open House web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Shaw Theatre will reopen under its new joint management with the New End and New Players theatres on 19th October with Oscar Wilde, a musical about the last six years in the life of the wit and writer, with book, music and lyrics by Mike Read, who will also direct.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: The Soho Theatre has added How To Act Around Cops to its Fringe transfers, running from 12th October to 9th November. The American black comedy, by Logan Brown with Matthew Benjamin (who also stars), takes place on a single night when a speeding fine spirals into suspected murder and mayhem. It is produced in the by Chantal Arts + Theatre.

The award winning Shunt theatre company, which made its name through innovative site specific shows in unusual venues, has come to rest for three years in London Bridge Vaults, a 70,00sq ft labyrinth of railway arches that has been a bonded wine vault for the last 100 years. Tropicana, the first show developed for this space - not unsurprisingly a journey underground - in collaboration with the National Theatre, will run Thursdays to Saturdays from 24th September to 16th January. The company, whose founder members and core artists are Layla Aldridge, Serena Bobowski, Gemma Brockis, Lizzie Clachan, Louise Mari, Hannah Ringham, David Rosenberg, Andrew Rutland, Mischa Twitchin and Heather Uprichard, will also stage monthly cabarets. Further information can be found on the Shunt web site via the link from the Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The centenary of the King's Theatre in Glasgow, one of the greatest designs of the prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham, is celebrated in an exhibition at The People's Palace in Glasgow from 11th September to 10th April. The King's opened as a variety theatre, and has been home to possibly the best pantomimes to be seen in the UK, which over the years have featured all the great Scottish artists, including Stanley Baxter, Jimmy Logan, Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy, Elaine C Smith and Gerard Kelly.

The National Theatre's 2003/04 Annual Review reveals a blockbuster season for Nicholas Hytner's first year as artistic director. 731,000 people attended shows at the National last year, 150,000 up on the previous year, with a record breaking 91% of seats sold, which produced a 48,000 surplus, against a budgeted for deficit of 500,000. The total expenditure of 37.2m was funded by box office and other self-generated income of 22.9m and an Arts Council grant of 14.3m. The National will resume touring next spring, with Alan Bennett's The History Boys and Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman on the road for a total of 16 weeks.

Concerts In Churches is an annual series of events in churches across the country, from Tewkesbury Abbey to St Peter's in Leeds, which continues until the end of December. Performers such as Evelyn Glennie, Chloe Hanslip, Emma Johnson, The King's Singers, Julian Lloyd Webber, Willard White, John Williams and Richard Harvey, present a wide range of music, from English medieval to contemporary Latin American. Whenever possible the performers meet with members of the audience after the concert. Further information can be found on the CIC web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Simon Russell Beale will be joined by Emma Fielding in Macbeth, directed by John Caird, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 20th January.

The Gate Theatre has announced the first season the under the artistic directorship of Thea Sharrock. It opens on 22nd September with Tshepang, a South African play based on the true incident of the rape of a baby, written and directed by Lara Foot Newton, with Mncedisi Shabangu and Kholeka Qwabe; Woyseck, the classic German play by Georg Buchner, combining visions of Hell, the Devil and a desperate love affair, adapted and directed by Daniel Kramer, follows on 11th November; and Tejas Verdes, by Chilean writer Fermin Cabal, translated by Robert Shaw, piecing together the life of a young woman who vanishes one night in Santiago, directed by Sharrock, opens on 13th January.

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, Tricycle and UCL Bloomsbury). The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 60 performances (of which about 20 are musicals), Opera and Affiliates about 20 each, and Dance about 40. Applications can be made online on the SOLT web site, which can be found via the link opposite. Alternatively there are leaflets in all West End theatres. The deadline for applications is 12th November.