News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th October 2008

The spring season at the Young Vic will include the return of English National Opera with After Dido, a multimedia show inspired by Purcell's Dido And Aeneas, with Susan Bickley, James Gower, Adam Green, Helen Jarmanay, Katherine Manley and Nathan Vale, directed by Katie Mitchell, from 15th April; and a studio production of Kafka's Monkey, adapted by Colin Teevan from Franz Kafka's short story A Report To An Academy, in which a monkey charts his evolution into a man, with Kathryn Hunter, opening on 19th March.

Perfect Pitch, the festival of new British musicals, presented in 45 minute concert version double bills, running at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 25th to 29th November, will comprise: Can You Keep A Secret?, book by Lesley Ross, music by Matthew Brind; The Diary Of Me, book by Simon James Green, music by Stuart Matthew Price; Lift, book by Ian Watson, music and lyrics by Craig Adams; The Lost Christmas, book, music and lyrics by Laurence Mark Wythe; Rebels And Retail, book and lyrics by Cush Jumbo, music by James McConville; and Through The Door, book by Judy Freed, music by Laurence Mark Wythe. Further information can be found on the Perfect Pitch web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Iris Theatre will stage Alcestis, Ted Hughes's version of Euripides's play about a king dealing with the guilt of letting his wife die in his place, in a production using masks and the music of Bartok, with a cast headed by John Harwood, directed by Daniel Winder, with choreography by Josephine Lott, at St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden, from 4th to 15th November.

On The Casting Couch: Maureen Lipman, Hannah Waddingham, Alexander Hanson and Jessie Buckley will head the cast of A Little Night Music, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark on 3rd December.

Soho Theatre is now accepting entries for the Westminster Prize, an annual playwriting competition for playwrights of any age with or without experience, who live, work or study in Westminster, and whose work has not been professionally produced. Entrants are invited to submit a short play (approximately 10 minutes long) with two characters, inspired by a photograph, which shows a street scene in Soho. The three winners will receive theatre tokens and the plays will be given a staged reading at Soho Theatre in the spring. There will be free workshops on 1st November and 9th December for anyone wanting advice or help in writing their play, but places are limited. The closing date for entries is 12th January. The photograph and further information can be found on the Soho Theatre website via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at Salisbury Playhouse includes A Month In The Country, by J L Carr, adapted by director Philip Wilson, a story of two survivors of the First World War who meet in a Yorkshire village, both hoping to forget their wartime horrors by uncovering a more distant past, with Oliver Birch, Helen Bradbury, Michael Cahill, James Clarkson, Philip Cumbus, Sophie McShera, Fred Pearson, Joanne Redman and Robert Styles, from 30th October; Dick Whittington And His Cat, by Mark Clements, music by Andy Allpass, with Alan McMahon, directed by Hannah Chissick, from 3rd December; and Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy, in which the defence of a boy expelled from school for stealing becomes a cause celebre, directed by Philip Wilson, from 29th January.

The next production by Out Of Joint, The Convict's Opera, Stephen Jeffreys's reimagining of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, the misadventures of a notorious highwayman in the underworld of 18th century London, set on board a convict ship bound for Australia, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, will open a national tour at Salisbury Playhouse on 15th January. It is a co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, where it is currently playing, and features a joint British and Australian cast comprising Thomas Eyre, Karina Fernandez, Nicholas Goode, Brian Protheroe, Catherine Russell and Glenn Butcher, Amelia Cormack, Peter Cousens, Juan Jackson and Ali McGregor.

Now that the season of performances has drawn to a close, Shakespeare's Globe moves indoors to its Education Centre, to continue Read Not Dead, its programme of staged readings of rarely performed Elizabethan plays on Sunday afternoons. These comprise James Shirley's The Doubtful Heir, a tragicomedy about the competing demands of politics and romance on 26th October; Thomas Heywood's A Challenge For Beauty, in which the beauty and virtue of a Queen are rashly disputed, on 9th November; Richard Brome's The Northern Lass, a comedy in which a provincial girl gets swept up in the social life of the capital, on 23rd November; and John Ford's The Lover's Melancholyoly, about the political and psychological ramifications of a tyrant's actions on the next generation, on 7th December. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background by Maggy Williams and Diana Devlin.

Stage One and the Society Of London Theatre, in association with Arts Council England, are inviting further applications for a New Producer's Bursary. The bursaries are intended to support individuals in progressing their careers as theatre producers. Successful applicants will be able to use the bursary to develop and/or present a new production, or to support themselves while being an intern at an approved producer's office. In addition to a broad package of financial assistance of up to 15,000 per applicant, the scheme also provides the benefit of an established industry figure as a mentor for the project, and possibly shared office accommodation in Central London. The closing date for this round of applications is 6th November. Further information and an application form can be found on the Stage One web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn has added a further production to its autumn season. Robert Massey's Rank, a story of grifting and gambling in the Dublin suburbs, with Luke Griffin, Eamonn Hunt, Alan King, John Lynn and Bryan Murray, directed by Jim Culleton, will open on 5th November. It is produced by Fishamble.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough production of Alan Ayckbourn's Woman In Mind, with Janie Dee as a woman who, after a bump on the head, creates an imaginary family to make up for the shortcomings of her real one, may be West End bound; and that the recent production of Yasmina Reza's God Of Carnage, in which two couples debate different styles of parenting, following a squabble between their children that turned violent, may return to the West End with a cast that includes Richard E Grant. The Rumour Machine grinds on.