News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th July 2003

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the fifth Kids Week in the West End extended this year to Kids Week And A Half, running from 20th to 31st August, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience with thousands of free tickets and special events. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 25 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the week, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages, and a free accompanying Kids Week Passport in which to collect a sticker or stamp at each show visited, and of course, autographs. Booking opens at 12noon on 14th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.Judi Dench is to return to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford after nearly 25 years to star in All's Well That Ends Well, directed by Gregory Doran at the Swan Theatre, for a three month season opening in December. The production will then transfer to the West End for ten weeks, presented by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt. This will be followed at the Swan by Othello, with Sello Maake ka Ncube and Antony Sher, also directed by Doran, which will then play in Tokyo for five weeks as part of an international tour, produced by the RSC, Thelma Holt and HoriPro.

Jeremy Sams National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's ultimate backstage comedy Noises Off, which has been touring extensively, is returning to its West End home of the Piccadilly Theatre on 5th August. The current touring cast includes Paul Bradley, Cheryl Campbell, Philip Franks and Sylvester McCoy.

Making the most of its advantage as the home team, the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh is starting its Festival season in July, in order to pack in a dozen premieres - 10 world, 1 European and 1 UK. Among them are Scottish playwrights Henry Adam's The People Next Door, about a man in New York unruffled by the events of 9/11 whose world is shaken by the arrival of his estranged brother, directed by Roxanna Silbert; and David Harrower's Dark Earth, the tale of an urban couple thrust into a rural situation with universal consequences, directed by Philip Howard. Further information can be found on the Traverse web site via the link from the UK Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Britain's theatrical community is coming together for a new charity initiative, Acting For Others, aimed at raising money to benefit people in need who have worked either onstage or behind the scenes within the fields of drama, music and dance. From Sunday 28th September to Saturday 4th October leading actors in theatres all over the country will make an appeal to audiences from the stage after each performance, and then cast members will carry out bucket collections. Acting For Others is coordinated by The Combined Theatrical Charities, an organisation embracing ten separate charities. The causes include helping actors who are unable to work due to ill health or injury, providing support and guidance to the children of actors during family crises, providing pastoral care to members of the entertainment industry, and aiding in the cost of convalescent care. The initiative is supported by the two leading theatre owners and producers organisations, the Society of London Theatre and the Theatrical Management Association.

The Scoop, an open air amphitheatre space next to City Hall, the Greater London Assembly building on the south bank opposite the Tower of London, is being launched with free performances of a contemporary production of Sophocles Oedipus. The production features Stephen Beckett, Katerina Jugati, Patricia Villa, Simon Wright, Robert Donald, Claire Francis and Phil Wilmott, who also directs. Shows are on Thursdays at 6.30pm and Fridays to Sundays at 9pm until 3rd August. There is no need to book - just turn up and sit down. The producers are Suzanna Rosenthal and The Steam Industry.

Welsh National Opera has announced its next season. A new co-production with Scottish Opera of Wagner's Parsifal, directed by Silviu Purcarete, opens at the New Theatre Cardiff on 27th September, joined by Scottish Opera's production of Verdi's Il travatore, directed by Peter Watson, on 3rd October, and Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, directed by Neil Armfield, on 18th October. A new production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, directed by James Macdonald, opens in Cardiff on 14th February, joined by Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, directed by Richard Jones, on 25th February, and Puccini's Madam Butterfly, directed by Joachim Herz, on 4th March. These three productions will play in London at Sadler's Wells in March.

Deborah Warner has mounted a new version of her site specific performance installation The Angel Project at various locations in Manhattan until 27th July as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. First seen in a disused office block as part of the London International Festival of Theatre in 1999, she developed it into a multi location event for the Perth International Arts Festival in 2000. Participants are given a time to turn up on Roosevelt Island in the East River, where they receive the instructions for "both a physical journey and a journey of the imagination" that lasts anything up to three hours, interacting with "images, symbols, artefacts, and sometimes people".

The Performing Rights Society Foundation offers support for the development and performance of new music, of any genre, via a range of funding schemes. The categories for awards include Festivals, Composers In Education, Performance Groups, Promoters, Special Projects, Scholarships and Bursaries. In its three year history the Foundation has awarded nearly 4m to over 800 projects. There are four deadlines for applications, depending on the categories, the next of which is 14th August. Further information and application forms can be found on the PRSF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that when Mamma Mia! transfers from the Prince Edward to the refurbished Prince of Wales next summer, its place will be taken by Baz Lurhman's Broadway production of La Boheme, with a West End all time high ticket price of 60, presented by Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott, followed by Mary Poppins, directed by Richard Eyre and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, which will open out of town in Bristol or Manchester in autumn, and reach London for Christmas; that Howard Davies National Theatre production of Christopher Hampton's The Talking Cure, about psychoanalysts Jung and Freud, starring Ralph Fiennes, will be remounted in the West End early next year; and that Sam Mendes will direct a Broadway musical adaptation of the animated film Shrek, about a green ogre with a heart of gold, although no writers are yet signed to the project. The Rumour Machine grinds on.