News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th September 2008

The 16th London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 20th and 21st September. Over 700 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the Almeida, Lyric Hammersmith, National, Royal Court, Unicorn and Wimbledon theatres, Wilton's Music Hall and the Young Vic, Cadogan, LSO St Luke's, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival and St John's Smith Square concert halls, BBC Bush House, Channel 4 building, LAMDA and RADA, Granada Tooting, Muswell Hill Odeon, and Phoenix cinemas, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Hampstead and Richmond theatres, BFI Imax and Gaumont State Kilburn cinemas. There will also be talks, conducted walks and other accompanying special events taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. 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 Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, The Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark will stage John Webster's The White Devil, the bloody Jacobean revenge tragedy following an adulterous love affair, with Claire Price, Darrell D'Silva, Aidan McArdle, Ross Armstrong, Dylan Charles, Claire Cox, John Dougall, Christopher Godwin, Louis Hilyer, Golda Rosheuvel, Nitzan Sharron and Sandra Voe, directed by Jonathan Munby, opening on 8th October.

The new season at the Library Theatre in Manchester will include Richard Cameron's The Glee Club, set in 1962 in a northern village, about an amateur close harmony singing group, comprised of five miners and a church organist, as they prepare for a gala concert, directed by Roger Haines, opening on 23rd September; Stanley Houghton's Independent Means, an Edwardian comedy mixing feminism and romance about a woman entering the world of business, directed by Chris Honer, opening on 28th October; Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, adapted by Neil Bartlett, directed by Roger Haines, opening on 2nd December; and Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, set in Czechoslovakia and Britain, moving between 1956, 1968 and 1990, with two different views on the Czech revolt against communism - a performer in a Czech rock band and a British Marxist philosopher, directed by Chris Honer, opening on 17th February.

English National Ballet will perform Kenneth Macmillan's Manon, along with its usual productions of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake in its annual Christmas season at the London Coliseum from 3rd December to 11th January.

The autumn season at the Soho Theatre will include the Churchill Theatre Bromley production of Ali Taylor's Overspill, a thriller set around a lad's night out in Bromley, directed by Tim Roseman, from 14th October; On Emotion, in which director Mick Gordon, neurologist Paul Broks and puppeteers Blind Summit explore the arena of human emotions, from 5th November; and the return of Shelagh Stephenson's The Long Road, about a family struggling to find meaning after their teenage son is stabbed to death, with Denise Black, Alison Newman, Michael Elwynn, Michelle Tate and Stephen Webb, directed by Esther Baker, from 10th November, a co-production by Synergy Theatre and the Forgiveness Project.

A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives Of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving And Their Remarkable Families, by Michael Holroyd, recently published by Chatto & Windus, tells the stories of two theatre dynasties, whose real lives were more far fetched than the plots of either Shakespeare, melodrama or soap opera. Ellen Terry was a natural actress famed for her magical radiance, but in her early years she had been the child bride of G F Watts, eloped with a friend of Oscar Wilde at 21, and gave birth to 2 illegitimate children. She is best remembered for her 25 year stage partnership with actor manager Henry Irving - the king and queen of British theatre - in lavishly staged Shakespeare productions at the Lyceum Theatre, and also touring America to a 'beatlemania' like response. Ellen's daughter Edith Craig founded a feminist theatre group, and established a lesbian community, while her son Edward Gordon Craig, the revolutionary stage designer who collaborated with Stanislavski, had 13 children by 8 women, including Isadora Duncan. Irving's son HB, also an actor, appeared to be taken over by the spirit of Henry when he was transformed from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde - described as 'a possession rather than a performance'. You couldn't make it up.

Tina Gray will perform Our Ellen, a one woman show written and directed by Richard Osborne, about the career and personal life of Ellen Terry, at the Actor's Church, St Paul's Covent Garden, from 14th to 19th October. The producers are Robert Hamlin and Iris Theatre.

Richard Brockman's Informed Consent, about the issues involved in the donation of a heart for a transplant operation, with Susan Bracken, Georgia Goodman, Greg Canestrari, Charlie Hollway, Will Chitty, Meritxell Lavanchy, Brett Goldstein and Anton Stephans, directed by Mirra Bank, will open at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 7th October, produced by Audacious Proof Theatre Company.