News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th January 2006

Dominic Dromgoole has announced the productions in his first season as Artistic Director at Shakespeare's Globe, in which he has adopted the Royal Shakespeare Company policy of staging new plays alongside Shakespeare. The season, under the title The Edges Of Rome, running from 5th May to 8th October, will explore the story of the Roman Empire, how it was portrayed in the age of Shakespeare, and its continuing influence today. It comprises: Coriolanus, its first production at the Globe, directed by Dromgoole, with Jacobean staging, clothing and music; Titus Andronicus, also making its Globe debut, directed by Lucy Bailey, with Elizabethan staging, clothing and music; Antony And Cleopatra, also directed by Dromgoole; and The Comedy Of Errors, directed by Chris Luscombe. The new plays will be Under The Black Flag, by Simon Bent, an 'adults only' romp telling the tale of the historical pirate republic of Rabat through the exploits of Long John Silver, directed by Roxana Silbert; and In Extremis, by Howard Brenton, re-examining the story of Abelard and Heloise to explore the relationships between logic and religion, humanism and fundamentalism, faith and power.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, The Creeper, by Pauline Macaulay, starring Ian Richardson, Oliver Dimsdale, Alan Cox, Robert Styles and Harry Towb, directed by Bill Bryden, will open at the Playhouse Theatre on 9th February. The classic thriller tells of a young opportunist who becomes a residential companion to a wealthy eccentric, and begins to exert his power, while concealing a shady past. The producers are Matthew Gale, Jenny King and Steve Wilkinson.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed the details of the productions that precede the year long Complete Works Bardathon in Stratford. They are: Arthur Miller's The Crucible, about the 17th century Salem witchcraft trials, with Iain Glen, Elaine Cassidy, Ian Gelder, James Laurenson and Helen Schlesinger, directed by Dominic Cooke, opening on 1st March in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre; and Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women, the cautionary tale of three young people seduced and destroyed by lies, lust and treachery, with Hayley Atwell, Emma Cunniffe, Tim Pigott-Smith and Penelope Wilton, directed by Laurence Boswell, opening on 23rd February in the Swan Theatre.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Steptoe And Son In Murder At Oil Drum Lane, the stage comedy featuring the characters from the television series about two rag and bone men, by Ray Galton (one of its original creators) and John Antrobus, starring Harry Dickman and Jake Nightingale, directed by Roger Smith, will open at the Comedy Theatre on 22nd February. The contemporary story begins as a lone figure with a murderous secret arrives at Harold and Albert Steptoe's dilapidated house in Oil Drum Lane - now in the hands of the National Trust as the last remaining example of a typical totter's yard. It is a Theatre Royal York production, where it opened in October. The School Of Night, previously announced for the Comedy, has been cancelled.

The next production by Compass Theatre Company will be Herman Melville's Moby Dick, in a new adaptation by Richard Hurford, directed by Neil Sissons, which will premiere at the Theatre Royal Wakefield on 22nd February, launching a national tour. The American classic about the struggle between good and evil is the tale of a whaling ship captain's self destructive obsession to hunt a white whale, and a young crew member undergoing a rite of passage.

The Society For Theatre Research offers grants of up to 1000 annually to support research into the history and practice of the British theatre. Private scholars, theatre professionals, academic staff and students, of any nationality, can apply for a grant to help with such endeavours as the completion of work in progress, professional training in research techniques to assist established projects, or a subvention towards the publication of completed work in which a publisher is already seriously interested. The deadline for submissions for this year is 1st February. Further information and an application form can be found on the STR web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season of Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory in Bristol comprises Titus Andronicus with Bill Wallis, Roland Oliver, Lucy Black and Leo Wringer, playing from 10th February to 18th March; and Love's Labours Lost, playing from 24th March to 29th April. Andrew Hilton will direct both plays.

The spring season at Nottingham Playhouse will include three world premieres, all directed by Giles Croft: Robin Kingsland's stage adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic First World War novel All Quiet On The Western Front, about the loss of youth and innocence behind enemy lines, will open on 14th February; The White Album, by Michael Pinchbeck, a play that documents one man's journey through love and suicide to the music of the Beatles' White Album, will open on 22nd March; and To Reach The Clouds, adapted by Nick Drake from the book by French aerialist and anarchist Philippe Petit, who tightrope-walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, will open on 21st June.

The Culture Project's Off Broadway production of The Exonerated, a drama about prisoners living on death row, by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, directed by Bob Balaban, will play at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from 21st February to 11th June. Based on interviews with 40 former death row prisoners, the play received its British premiere at last year's Edinburgh Fringe.

British Music Hall: An Illustrated History by Richard Anthony Baker, recently published by Sutton Books, traces the story of the theatrical entertainment that graduated from small 'song and supper rooms' attached to pubs to grand purpose built theatres, during the second half of the 19th century. With hundreds of photographs and posters, and many backstage stories, it brings to life the performers, the songs and their writers - many now forgotten - not to mention the halls themselves. In its heyday music hall was the entertainment of the people, with halls springing up everywhere, but with the arrival of the cinema in the early twentieth century public interest moved on, and the age of the music hall was over.

InService productions, in association with Brighton Dome, has launched its first fully staged production, with John Webster's The White Devil, playing at the Pavilion Theatre Brighton until 4th February. The contemporary reworking of the classic Jacobean tale of adultery, revenge and murder features Bob Cryer, and founder company members Priyanga Elan, Penelope Cobbold and Israel Aduramo, directed by David Oyelowo. InService is aiming to establish a nationally recognised producing venture at the Pavilion Theatre, which is part of the Brighton Dome complex.