Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Shakespeare's birthday will receive a three day celebration at Shakespeare's Globe this year. On Saturday 21st April, there will be the traditional Sonnet Walks, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along routes to Bankside. There is a choice of two routes through Tudor London, starting from Westminster Abbey or St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch, and on arrival a brief tour of the theatre is included. Walks leave every 15 minutes from 10am to 12.45pm. On Sunday 22nd April, there will be a Venetian style masked procession from Southwark Cathedral to the theatre leaving at 10.30am. Shakespeare's Globe will then be thrown open to the public from 11am to 4pm, with music, dance, games, Italian food and wine, and the opportunity for members of the public to perform their favourite Shakespeare speech from the stage. On Monday 23rd April, a series of silent film adaptations of Shakespeare's works will be projected onto the outside walls of the theatre, from 8pm to 10pm, with live accompaniment by Laura Rossi and the Fourth Dimension String Quartet. Viewing will be from Bankside walk.
The Royal Shakespeare Company will celebrate Shakespeare's birthday the following weekend in Stratford upon Avon, with open days from 10.30am to 6pm on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April. Free events, talks, workshops, demonstrations, masterclasses and opportunities to get creatively involved with company members from all departments will take place in the RSC's theatres, workshops, studios and gardens. Backstage tours will provide an opportunity to say farewell to the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre, prior to its transformation to a courtyard format, culminating in reminscences by actors Sinead Cusack, Antony Sher, Donald Sinden, Juliet Stevenson and David Warner, and artistic directors Michael Boyd, Adrian Noble, Terry Hands, Trevor Nunn and Peter Hall at 3.30pm, and a final celebratory concert at 4.30pm.
This year's Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, titled Echoes Of Spain, which runs from 5th to 24th May, explores music from Spain and Latin America, contrasting sounds and styles from the Old and the New Worlds. Alongside Monteverdi's Orfeo, and Handel's Solomon and rarely heard Olinto, Tebro e Gloria, there will be music by Victoria, Cabezon, Scarlatti and Juan de Araujo. Performers will include eminence grise of Hispanic music, Jordi Savall and his ensemble Hesperion XXI, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, La Risonanza and La Venexiana from Italy, and Ensemble La Fenice from France. Concerts are at St John's Smith Square, plus Bach's church music in Westminster Abbey. Further information can be found on the LFBM web site, the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.
As part of a national tour, the York Theatre Royal/Riding Lights Theatre Company production of Murray Watts's African Snow, with Israel Oyelumade, Roger Alborough, Mensah Bediako, Emmanuella Cole, Antonia Kemi Coker Chris Jack, Rex Obano and Kenny Thompson, about a meeting between Oloudah Equiano, a former slave who wrote a book about his experiences, and John Newston, the converted slave trader who wrote the lyric of Amazing Grace, directed by Paul Burbridge, will play at Trafalgar Studios 1 from 24th April to 5th May.
Peter Benedict's Deadlock, a psychological thriller about a seemingly successful member of parliament who has a deadly secret that must remain hidden at any cost, with Simon Ward, Karen Drury and Richard Driscoll, will open a regional tour at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on 10th May. The producer is Nick Brooke Productions.
Once again the National Theatre will be presenting Watch This Space, its free outdoor festival in Theatre Square, from 6th July to 1st September, with a programme of street theatre, music, circus, late night cinema, installations, dance, cabaret and other events. Highlights will include Avanti Display with Storm Bringer, a 40 minute adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest with pyrotechnics and water effects; Bicycle Ballet, featuring 45 cycling performers; the female acrobat trio Mimbre playing a multitude of characters in The Bridge, choreographed by Caroline Pope; artist in action Jon Hicks painting to music in The Duel; and Periplum's new show The Bell. Events are generally at 6.30pm Mondays to Saturdays, 1.15pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
This year's Glyndebourne season, running from 19th May to 26th August, will include two new productions: Verdi's Macbeth, directed by Richard Jones, with Sylvie Valayre, Andrzej Dobber, Stanislav Shvets, Peter Auty and Svetlana Sozdateleva; and Bach's St Matthew Passion, directed by Katie Mitchell, with Mark Padmore, Henry Waddington, Ingela Bohlin, Sarah Connolly, Andrew Tortise and Christopher Purves. There will be four revivals: Nicholas Hytner's production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutti; Peter Hall's production of Rossini's La Cenerentola; Nikolaus Lehnhoff's production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde; and Jonathan Kent's production of Britten's The Turn Of The Screw. There is a programme of early evening talks about each of the operas at The English Speaking Union in London prior to the start of the season, study events at Glyndebourne giving historical background and musical analysis of the new productions, and pre performance talks on each of the productions. Further information can be found on the Glyndebourne web site, via the link from Regional Theatres in the Links section of TheatreNet.
Cirque du Soleil will perform the British premiere of Varekai, the story of a journey through a magical forest populated by fantastical creatures, directed by Dominic Champagne, at the Royal Albert Hall from 10th January to 3rd February.
The Rumour Machine says: that the Birmingham Rep production of Charlotte Jones's Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis, with Maureen Lipman, Lesley Dunlop, Paul Courtenay Hyu, Derek Hutchinson, Michelle Tate and Emily Aston, directed Rachel Kavanaugh, which is currently touring, may be West End bound; that John Doyle will direct a production of the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along, about a trio of friends who drift apart as they pursue their different ideas of success, next year, but as yet it is undecided whether it will open first in London or on Broadway; and that the Theatre Royal Bath's touring production of Harold Pinter's Old Times, with Neil Pearson, Janie Dee and Susannah Harker, directed by Peter Hall, is looking for a West End home in May. The Rumour Machine grinds on.