News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th March 2008

In this year's Laurence Olivier Awards the honours were more evenly spread than ever before. In the subsidised sector, amongst others, the National took best Play Revival - St Joan and Best New Comedy - Rafta, Rafta; the Royal Court's The Seagull won Best Actress (Play) - Kristin Scott Thomas and Gone Too Far! - Best Affiliate Production; and the Barbican took Best Play - A Disappearing Number. In the commercial sector Hairspray won Best Musical, Best Actor (Musical) - Michael Ball and Best Actress (Musical) - Lianne Jones; Donmar's Othello took Best Actor (Play) - Chiwetel Ejiofor; and Chichester's Macbeth won Best Director - Rupert Goold. Disgracefully, once again this year there was no television coverage of the presentations ceremony of Britai's premier theatre awards, but full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite and below.

Complicite's A Disappearing Number, conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, inspired by the story of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan's collaboration with Cambridge professor G H Hardy, will return to the Barbican Theatre from 10th October.

The Brighton Festival, running from 3rd to 25th May, will celebrate its 42nd birthday with 10 world and UK premieres and 11 special commissions, among over 200 events from around the world. Among the highlights will be: Happy Together, a promenade event with Orlando Gough and The Shout and choreographer Luca Silvestrini leading a groups of 'stags' and 'hens' through the streets and meeting up at the Tru nightclub; Mark Wheatley's So Close To Home, a site specific performance in a restaurant kitchen, a story of migration and belonging told with a hint of dark comedy; An Infinite Line: Brighton, a sensory meditation on the particular quality of light in Brighton, using music, movement, light, film, wind, sound, mirrors and water, designed and directed by David Harradine in The Basement; Australian company Chunky Move with Glow, in which the floor of an art gallery is the screen as a solo dancer's movements trigger sound, light and video animation; Manic Organic, combining the Dome's pipe organ with contemporary 'avant-improv' and 'ambient electronica'; and John Tavener's new mass Sollemnitas in Conceptione Immaculate Beatae Maria Virginis. Further information can be found on the BF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Lifecoach, written and directed by Nick Reed, with Phill Jupitus, Amy Darcy, Katarina Olsson and Tim Plester, will receive its premiere at Trafalgar Studio 2 on 22nd May. The comedy is the story of two people: one who is lost and finds her way, and the other who knows where he is but gets lost. The producers are Stuart Piper and Jason Haigh-Ellery.

A 1.4m fund has been established by the London Development Agency, to be delivered in partnership with Arts Council England, in a bid to help sustain creative activity in the capital and ameliorate the effects of the funding loss to the 2012 Olympic Games. (Last year the arts lost 137m of Lottery money to the Olympics.) The money, initially for a period of 18 months, will be available for applications that offer opportunities for people who have not previously engaged in the arts, particularly those from hard to reach communities. The cash injection follows the release of London - A Cultural Audit, the first quantitative comparison of the capital's cultural environment with four other major world cities - New York, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. Figures reveal that London is the world's cultural capital, with 55 major theatres, compared to New York's 39, staging 17,285 theatrical performances annually (nearly 5,000 more than New York), and presenting 32,292 music performances each year (10,000 more than the American city).

David Harrower's Blackbird, in which a series of untoward events ensue when a woman appears at the office of a man who sexually abused her as a child fifteen years earlier, with Robert Daws and Dawn Steele, directed by David Grindley, will open a national tour at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on 27th March. The producers are Michael Edwards and Carole Winter.

Monkey: Journey To The West, a 21st century circus opera based on an ancient Chinese legend, adapted and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, with music composed by Damon Albarn, and visual concept, set design and costumes by Jamie Hewlett, which premiered at the Manchester International Festival last year, will play at the Lynbury Studio at the Royal Opera House from 23rd to 26th July

The National Theatre has finally come to an agreement with the technicians union Bectu, regarding stage, lighting and sound staff, that will enable the theatre to open 7 days a week, like its neighbour the Southbank Centre, and the Barbican - although discussions regarding other departments are still ongoing. In return for a new salary structure, staff have agreed to more flexible scheduling, which should allow for efficiency savings that will help fund the higher cost of Sunday performances. It is now expected that a trial 4 month season of 7 day opening will begin in September.

The musical Hello Dolly, book by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, with Anita Dobson, Darren Day, David McAlister and Louise English, directed by Chris Colby, with choreography by David Court, is currently on a national tour until 9th August. Adapted from Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, it is set at the turn of the 20th century and is the story of a meddling widow who tries to engineer the romances of several couples - including her own with a curmudgeonly merchant. The producer is Chris Moreno.

The Lost And Found Orchestra, which uses household objects as instruments, formed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, the creators of Stomp, will play a season at the Royal Festival Hall from 19th December to 11th January. The performance, which premiered at the 2005 Brighton Festival, is based on the principal that if their first show was the rhythm section, then this is the full works. It features a group of 50 actors, dancers, aerialists, musicians and singers 'playing' everything from saws to shopping trolleys.

This year's British appearances by the Bolshoi Ballet will be at The Lowry in Salford, from 13th to 17th May, and Birmingham Hippodrome, from 20th to 24th May. The programme will comprise Balanchine's Jewels, a triple bill made to music by Faure, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky, Alexander Gorsky's Don Quixote, and a programme of lyric and bravura divertissements. The season is presented by Victor Hochhauser.

The Rumour Machine says: that the 'reality television' cast production of Lionel Bart's Oliver! will open at Drury Lane in the autumn; that the Menier Chocolate Factory production of La Cage Aux Folles will transfer to the Playhouse Theatre; and that Nicholas de Jongh's play Plague Over England, currently at the Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court, will transfer to the West End in the summer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.