News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th December 2007

The Society Of London Theatre has launched its sixth Get Into London Theatre initiative, designed to encourage new and young theatregoers to experience the wealth of theatrical fare to be found all over London. Discounted tickets are available for over 50 shows, including opera, ballet and dance, in over 40 venues, encompassing West End, fringe and suburban theatres. Tickets are at 15, 25 or 35 (according to the venue) for selected performances from 3rd January to 8th March. In addition, there is a special promotion enabling 16-25 year olds to buy tickets for 15. Restaurants are taking part with accompanying deals, and there are also hotels offering special mini-breaks. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site, via the link opposite below.

The Northcott Theatre in Exeter is facing the threat of closure after Arts Council England announced that it will withdraw its annual 547,000 grant from April 2009. The news comes in the same week as the Northcott reopens following a 2.1m redevelopment. Arts Council England is also withdrawing funding from the National Student Drama Festival, and without the 52,000 grant, next year's Festival is under threat. These decisions have to be confirmed on 21st January, so concerned theatergoers should protest against these cuts to Arts Council England as soon as possible. The Arts Council England web site can be found via the link form Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Julian Glover and Isla Blair will lead the cast of The President's Holiday, opening at Hampstead Theatre on 22nd January; and Kevin Spacey will be joined by Jeff Goldblum and Laura Michelle Kelly in Speed-The-Plow, opening at the Old Vic theatre on 12th February.

Thomas Schumacher, the producer of Disney's The Lion King, Aida, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid, and Jeff Kurtti, have written How Does The Show Go On?, a new book for children that explores the production of a Broadway musical. It gives young readers an insight into the world of theatre, including a glossary of theatre terms, a costume designer's sketchbook, a Playbill program, a front of house and backstage guide, as well as the experience of a day in the life of a child performer. From descriptions of the part played by the playwright, choreographer, stage manager and fight director, to explanations about the role of the set designer, composer, usher, director and leading lady, Schumacher and Kurtti have created a comprehensive introduction to the theatrical process. The book is from Disney Publishing World Wide.

Iain Glen and Imogen Stubbs will star in Scenes From A Marriage, Joanna Murray-Smith's new adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 television series, about a couple who even divorce cannot keep apart, directed by Trevor Nunn, opening at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on 12th January.

The JMK Trust is inviting applications for the 2008 Young Theatre Director's Award. The Trust was formed in 1996 with the aim of assisting young untried directors. A Bursary of 12,000 is awarded, together with help and support, and a space at the Battersea Arts Centre for four weeks next July/August to enable the recipient to direct a text, chosen from a selection of 25 classic plays made by Nicholas Hytner. A runner up award of 2,000 is also made to either help fund a production or to enable further research. Applicants must be British theatre professionals under the age of 30 who have undergone professional performing arts training, but have directed no more than two professional productions. The deadline for applications is 7th January. Further information can be found on the JMK Trust web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Watermill Theatre in Newbury has announced further productions in its current season. Joining the previously mentioned Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along, adapted from George S Kaufman and Moss Hart's play about a Broadway show writing partnership and their best friend over a 25 year period, running backwards in time from their disenchanted middle age to optimistic youth, directed John Doyle, with a company of actor/musicians, opening on 21st January, will be Dion Boucicault's London Assurance, a witty and stylish romantic comedy about misunderstandings and mistaken identity, with a cast of outrageous Georgian characters, directed by Nikolai Foster, from 9th April; and Peter Shaffer's swinging '60s Black Comedy, in which there is a power cut as a party is hosted in a borrowed apartment, so the characters are 'blind' and only the audience can see the chaos that ensues, directed by Orla O'Loughlin, from 28th May.

The British Library has acquired the complete archive of Harold Pinter, comprising over 150 boxes of manuscripts, scrapbooks, letters, photographs, programs and emails, as well as a draft of an unpublished memoir, accumulated over the last 50 years, for 1.1m. The Library has had the early part of the archive on loan since 1993, and expects to complete cataloging the new material by the end of next year. In the meantime it will mount a temporary exhibition, His Own Domain: Harold Pinter, A Life in Theatre, featuring a selection of manuscripts, letters, photographs and recordings documenting Pinter's work as an actor, director and playwright, from 11th January.

Forthcoming productions at the Theatre Royal in Windsor include a new production of Anthony Shaffer's classic thriller Sleuth, with Simon MacCorkindale and Michael Praed, directed by Joe Harmston, opening a regional tour on 22nd January; and Surviving Spike, adapted by Richard Harris, from the book Spike by Norma Farnes, who was Spike Milligan's agent, manager and confidante for 36 years, presenting an intimate glance into his personal life by the only person who ever really knew him, opening a regional tour on 5th February.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that this is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 5, 10, 20 and now, as a result of customer feedback, a mega 50, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 235 venues nationwide, including all West End theatres. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a new redesigned presentation pack, with a free theatre guide, and can be combined with chocolates, programme and drinks vouchers, accommodation or meal packages, or Christmas gift packs, with a desktop theatrical calendar, Superbreak voucher and card. Tokens are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies, and the tkts Ticket Booths in Leicester Square and Canary Wharf. Alternatively they can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 0870 164 8800 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet. As they say, don't just give an object this Christmas - give an emotional experience.