News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th August 2003

Jim Broadbent, David Tennant, Adam Godley and Nigel Lindsay will star in the world premiere of Martin McDonagh's black comedy The Pillowman, directed by John Crowley, on 13th November at the National Theatre. In McDonagh's first non Irish play, a writer in a totalitarian state is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories because of their similarities to a number of local child murders.

The Bush Theatre has announced its autumn season. It starts with Iraqi-American Heather Raffo in her one woman play Nine Parts Of Desire, in which she plays nine characters challenging both the changing identity of Iraqi women and the western view of them, directed by Eva Breneman, transferring from the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, from 12th September to 4th October; followed by the world premiere of Emma Frost's Airsick, a black comedy which tells the story of an international love triangle taking place in London, directed by Mike Bradwell, from 10th October to 8th November; and then an as yet unnamed new play by Richard Bean.

Peter Hall's new book, Shakespeare's Advice To The Players, published by Oberon Books, is a guide to help actors recognise the clues that Shakespeare put in his plays as to how the lines should be spoken. He postulates that when actors know what they are doing - when they have understood the sense and rhetorical structure of their lines - then the audience will follow even the most complex of speeches. Actors must take note of line endings, mid line pauses, antitheses, alliteration and so on, and only when they have fully understood these, can they go on to supply the appropriate feelings. Hall then discusses how the application of these feelings varies from performer to performer, and generation to generation. A distillation of fifty years work and study of Shakespeare on the rehearsal room floor, it offers many practical examples, includes analyses of twenty speeches, and is lavishly illustrated with photographs of Hall's many productions.

The Belgrade Theatre Coventry's production of Roald Dahl's The Twits, adapted by David Wood, and directed by Kathi Leahy, will open a regional tour on 30th September at the Palace Theatre Manchester. The story of the disgusting Mr and Mrs Twit, and their monkey prisoners the Mugglewumps, who are helped to escape by the Roly Poly Bird, is told with a combination of circus and aerial skills, physical theatre and music. The show will transfer to the Bloomsbury Theatre from 9th December to 13th January 2004, playing in tandem with another Belgrade production for under 5s, Clever Polly And Stupid Wolf. Both shows are presented by Richard Jordan Productions.

The Wapping Project, the former hydraulic power station in Wapping Wall E1, which has been transformed into performing and visual arts spaces and a restaurant, is staging a series of dance events throughout the summer. Seven young choreographers are creating a series of short works in response to the building's unusual and idiosyncratic architecture. The only stipulation is that the pieces should last between three and five minutes, and feature a single white chair (neatly tying in the project's sponsor). The choreographers are Bettina Strickler, Luca Silvestrini, Susanne Thomas, Kristina Page, David Harradine, Maresa von Stokert and Hanna Gilgren. Performances are generally at 8.30pm and 10.30pm, and continue until 18th October. Call 020 7680 2080 for further information.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: The Reduced Shakespeare Company's latest extravaganza All The Great Books (Abridged), which in its inimitable style condenses the entire canon of world literature to 100 minutes, will hit the road when it completes its Edinburgh run, opening a fifty date tour of medium and small scale venues on 18th September . . . Tommy Tiernan will bring his new show Tell Me a Story... to the New Ambassadors Theatre for late night shows on Thursdays and Fridays from 25th September to 1st November.

After eight years in and out of the West End, the stage musical Fame, developed from the film and television series of the same name about students at the New York High School of Performing Arts, is finally reaching its home turf, opening Off Broadway at the Little Shubert Theatre on 42nd Street on 7th October. It was conceived and developed by David De Silva, with book by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes, and lyrics by Jacques Levy. Retitled Fame On 42nd Street, for New York, it will be directed by Drew Scott Harris, and choreographed by Lars Bethke. So far the West End version claims to have worked its way through 3000 pairs of leg warmers, 2000 pairs of jazz shoes, 8000 sweat bands, and 3 yellow cabs.

The Orange Tree Theatre's autumn season comprises John Galsworthy's little known The Mob, about a young playwright whose family are torn apart when his principles are in conflict with Government policy over going to war, directed by Sam Walters, from 3rd September to 4th October; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Simplicity, an 18th-century romantic drama adapted from Marivaux's The Game Of Love And Chance, the story of an arranged marriage where the wife to be swaps places with her maid in order to discover the truth about her lover, directed by Auriol Smith, from 8th October to 8th November; actor Olivier Ford Davies King Cromwell, exploring the personality of England's first and only military dictator, directed by Sam Walters, from 12th November to 13th December; and Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd's musical Me, Myself, And I , the story of a mother of four on the verge of a breakdown who fantasises that the local paper has named her Mother Of The Year, directed by Kim Grant, from 17th December to 7th March.

The Rumour Machine says: that Terence McNally's Frankie And Johnny In The Clair De Lune may be the next American star vehicle to hit the West End later this year; and that the Terence McNally-Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens musical A Man Of No Importance, the story of a bus driver living in 1960's Dublin who wants to stage Oscar Wilde's Salome at his church, which premiered at the Lincoln Centre last year starring Roger Rees, may receive a London showing next spring. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine is holding a sponsored firewalk across 20ft of burning embers in Covent Garden Piazza on 21st September. People wanting to take part must raise 100 in sponsorship, including a 25 registration fee, and participate in a two hour "fear-busting" session before they attempt the firewalk. For more information contact Clare Hicks on 020 7240 3331 or email admin@bpam.fsworld.co.uk. Curiously the rules don't mention anything about seeing a psychiatrist first.