News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th September 2000

An unpublished play by novelist Graham Greene, in which he advocated the legalisation of brothels, is finally to receive its premiere nearly fifty years after it was written. There will be a reading of A House Of Reputation as part of the Graham Greene Festival at Berkhampsted on 30th September. A production at the Theatre Royal Windsor will follow, and then a possible West End transfer, with Bill Kenwright producing. The play tells the story of a regular brothel user who falls in love with one of the girls and wants her to stop seeing other clients. Greene had hoped it would be staged in New York in the late 1950's but reservations about the subject matter precluded this.

National Theatre news: Life x 3, another new play by Yasmina Reza, about a couple who arrive for a dinner party a day early, starring Mark Rylance and Imelda Staunton opens on 7th December. It reunites the usual suspects of translator Christopher Hampton and director Matthew Warchus. Corin Redgrave is to play Oscar Wilde again in a double bill opening on 3rd November, which he will co-direct with Trevor Nunn. It comprises: In Extremis, Neil Bartlett's new play in which Wilde, pursued by the Marquis of Queensbury seeks advice from a society palm reader, played by Sheila Hancock; and De Profundis, based on the letter written by Wilde during his incarceration in Reading Gaol. The West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Singin In The Rain is returning from 18th December to 27th January, filling the slot of the now deceased production of Alice In Wonderland.

The Rumour Machine at the National says: that director/designer Julie Taymor is in discussion about a production of The Green Bird next year. This is the show which drew her to the attention of the Disney organisation, resulting in the opportunity to stage The Lion King. It was adapted from Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi's 18th century satirical fable of a king who longs for his lost wife, and of brother and sister twins searching for their true identities. Taymor originally staged the show for Theatre For A New Audience in 1996, and recently revived it at the Cort Theatre. It features her trademark blend of puppetry, masks, live performers, and music to tell its story. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

An outbreak of democracy on the concert platform is imminent. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has embarked on an Audience Request initiative, giving concert goers the opportunity to choose one item in the programme. Based on the success of a pilot scheme tried out last season, the audience members vote for one of two pieces as they arrive, and only find out which has been chosen during the course of the concert. Even more radically, a young person from the audience will be invited to take up the baton and wave as part of the family concert series FUNharmonics, starting on 29th October. David Angus, the main conductor for the evening, will give the chosen candidate a short tutorial prior to relinquishing control of the stick. It reminds me of the aggrieved fixer of a West End show responding to its composer conducting the playout one night: "If he ever tries that again, next time we'll follow him." The LPO's accessibility initiative was launched this week when its new conductor Kurt Masur took part in a chat room on the orchestra's web site. You can find a transcript and other information on the LPO site via the link from the Dance, Opera & Orchestras section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is to continue its association with the Young Vic, transferring its production of the Henry VI trilogy (which premieres in Stratford in November) to the London venue next April. The plays follow the story of Henry from his coronation as a baby to his death at the close of the Wars of the Roses, and are rarely performed in full. David Oyelowo will play Henry with Richard Cordery, Geff Francis, Aidan McArdle, Jake Nightingale and Geoffrey Streatfeild, and the director is Michael Boyd. The trilogy is part of the This England - The Histories sequence of Shakespeare's history plays which will be completed in Stratford next year.

Meanwhile casting has been announced for the revised version of the Broadway musical The Secret Garden, based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, with book and lyrics Marsha Norman and music Lucy Simon, which also opens at Stratford in November. It features Meredith Braun, Eddie Brown, Eliza Caird, Adam Clarke, Tamsin Egerton Dick, Linzi Hateley, Natalie Morgan, Luke Newberry, Peter Polycarpou, Craig Purnell and Philip Quast. Adrian Noble directs.

The Theatre Investment Fund, in association with the Society Of London Theatre and the Arts Council of England, is inviting further applications for a New Producer's Bursary. The bursaries are intended to support individuals in progressing their careers as theatre producers. Successful applicants will be able to use the bursary to develop and/or present a new production. In addition to a broad package of financial assistance of up to 15,000 per applicant, the scheme also provides the benefit of an established industry figure as a mentor for the project. For further information and an application form, send an A4 SAE to: New Producer's Bursary, Theatre Investment Fund, Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1V 8AY. The closing date for the second round of applications is 1st November.

The line up for the Perrier Pick Of The Fringe Season at Her Majesty's Theatre on three Sundays in October has now been announced. 1st: nominees Garth Merenghi's Fright Knight and Lee Mack's New Bits; 8th: runner up Dave Gorman with Are You Dave Gorman? and Sean Lock's No Flatley, I Am The Lord Of The Dance; 15th: Best Newcomers Noble & Silver and winner Rich Hall as Otis Lee Crenshaw. Further details from the Perrier Comedy Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Next year, while the Almeida Theatre is being refurbished, the company will stage David Hare's adaptation of Checkov's Platinov and Brian Friels's The Faith Healer, both directed by Jonathan Kent, at another yet to be revealed Islington location. This is in addition to the previously mentioned production of Frank Weiderkind's Lulu at the Old Vic next February. Anna Friel will make her British stage debut in Weiderkind's portrait of the rise and fall of a girl in a European society driven by sexual desire and greed. Jonathan Kent also directs a new adaptation by Nicholas Wright from the play Earth Spirit and its sequel Pandora's Box.

It's official - lap dancing is the new Rock 'n' Roll. Although in the end the Old Vic didn't become a lap dancing emporium, plays featuring the phenomenon arrive more frequently than number 3 buses. This time it's Eye Contact, Neil Monghan's exploration of the unusual and intense relationship between the performers and the clients, which opens on 22nd November at the Riverside Studios. Kelly Brook, ex-television presenter, ex-model, makes her stage debut as an acerbic dancer who strikes up a relationship with a young banker. The Theatre Machine production, which also features Keir Charles, Vicki Simon, Anna Madeley, Elizabeth Morton, Alexis Conran and Terence Booth, is directed by Izzy Mant.