News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th May 2002

The Barbican Centre has announced details of BITE:02, its fifth Barbican International Theatre Event opening on 3rd July. This will now be expanded to fill the whole year, following the departure of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It boasts thirteen premieres of theatre, dance and musical works by companies from Australia, South Africa, Thailand, China, Russia, Taiwan, America and Europe. Highlights include: William Yang's Blood Links, using slides, music and speech to tell the story of his family; the world premiere of a work by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (co-commissioned by the Barbican); Betty Nansen Theatre's Woyzeck, set to songs by Tom Waits; Galileo Galilei, an opera by Philip Glass; The Threepenny Ring, a collaboration with the English National Opera; comedy duo Ridiculusmus award winning Say Nothing, and Yes Yes Yes; and The Generating Company's debut 'day in the life of a city' show Storm.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's Adopt An Actor scheme for educational establishments worldwide is back again this year. Schools, colleges and universities can adopt one of five members of the company, and throughout the season regular bulletins are posted on the Globelink web site regarding his/her activities during the rehearsal and performance process. There is also an activity programme based on what 'their' actor is currently doing, such as researching the play, providing alternative casting options and icebreaker games during rehearsals. This year's 'orphan' actors include artistic director Mark Rylance. Further details can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

A new production of Bryony Lavery's award winning play Frozen will open at the National Theatre on 3rd July, with the original stars Anita Dobson, Josie Lawrence and Tom Georgeson. It is the story of the mother of a missing child, an academic researching serial murders, and a male loner. Bill Alexander directs.

Broadway Bound: Disney Theatricals has stage versions of three of its animated films in the works, but no confirmed dates for their production. The Little Mermaid, whose original score was by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, will be directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, and designed by Lez Brotherson. Tarzan, with songs by Phil Collins, will receive an 'unconventional production' conceived and designed by Bob Crowley, and choreographed by Meryl Tankard, to be staged in a 'non traditional venue'. Pinocchio, which has received imput from various creatives over a number of years, will now to be directed by Julie Taymor.

Following its launch last year, Somerset House is presenting a series of early evening classical Concerts In The Courtyard on Tuesdays from 11th June. Ensembles include Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, soloists from the Philharmonia, and City of London Sinfonia Brass Ensemble. There is also a family concert and workshop by the Philharmonia on the afternoon of Sunday 30th June. Contemporary music is featured over the weekend of 21st to 24th June with Orbital, Tindersticks and Jorge Ben Jor.

The Warehouse Theatre Croydon is holding its 17th International Playwriting Festival, in partnership with Italian festival Premio Candoni Arta Terme and Teatro Ena, Cyprus. It is in two parts: a competition with entries from all over the world, followed by a series of workshops and readings, leading on to the presentation of the best work on 23rd and 24th November. Skin Deep, a thriller by previous winner Richard Vincent, is currently playing at the Warehouse, with Rae Baker, Frank Ellis, Natasha Gordon, Simon Greiff, Colin Wells and Penelope Woodman, directed by Ted Craig. The deadline for entries is 30th June. Further information and an entry form can be found on the Warehouse web site via the link from the UK London Venues section of TheatreNet.

This year's Divas At Donmar season will run from 5th to 31st August, featuring Ruby Turner, Philip Quast, Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, and one other diva yet to be revealed.

The struggle to secure the future of the Westminster Theatre continues. Despite receiving planning permission from Westminster City Council, redevelopment proposals have been called in by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, following lobbying by the Save London's Theatres Campaign. Yolanda, the current owners, want to demolish the 586 seater theatre and replace it with an apartment building, which would incorporate a token 170 seater studio theatre. Westminster's approval for the plan shows that although the battle against these kinds of developments appeared to have been won, we need to be vigilant to preserve our theatres. The enquiry will take place during the summer. A deluge of letters of protest to the DTLGR could help.

The Broadway hit Dirty Blonde will play a prospective pre West End season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds from 5th July to 3rd August. It is a 'comedy with songs' about Mae West, written by and starring Claudier Shear (as both a fan and the woman herself), with Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman, directed by James Lapine.

Line-Run is a new software package designed to help actors to learn their lines. Computer generated actors speak the other parts of the script, pausing when they reach one of the user's lines. It can then reveal the line a word at a time, or give an audible prompt. When user thinks s/he knows the line, it is displayed for verification. Alternatively, using speech-recognition software for input, users can speak the line and have Line-Run compare it with the actual line in the script. Needless to say, it's not quite as simple as it sounds, but nevertheless it's potentially a great help tackling what most actors think is the worst part of their job - next to midweek matinees/working with animals and children/wearing tights/interviews with journalists who know nothing about the theatre etc etc etc. Further information can be found on the Line-Run web site via the link from the Suppliers section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Shakespeare Company may move into the New London Theatre as its new London base, as the flexible nature of the building - which offers proscenium, thrust, and in the round formats - would suit transfers from any of its Stratford venues (before and/or after rebuilding) and be in the West End; however, Disney's Tim Rice-Elton John version of Aida is also rumoured to be a possibility; as is Tony Award winning dance musical Contact - three stories about sex and power - co-conceived (with John Weidman), directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, which has a West End opening scheduled on 23rd October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.