News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th March 2005

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced the programme for this year's festival, running from 14th August to 4th September, for which booking opens on 2nd April. Theatre highlights include the world premieres of three plays commissioned by the EIF from Scottish writers on the theme of different races living together, David Harrower's Blackbird, directed by Peter Stein, Shan Khan's Prayer Room and Chiew Siah Tei's Three Thousand Troubled Threads, directed by Muriel Romanes; Sumidagawa, performed by the Association of Japanese Noh Theatre; and Nuts CocoNuts, a new English language version of the show by Spanish company La Cubana, directed by Jordi Milan. Opera highlights include the British staged premiere of John Adams's The Death Of Klinghoffer, performed by Scottish Opera, directed by Anthony Neilson; and Benjamin Britten's Curlew River, directed by Olivier Py. Dance highlights include the British premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake, performed by Pennsylvania Ballet, with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. Music highlights include the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra with a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde, and four programmes combining established masterpieces with contemporary works. Further information can be found on the EIF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the National Theatre production of Kwami Kwei-Armah's Elmina's Kitchen, directed by Angus Jackson, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre at the end of its current tour, opening on 26th April. About the Yardie gun and drug culture in Hackney's murder mile, it centres on a restaurant owner whose son is tempted into a life of crime. The company now comprises Kwei-Armah, Dona Croll, Shaun Parkes, Oscar James, Michael Obiora and Don Warrington. It is presented by Bill Kenwright, Jenny King and Matthew Gale.

The Bristol Old Vic's next production is Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw, in a new version by Nick Dear, directed by Simon Reade, opening at the Theatre Royal in Bristol on 6th April. A young governess is charged with the care of two small children, abandoned by their uncle (whom she cannot contact for help) at his grand country house, but she soon becomes convinced that they are communing with ghosts. The company comprises Ruth Grey, Carol Macready, Zoe Thorne, Vincenzo Pellegrino and Jonathan Broadbent.

High Heel Parrotfish!, a calypso and soca musical by Christopher Rodriguez, directed by Paulette Randall, with choreography by Omar Okai, opens at the Theatre Royal Stratford East on 8th April. Set backstage at a drag club in Trinidad during Carnival, with the performers vying for attention, it features Nicholai La Barrie, Raj Ghatak, Anthony Ofoegbu, Peter Straker, Brian Green, Ashley Campbell and Sandra Bee. It is a Theatre Royal Stratford East, Talawa and Nitro co-production.

The next exhibition at the Theatre Museum, opening on 22nd March, is Celebrating Peter Brook: An Evolving Installation What Is Theatre? , which runs until 4th September. It is an 80th birthday appraisal of the life and the work of Britain's most internationally influential director, and his quest to discover the essence of theatre. The latest Inside Theatreland series of interviews, talks and events, exploring performance past and present, on Thursdays and Sundays over the next three months, includes appearances by Rupert Rhymes, Barry Cryer, Honor Blackman, Stephen Mear and Michael Kilgarriff; Focus on International Stage featuring Beijing, Berlin and Rio; and workshops on Argentinean Tango, and Ayckbourn and Stoppard. Further information can be found on the Museum web site via link from Information in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Ehle will be joined by Julia McKenzie, Oliver Cotton, Nicholas Le Prevost, Richard Lintern, Lauren Ward and Damien Matthews in The Philadelphia Story, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 7th May - although Spacey will leave the show after seven weeks to fulfil a film commitment.

Sadler's Wells, which under the direction of Alastair Spalding intends to move from being a wholly receiving house to a producing organisation, has announced that Matthew Bourne, the Ballet Boyz (Michael Nunn and William Trevitt), and Jonzi D (responsible for last year's hip hop dance festival), are to become artistic associates, forming a long term relationship alongside resident company Random Dance, and associate company Rambert Dance Company.

The spring season at Salisbury Playhouse includes the return of its production of Jamaica Inn, the classic Cornish adventure story of romance, murder and mystery, adapted by Lisa Evans from the novel by Daphne du Maurier, with Laura Rogers, Mark Jax, Marcello Watson, Chris Garner, James Duke, Lisa McNaught, Paul Mihell and Sara Weymouth, directed by Jonanna Read, opening a regional tour on 5th April; and the premiere of Mike Akers's Lone Star Mark Three, a comedy exposing the darker elements in the world of caravanning, directed by Caroline Leslie, opening on 13th May.

Planning permission has now been granted for the Royal Shakespeare Company to build a temporary 1,000 seater theatre next to The Other Place, which will be its home during the 100m refurbishment of the Grade II listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford upon Avon. Construction will begin later this year on the new venue, designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, to be called the Courtyard Theatre, and should be completed in time for the Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival starting in April 2006. Work on the RST is scheduled for 2007/8, with the new 'all in one room' auditorium opening in 2009.

The 13th Hampton Court Palace Festival runs from 7th to 25th June, with a series of prestige events in the specially designed theatre, built in the Base Court of the Palace. Artists taking part include Andrea Bocelli, Jools Holland, Katie Melua, Jose Carreras, Elaine Paige, Brian Wilson, Van Morrison, and The Gipsy Kings, plus A Celebration Of Choral Masterpieces with the City of London Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, Music For The Royal Fireworks with the English Chamber Orchestra, and Festival Finale with the City of London Orchestra. Glyndebourne style, audiences are invited to explore the Palace and picnic in the grounds either before the events or during extended supper intervals. Further information can be found on the HCPF web site via link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands, a dance version of the 1990 film, developed with screenplay writer Caroline Thompson and composer Danny Elfman, will receive its premiere at Sadler's Wells next June; that Joan Collins and Linda Evans will star in a prospective pre Broadway tour of James Kirkwood's comedy Legends!, about the rivalry between two movie stars (loosely based on Joan Crawford and Loretta Young), which folded in acrimony on its first pre Broadway outing with Carol Channing and Mary Martin twenty years ago; and that Richard Eyre's Almeida Theatre production of Hedda Gabler, with Eve Best and Iain Glen, will get an instant West End transfer, courtesy of Robert Fox. The Rumour Machine grinds on.