News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 22nd October 1999

The Royal Shakespeare Company is to celebrate the millennium with a complete chronological staging of the history plays under the title of Throne of Kings. Unlike pervious adapted stagings, as The Wars Of The Roses in 1964 and The Plantagenets in 1988, these will be the plays as written. It will be spread over two summer seasons at Stratford, with all eight plays then coming to the Barbican. The first group in 2000 will be Richard II directed by Adrian Noble in The Other Place, Henry IV i & ii directed by Michael Attenborough in The Swan, and Henry V in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. These will be followed in 2001 by Henry VI i, ii & iii directed by Michael Boyd in the Swan, and Richard III directed by Michael Attenborough. The Henry VI plays are rarely performed in a complete form nowadays.

Meanwhile, a major refurbishment of Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford is under way, and will be completed in time for Shakespeare's birthday on 26th April. The aim is to create a more accurate and vivid idea of how the Shakespeare family home would have looked. Where possible, sixteenth-century furniture will be shown, and where originals do not exist, authentically crafted replicas are being made, such as wall hangings and other textiles. Shakespeare's Birthplace was acquired for the nation in 1847 and receives more than half a million visitors each year. The Trust maintains five houses that have connections with the Shakespeare family, and a unique library, archive and museum collection.

William H Macy, the TV and film actor (who also has a strong theatre background) is to make his West End debut in David Mamet's American Buffalo, at the Donmar Warehouse on 3rd February. The premise is three losers in life sitting in a junk shop planning a robbery, while waiting for a further partner in crime to appear. Considered by some people to be Mamet's best, the play has only been seen briefly in London before with Al Pacino in the lead.

TVI Actors Studio, the American actors organisation, is holding a free seminar for British actors in London on 30th October called Working In Hollywood Or Broadway. It will be conducted by TVI's president Alan Nusbaum, and will cover the ins and outs of acting careers in New York and Los Angeles. Topics include marketing and presentation, auditions, agents and managers, and career investment. Full details and an online registration form can be found on the TVI Actors Studio web site via the link from the TheatreNet Organisations section.

The Bridewell Theatre is presenting the British premiere of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever from 7th January to 12th February. Book and lyrics are by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Burton Lane, and the director is Carol Metcalfe. In what could be dubbed "the psychiatry musical", a patient regresses to previous existences, and the psychiatrist falls in love with one of her past incarnations, before they both decide to settle for the present day.

The British street dance and percussion phenomenon Stomp, is starting a further UK national tour at the Wycombe Swan on 16th November. Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas created the show as street theatre in Brighton in 1991. Since then it has been continuously touring the world, and has now played to more than seven and a half million people in thirty one countries. An Off Broadway production is now in its fourth year. The producers are Glynis Henderson and Yes/No Productions.

There is speculation in New York about a merger between major producer Dodger Endemol Theatricals and entertainment conglomerate Cablevision. Dodger has a twenty year history as a producer, while Cablevision has invested in shows, and through its Radio City Entertainment division, holds the lease on Radio City Music Hall. The companies would be a good fit of production expertise, and financial and distribution resources. This should result in a major increase in investment in Broadway production, of the kind the West End sorely needs. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Physical theatre company Frantic Assembly returns to London at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith with a new dark comedy Hymns, from 11th November to 4th December. Brought together by circumstances beyond their control, four men mourn a loss. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, they embark on a game to pass the time, but soon feel they are being watched - and they are. Written by Chris O'Connell, it is directed by Liam Steel in collaboration with the company: Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett, Simon Rees and Karl Sullivan.

And on the other side of the flyover at the Riverside Studios, Theatre de Complicite is presenting the London premiere of Mnemonic, its first devised show in four years, from 17th December and 22nd December. Conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, it is a co-production with Salzburger Festspeile.

The Rumour Machine says: that Ballet Boyz William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, whose Royal Ballet home videos are currently being shown on Channel 4, have jointly applied for Anthony Dowell's job as Director - no-one knows if this is serious, or just the preparatory work for a second series; that the French musical Notre Dame de Paris is looking at the Dominion in early summer, possibly with French singer Tina Arena as Esmerelda (she is currently recording an album of material from the show with Steve Balsamo and French singer Garou); and that Adventures in Motion Pictures is negotiating for the rights to turn the film Edward Scissorhands into a ballet, possibly with original creatives director Tim Burton designing, and composer Danny Elfman providing the score. The Rumour Machine grinds on.