News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th June 2005

The Barbican is to present The Young Genius season from 16th September to 10th December, comprised of performances and readings of works created by writers at an early stage of their career. It includes The Dragon's Trilogy, the six hour epic by Robert Lepage, performed by Lepage's Ex Machina; Wole Soyinka's The Lion And The Jewel, performed by Collective Artistes; The Knight Of The Burning Pestle by Francis Beaumont, directed by Anna Mackmin; Georg Buchner's Woyzeck, staged by the Icelandic company Vesturport; three dance pieces by Michael Clark, including a reworking of O; Greg Hicks as Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine, with the two part epic reshaped by director David Farr into one play; Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love, directed by Anne Tipton; and David Grieg's new version of Alfred Jarry's Ubu The King with Gerry Mulgrew. The season will also feature new works: Underground by Dreamthinkspeak, a site specific piece inspired by Crime And Punishment, to be performed at the Old Abattoir in Clerkenwell; and The Thought That Counts, exploring the idea of genius aimed at 4 to 7 year olds, by Theatre-rites.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands, a dance version of Tim Burton's 1990 film, developed with original screenplay writer Caroline Thompson and composer Danny Elfman, will receive its premiere at Sadler's Wells on 22nd November, with a season running until 5th February. Sam Archer and Richard Winsor will share the title role. In the gothic fairy tale, an eccentric inventor dies before completing his latest creation, a boy left with only scissors for hands, who must find his own way in the strange world of suburban America. It is Bourne's first new project since he became an artistic associate at Sadler's Wells.

Buxton Festival, centred on the spectacular Opera House designed by Frank Matcham, running from 8th to 24th July, continues the twin themes of opera and literature. Highlights include new festival productions of Nicolai's The Merry Wives Of Windsor, and Mozart's Ascanio in Alba; the world premiere of Ian McQueen's children's opera Hollow Hill, about a school drama group; and a new production by The Opera Group of Ed Hughes and Glyn Maxwell's The Birds, based on Aristophanes's comedy, plus concerts and recitals covering a wide range of music. The Literary Series boasts appearances by a variety of writers, broadcasters and personalities, including Simon Jenkins, Robert McCrum, Penelope Lively, Robert Harris, P D James, Harold Pinter, William Hague, Iain Banks and Andrew Marr. Further information can be found on the Buxton Festival web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Scoop, the 1,000 seater open air amphitheatre next to City Hall, the Greater London Assembly building on the south bank opposite the Tower of London, is presenting another summer season of free performances. Euripides's Children Of Hercules, translated by Kenneth McLeish, a tale of dispossessed people seeking asylum, will play at 9pm on Thursdays to Sundays from 7th July to 14th August. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, adapted by Phil Willmott, with comedy, live music, pirates, parrots and puppetry, will play at 6pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 13th July to 14th August. There is no need to book - just turn up and sit down. As with the previous shows they will be directed by Phil Willmott, with choreography by Darren Royston, and produced by Suzanna Rosenthal and The Steam Industry.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Birmingham Rep production of Nigel Planer's first play On The Ceiling, a comedy about the painting of the Sistine Chapel, starring Ron Cook and Ralf Little, directed by Jennie Darnell, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre on 12th September. It will be presented by Greg Ripley-Duggan in association with Birmingham Rep.

This year's Music On A Summer Evening series of outdoor picnic concerts at the English Heritage properties of Kenwood, Marble Hill and Audley End, each weekend from 2nd July to 29th August, offers a wider range of attractions than ever. Highlights include: Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum, Jools Holland, The Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahim Ferrer, a Classic FM Opera Gala with Christine Bunning, Peter Auty and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and Grease in Concert with Darren Day, plus the famous flag waving Last Night with Robert Meadmore, Becky Jane Taylor and the City of London Sinfonia. All events feature firework finales. Further information can be found on the MOASE web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Samuel West has announced his inaugural season as director at Sheffield Theatres, opening on 28 September. In the Crucible: West will star in Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Josie Rourke; Promises, Promises, the musical adaptation of the film The Apartment, with book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David, directed by Angus Jackson; Howard Brenton's The Romans In Britain, directed by West; and the musical Assassins, with book by John Weidman, and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. In the Studio: the world premiere of Tanika Gupta's Gladiator Games, about a family seeking the truth behind the death of a young British Asian in Feltham Young Offenders Institute, directed by Charlie Westenra; the European premiere of Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House, about a woman whose mother dies laughing at a joke her father made up for their wedding anniversary, directed by West; and Mark Ravenhill's Meat Piece, a dance theatre work about modern food production and consumption, directed by Dominic Leclerc.

Disney is returning to Broadway some time during the 2005/2006 season with Tarzan, based on its 1999 animated film. The show will be directed and designed by Bob Crowley, with choreography by Meryl Tankard, and associate direction by Jeff Lee. David Henry Hwang has adapted the screenplay by Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and Phil Collins has added new songs to his film score.

Watch This Space, the National Theatre's free outdoor festival in Theatre Square runs from 24th June to 3rd September, with over 150 performances. The programme of street theatre encompasses DJs, circus, gospel, acrobatics, flamenco, mime, jazz, street dance, African drumming, physical theatre, South American music, Commedia del Arte, blues, cooking, clowns, contemporary dance, hairdressing, comedy and pyrotechnics. Events are at 5.30pm Mondays to Saturdays, plus 1.15pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10.30pm on Saturdays. Once again there will be feature films projected on to the 70ft high Lyttelton fly tower on Saturday nights from 29th July to 21st August. Further information can be found on the National Theatre web site via the link from London Theatres in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Richard E Grant will star in Simon Gray's Otherwise Engaged at the Criterion Theatre in October, directed by Simon Curtis; and that the Watermill Theatre Newbury production of Jerry Herman's musical Mack And Mabel, starring David Soul and Anna-Jane Casey, may be West End bound. The Rumour Machine grinds on.