News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th August 2007

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre and Clore Studio. Upcoming highlights include the London premieres of The Opera Group's production of The Shops, a comic contemporary work about shopping and stealing, music by Edward Rushton, libretto by Dagny Gioulami, with Darren Abrahams, Anna Dennis, Phyllis Cannan, Richard Burkhard, Louise Mott and Paul Reeves, directed by John Fulljames, with movement by George Lamb, from 19th to 22nd September; Fingerprint, an capella choral work exploring the tension between individual and group identity, devised by Orlando Gough and Emma Bernard, performed by The Shout, from 27th to 29th September; and Music Theatre Wales's production of Julie, adapted from August Strinberg's Miss Julie, music by Philippe Boesmans, libretto by Luc Bondy and Marie-Louise Bischofberger, translated by Anna Herklotz, with Emma Gane, Andrew Rupp and Arlene Rolph, directed by Michael McCarthy, on 2nd and 3rd November; plus Donizetti's Rita, in which 19th century comic opera meets 21st century soap opera, with Anita Watson, Haoyin Xue and Krzysztof Szumanski, directed by Thomas Guthrie, from 18th to 20th October; and the return of Pinocchio, the family show using dance, song and theatre to tell the tale of the a magical puppet without strings who wants to become a real boy, created by Will Tuckett, with a score by Martin Ward, from 10th December to 5th January.

The autumn season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury will include the return of The Story Of A Great Lady, written and directed by Ade Morris, looking at life, death and love through the eyes of three women, as they devise a performance about Boadicea, from 4th September; Patrick Hamilton's Rope, the psychological thriller about two undergraduates who murder a fellow student as an intellectual exercise, directed by Tom Daley, from 19th September; Mira, Mira, written and directed by Ade Morris, from an idea by Malcolm Ellison, a black comedy set in a gangland club, about an East End Princess and would be singer, from 31st October; and Honk!, the musical adaptation of Hans Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, music by George Stiles, book and lyrics by Anthony Drew, directed by Steven Dexter, from 28th November.

On The Casting Couch: James Fleet, Tobias Menzies, Mark Letheren, Bo Poraj, Joanna Scanlan, Sophie Stanton and Nicola Walker will form the cast of Cloud Nine, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 31st October; Kelly Price and Emma Williams will be joined by Leanne Best, Mark McGee, Alec Newman and Jonathan Wrather in Desperately Seeking Susan, opening at the Novello Theatre on 15th November; Suzanne Shaw, Mel Giedroyc, Steve Furst, Andy Gray, Helen Baker, Ashley Campbell, Jack Chissick, Tony Jawawardena and Shelley Williams will feature in Jack And The Beanstalk, opening at the Barbican Theatre on 1st December; and Daniel Weyman will be joined by David Dawson, Pip Donaghy, Veronica Roberts, Zoe Waites, Hannah Yelland, Abigail McKern. Jonathan Coy, David Yelland and Richard Bremmer in The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby, opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 8th December.

The autumn season at the Unicorn Theatre for Children at London Bridge includes the world premieres of Looking For JJ, adapted and directed by Marcus Romer, from the novel by Anne Cassidy, a story of suspense and intrigue centring on the release from a secure unit of a young killer with a new identity, a co-production with Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal, opening on 23rd October; and Philip Osment's Duck!, a contemporary interpretation of Hans Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, set on Hampstead Heath, directed by Rosamunde Hutt, opening on 1st December.

The Jerwood Directors Award at the Young Vic offers an opportunity for two directors to stage a play of their choice as a 'without decor' production, with 4 weeks rehearsal, with three actors and a full creative team, presented for 1 week to a paying audience in the Young Vic's Clare studio next spring. Applicants can be of any age, but must be a UK resident and have directed between one and five professional productions. The deadline for applications is 17th September. Further information can be found on the Young Vic web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond will include Daphne Du Maurier's The Years Between, set during the Second World War, in which a woman whose husband is reported dead in action builds a new life, but then he returns, expecting to find things as they were, directed by Caroline Smith, from 5th September; Lisa Evans's Once We Were Mothers, about three very different mothers facing three very different situations in a story about the joy and heartbreak of motherhood, from 10th October; Elizabeth Baker's Chains, about a group Edwardian clerks dreaming of escaping from the drudgery their of their lives as one announces he is emigrating to Australia, directed by Auriol Smith, from 14th November; and the world premiere of Fanny Burney's The Woman Hater, a comedy about the consequences for the second generations of two conjoined families riven by a jilted lover, adultery and severed relations, from 19th December.

A report from the National Association of Local Government Arts Officers shows that arts companies, already reeling from 137m funding lost to the 2012 Olympics, and fearing further cuts in the Chancellor's forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, are also being hit by a dramatic decline in the level of council subsidy. The NALGAO survey for the 2007/2008 financial year reveals that 65.5% of authorities have imposed standstill or reduced funding, and that the spending of 75.9% of councils have shown a real term decline over the last 2 years, while 4 authorities have cut their arts services completely, raising the total to 30 in the last 4 years. The arts suffer because they are not a statutory funding requirement for local authorities, and are therefore seen as an easy area to cut. Culture is not being written into many councils' Local Area Agreements, which are used to inform local funding priorities. It would seem that only direct pressure on Local Authorities from arts enthusiasts can change the current downward spiral in arts funding.

Owing to a last minute problem with the rights on its next scheduled show, the Barons Court Theatre has a vacant slot from 3rd to 15th September, which it needs to fill. So if there is a show out there looking for a two week slot in a prime London Fringe venue - perhaps transferring an Edinburgh Fringe hit - then call Ron Phillips at the Barons Court Theatre as soon as possible on 020 7602 0235.