News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th September 2004

Hampstead Theatre will present the European premiere of the award winning Anna In The Tropics by Cuban American writer Nilo Cruz, with Joseph Mydell and Diana Quick, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, on 30th November. When a stranger arrives and reads Anna Karenina to the workers in a family run cigar factory in Florida in the 1920s, he inflames desire and jealousy, which conflict with the pursuit of the American Dream. It is produced in association with Scamp and Jay Harris.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has finally squared the circle on the redevelopment of its theatre at Stratford. It has abandoned the previous regime's plans for demolition of the landmark 1932 building, but will create a thrust stage within the existing auditorium and stage areas, described as 'a modern take on the courtyard theatres of Shakespeare's day'. The new auditorium, seating around 1,000 people, will be a 'one room' space, in which the distance to the furthest seat will be around half that of the current theatre. A full size mock up was created in the scene dock at Covent Garden to test the concept before the final decision was taken. The 100m plan retains the key art deco elements of the building, with improvements to front of house facilities and new exhibition space. Backstage areas will be upgraded and a new space for educational activities created. The RSC will now look for an architect to work to this brief, and construction is expected to start in 2007.

Performances of National Headlines, the National Theatre's series of early evening current affairs monologues, adapted from interviews with individuals directly affected by the issues, has been confirmed as: October 12th - Education by Mark Ravenhill, 14th - Farming by Paul Jepson (who is co-ordinating the series), 18th - Asylum by Moira Buffini, 19th - Debt by Gregory Burke and 21st - Health by Tanika Gupta. Each performance will be followed by a discussion, with panels comprising politicians, journalists, workers and campaigners.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket has announced its autumn season of Masterclasses for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. In October they feature the following masters of their arts: actors Helen Mirren and Sally Anne Triplett, and director and tutor Geoffrey Colman. Sessions begin at 2pm and last around two and a half hours. Events are open to people aged between 17 and 30, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can now subscribe to a Friends scheme. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Jimi Hendrix At The Marquee Club features the largest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia in existence, which is on public view for the first time, launching the second resurrection of the legendary 1960s rock venue in recent years. The fruits of labour by a single devoted fan, the collection is staggering, with 300 hours of unseen footage, 15 hours of unreleased recordings, promotional material, paperwork, clothing, rare and unpublished photographs, signed and handwritten items - including lyrics, poetry and drawings - plus ephemera from ticket stubs to hotel keys. In addition, there is the most extensive collection of Hendrix related vinyl known to exist, plus rare period and contemporary posters documenting Hendrix's influence on music and pop culture. The collection is so extensive that the material on display will rotate on a monthly basis until February, at The Marquee Club, 1 Leicester Square, London WC2, 0870 444 6277833.

A Cloud In Trousers by Steve Trafford receives its world premiere on 6th October at York Theatre Royal, prior to a national tour. Set in Moscow during the Bolshevik Revolution, it is about the Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and his personal revolution in a menage a trios with political activists Lili and Osip Brik. It stars Elizabeth Mansfield, Robert Pickavance, John Sackville and Gilly Tompkins, directed by Damian Cruden, and is an Ensemble co-production with York Theatre Royal.

The Theatre Investment Fund, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 2nd to 4th December. This is an intensive course for anyone interested in producing or co-producing in the commercial West End theatre. It provides detailed information on how to set up, budget, contract, raise funds and promote commercial productions, and is designed for those who have limited knowledge of production, or have not previously been involved. The course is led by production doyenne Andrew Tregus, with participation by prominent theatre practitioners. The inclusive cost is 395. For an application form send a stamped addressed envelope to Workshop For New Producers, The Theatre Investment Fund, 32 Rose Street, London WC2 9ET. Closing date for applications is 21st October.

Love & Madness, the company that aims to bring classical theatre to a younger audience, is currently touring a contemporary re-imagining of Charles Dickens Hard Times, performed by a company of eight, comprising: Alan Charlesworth, Robert Dugay, Jade Magri, Jonny McPherson, Pip Ripley, Neil Sheppeck, Jane Stanton and Ian Van Der Heyden.

The British Library has digitised its collection of original copies of Shakespeare plays, and they are now available to view on its web site. Shakespeare In Quarto comprises 93 copies of the 21 plays by Shakespeare printed in quarto before the theatres were closed in 1642, with a facility to compare the different versions. The site also explains how plays were printed, published and sold when Shakespeare was writing, together with background about the playhouses, companies and actors that used them. Further material shows how the plays have changed in print and in performance, from the reopening of the theatres in 1663 to the present day. There is a link to the BL web site from the Information section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Broadway musical Hairspray will reach London in the autumn of next year, with Desmond Barrit in the drag role of the mother; and that Fully Committed, the solo off Broadway comedy with Mark Setlock as a struggling actor/reservation maker at Manhattan's most fashionable restaurant, which has put the new fringe venue the Menier Chocolate Factory on the map, will transfer to the West End in late October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.