News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th January 2008

The spring season at the Soho Theatre will include The Belarus Free Theatre performing the devised pieces Being Harold Pinter, combining transcripts from Belarusian political prisoners, with excerpts from Pinter's plays and his speech to the Nobel Prize Committee, and Generation Jeans, taking a humorous look at symbols of freedom in Belarus and the iconic role that denim has to play, from 15th February; Dorota Maslowska's A Couple Of Poor Polish Speaking Romanians, translated by Lisa Goldman and Paul Sirett, about rebellious youth in contemporary Poland, with Andrea Riseborough and Andrew Tiernan, directed by Goldman, from 28th February; and Wajdi Mouawad's Wedding Day At The Cro-Magnons, a bitter comedy about life in a war zone, directed by Patricia Benecke, from 1st April, a co-production with Dialogue Productions and the Mercury Theatre Colchester.

Last year RIBA London and Arts Council England ran a competition to explore how today's architects might respond to the challenge of creating arts spaces that reflect the changing lifestyles and expectations of audiences, new and changing art forms, the need to address climate change issues, and the move towards more flexible buildings. The award winning entries are featured in Arts Spaces Of The Future, an exhibition running at the National Theatre until 16th February.

Craig Murray's The British Ambassador's Belly Dancer, based on the true story of British Ambassador in Uzbekistan, who left his wife for a native teacher and belly dancer, with Nadira Murray and Alan Hescott, directed by Thomas Hescott, currently playing at the Arcola Theatre, in Dalston, will transfer to the Arts Theatre from 4th to 23rd February.

The spring season at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond will include the premiere of the musical Next Door's Baby, book by Bernie Gaughan, music and lyrics by Matthew Strachan, an earthy tale of feuding mothers, jealousy, and family secrets in 1950s Dublin, with Peter Basham, Stephen Carlile, Clare Louise Connolly, Robert Gill, Louise Gold, Elinor Lawless, Brenda Longman, Riona O'Connor, Vincent Shiels and Emily Sills, from 6th February; Susan Glaspell's Chains Of Dew, a 1920s comic tale of poetry, birth control and bobbed hair in small-town America, from 12th March; Joanna Baillie's De Monfort, a play from the turn of the 19th century about the devastating effects of overwhelming passionate hatred, from 30th April; and Arlene Hutton's Last Train To Nibroc, a romantic tale of a chance encounter between a sincere young woman and a teasing young man on a train west of Chicago in 1940, from 4th June.

Move It 2007, the dance exhibition at Olympia from 7th to 9th March, will bring together all kinds of dance, with 100 performances, 160 classes (providing a total capacity of 35,000 places), 20 seminars and masterclasses, and 150 commercial exhibitors. 45 minute taster classes, in everything from bollywood to ballroom, jazz to street, and ballet to salsa, costing just 3, will run continuously in 7 studios from 10.30am to 7pm on the first two days and 5pm on the final day.

The next production at the Old Red Lion Theatre at the Angel Islington will be Spending The Pension, about two senior citizens who met through a dating agency, written, directed and performed by Andrew Neil with Anna Barry, opening on 5th February.

The spring season at the Unicorn Theatre for Children at London Bridge will include the premiere of Lighten Up, in which five performers use puppetry, mime and dance to make a journey of discovery about the nature of light, accompanied by a rhythmic soundscape, directed by Sue Buckmaster, with choreography by Arthur Pita, in collaboration with lighting designer Aideen Malone, designer Cathy Wren and sound artists Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones, a co-production with Theatre-Rites, from 9th February; Oha! Japan - comprising two Japanese shows, the Kazenoko production Hello Maru-Chan, about a girl made of paper and the world around her, combining actors, puppets and Japanese design to reveal the many wonders of paper, and the premiere of Mike Kenny's The Twin Stars, based on twin conflicts in the real life and first book of children's author Kenji Miyazawa, from 11th March; the premiere of Phil Porter's The Flying Machine, about an escape plan hatched by children in an oppresive hospital ward, from 2nd May; and the English Pocket Opera production of Prokofiev's opera The Love For Three Oranges, with libretto by Tom Stoppard, featuring audience participation, from 4th June.

So You Want to Tread The Boards: The Everything-you-need-to-know, Insider's Guide To A Career In The Performing Arts, by Jennifer Reischel, recently published by J R Books, is a whistle stop tour of all aspects of showbusiness. It is jam packed with everything that prospective entrants need to know about how to become (and survive as) a performer, and covers the three disciplines of acting, singing and dancing. From training, finding an agent and auditioning, through all branches of theatre, to television and film, plus practical matters like tax and a glossary of theatre terms, Reischel offers invaluable advice and a personal view, based on first hand experience.

On The Casting Couch at the Donmar Warehouse: Sue Johnson and Lindsay Coulson will lead the cast of Small Change, opening on 15th April; and Penelope Wilton will be joined by Margaret Tyzak in The Chalk Garden, opening on 11th June.

Restoration Drama: Investment In West End Theatre Buildings, the result of the London Assembly investigation into how the condition of West End theatres can be improved, following the Act Now report, which recommended 250m investment in West End theatres over 15 years, reaches a conclusion that combines a number of strands. Among the 9 recommendations are: the introduction of a restoration levy on tickets; a contribution from the producers who hire the theatres; the setting up of charitable trusts by theatre owners into which public and lottery funding can be channelled; attracting corporate sponsorship; and the introduction of VAT exemption on building work (as in the case of listed places of worship). It is estimated that London theatres generate over 1.5bn to the economy annually from theatregoer spending, and last year contributed 70m in VAT.