News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th September 2008

While presenting the Royal Shakespeare Company's Annual Report for 2007/2008, Michael Boyd announced some future production plans, which will feature an ensemble of 44 actors, with a major accent on Russia. Productions will include in 2009, new works by Russian writers, Natal'ia Vorozhbit's The Grain Store, set against the backdrop of the 1930s Ukrainian famine, with Kathryn Hunter, directed by Michael Boyd; and Mikhail and Vyacheslav Durnenkov's The Drunks, which tells the story of a soldier returning from the war in Chechnya as a reluctant hero, directed by Anthony Neilson; in 2010, Aleksandr Pushkin's Boris Godunov, directed by Gregory Doran, Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, directed by Michael Boyd; an adaptation of Chekhov's short stories; and the work of Michael Bulgakov; and in 2011, Rona Munro's Little Eagles, about the space race in the 1960s from the Sputnik team's point of view, directed by Roxana Silbert; and Silence, a collaboration between director David Farr and experimental theatre group Filter, which follows a disenchanted British journalist travelling to Moscow to meet a controversial theatre maker.

RSC productions of Shakespeare and other plays will include in 2009, The Tempest, with Antony Sher and John Kani, directed by Janice Honeyman, a co-production with the South African Baxter Theatre; The Winter's Tale directed by David Farr; As You Like It directed by Michael Boyd; Julius Caesar directed by Lucy Bailey; Othello, with Patrice Naiambana, directed by Kathryn Hunter; and A Tender Thing, an adaptation of Romeo And Juliet by Ben Power, in which the characters are reimagined as an elderly couple; and in 2010, Antony And Cleopatra, with Kathryn Hunter, directed by Michael Boyd; King Lear directed by David Farr; Romeo And Juliet directed by Rupert Goold; and Thomas Malory's 15th century Arthurian epic Le Morte D'Arthur, in a new adaptation by Mike Poulton, directed by Gregory Doran. In 2007/2008 the RSC sold over 500,000 tickets and took 9.2m at the box office, giving 858 performances, playing to 81% capacity in Stratford, 87% in London and 79% globally, producing a surplus of 0.6m.

The Theatre Royal Bath/Peter Hall Company production of Alan Bennett's Enjoy, in which a old couple who are refusing to leave a house scheduled for demolition are visited by a sociologist, with Alison Steadman, David Troughton, Carol Macready, Josie Walker and Richard Glaves, directed by Christopher Luscombe, which is currently touring, will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, opening on 2nd February.

The government has announced a 2.5m scheme to offer free tickets to young people, at up to 95 theatres across England, over 2 years from next February. The new initiative, which was conceived as a result of the McMaster Report on excellence in the arts, will primarily include venues that receive funding from Arts Council England or local authorities. Theatres will have to bid to join the scheme, to be administered by ACE, whereby free tickets will be offered to anyone aged 18 to 25 on a chosen day of the week. The aim is to provide 1m tickets during the course of the initiative to encourage young people to experience live theatre.

The Young Vic has announced a further production. Shakespeare's King Lear, with Pete Postlethwaite, John Shrapnel, Forbes Masson, Nigel Cooke, Caroline Faber, Charlotte Randle, Amanda Hale, Jonjo O'Neill, Tobias Menzies, Michael Colgan, Clarence Smith, John-Paul MacLeod and Jacob Anderson, directed by Rupert Goold, will open on 4th January, a co-production with Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse and Headlong Theatre.

Scottish Opera's 2008/2009 season, which opens at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow on 7th October, will include new productions of Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage, with Andrew Slater, Renate Arends, Rebecca Bottone, Wendy Dawn Thompson and Quirijn de Lang, directed by Harry Fehr; Verdi's La traviata, with Carmen Giannattasio, Federico Lepre and Richard Zeller, directed by David McVicar, a co-production with Welsh National Opera; Massenet's Manon, with Anne Sophie Duprels, Paul Charles Clarke and Adrian Powter, directed by Renaud Doucet; Smetana's Two Widows, with Kate Valentine and Jane Irwin, directed by Tobias Hoheisel and Imogen Kogge; and the Opera National du Rhin production of Mozart's Cose fan tutte, with Violet Noorduyn, Caitlin Hulcup, Ville Rusanen and Joel Prieto, directed by David McVicar; plus a second season of Five:15, five new fifteen minute chamber operas created through collaborations between some of Scotland's leading writers and musicians.

On The Casting Couch: Derek Jacobi will be joined by Victoria Hamilton, Indira Varma, Samantha Spiro, Mark Bonnar, Lloyd Hutchinson, Zubin Varla, Guy Henry, Ron Cook, Norman Bowman and Alex Waldmann in Twelfth Night, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 10th December.

The annual London Pick Of The Fringe season, featuring double bills of the Edinburgh Fringe if.comedy award winners and finalists, will run during October at the Apollo Theatre: 5th - The Penny Dreadfuls with Aeneas Faversham Forever and Russell Kane: Gaping Flaws; 12th - Sarah Millican's Not Nice and David O'Doherty; and 19th - Andrew Maxwell's Supernatural and Rhod Gilbert And The Award-Winning Mince Pie.

The Cheltenham Literary Festival, running from the 10th to 19th October, includes appearances by theatre luminaries of all kinds, including Patrick Stewart, John Barrowman, Sheila Hancock, Antony Sher, Harriet Walter, Janet Suzman, Tim Piggott-Smith, Elaine Paige, Nancy Meckler, Jonathan Bate, Timothy West, Charlie Higson, Joanna Lumley, Maureen Lipman, Terry Jones, Julian Fellowes, Darcey Bussell and Michael Frayn, in talks, discussions, debates and performances. Further information and can be found on the Cheltenham Festivals web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The new season at Polka Theatre for Children in Wimbledon includes Paul Sirett's Ghosts In The Gallery, in which portraits in a gallery come to life during a young girl's visit, as the ghosts of characters from 500 years of British history appear before her, opening on 30th September; Pinnocchio, the story of the puppet who wants to become a real boy so much he comes to life, in a new version by Michael Rosen, with songs by Ben Glasstone, opening on 15th November; How To Catch A Star, a wordless adaptation of Oliver Jeffers's picture book about a boy who wants a star of his own, devised by Jonathan Lloyd, opening on 27th November; and The Jolly Postman, adapted by Janet and Allan Ahlberg from their book featuring many fairytale characters, opening on 17th February.