News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th October 2007

The Almeida Theatre in Islington has announced two further productions. American writer Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, directed by Rupert Goold, will open on 3rd April. The 'time-bending, serio-comic drama in an imagined world between heaven and hell', re-examines the fate of Judas Iscariot, with 20th century figures testifying at his trial. The previously postponed production of Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm, in a new version by Mike Poulton, with Helen McCrory, Paul Hilton and Malcolm Sinclair, directed by Anthony Page, will open on 22nd May. The play charts the struggle between freedom and the cruelty of conscience in an age of political division, as an aristocrat's brother in law plants doubts in his and his lover's minds, leading to a tragic conclusion.

Birmingham City Council has approved a 193m plan for a third auditorium and new rehearsal rooms to be added to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, as part of a joint development with a new library, which will share its foyer, bars and restaurant. The Rep will gain a 350 seater theatre to complement its existing 820 seat main stage and 140 seater studio. It will allow the Rep to create and receive mid-scale work that has previously been unsuitable for the existing spaces. The new library will host one of the world's largest Shakespeare collections, including a copy of the First Folio. The Rep will have to close for around 15 to 18 months during construction, which should be completed by 2013. Funding will be provided by the City Council.

Events in the Barbican's BITE: 08 festival will include: Ridiculismus with Tough Time, Nice Time, written, created and performed by David Woods and Jon Haynes; a contemporary version of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, by Schaubuhne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin, directed by Thomas Ostermeier; the Theatre Royal Stratford East production of the reggae musical The Harder They Come, adapted from the film by Perry Henzel, directed by Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid; the Market Theatre Johannesburg production of Molora, a South African interpretation of the Orestia trilogy, adapted and directed by Yael Farber; the Fiji company The Conch performing Vula, combining magic and illusion with traditional song and dance, on a stage flooded with water, directed by Nina Nawalowalo; Cheek By Jowl's Russian company with Pushkin's Boris Gudanov and Shakespeare's Troilus And Cressida, both directed by Declan Donnellan; and the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Gregory Burke's Black Watch, the site specific staging of the piece of verbatim theatre, based on interviews with former soldiers of the Blackwatch regiment who served in Iraq.

New York TheatreNet: Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, with Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood, Suzanne Burden, Michael Feast, Scot Handy, Paul Shelly and Martin Turner, directed by Rupert Goold, which ends its current run at the Gielgud Theatre on 1st December, will transfer to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, for a 6 week season from 12th February. The Brooklyn Academy of Music has hosted many short seasons of British productions, most recently the Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear and The Seagull, with Ian McKellan and Frances Barber, directed by Trevor Nunn.

Adam Long, a founder member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, has moved on to Britain's second most famous writer, to create and direct Dickens Unplugged - The Complete Works Of Charles Dickens (Abridged), a rollercoaster ride through 35 novels and 2,324 characters in 90 minutes, first seen at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, which will open a prospective pre West End tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford in February.

On The Casting Couch: Ryan Molloy, Stephen Ashfield, Glenn Carter and Philip Bulcock will play the leading roles in Jersey Boys, opening at the Prince Edward Theatre on 18th March.

The Rose of Kingston, the 8.5m Elizabethan style theatre in Kingston upon Thames will finally open in January with an 'exploratory' season of touring productions, as fundraising continues towards establishing a resident ensemble company under the direction of Peter Hall, from next September. The inaugural production will be English Touring Theatre's staging of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, directed by Peter Hall, opening a regional tour on 16th January. The season will include Jeff Baron's Visiting Mr Green, with Warren Mitchell and David Sturzaker, directed by Patrick Garland; Alan Plater's musical Blonde Bombshells Of 1943; Birmingham Stage Company's production of Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine, directed by Graeme Messer; Northern Broadside's Romeo And Juliet; and National Youth Music Theatre's production of The Ragged Child. The stage and auditorium of the 900 seater theatre, designed by Michael Holden Associates, follows the ground plan of the Rose Theatre built at Bankside in 1587, but it is housed within a modern building development.

The Old Vic has announced that participants in its 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala on Sunday 11th November, introduced by Kevin Spacey, and hosted by Ronnie Corbett, will include: actors Ronni Ancona, Rob Brydon, Stephen Campbell Moore, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Ralf Little, Stephen Mangan, Fiona Shaw, Christian Slater, Sharon Small and Samuel West, directors Wilson Milam, Anna Mackmin, Josie Rourke and Matt Wilde, and writers Bryony Lavery, Nina and Moses Raine and Laura Wade.

The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, a partnership between the writer's estate and producer Bill Kenwright, with exclusive rights to create new touring productions of Christie's original stage plays, has announced its third annual production. And The There Were None, will open a national tour at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 8th January. The story, in which ten strangers are lured to an island by a mysterious host, who accuses them of hiding a terrible secret - after which they are murdered one by one, has had its title changed twice in the face of advancing political correctness.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Kneehigh Theatre/Birmingham Rep's new staging of Brief Encounter, David Lean's 1945 film based on the Noel Coward play Still Life, which explores betrayal and adultery through three separate love stories set in a railway station, adapted and directed by Emma Rice may be West End bound; that when a revised version of David Hare's The Vertical Hour opens at the Royal Court Theatre in January, Bill Nighy won't be reprising his Broadway performance, and Indira Virma will be the new female lead; and that Penelope Wilton will star in Enid Bagnold's drawing room comedy The Chalk Garden, directed by Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehouse in the late spring. The Rumour Machine grinds on.