News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th February 2009

The National Theatre has announced further details of its new productions this spring. In the Olivier, Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, with Clare Higgins, Conleth Hill, Michelle Terry, George Rainsford, Janet Henfrey, Sioned Jones, Elliot Levey, Brendan O'Hea and Michael Thomas, directed by Marianne Elliott. In the Lyttelton, Racine's Phaedre, adapted from the play by Euripides about forbidden love, guilt and revenge, with Helen Mirren, Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper, directed by Nicholas Hytner. In the Cottesloe, the premiere of Matt Charman's The Observer, in which an election official is sent to observe a contest in an African country, with Anna Chancellor, James Fleet, Cyril Nri, Leo Bill, Daon Broni, Peter Forbes, Lloyd Hutchinson, Chuk Iwuji, Aicha Kossoko, Louis Mahoney, Isabel Pollen and Joy Richardson, directed by Richard Eyre. The company's New Connections showcase of works written for and about teenagers will include plays by David Mamet, Anthony Nielson, Ben Power, Anthony Horowitz, William Boyd, Christopher William Hill, Conor Mitchell, Davey Anderson, Georgia Fitch, Lisa McGee, Michael Lesslie and Nick Drake.

Arts Council England is to reduce its staff numbers by 24%, from 622 to 473, in order to meet the government's requirement that it saves 15% on its grant in aid administration costs by 2010. This will be achieved by a reorganisation that will see 9 regional offices in 4 groups, the executive board reduced from 14 to 9, a centralised grants team based in Manchester, and a smaller head office relocated with the London regional office. ACE is also seeking to make equivalent savings on its National Lottery administration costs, making a total saving of 6.5m a year. It has already cut its running costs by 9.6m a year since 2002. As well as saving money, these plans are also a response to the McIntosh report, which criticised the Council's "inward-looking culture", in the wake of the row over its 2008/2011 spending review, which saw over 150 organisations lose their subsidy.

The 43rd Brighton Festival will run from 2nd to 24th May, and among the highlights will be: in dance, the Hofesh Shechter Company with the premieres of The Art Of Not Looking Back, an all female piece, and Bangers And Mash, created with 200 young dancers and musicians, and performed on the beach, and Les Ballets C de la B with the premieres of Aphasiadisiac, choreographed by Ted Stoffer, and Ashes, choreographed by Koen Augustijinen; in performance and theatre, Walk the Plank's new work Fire, Smoke And Mirrors, a allowing audiences to explore the different areas of Queen's Park, Druid Theatre Company with J M Synge's The Playboy Of The Western World, German theatre company Rimini Protokoll making their British debut with Breaking News, which deals with what is fiction and what is reality, The Tragedian Trilogy, about the Victorian actor Edmund Kean, created by Prodigal Theatre, and a site specific production of Joe Orton's The Erpingham Camp, performed by Hydrocracker on the Pier; and in music, Academy of Ancient Music with Handel's Arianna in Creta. Further information can be found on the BF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark, the new musical about the Marvel comic book hero, book by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger, music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, directed by Julie Taymor, with choreography by Daniel Ezralow, has confirmed its Broadway debut, opening on February 18th next year at the Hilton Theatre. It will be the most expensive show ever produced with a budget of $31.3m. The design team comprises scenery by George Tsypin, costumes by Eiko Ishioka, lighting by Donald Holder and sound by Jonathan Deans. The producers are Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle, Martin McCallum, Marvel Entertainment/David Maisel, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Jeremiah Harris, in association with Omneity Entertainment/Richard Weinberg, the Mayerson/Gould/Hauser/Tysoe Group, Patricia Lambrecht and Jam Theatricals/S2BN Entertainment.

James Farwell's The Murder Game, a screwball comedy set in the cut throat world of the New Orleans legal system, involving a killer on the loose, with Michael Praed, Josefina Gabrielle, Matt Healy, Patrick Clancy and Ben Jones, directed by John Tillinger, will open at the King's Head Theatre in Islington on 17th March. The producers are King's Head Theatre Productions in association with Mary Sullivan, John Kotts, Richard Colton and Boysie Bollinger.

Christie's is holding a sale of vintage film posters at 85 Old Brompton Road, London, at 2pm on Wednesday 11th March, with viewing from 7th to 10th March. It will feature over 200 posters of great (and not so great) films across all genres, including Casablanca, The Third Man, The Mummy, Sunset Boulevard, On The Waterfront, La Grande Illusion, Love Me Tender, Bus Stop, La Dolce Vita, Laurence Of Arabia, The Great Escape, Dr Strangelove, The Pink Panther, Blow Up, Bonnie And Clyde and The Graduate, with some unusual items like the Italian version of Breakfast At Tiffany's, the Swedish version of Help! and the Czech version of Yellow Submarine. Further information can be found on the Christie's web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill Gate will include the British premiere of Juan Mayorga's Nocturnal, which centres on two very different men living in the same apartment block who meet one day - but not by accident, directed by Lyndsey Turner, opening on 21st April; and Medea/Medea, a new contemporary version of the Euripides's play about a woman who avenges her husband's betrayal by killing their children, devised and directed by Dylan Tighe, in which performance will interact with pre-recorded images, as part of the Gate/Headlong New Directions initiative to encourage new approaches to classic plays, opening on 21st June. In addition, Press, athlete turned dancer/choreographer Pierre Rigal's solo performance piece exploring how personal space is confined by the pressures of modern life, seen at the Gate in February last year, will transfer to Sadler's Wells on 28th May.

The Rumour Machine says: that Covent Garden will stage the premiere of an opera based on the life of the model Anna Nicole Smith, who married a millionaire 63 years her senior, a parable about celebrity and what it does to people, music by Mark-Anthony Turnage, libretto by Richard Thomas, in the 2011 season; and that The Pet Shop Boys (aka Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe) are working on the score for a dance piece, based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen, choreographed by Javier de Frutos, and directed by Matthew Dunster, which will premiere at Sadler's Wells, also in 2011. The Rumour Machine grinds on.