News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th March 2009

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced the programme for this year's festival, running from 14th August to 6th September, for which booking opens on 4th April. Theatre highlights include Rona Munro's The Last Witch, based on the historical account of the last woman to executed for witchcraft in Scotland, directed by Dominic Hill, a Traverse Theatre production; Malthouse Melbourne performing Optimism, adapted by Tom Wright from Voltaire's Candide, directed by Michael Kantor; Silviu Purcarete's free adaptation of Goethe's Faust, in a large scale promenade production at the Highland Showground; J M Barrie's Peter Pan reimagined as Peter And Wendy by Mabou Mines; and Robert Henryson's epic poem The Testament Of Cresseid performed by Jimmy Yuill, directed by David Levin. Opera highlights include St Kilda, Island Of The Birdmen, directed by Jean-Paul Dessy and Thierry Poquet; and Handspring Puppet Company and Ricercar Consort's production of Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria. Dance highlights include Scottish Ballet with Ian Spink's new version of Petrushka; a new work from the Michael Clark Company set to the music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed; and the Royal Ballet of Flanders performing Christian Spuck's The Return Of Ulysses. Music highlights include Giorgio Battistelli's Fair Is Foul, Foul Is Fair; and Nigel Osbourne's Tiree, performed by the Arditti Quartet. Further information can be found on the EIF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Chichester Festival Theatre production of The Last Cigarette, adapted by Simon Gray and Hugh Whitemore from the final volume of Gray's autobiographical Smoking Diaries, completed shortly before his death, with Felicity Kendal, Nicholas Le Prevost and Jasper Britton, directed by Richard Eyre, will transfer to the Trafalgar Studios 1, opening on 28th April.

Future productions at Trafalgar Studios 2 will include the premiere of Marcus Markou's Ordinary Dreams, a dark comedy of middle class anxiety sparked by recession, taxes, litter and antisocial neighbours, with James Lance and Adrian Bower, directed by Adam Barnard, opening on 14th May, produced by Kat Portman and James Seabright; Orwell - A Celebration, a programme of the work of George Orwell, collated by Dominic Cavendish, opening on 11th June, produced by Doublethink Theatre and The Fish Partnership; and Eight, a group of contemporary monologues, written and directed by Ella Hickson, opening on 8th July, produced by Tantrums Productions.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced that its winter season at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon will begin with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Richard Wilson, Nancy Carroll and Alexandra Gilbreath, directed by Gregory Doran, opening on 21st October; and a revised version of Arabian Nights, adapted and directed by Dominic Cooke, opening on 15th December.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre. Upcoming highlights include Red Balloon, a dance piece created by Aletta Collins, based on Albert Lamorisse's film and children's story, to a score by Mieko Shimizu and Peter Morris, from 9th to 16th April; Shobana Jeyasingh's Just Add Water, a choreographic exploration of how cultural differences can be influenced by an obsession with food and cooking, score by Orlando Gough, from 1st to 6th May; Bern Ballet with Wuthering Heights, choreographed by Cathy Marston, to a scenario by Edward Kemp, music by David Maric, from 27th to 30th May; and the opera Parthenogenesis, music by James MacMillan, libretto by Michael Symmons Roberts, the story of a human clone, raising questions on ethics and human identity, directed by Katie Mitchell, from 11th to 18th June.

Theatre Delicatessen, the company committed to performing in new and unusual spaces, will stage a site specific production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, directed by Jessica Brewster, in a disused and gutted space below Cavendish Gate, 295 Regent Street, from 14th April to 16th May.

David Hare will read Wall, his exploration of the Israel/Palestine separation barrier, directed by Stephen Daldry, at the Royal Court Theatre from 14th to 25th April at 9.30pm, following performances of Wallace Shawn's The Fever.

Forthcoming productions at the Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court will include Country Magic, adapted and directed by Phil Wilmott from Arthur Wing Pinero's The Enchanted Cottage, a love story set in the aftermath of the First World War, with Moir Leslie, Jamie Hinde, Andrew Boxer, Paul Critoph, Daniel Abelson, Sarah Feather, Victoria Gee, Lachlan Nieboer and Nicola Wright, opening on 16th April, a co-production with The Steam Industry; Craig Higginson's Dream Of The Dog, a violent confrontation between a colonial couple and their ex-servant in contemporary South Africa, with Janet Suzman, directed by James Albrecht, opening on 14th May, produced by Carte Blanche Productions; and Sarah Grochala's S-27, the story of a prison photographer in an oppressive military regime, directed by Stephen Keyworth, opening on 11th June, produced by Lifeboat Theatre.

Shout!, the Off Broadway 1960s Swinging London compilation musical, which tells the story of three young girls who arrive in the capital to try their luck in the big city, which played a regional tour last year, with Sue Pollard, directed and choreographed by Bill Deamer, will open at the Arts Theatre on 29th April. It is based on an original idea by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, adapted for British audiences by Julie Balloo.

On The Casting Couch: Gillian Anderson will be joined by

Christopher Eccleston, Tara Fitzgerald, Anton Lesser, Toby Stephens and Maggie Wells in A Doll's House, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 19th May.

American comic, actress, singer and writer Sandra Bernhard will perform a new version of her show Without You I'm Nothing at the Leicester Square Theatre from 26th May to 5th June.

Further events have been announced for the 2nd Manchester International Festival, spanning music, theatre, dance and visual arts, which will run from 2nd to 19th July. Among the 21 new commissions will be the premiere of Punchdrunk's It Felt Like A Kiss, a 'haunted house walk through' experience about the rise to power of America in the golden age of pop, created by Felix Barrett, in collaboration with musician Damon Albarn and documentary film maker Adam Curtis; Marina Abramovic Presents, an epic group show featuring some of the most innovative live performance artists working today, with Abramovic leading a series of encounters between artists and audience; and Young@Heart, a choir made up of senior citizens, and No Theater with End Of The Road, a multimedia piece exploring age, memory and the power of music, directed by Roy Faudree. Around a third of the events will be free, including a number held at a specially constructed theatre stage alongside the Festival Pavilion in Albert Square. Further information can be found on the MIF web site, via link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.