News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th October 2010

The London International Mime Festival will run from 15th to 30th January, featuring companies from around the world spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning, juggling and vaudeville, together with a programme of talks and workshops. Performers will include from Spain, Teatro Corsario's 'puppets of terror' in La Maldicion de Poe, based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe; from France, Compagnie 111/Aurelien Bory with Sans Objet, in which an industrial robot co-stars with acrobats Olivier Alenda and Olivier Boyer as the unlikely hero of a futurist fantasy, and Compagnie MPTA/Mathurin Bolze with Du Goudron et des Plumes, in which 5 strangers are thrown together on a vessel adrift between earth and sky; and from Denmark, Paolo Nani and Kristjan Ingimarsson perform The Art Of Dying, a wordless comedy that explores the taboo and the mystery of Life Before Death. Performances will be at the Barbican, ICA, Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House, The Roundhouse and Southbank Centre. Further information can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate in the roles of creator and creature in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein opening at the National Theatre in February.

Following the 29.6% cut to its budget, Arts Council England has announced that it will meet the government's request to limit the cuts to its regularly funded organisations by no more than 15%. 2011/2012 will be a transitional year, with a 6.9% cut for the majority of the 850 arts organisations in its portfolio, which include 200 subsidised theatres and theatre companies. By 2014/15 this will increase to a 14.9% real terms cut to the money available for the regular funding of organisations. Following the transitional year, from April 2012 all regularly funded organisations will be asked to reapply for funding, with decisions made on the basis of a new funding programme. Savings will also be made by reducing funding for touring and audience development, such as Arts and Business and the Creative Partnerships scheme. ACE will cut its operating costs from 22m to 12m by 2015.

The spring season at Sadler's Wells will include the premieres of Zingaro Equestrian Theatre company with The Centaur And The Animal, co-choreographed by Bartabas and Ko Murobushi, featuring 4 horses; and The Most Incredible Thing, a dance work based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, choreographed by Javier de Frutos, to music by the Pet Shop Boys, with Ivan Putrov.

Hackney Empire will reopen with the pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk, written and directed by Susie McKenna, with Clive Rowe, Jaygann Ayeh, Chloe Taylor, Kat B, Abigail Rosser, Tony Whittle, Jennie Dale, David Roberts, Gemma Baird, Cavin Cornwall and the voice of Sharon D Clarke, on 2nd December.

New York TheatreNet: Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo, a darkly comic tale narrated by a tiger held captive in the Baghdad Zoo, played by Robin Williams, following the intertwined lives of two American marines and an Iraqi gardener as they search through the rubble of war for friendship, redemption and a toilet seat made of gold, directed by Moises Kaufman, will open at a Broadway theatre yet to be announced on 31st March. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Northern Ballet is to stage the premiere of Cleopatra, choreographed by David Nixon, to a specially composed score by Claude-Michel Schonberg, about the Egyptian queen who overturned convention and changed the course of history, opening a national tour at the Grand Theatre in Leeds on 26th February.

Horla theatre company will present its family orientated production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, adapted by Joanna Volinska, directed by Alistair Green, at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 21st December to 8th January.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group has sold its Cambridge, Her Majesty's, New London and Palace theatres to a consortium led by Michael Grade and theatrical agent Michael Linnit, for a price of around 50m, with completion expected in January. This leaves RUG with the London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as well as a 50% stake in the Adelphi Theatre, which is co-owned with the American company Nederlander. RUG sold the Lyric, Garrick, Apollo and Duchess theatres to Nimax in 2005 for 11.5m, and its ticketing business See Tickets for an undisclosed sum in 2008 to a subsidiary of Stage Entertainment.

Forthcoming productions at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, the 'National Theatre' of British puppetry, will include Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, adapted by Tim Kane, music and lyrics by Ben Glasstone, directed by Peter O'Rourke, from 20th November; and an accompanying show a show inspired by Carroll's story for children aged from 2 to 5 years, Hold On Mr Rabbit, written and directed by Peter O'Rourke, from 8th December.

Midnight Tango, a new Argentine tango dance show, with a company of 12 dancers headed by Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, will open a national tour at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton on 6th April. The producers are Adam Spiegel and Arlene Phillips.

The Studio Theatre at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm will host the Indefinite Articles production of Pinocchio, adapted by Louise Warren, with Steve Tipladay telling the classic tale using the objects of a carpenter's workshop, with puppetry, shadows and illusion, from 22nd November.


The National Theatre has effectively sold the naming right of its Cottesloe auditorium following a 10m 'gift' from Lloyd Dorfman. When the previously announced redevelopment scheme has been completed it will henceforth be known as the Dorfman. The arts, along with everything and everyone else, are facing hard financial times, but the renaming of theatres or other arts institutions in return for gifts or sponsorship is degrading. It's a further step along the path towards "To be, or not to be? That is the question. Press the red button now". Of course the arts must look for the injection of commercial financial support, but they should not sell their souls. There are lines that should not be crossed - and selling the name of one of the auditoria of the National Theatre crosses it. This is simply disgraceful. In New York, there is now a Broadway theatre named Foxwoods, after a 'Casino Resort' in Connecticut, while the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off Broadway space is a warning of where this leads. Not only is the building called the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, while the auditorium is the Laura Pels Theatre, but the foyer - and even the staircase - have separate names. The naming of a theatre should not be for sale. It should be given in recognition of a person's artistic contribution, not in exchange for how far they have dipped their hand into their pocket.