News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th November 2007

Next year's season at Shakespeare's Globe, titled Totus Mundus - thought to have been part of the motto of the original Globe: Totus mundus agit histrionem (The whole world is a playhouse) - will begin earlier than usual, on Shakespeare's birthday, 23rd April. It will comprise: King Lear, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, opening on 29th April; A Midsummer Night's Dream, opening on 21st May; The Merry Wives Of Windsor, directed by Christopher Luscombe, opening on 18th June; and Timon Of Athens, directed by Lucy Bailey, opening on 6th August; plus the premieres of Che Walker's The Frontline, a modern tale of London life on the edge, set on a Saturday night outside Camden tube, opening on 9th July, and Glyn Maxwell's Liberty, an adaptation of Anatole France's novel about a revolutionary magistrate who turns from being a radical idealist to a fanatical apologist for state violence, directed by Guy Retallack, opening on 3rd September. In addition, Footsbarn Theatre will stage A Shakespeare Party, specially conceived for the space of Shakespeare's Globe, from 23rd to 25th May. The separate touring company, performing pared down productions outdoors across the country, will return. This year's production of Romeo And Juliet, directed by Edward Dick, will play further venues, joined by The Winter's Tale, adapted from the Globe's 2005 production, directed by John Dove.

A double bill by Harold Pinter, The Collection, about the repercussions of two fashion designers having a one night stand, and The Lover, in which a husband pretends to be his wife's lover (or doers he?), with Timothy West, Tara Fitzgerald, Richard Coyle and Charlie Cox, directed by Jamie Lloyd, will open at the Comedy Theatre, on 29th January.

New York TheatreNet: Broadway is back in business following an agreement to end the stagehands strike (still to be ratified by union members) which had seen performances in 26 Broadway theatres suspended for 19 days - the longest strike in Broadway history. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. The dispute between the League of American Theaters and Producers, and members of Local One, the Broadway chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, over a new contract that should have been in place last July, centred on 'featherbedding' - guaranteeing the union that a fixed number of workers will be employed when a show is being installed in a theatre - regardless of the complexity of the show. It is estimated that with the knock on effect on the overall New York entertainment economy (including restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and taxis), it cost $17m a day in lost revenue.

Honours were pretty evenly spread in this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards, with the classics making a good showing. The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Macbeth took Best Actor: Patrick Stewart, and Director: Rupert Goold; the National Theatre productions of Saint Joan won Best Actress: Anne-Marie Duff, and War Horse Best Designer: Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company; Complicite's A Disappearing Number was Best Play; and Hairspray took Best Musical. The full list of nominees and winners can be found on the This Is London web site via the link from Guides, in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Further productions have been announced at the Trafalgar Studios 2. A double bill written and directed by Ben Woolf, Angry Young Man, about an Eastern European surgeon arriving in London in search of work and a new life, and the premiere of The Explorer, a story of mystery, deceit and adventure, involving a Victorian gentleman who has a dark secret, from 8th January, produced by MahWaff Theatre Company; Michael Pennington performing Sweet William, his interpretation of the life and work of William Shakespeare, from 4th February; Paul Sellar's World's End, with Merryn Owen, about the break up of a relationship, directed by Paul Robinson, from 20th February, produced by Andy Jordan Productions; Ciaran McConville's Snowbound, in which two brothers help each other to come to terms with bereavement, directed by Samantha Potter, from 12th March, produced by Debut Theatre Company in association with Louise Chantal and Paul Deavin; and Athol Fugard's Hello And Goodbye, the autobiographical play that captures the conflict that emerges when family ties are fully exposed, directed by Paul Robinson, from 22nd April, produced by Treatment Theatre and English Touring Theatre.

The spring season at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith will include Bertolt Brecht's The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui, which satirises the rise of Hitler in Germany through the story of Chicago gangster's takeover of the city's greengrocery trade, in a new version transposed to contemporary Africa, with Lucian Msamati, directed by David Farr, from 15th February; The Seven, created by Will Power from Aeschylus's The Seven Amongst Thebes, fusing rap, 1970's funk, R&B, gospel and blues to explore gang warfare in American cities today, from 9th April; Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, in which the mundane life of a musician is interrupted by the arrival of two sinister strangers, whose intentions grow progressively ominous, from 8th May; and Love, a musical about two elderly people who find love at the end of their lives, from 28th May; plus David Rosenberg's Contains Violence, a site specific performance of a Hitchcockian thriller, where events unfold in windows on the Hammersmith skyline, seen and heard from the Lyric terrace, using audio technology to allow audiences to hear the action in the various locations, from 27th March.

This year's Spitalfields Winter Festival, centred on Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe, runs from 12th to 21st December. The festival explores the sound of the festive season through the centuries, from some of the earliest written Christmas music up to the present day, employing musical forces ranging from local residents and workers at a Community Carol Service and Sing Gospel event, to the Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Calefax, Nonsuch Singers, Dante Quartet and soloists Melvyn Tan, Tasmin Little, Thomas Carroll and Dmitri Ashkenazy. Other venues include Shoreditch Church and Bishopsgate Institute. All this, plus free events, bell ringing, and winter walks and visits around the Spitalfields and Shorditch area. Further information can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link from Festivals, in the Links section of TheatreNet.