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Theatre Blogs

05 June 2020

Theatre Blogs

UK Theatre Blogs

05 June 2020

UK Theatre Blogs
  • Chicago the musical UK Tour 2021 – dates announced
    05 June 2020

    By Douglas Mayo

    Chicago the Musical UK Tour returns in 2021. Kander and Ebb’s musical vaudeville starts at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre in March 2021.

    Chicago the musical UK Tour is back in 2021. The award-winning musical is set to wow audiences around the UK.

    Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

    Created by the musical theatre talents of John Kander, Fred Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, Chicago the musical’s sexy, sassy score includes the show-stopping songs “Razzle Dazzle”, “Cell Block Tango”, and “All That Jazz”. Winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy, Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway and West End history.

    Since it opened in New York in 1996, Chicago has played in 36 countries worldwide, and been performed in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Danish, Japanese and Korean. Worldwide it has been seen by an estimated 33 million people, grossed over $1.7 billion has played over 32,500 performances.

    Chicago the musical, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The 1996 Broadway revival of Chicago was choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, and produced by Barry and Fran Weissler.

    CHICAGO THE MUSICAL UK TOUR 2021

    12 – 20 March 2021
    BIRMINGHAM Alexandra Theatre
    On sale 18 June

    22 – 27 March 2021
    SUNDERLAND Empire Theatre
    On sale 18 June

    29 March – 3 April 2021
    LIVERPOOL Empire
    On sale 18 June

    6 – 10 April 2021
    New Victoria Theatre, WOKING
    On sale 18 June

    12 – 17 April 2021
    MILTON KEYNES Theatre
    On sale 18 June

    19 – 24 April 2021
    EASTBOURNE Congress Theatre
    On sale 12 June

    27 April – 1 May 2021
    Hawth Theatre CRAWLEY
    On sale 19 June

    3 – 8 May 2021
    Princess Theatre TORQUAY
    On sale 18 June

    10 – 15 May 2021
    Wales Millennium Centre, CARDIFF
    On Sale Soon

    17 – 22 May 2021
    Palace Theatre, MANCHESTER
    On sale 18 June

    24 – 29 May 2021
    Eden Court Theatre INVERNESS
    On sale 12 June

    31 May – 5 June 2021
    SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion
    On sale 12 June

    28 June – 3 July 2021
    Regent Theatre STOKE
    On sale 18 June

    5 – 10 July 2021
    Regent Theatre IPSWICH
    On sale 19 June

    12 – 17 July 2021
    BRISTOL Hippodrome
    On sale 18 June

    9 – 14 August 2021
    PLYMOUTH Theatre Royal
    On sale soon

    4 – 9 October 2021
    Derngate Theatre NORTHAMPTON
    On sale 12 June

    8 – 13 November 2021
    HULL New Theatre
    On sale 12 June

    16 – 20 November 2021
    Mayflower Theatre SOUTHAMPTON
    On sale 12 June 202

    Join our mailing list for updates

    Tour page

    This post Chicago the musical UK Tour 2021 – dates announced first appeared on British Theatre. Hurrah!

  • ‘We don’t have an indefinite ability to keep going’: Park Theatre’s Jez Bond on the importance of the government’s furlough scheme
    05 June 2020

    During lockdown, with theatres up and down the country and around the world closed for the foreseeable future, I’ve been catching up with industry figures to see how they’re getting by. Here’sJez Bond, artistic director of London’s Park Theatre.

    Talking to… the Park Theatre

    It was an absolute sadness to close – we had two of the most successful shows in our history running – Corpse and La Cage aux Folles (I’d wanted to do that for 15 years). We had just got our fourth Olivier nomination. So much work was put into it. I was really staggered to be reminded of how much we’ve done in the community. We went to the local restaurants the day we closed, and they were empty. Seven years ago when we built the Park, none of those restaurants were there.

    And then we closed and the whole street became desolate. You think: we’ve spent seven years building to this point and three years to open the thing, changed the area and culture of the place, and in the snap of the fingers, it’s a ghost town like it was 10 years ago. That was quite sad. We will continue and come back strong, though.

    We’ve furloughed most people and there’s a small team working from home, doing financial planning and keeping a marketing and social media presence. We were at a stage where the financial committee on our board were looking at the figures and saying ‘This is scary, once we get past the end of May, we will go past the point of no return for solvent liquidation. If we then had to close, we would have to do so insolvently. Therefore, as trustees of a responsible charity seeing that date is coming up ahead we have to act now.’

    Certain members of the board felt that one of the things to do would be to liquidate immediately while there was still money in the bank and the debts could be paid. Rachael [Williams, the executive director] and I were keen not to do that. Whatever happens in the short term, the Park is there for the future. We felt a duty not just to our community, patrons and volunteers but our staff as well – to try and keep going so we could put them on the furlough scheme and not throw them out on the street where they’d all be on universal credit. This was about 6-7 weeks ago, a couple of weeks into lockdown. So I got on the phone – for 48 hours from 9 in the morning to 10 at night, two days straight, I raised over £300k, calling every single person I knew who had a bit of cash and loved Park theatre. Whether they had been a high-level friend, been a member of the producer circle, got a table at a gala, all those people; it was a phenomenal result. It enabled us to go back to the finance committee and say with some certainty ‘We can survive this through to the end of the year’.

    Survive it and come out really wounded in January, though, having depleted all our reserves, our production fund (the pot of money we can produce our work from). We would come out staggering but we would have kept our heads above the water.

    What we want to do is come out and have the same artistic and community output as when we closed our doors, doing all our access programmes, our community outreach work, the dementia group, work with older and younger people. We want to come back as strong as we were – so we are still significantly short of the target. We’ve got £35k from the Arts Council which is great, from that pot for the non NPOs. We’ve done a ‘go fund me’ campaign which has targeted everyone who wants to give a fiver and a tenner etc – we’ve raised another £50k there. We’re close to £400k all in all. But if we’re going to come out of it not wounded in January we’re going to need another £100k, otherwise we’re talking about what Park might look like then. Could it be we don’t have the long hours of our community café space, maybe there are cuts that have to be made there – and the access programme would be in jeopardy as I say. So we’re £100k off being able to continue where we left off.

    In a normal year we have to raise a minimum of £300k – that’s with income from everything else. We will get money from theatre rentals if it’s a guest producer or from box-office if it’s an in-house show, from the café bar and any ancillary event. That plus £300k fund-raised gets us to break-even, so our annual budget is about £1.2m. Now we don’t have all the usual expenditure of course and we’re using the furlough scheme but we have still a cash burn and costs and some staff we can’t furlough.

    It is critical that furlough scheme. We can’t turn the taps back on at a moment’s notice. We have to deliver an effective marketing campaign, we need time to mobilise and get the building up and running. You can’t just stop the furlough scheme and go back to working the next day. They’re now talking about employers’ contributions which would put us in stormier waters again. This is the toughest thing in all of this – the uncertainty and not being able to plan. When we first closed, we did different scenario plans – and you could spend your whole day doing that, but then the next day something comes up in the news, and it changes. But at the moment we’re looking at a January and an April opening scenario – we are imagining that within that we would have to cover three months of running costs up to the opening.

    So in our January scenario we are assuming the government stops the furlough scheme and we would pay for Oct-Nov-Dec – and in our April scenario we would be paying for Jan-Feb-March. It’s very, very tricky – so we hope that perhaps there will be a new pot coming in for our sector that enables us to make use of the furlough scheme all the way through, without us having to scenario plan to cover the last three months, bearing the expenses on our own. To pay 20-30 per cent of it would change things massively – it’s hard to predict. And it’s hard to predict what the appetite is going to be when people return. One school of thought is that people will be hungry for live entertainment, another is that the majority of theatre-savvy audiences are an older audience who will be more vulnerable and therefore more cautious about going out into a group environment.

    Certain sections of the audience may be affected by the financial pinch too – those three trips a year turn into two or even one. It’s very hard to predict – there’s a lot of stuff about social distancing theatre. Part of me is uninterested in talking about that. The reason we love it is that you are in the same room, breathing the same air as these actors, sitting in Maureen Lipman’s living room etc – you are experiencing this magical immediacy. One could do Zoom readings and so on but for me that’s not theatre, it’s a hybrid. I’m excited about the time when we can be in the same room, in the same air again.

    Have we given up on this year? We would be ready and willing to go if we got the green light but we’ve given up on it in that we’re not expecting that to be the case. We are resigned to the fact that we should think about January onwards in terms of where we need to sit it all our heads.

    We don’t have an indefinite ability to keep going. We haven’t looked beyond April but my biggest fear has been the second wave and that government guidance would force us into opening too early. I said even as far back as two months ago: my hope is that we’re going to open next year. My fear is that if we open this year, then coming into flu season we will have to close again, and that could kill us, with the opening costs and the closing costs that could be the death of all our organisations. It’s cheaper in the long run to wait a little bit longer, knuckle down and know that even if it’s two months further on, we open and we’re staying open. Open and close again and I think we’re screwed.

    Donate to the Park here and here

     

    The post Summer 2020: Off West End/ fringe appeared first on Critical Muse – Dominic Cavendish.

  • NEWS: National Theatre at Home screens Mark Gatiss in Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III
    05 June 2020

    Alan Bennett’s epic multi-award-winning drama The Madness of George III, starring Mark Gatiss in the title role, will be streamed from next Thursday 11 June 2020 via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel as part of National Theatre at Home.

    The 2018 broadcast from Nottingham Playhouse marked the first collaboration between the two organisations and is the first production from outside of London to be streamed as part of the National Theatre at Home series. The production will be available to watch on-demand for seven days.

    Directed by Nottingham Playhouse’s Artistic Director Adam Penford, the cast includes Olivier award-winners Mark Gatiss (Dracula, The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who) and Adrian Scarborough (Gavin and Stacey, Upstairs Downstairs, After the Dance), alongside Debra Gillett (Call the Midwife, Doctor Who).

    It’s 1788 and George III is one of the most powerful men in the world, but his behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic as his mind unravels at a dramatic pace. As the Queen and Prime Minister attempt to hide the king’s illness, ambitious politicians and a scheming prince begin a power struggle, endangering the stability of the crown.

    The Madness of George III was first performed at the National Theatre in 1991 before being turned into an Oscar and BAFTA-winning film, The Madness of King George starring Nigel Hawthorne, in 1994.

    National Theatre at Home is available for free but viewers are invited to make a donation to support the National Theatre. Money donated via YouTube for The Madness of George III will be shared with Nottingham Playhouse’s Curtain Up Appeal.

    More productions for National Theatre at Home will be announced at a later date.

    About National Theatre at Home

    National Theatre at Home launched in April in response to theatre and cinema closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To date, since its launch, nine productions have been streamed for free via YouTube to an audience of millions. With the closure of theatres set to continue for some time, the future of the industry for artists and organisations remains uncertain. The National Theatre has, in agreement with Equity, committed to pay all artists and creatives involved with productions streamed as part of National Theatre at Home.

    I’ve got @BBCPM on in the background now to hear @MarkGatiss‘ full interview with @EvanHD about @NottmPlayhouse, #NationalTheatreAtHome screening + why we must #SupportOurUKTheatres.

    Another great advocate for our beloved industry. Thanks, Mark! #bbcpm pic.twitter.com/hTVF4thIId

    — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) June 4, 2020

  • Michael Clark at the Barbican
    05 June 2020
    Art
    The first major exhibition of dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. This exploration of Clark’s work establishes his radical presence in British cultural history.

    Friday 12 June - Sunday 30 August.

    Looking back to his meteoric rise as a young choreographer in the 1980s, the exhibition presents a comprehensive vision of Clark’s career to date. It will showcase his unique multi-disciplinary approach that incorporates a wide range of subcultural influences. Film, photography, and material from Clark’s practice will be presented alongside his legendary collaborations across visual arts, music, fashion and film.

    Fri, 12/06/2020 - 10:00
    18
    Price details:
    £15 (mon-Fri) | £17 (Sat-Sun) + £3 booking fee
  • Parliamentary power plays: Considering This House & other recent political dramas (not just by James Graham!)
    04 June 2020

    When it was first performed in 2012 James Graham’s This House was an affectionate satire, using its 1970s setting to examine the still young Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government formed in 2010. The shoring-up of minority governments opens all kinds of dramatic possibilities as the ruling parties use every trick in the book to ensure their legislative agenda survives while the Opposition, with the scent of blood in their nostrils, knows their hour is soon to come.

    Setting This Housein 1974-1979, Graham situated his very contemporary play in the last UK coalition when the dying embers of the Labour government offered ample comedic examples of beleaguered MPs, frustrated Whips and savage backbiting to dramatise. It was, however, clearly a play that is optimistic about the Parliamentary process suggesting, for all its faults, it is among the strongest and most respected democratic systems in the world.

    Eight years on, it is hard to think so as a weak Conservative government struggled to manage Brexit negotiations and the House as its own members turned against the Prime Minister. The last election may have delivered a stronger mandate but the democratic process has been actively besieged in the last 12 months as Parliament and judiciary fought to prevent the PM from proroguing his own Parliament and ignite his own form of Personal Rule (that worked out so well for Charles I!), while the muddles and deceptions of lockdown have only emphasised the untold influence of shady advisors – the modern-day equivalent of evil counselors – who seek to bypass due process in the increasingly hollow-sounding name of “the people”.

    Undoubtedly still a wonderful play, this National Theatre at Home streaming of This House arrives at a peculiar moment in our history, one that has altered the context around the play and its general political optimism. Recent years have shown us that truth is most certainly stranger than fiction, and that perhaps all hope of eventual rebalance may be gone. So where does this leave the Parliamentary play?

    In the last ten years, aside from Laura Wade’s Posh about the making of the men who’ve led us during that time and satirical Fringe pieces about Brexit or big personalities like Boris Johnson, there have been only four significant plays about the nature of government, political parties and the operational democratic process – This House and Labour of Love both by Graham, David Hare’s I’m Not Running and Simon Woods’s Hansard.

    The success of these plays has been variable and with three-quarters of them produced by the National Theatre, there has been a collective nod to the failure of our two-party system to adequately reflect the views and needs of the nation. Parliament, it seems from these plays, is ruled by personality, faction and self-interested powerplay intended to disguise the weakness of leadership or pave the way for a fresher-looking successor. By contrast, the kind of politics the nation cares about is issue-driven – investment in education or the NHS, declining technological output and the more divisive issues of immigration and European unity. These stories tell us that the gap between those who lead and the electorate feels wider than ever while providing little hope, as things stand, of coming together.

    The Failure to Govern

    Nowhere has this been more clearly elucidated than in 2019’s Hansard, a fascinating two-hander between a Conservative government minister and his frustrated left-leaning wife whose Albee-esque marriage seems to reflect the division at the heart of British politics and its failure to serve the nation. The 90-minute conversation between Robin (Alex Jennings) and Diana (Lindsay Duncan) swirls continually around the fundamental purpose of government; whether to create a structure in which people can and should help themselves or to develop a more interventionist programme that insists on social support for the most vulnerable. Set in 1988 at the time of the Section 28 vote, Hansard ably dramatises the gap between government and governing in which the need to stay in power by obeying the party line overrides and is often the key reason to exercise power – an instance we see repeatedly in This House as Labour’s weakened Whips office focuses entirely on “the business of deals” to maintain their regime.

    Labour of Love says much the same as Graham unpicks the central versus local party struggle across a number of years in a single constituency. Parachuting-in rising star David Lyons (Martin Freeman) to cut his teeth in a safe Labour seat becomes the conduit for excavating the  particular divisions within the Labour Party since Tony Blair’s sweeping election victory in 1997 and the increasing struggle to contain the traditional, leftist Trade Union elements of the grassroots party and reconcile it with the centrist – and ultimately more electable – promotional politics of the Blair era. But what this play really does is to expose the increasing distance between the metropolitan and arguably globally-focused centre of politics in London and the needs of constituency members across the country – a division made painfully obvious in the 2016 Brexit vote and ongoing fallout.

    As with Hansard, there is an irreconcilable problem in which high-level government policy becomes so removed from the realities of society to be almost meaningless to the vast majority of people, while communities cry out for specific local services under threat from high-level policy. One thing that made Lynn Nottage’s Sweat so resonant was exactly that understanding of the huge distance between national political agendas and their consequences for everyday lives.

    David Hare’s 2019 play I’m Not Running received mixed reviews as a dramatic exercise, but it also focused on the Labour Party over a number of years, considering the rise and subsequent failure of leadership in scenes of deal-making and double-crossing redolent of This House.  The introduction of a central romantic relationship between Sian Brooke’s Pauline Gibson and Alex Hassell’s Jack Gould takes some of the same pathways as Hansard in using a personal connection to examine a political divide. Hare’s play splits along two lines, looking at the selection of the party leader and the internal rivalries that so often detract from the business of governing, as well as the overall failure within the Labour Party in particular to reconcile its ideological and procedural arms as its management rolls between issue-based and career politicians.

    The Cult of Legacy

    Power is intoxicating and given a taste of it, few administrations will easily relinquish their position. One key driver of this is the obsession with legacy, of leaving behind a series of society-changing measures or leading the country through a period of crisis. Sadly for the governed, Prime Ministers who set out to assure their place in history rarely do for the right reasons, and often make the worst leaders. We see some discussion of this in Hansard as MP Robin uses the political record as his primary guide to decision-making, concerned how his voting record will look to history as well as how it could damage his chances of advancement within the party.

    This House worries about this too as the ailing Labour government limps on, the Whips in this case determined to pass legislation that will keep their administration afloat for the full term. Rather than setting course for a positive place in history based on its reforming programme, its only goal becomes not going down in history as a government ousted by a vote of no confidence. Staying in power and preventing the opposing Conservative team from leading the House becomes the primary motivation, hoping that history will turn a blind eye to the shoddy tactics and increasingly desperate scrabbling for votes that characterised this Parliamentary session.

    Even in Labour of Love, David must choose between blandly supporting the central party and its personable leader at all costs, or giving-up any thought of his own progress and promotion in order to make a stand for his community. With a focus on the debate between electability and principle that divide the Labour Party, the question of political and individual legacy is examined through this play’s time-travelling structure. Told in reverse chronological order from 2017 to 1990 and then back again, Graham’s drama looks at the consequences of legacy decisions over time, with MP David pre-determining his own contribution to political life by mapping out a rise through the ranks that will take him from safe seat to Minister, knowing all the while – like the characters of This House – that his rosy future depends on toeing the line and keeping his party in power at all costs. The consequences David learns are felt in local politics where the needs of the constituency are sacrificed to the futile attempts to second guess what history will make of the party’s time in power.

    This House in 2020

    Eight years on the sands have certainly shifted which casts This House in something of a different light. It remains a brilliantly constructed, whip smart and hilarious theatrical experience, one of the great plays of the last 10 years that pulls you into its story, never shying away from the complexity of the political situation and its consequences for democracy, yet still creating empathy and understanding for people on all sides however wittily portrayed. But, it reminds us of something we seem to have lost, where once our elected officials appeared to work within the established system, inventively stretching it to the limits but still respecting the boundaries, very recent political manoeuvering has seemed intent on bypassing the system entirely. Whatever side of the political divide you sit on – left or right, Conservative or Labour, Brexit or Remain or somewhere in between – an enduring faith in our democratic system and most importantly the institution of Parliament has been fundamentally wounded by the events of the last four years. Watching This House again thus became an almost nostalgic experience, one that makes us mourn slightly for a time when everyone respected the rules and agreed to play by them.

    Graham’s work has always been so good at taking the temperature of our times, examining the centres of power within society and asking big questions about how and why our structures operate as they do, as well as the consequences for the individuals they effect whether the focus is the nature of justice and trial by media in Quiz or the wave of populist energy that quickly spun out of control created by the liberation of the newspaper industry in Ink. This House is essentially an optimistic play, about the ability of Parliament to right itself eventually. Any fundamental and permanent damage to our democracy inflicted by the last four years remains to be seen, but if a rumoured follow-up to This House is in the works, we can be sure Graham will be there to make sense of it for us.

    This House is freely available on the National Theatre at Home channel until 4 June. Follow this blog on Twitter @culturalcap1 or Facebook: Cultural Capital Theatre Blog

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  • Why do theatres deserve to be saved? How do you measure worth?
    04 June 2020

    I love the theatre, past and present, in all forms, now and forever.

    I’ve been going since I was a child, first to the Coliseum and Grange Arts Centre in Oldham, then to Manchester’s Palace and Opera House, Library, Royal Exchange, Contact, and RNCM, then while living in Yorkshire to the theatres of Leeds (Grand, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Civic), Bradford Sheffield, Huddersfield, Ilkley, Harrogate and York. I holidayed far too many times in Blackpool not to miss the delights of shows on the Pier.

    I’ve travelled to Nottingham to see Ian McKellen as Richard III, to Liverpool to see Antony Sher as Cyrano. I spent years planning my week away in Stratford upon Avon so I could see eight productions from the RSC in one go. I made two trips each year to see plays or musicals in the West End, catching Judi Dench, Alec McCowen, and more.

    I discovered the National’s musicals and Shakespeare, visited Hammersmith and a few other fringe spots, and when I moved to London I hoovered up the tourist traps like The Mousetrap. I’ve watched plays, musicals, comedy, cabaret, dance, opera and more. I even watched the chapel pantomime each Christmas, being dragged up on stage more than once.

    I’ve laughed and cried at the theatre, I’ve been entertained and disturbed, I’ve developed a core of likes (people, companies, shows) that I always go back to, but I also like to be challenged, surprised, and provoked.

    And eventually I started reviewing: big shows, medium shows, small shows. Slowly my focus began to change as I found one more small venue, one more hard-working company, one more show which wasn’t a tired revival or a long-runner I’d seen too many times before.

    Theatre is in jeopardy in all its forms. Of course the West End, the commercial centre of the UK’s arts in terms of profit, has shouted loudest. The National and the Royal Opera House have joined forces with the RSC to make a bid for public money. Shakespeare’s Globe – a unique outdoor venue complimented by a candlelit second space – is in trouble.

    But while these behemoths tower over their smaller neighbours (the Soho and the Boulevard behind the glitz of Shaftesbury Avenue; Jermyn Street off Piccadilly Circus; the Union, Vaults, and Waterloo East either side of “the Vics”; the Tristan Bates and Donmar at Seven Dials), they are no more or less precious.

    I posed a question on Twitter about whether the long-running shows of the West End would be missed. There are 38 theatres in Theatreland of which more than a third have shows that have run longer than five years. Ultimately, these venues are lost to new or revived work.

    I appreciate these bring a lot of money into the economy and that they employ a lot of people. I don’t deny that people still want to see the shows but how many have toured outside the capital? How many are, and I say this with a bit of sadness, a shadow of their former selves?

    I just wonder how the freshness I see across the fringe and off-West End spaces can get a foothold in this prime set of venues? The announced closure of Trafalgar Studio 2 to return that space to one house is sad news indeed for small-scale shows looking to transfer; for many even that venue was beyond financial possibility.

    If the pandemic crisis means tough decisions have to be made to save the arts across the board, I understand that. But let it not be just a question of how much a piece of art generates in profit, or let that commercial model’s profit be shared in such a way that regions benefit, that fringe spaces have some scope to grow, that education programmes, training programmes, and experimental innovation is valued.

    I don’t agree that the industry is necessarily saturated by productions nobody wants to see. I believe each space has its traditional audience, and many theatres and companies are not widely known to those who see “theatre” as The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, and Hamilton.

    Those visiting the Victoria Palace could always take a detour to the mischievously named Other Palace where the downstairs studio has staged numerous scratch performances and showcases for new musicals. Those who make it as far as King’s Cross have the New Diorama or Camden’s People’s Theatre to discover, dance shows at The Place, concerts at the Shaw.

    Some smaller theatres have banded together to present an open letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers to ask for support for the 70% of people in the industry who can be defined this way, with signatories including the Almeida in Islington, the Bush in Shepherd’s Bush, the Gate in Notting Hill, the Curve in Leicester, the Cockpit in Marylebone, the Yard in Hackney Wick.

    The London pub theatre scene, where 30-90 people at most see each show, but where vibrant comedy, musical and dramatic creations flourish, are also working together. These are far from new spaces, and their budgets are meagre, their margins tiny. But I wouldn’t like to see their fringe festival in Camden and Clapham disappear.

    Libraries, churches, saunas, railway arches, even buses and crates, have become places where people come together to create work, share it, experience it. Whether in a place like this, or in the gods of a Victorian theatre rich in heritage and history, it is magical to be in the dark sharing that moment.

    All theatre is precious, whether commercial, community or collective. I would love to see a model in which the top of the industry, the star-led, multi-million pound fraction of the UK theatre scene, supports the rest, through collaboration, opportunity (one actor on Twitter remarked that “the lift should be sent back down”, which seemed an apt way to describe it).

    Streaming shows over the past few weeks has given unprecedented opportunity to many outlets to share or create work and shout “here I am”. Watching at home you can travel round the world if you wish, and if you want to venture further than NT Live, there are many opportunities to do so.

    But how to keep that visibility going? How to “save everything, then choose”? The government stance appears to be that the arts is on its own and needs to prove its worth. I think, and hope, it has over many years of serving towns, topics and communities. I want to see female-led theatre, black theatre, queer theatre, inclusive theatre, immersive theatre, and all its forms survive.

    It has to. It must do. Please help donate to any and every space that is important to you if you are able to do so. If you can’t spare a donation, then keep talking, sharing, celebrating, supporting. Keep those conversations going. Talk across those barriers between different kinds of space and focus. Support each other and save each other.

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  • London theatres closures extended until 2 August 2020
    03 June 2020

    By Douglas Mayo

    The Society Of London Theatres has extended London theatre closures due to COVID-19 until 2 August 2020.

    The Society Of London Theatres has today advised that theatres will remain closed until at least 2 August with some choosing to stay closed for longer.

    The statement reads as follows:-

    “London’s West End looks forward to welcoming audiences back into our theatres. We are working closely with the government to explore ways in which we can safely reopen.

    “To give our customers clarity and help us operationally, we have been cancelling performances across the West End on a rolling month by month basis since the start of lockdown.

    “Every show is now extending cancellations until Sunday 2 August, certain shows may decide to extend this cancellation period and producers will make their own statement as appropriate for their shows.

    “Ticketholders for affected performances do not need to do anything. They will be contacted by the organisation from which they bought their tickets to arrange a refund, credit note or exchange for a later date.

    “This does not mean theatres will reopen on 3 August, and further cancellations will continue to be announced on a rolling basis. The decision to reopen theatres will be made based on government and scientific advice on gatherings and events. Different theatres and productions are likely to reopen at different times

    “We are grateful to customers for the continued patience and kindness they are showing during this challenging time for our industry. With 300,000 people visiting West End theatres in a normal week, it remains a major undertaking to process refunds, exchanges and credit notes, particularly when many staff are working remotely. Please rest assured that we are all working as quickly as we can, and we appreciate the continued support and understanding of our audiences.”

    Read the full statement on London Theatre closures here.

    This post London theatres closures extended until 2 August 2020 first appeared on British Theatre. Hurrah!

  • The Great Gatsby to re-open in West End in October.
    03 June 2020

    By Douglas Mayo

    Producers are to trial the re-opening of immersive shows this autumn with The Great Gatsby from 1st October 2020. Oliver Towse in The Great Gatsby. Photo: Helen Maybanks

    The Guild of Misrule and Immersive Everywhere’s critically acclaimed The Great Gatsby, created and directed by Alexander Wright- which had previously set a record as the UK’s longest-running immersive production – is planning to re-open at West End venue IMMERSIVE | LDN on Thursday 1st October 2020. As with all UK theatres and productions, the show was forced to close down in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK shutdown.

    Olivier Award-winning producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook have re-imagined and re-set the production as an Art Deco Masquerade Ball, with audience members wearing compulsory face coverings to complement their fabulous attire.

    The capacity of the venue will be significantly reduced to help patrons – coming as individuals or in household groups – to keep a safe distance from others; and the nature of the show means that audience members can choose where they stand and move throughout the performance, naturally enabling social distancing. The show content is being altered and updated to avoid any activity that would be considered high risk, and the actors will be further trained to keep groups of audience following the story, whilst remaining at a safe distance.

    Amongst other measures to ensure full compliance with government Covid-Secure guidelines, temperature checks will be undertaken for audience and staff on arrival. The venue will be deep cleaned before and after every performance, bar equipment sterilised, and hand sanitisers will be available throughout the venue.

    The Producers are confident that smaller-scale immersive productions are inherently suited to social distancing measures and will be able to open safely in that time frame, complying with the expected government guidelines on mass gatherings, social distancing and good hygiene practices. The hope is that the immersive nature of The Great Gatsby might enable it to be the first long-running show to responsibly re-open in 2020.

    The Producers are also planning for the eventuality that the show can’t proceed, or individual patrons can’t attend and are offering a no-questions-asked exchange policy.

    These Covid-Secure policies will be under continuous review and are by no means exhaustive – any additional measures recommended will be adopted as appropriate.

    BOOK TICKETS FOR THE GREAT GATSBY

    This post The Great Gatsby to re-open in West End in October. first appeared on British Theatre. Hurrah!

  • NEWS: SOLT issues update for West End ticketholders, rolling cancellations extended to 2 August 2020
    03 June 2020

    The lateststatement from the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) – on behalf of the major commercial West End theatre operators – has been issued today (3 June 2020), confirming that theatres will remain closed until at least 2 August 2020, with updates on subsequent cancellations issued on a rolling basis.

    Here’s the full statement:

    “London’s West End looks forward to welcoming audiences back into our theatres. We are working closely with the government to explore ways in which we can safely reopen.

    “To give our customers clarity and help us operationally, we have been cancelling performances across the West End on a rolling month by month basis since the start of lockdown.

    “Every show is now extending cancellations until Sunday 2 August. Certain shows may decide to extend this cancellation period, and producers will make their own statement as appropriate for their shows.

    “Ticketholders for affected performances do not need to do anything. They will be contacted by the organisation from which they bought their tickets to arrange a refund, credit note or exchange for a later date.

    “This does not mean theatres will reopen on 3 August; and further cancellations will continue to be announced on a rolling basis. The decision to reopen theatres will be made based on government and scientific advice on gatherings and events.

    “Different theatres and productions are likely to reopen at different times.

    “We are grateful to customers for the continued patience and kindness they are showing during this challenging time for our industry. With 300,000 people visiting West End theatres in a normal week, it remains a major undertaking to process refunds, exchanges and credit notes, particularly when many staff are working remotely.

    “Please rest assured that we are all working as quickly as we can, and we appreciate the continued support and understanding of our audiences.”

    Latest official extension from @SOLTnews means that all #WestEnd shows will remain closed until at least 2 Aug. Look out for more show-by-show announcements about longer cancellation periods.

    Further rolling closures. #ST #SF #theatrelockdown pic.twitter.com/J5UlajJOVM

    — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) June 3, 2020

  • NEWS: Immersive Great Gatsby aims to reopen in re-imagined, socially distanced form in Oct
    03 June 2020

    The Guild of Misrule and Immersive Everywhere’s critically acclaimed The Great Gatsby, which had previously set a record as the UK’s longest-running immersive production, is planning to re-open atImmersive | Ldn in Mayfair on 1 October 2020.

    As with all UK theatres and productions, the show was forced to close down in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK shutdown. Olivier Award-winning producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook have re-imagined and re-set the production, created and directed by Alexander Wright, as an Art Deco Masquerade Ball, with audience members wearing compulsory face coverings to complement their fabulous attire.

    The capacity of the venue will be significantly reduced to help patrons – coming as individuals or in household groups – to keep a safe distance from others; and the nature of the show means that audience members can choose where they stand and move throughout the performance, naturally enabling social distancing. The show content is being altered and updated to avoid any activity that would be considered high risk, and the actors will be further trained to keep groups of audience members following the story, whilst remaining at a safe distance.

    Amongst other measures to ensure full compliance with government Covid-Secure guidelines, temperature checks will be undertaken for audience and staff on arrival. The venue will be deep cleaned before and after every performance, bar equipment sterilised, and hand sanitisers will be available throughout the venue.

    The producers are confident that smaller-scale immersive productions are inherently suited to social distancing measures and will be able to open safely in that time frame, complying with the expected government guidelines on mass gatherings, social distancing and good hygiene practices. The hope is that the immersive nature of The Great Gatsby might enable it to be the first long-running show to responsibly reopen in 2020.

    The producers are also planning for the eventuality that the show can’t proceed, or individual patrons can’t attend and are offering a no-questions-asked exchange policy.

    These Covid-Secure policies will be under continuous review and are by no means exhaustive – any additional measures recommended will be adopted as appropriate.

    Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook said today:

    “We want to offer something for people to look forward to following this extended lockdown. Our show has several inherent features that make it safer than a trip to the supermarket, so we’re embracing that and innovating. Hopefully, we can provide a blueprint for other productions to open safely and be part of the process of restoring employment and the economy of the creative industries.

    “Naturally, public health is the highest priority of all, and this will be the driving force behind all of our decisions. We’re implementing a no-questions-asked exchange policy so that if circumstances change, whether in general or for any individual, our patrons will be fully protected. We would like to thank our landlord, Grosvenor Estates, and our producing partners and investors for their creativity, camaraderie and continued support.”

    The Great Gatsby was the UK’s longest-running immersive production

    About the show

    First conceived in 2015 when director Alexander Wright and producer Brian Hook were running The Fleeting Arm, a pop-up arts and community pub in an abandoned building in York. The show then ran in York in 2016 with a parallel production in Sheffield, and was produced by the Guild of Misrule. The Great Gatsby first came to London as part of VAULT Festival in 2017 and sold out before the show opened.

    Since then the show has run in Wales in co-production with Theatr Clwyd, at Halifax’s Square Chapel, and at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. All the while the show has played night after night at Gatsby’s Drugstore in London SE1, inviting audiences into the hedonistic world of F Scott Fitzgerald’s tale, and in 2018 it became the UK’s longest-running immersive production.

    Amie Burns Walker and Oliver Tilney are Associate Directors. Choreography is by Holly Beasley-Garrigan, design by Casey Jay Andrews, costume design by Heledd Rees, sound design by Phil Grainger and lighting design by Rachel Sampley. The original score was composed and produced by Glen Brown and Tendai Humphrey Sitima, with arrangement and additional composition by David Sims. The original production was created by Holly Beasley-Garrigan, Amie Burns Walker, Hannah Davies, Phil Grainger, Michael Lambourne, Thomas Maller and Oliver Tilney.

    Jay Gatsby invites you to one of his infamous large parties. The champagne flows, and as the drama unfolds, the man himself will be the perfect host. A hedonistic world of red hot rhythms, bootleg liquor and pure jazz age self-indulgence. 

    Olivier Award-winning producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook, who are also co-producing the immersive production of Doctor Who Time Fracture, launched a new company in 2019, Immersive Everywhere, entirely dedicated to developing and staging theatre-led immersive experiences. Immersive | Ldn is the newest of their network of venues, which will house cafes, bars and rehearsal and workshop spaces to help the development of new work.

    Immersive | Ldn is a 32,000sq ft historic building in the heart of Mayfair, which was home to the Queen Victoria’s Rifles Association until 2017. It includes three floors of immersive theatre and event spaces designated for performance, live gaming, events, escape rooms and private parties.

    This new production of The Guild of Misrule’s The Great Gatsby is produced by Immersive Everywhere with co-producer Gavin Kalin Productions, and with Glynis Henderson Productions, Theatr Clwyd, We Culture Connects and Damier NV as Associate Producers.

    .@ImmersiveLDN will be deep-cleaned before & after every @ImmersiveGatsby perf, equipment sterilised, hand sanitisers throughout.

    Producers acknowledge this is a ‘trial’. With contingency planning – inc no-questions-asked exchanges – in eventuality that show can’t proceed. pic.twitter.com/Bw30KsfbLU

    — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) June 3, 2020

Theatre Podcast

05 June 2020

Theatre Podcast
  • Today on Broadway: Friday, June 5, 2020
    05 June 2020
    “Slave Play” Donates $10,000 to National Bailout Fund, More Responses From Black Actors About Racism in Theatre, and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition Launches a New Anti-Racism Forum “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is read more
  • Today on Broadway: Thursday, June 4, 2020 & Kris Kukul
    04 June 2020
    Open Your Lobby Campaign Launched, “Hairspray” Closes Casting Loophole, “Liz Swados Project” MD Kris Kukul “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is appreciated: Ashley Steves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @NoThisIsAshley James Marino This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @JamesMarino Matt read more
  • I Wanna Be Ready - Spotlight on Alvin Ailey
    03 June 2020

    When it comes to the performing arts and certainly to dance, there are few people more worthy of admiration, of inspiration and imitation than Alvin Ailey. He was both uniquely gifted and qualified to tell the African-American experience which he lived and saw and reacted to through the art of dance. Drawing from his own struggles with self-esteem due to the acts of racial violence so prevalent in his formative years in the South.

    If you follow me or the podcast on social media, you know that I’m a white man who also grew up in the South. I was certainly witness to and heard tinges of racism growing up, but was fortunately sheltered for the most part from those who held such a deep-seeded hatred. A bigotry that Ailey knew first-hand.    Within the theater, we have playwrights and lyricists who can put difficult feelings and hard lessons into words. They show us parts of humanity that can be both glorious and despicable. But theater is not with us right now, the stage is silent. And so in the last few days, in light of the events that led to George Floyd‘s death and its aftermath, I have looked for and listened to past voices for both understanding and action, comfort and courage.    One of my most treasured experiences and memories of being here in New York City is getting to watch the Alvin Ailey American dance concerts each winter and summer. They consist of powerful and moving performances by amazingly talented dancers. And so it was only natural that my thoughts would go to the stories and emotions told through the pieces that Alvin Ailey choreographed himself, namely his iconic Revelations, which was inspired by his involvement within the Southern Black church. In fact, all of his work came forth from the people and places and experiences of his life.    People and choreography discussed: 

    Videos and interviews used in the making of this episode:

    ------------

    The time and expense needed to compile and edit this epiosde was at times challenging but ultimately rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode. 

    For further insights on the topics covered in this episode follow on Twitter @winmipodcast: https://twitter.com/winmipodcast/ 

    Quotes and unreleased audio clips follow on Instagram @winmipodcast: https://www.instagram.com/winmipodcast/ 

      Do you have questions or stories of your own? Share them with me: contact.winmipodcast.com 

     

    Music used in this episode:

  • Today on Broadway: Wednesday, June 3, 2020
    03 June 2020
    Artists Speak Out about Racism in Theatre, BC/EFA Donates $25,000 to Color of Change “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is appreciated: Ashley Steves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @NoThisIsAshleyJames Marino This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @JamesMarinoMatt Tamanini This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | read more
  • Siobhan Richardson
    02 June 2020

    Siobhan is an actor/fighter/singer/dancer, currently based in Toronto, but originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, and trained at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria. Tours and travelling are one of the perks of the job! Acting credits include Lucy Debrie (And Then The Lights Went Out,Stage West Calgary), Mo (Mo and Jess Kill Susie, Harley Dog Productions), Lady Capulet (Romeo and (her) Juliet Headstrong Collective/Urban Bard), Solange (The Maids, Whirligig Productions), the twins Jessica and Julia (The Last Resort, Stirling Festival Theatre), and the world premiere productions of The Madness of the Square (Cahoots Theatre Projects) and The Forbidden Phoenix (Citadel Theatre and LKTYP).

    www.siobhanrichardson.com
    Twitter: @fighteractress
    Instagram: @fighteractress

    The post Siobhan Richardson appeared first on Stageworthy Podcast.

  • BroadwayRadio Special: Backstage’s Casey Mink on the Broadway Shutdown, the Industry’s Needed Changes, and More
    02 June 2020
    On today’s episode, Ashley talks with Backstage senior staff writer Casey Mink about the Broadway COVID-19 shutdown, including her recent reporting for Vanity Fair about when we should expect to see theatre doors reopen. They also discuss the in-limbo awards season and what changes Broadway needs to make when it read more
  • Ep94 – BLACK LIVES MATTER
    02 June 2020

    Hi everyone, over the last year and a half, I have released at least one episode of The Theatre Podcast every single week without fail. Today, I have decided to break this tradition. I am purposely postponing the next episode in order to release this statement.

    Black Lives Matter. Please know that I see you, I hear you, I stand with you, and I recognize that the current movement is a response to hundreds of years of systematic racism having permeated our culture.

    I realize that it is no longer enough to be against racism as we all must strive to be anti-racist, and actively take steps to stop racist behavior in a non-violent way.

    Every journey begins with a first step and for many of us, now is the time. Available below are links to places where you can lend your support. I have done the same. Allow those who are doing their best to be supportive to continue to grow and learn. Remember, fighting your ally only strengthens your enemy. 

    In a few days I will continue to release my episodes as normal, as I feel that art can be used as a tool to heal, and must continue to be created. 

    Everyone please stay safe and care for one another.

  • #304 - Black Lives Matter (feat. Jessie Hooker-Bailey, Christian Dante White)
    02 June 2020

    It's hard to know what to say right now, but it's important not to stay silent. So today, we bring you stories from two members of the Broadway community, Jessie Hooker-Bailey and Christian Dante White, about being black in America.

  • Today on Broadway: Monday, June 1, 2020
    01 June 2020
    Theatre World Responds (or Doesn’t) to Protests Against Racial Injustice, Drama Desks Postponed “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is appreciated: Ashley Steves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @NoThisIsAshleyJames Marino This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @JamesMarinoMatt Tamanini This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @BWWMatt read more
  • This Week on Broadway for May 31, 2020: Larry Kramer, 1936 Show Boat on Blu-ray
    31 May 2020
    Peter Filichia, Jena Tesse Fox, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about Larry Kramer, Chita Rivera’s 80th Celebration (from 2013), and the 1936 film of Show Boat Blu-ray release. This Week on Broadway has been coming to you every week since 2009. It is the longest running Broadway and theatrical read more

Theatre Magazines

05 June 2020

Theatre Magazines
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