How Bad Can ‘The Band’ Be? Spectacularly.

Just as it is hard to hate someone who has smashed the wing mirror off one’s car if the note under your windscreen wiper comes with a little smiley face at the bottom, it is hard to completely dislike the cunning adherence to the jukebox blueprint.


Sadly, by no stretch of the imagination is The Band a good musical.

Featuring the songs of Take That, The Band has broken box office records making it the fastest selling touring musical of all time and with advance tickets sales for national tour of ‘The Band’ reaching £10 million(!)

Gary Barlow and musical theatre seemed like a good idea at one point, but by the time he started actually writing songs for musicals, it turned out that he was the worst thing to happen to the genre in the last decade. See: Finding Neverland.

Do you think “Take That have had a good run and should call it a day” is a fair statement? Do you think there’s a chance we might, by now, have heard Barlow’s best work? Well it doesn’t matter what you think because Barlow is not listening. See The Girls. 

But, when it comes to twentieth century pop Barlow remains peerless in his field. Take That had sold 10 million singles in the UK alone before splitting in 1996 – an event that prompted the Samaritans to set up a helpline for grieving fans. Subsequently they reunited as a four piece in 2006, welcomed Robbie Williams back for a lucrative tour and album in 2010, lost a member in 2014 and are now at large as a trio. Williams is listed as a co-producer but has had nothing to do with the promotion other than being on the giant billboards.

Tim Firth’s musical is, above all else, a marketing exercise which has no role for the audience beyond handing over their money. Featuring the winners of the dreadful BBC series Let It Shine (AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri Isfahani, Curtis T Johns & Sario Watanabe-Soloman) who play the singers of old Take That songs. They drive the narrative along like plucked, tanned, buffed, polished and scrubbed Ken dolls. Nothing can rescue them from being bewilderingly dim. They *mostly* sing in tune.

The show has one of greatest pop song lists… and one of the idlest scripts. I wasn’t expecting an evening of Pinter. What I did expect to be able to do, however, was recognise all of the songs. Most of them, in fairness were familiar. The inclusion of Hold Up A Light and These Days, though, is baffling.

Cynicism bleeds into most of these songs, with most of the tracks sequencing built around cavernous incoherence; one of the best pop songs of the last fifty years, Back For Good sounds like it is being sung by The Military Wives. Unforgivable. The show’s air of will-this-do? is encapsulated by some terrible choreography and a cloying mawkishness that extends to the formulaic narrative. Someho—–


Oh. Okay… Shine is a genuinely enjoyable finale to Act 1. Fans of Take That will have a good time. Theatre makes the people come together. Some of the scene transitions and set are genuinely inventive. The female cast members are not awful.

So there we go.

Anyway, the worst Take That song of all time is, of course, their single, These Days. So, in case you are not aware of this song’s charms, simply imagine a Take That song, but worse. Its most terrifying feature is in its first millisecond, that the Five To Five boys vocals appear completely without warning. This sound of hell opening up offers the audience no safety zone in which to leap towards a fire exit. Basically, what a racket.

Finally Never Forget arrives “Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream.” If only. I can’t remember much else to be honest.

Is it all just bit of fun and perfect for the target audience? Perhaps I was pre-destined to dislike the show. Perhaps I am trying too hard and maybe The Band is actually clever and postmodern or satirical or something like that.

Food for thought there, readers. Food for thought.

The tour continues through until July 2018 and you can check out the tour dates and venues here.

 Purni Morell to step down as Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre

Purni Morell

Purni Morell © Giulia Savorelli

The Board of the Unicorn Theatre announces today that Purni Morell will step down as Artistic Director in Spring 2018 after six and a half years of leading the company.

Purni was appointed in September 2011. The announcement in June 2011 made her the first woman of colour to take the job of Artistic Director amongst the Arts Council’s top funded UK venues.

During her tenure, Morell has fiercely championed the belief that theatre for young people is as valid and as artistically challenging as that of mainstream theatre.  Since 2011, Morell has commissioned and programmed new work from leading UK and international theatre makers, including Timberlake Wertenbaker, Ellen McDougall, Tim Crouch, Nancy Harris, Chris Goode, Ontroerend Goed, Gary Owen, Ramin Gray, David Greig, E V Crowe, Gbolahan Obisesan, Ignace Cornelissen, Gobsquad, Campo and Chris Thorpe.  By May 2018, the theatre will have produced and presented 140 productions to audiences of over 400,000 under her leadership.

 Alongside co-Chief Executive Anneliese Davidsen, Morell’s tenure has seen the Unicorn grow radically in artistic output, and in the variety and number of in-house productions, international collaborations and touring work that have gone on to achieve artistic and commercial success.  With a reputation for diversity, accessibility and connection to the community, the theatre has brought some of the best national and international talent to the Unicorn in the last six years, and the theatre now begins the search for a new Artistic Director to take the theatre forward into its next stage of evolution.

Purni Morell said ‘I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this extraordinary theatre and of what we have been able to do here – it has been rewarding, exciting and challenging in equal measure. I said at the outset that I wanted to stay six years, and now that I am well into my seventh season, I feel it’s time to step down and allow new ideas and new ambitions to flow into the building. I’m indebted to my colleagues at the Unicorn, who work harder and achieve more than I’ve ever known staff at a theatre to do, and I want to thank our many loyal supporters, in particular Arts Council England, for their continued belief in what we stand for. It’s so easy to sell the next generation short and it’s so important not to – so I’m enormously excited to see where the next Artistic Director will take the theatre and to enjoy many more years of watching great shows, this time as a ticket-buyer.

Unicorn Chair John Langley said ‘I want to thank Purni for her remarkable energy and ambition, and for what she has achieved for the status of theatre for young audiences. As an Artistic Director, she has expanded the idea of what a repertoire devised for young people can be; as a producer, dramaturge and translator, she has enlarged the national portfolio; and as a director, she has provided our audiences with shows that have challenged and delighted in equal measure.  The whole Board is immeasurably grateful to her for her commitment and energy over the past six years.’

With Arts Council funding confirmed until 2022, the Unicorn Trustees now begin their search for a new Artistic Director to take the theatre into the next phase of its history.


Purni Morell is the Artistic Director of the Unicorn, the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences. She also works as a freelance director and translator, with work to date produced at the Finborough Theatre, by Speeltheater Holland, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Muziektheater Transparant,‘t Arsenaal and Vlaamse Opera, Gent.

Purni began her career in stage management, working for Stephen Daldry and Annie Castledine, among others, before going to read History at the University of Glasgow. After graduating she worked as Literary Assistant at the National Theatre, London, with particular responsibility for foreign and classic plays, and then became Literary Manager at Berkeley Repertory Theater, California, from 1998-2000.

She took a break from theatre and worked for a while in environmental sustainability and development in Latin America and then at Shelter in Scotland, before becoming a producer, first with Suspect Culture in Glasgow, then running her own production company, gryllus, which provided creative and logistical support to freelance Scottish artists including Colette Sadler and Stewart Laing among others.

She was Head of Studio at the National Theatre, London, from 2007-2011. Her most recent production was Alpha Beta at the Finborough Theatre, nominated in the Off West End Awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Design. Her productions for the Unicorn include, as writer:  A Winter’s Tale, Henry V and The Fourth Wise Man, and, as director, A Winter’s TaleDora, The Velveteen Rabbit, Baddies: the Musical and My Father Odysseus. She will be directing Ibsen’s Public Enemy in Flint, Michigan, in June.


The Unicorn is the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences, producing an eclectic and surprising programme of work year-round for children aged 6 months to 18 years. Based in their purpose-built home at London Bridge, they aim to connect artists and audiences through a broad range of work that is honest, refreshing and international in outlook, across a range of disciplines.

The Unicorn presents and tours between twelve to fifteen shows each year, at home and abroad, to around 80,000 children and their parents and carers, and works extensively with schools and in the community to invite children from all cultures into a conversation about art and the world we live in.

Between 2011, when Purni Morell and Anneliese Davidsen joined the theatre as Artistic Director and Executive Director, and April 2018, the Unicorn will have:

–        produced and presented 140 productions

–        reached audiences of over 400,000 in London and on 30 tours

–        given 10% of all tickets away to schools and community groups for free or nearly free, every year

–        built Box Office income by 26%

–        grown audiences by 28%

–        developed 60 co-producing partnerships with other theatre companies

–        commissioned 53 new pieces of work

–        generated 21 awards and award nominations

–        created 133 accessible performances

–        built a growing programme of Community work

–        supported a self-running Young Company of teenage performers.

Morell has brought some of the best national and international talent to the Unicorn.  The following is a comprehensive list of 140 productions at the Unicorn from spring ’12 to summer ’18.


1001 Nights, a Unicorn production, dir. Douglas Rintoul

A Thousand Slimy Things, a Tangere Arts & Royal Exchange Theatre co-production, dir. Lewis Gibson

A Winter’s Tale, by Ignace Cornelissen, dir. Purni Morell

Before Your Very Eyes, by Gobsquad & Campo, in association with LIFT

Burning Bird, by John Donnelly, a Synergy Theatre Project production

Children of Killers, a Unicorn Young Company production

DNA, by Dennis Kelly, a Hull Truck production

Dr Korczak’s Example, a Unicorn production

Egg & Spoon, a Lyngo Theatre production, by Marcello Chiarenza and Patrick Lynch, 2012

Goldilocks, a Little Angel production, dir. Marleen Vermeulen

Handa’s Surprise, a Little Angel production, dir. Marleen Vermeulen 2012

How to Think the Unthinkable, a Unicorn production, by Ryan Craig, dir. Ellen McDougall

How Was it for You, a Unicorn Young Company production, by Evan Placey, dir. Nadia Fall

I, Malvolio, by Tim Crouch, dir. Karl James and a smith

In A Pickle, an Oily Cart/RSC co-production

Liar, Liar, a Unicorn production, by E V Crowe, dir. Blanche McIntyre

Little Red…You Know Who!, a Freehand Theatre production

Mad About the Boy, an Iron Shoes production in association with the Unicorn, by Gbolahan Obisesan, dir. Ria Parry


Monkey Bars, A Chris Goode & Company and Unicorn production, dialogues originated by Karl James, dir. Chris Goode, 2012

Monkey Bars, 2013

Mouth Open Story Jump Out, a BAC production, by Polarbear

Ring Round the World, by EPOC

Ruby Red Tells Tales, a Theatr Iolo production, by Sarah Argent

Sensacional, an Imaginart (Barcelona) production, 2012

Something Very Far Away, a Unicorn production, by Mark Arends and Matthew Robins

Tales from the River Thames, a New International Encounters/Unicorn production

The Elves and the Shoemakers, a Theatre Hullabaloo & Berry Theatre production, by Mike Kenny, dir. Sarah Brigham

The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth, a Unicorn production, by Matthew Lenton

The Legend of Woesterdam, a Studio ORKA & Kopergietery production

The Man with the Disturbingly Smelly Foot, a Unicorn production, by Nancy Harris, dir. Ellen McDougall

The Mysterious Vanishment of Pobby and Dingan, a Travelling Light production, by Finegan Kruckmeyer, adapted by Ben Rice

The Present, a BAC production by Ansuman Biswas and Hannah Ringham

The Prince and the Pauper, a Unicorn production, by Jemma Kennedy, dir. Selina Cartmel

The Tear Thief, a Little Angel production in association with the Royal Exchange Theatre, by Carol Ann Duffy, dir. Peter Glanville



1001 Nights, a Unicorn production, dir. Douglas Rintoul, 2014

All That Is Wrong, Ontroerend Goed, Laika, Drum Theatre Plymouth & Richard Jordan Productions Ltd, by Koba Ryckewaert, Joeri Smet, Rob Van Ertvelde, Sophie De Somere, Zach Hatch & Alexander Devriendt

Aston’s Stones, a Teater Pero production, by Peter Engvist

At the End of Everything Else, a Unicorn production, by Mark Arends

Cape, a Synergy/Unicorn co-production, by Inua Ellams, dir. Esther Baker

Carnival, a Unicorn/Compagnia Rodisio co-production, by Manuela Capece and Davide Doro

Chalk About, a Curious Seed production, by Christine Davaney and Leandro Kees

Cinderella: A Fairytale, a Unicorn/Travelling Light/Tobacco Factory Theatre co-production, dir. Sally Cookson

Cuckoo, a Unicorn production, by Suhayla El-Bushra, dir. Nathan Curry

Dora, a Unicorn production, adapted from Helen East, dir. Purni Morell

Grandpa’s Railway, an M6 Theatre Company production

Hannah, a Unicorn production, by Chris Thorpe, dir. Simon Evans

Henry the Fifth, a Unicorn production, by Ignace Cornelissen, dir. Ellen McDougall

Lionboy, a Complicite co-production with Bristol Old Vic, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Oxford Playhouse and Warwick Arts Centre, by Annabel Arden and Louisa Young, dir. Annabel Arden

Luna, a Theatre Hullabaloo/Theatr Iolo production, by Miranda Thain, dir. Sarah Argent

Mister Holgado, a Unicorn production, by Christopher William Hill, dir. Matthew Lenton

My Father and Other Superheroes, a Nick Makoha production in association with Nimble Fish, by Nick Makoha, dir. Benji Reid


Next Day, presented by LIFT and the Unicorn, by Philippe Quesne and CAMPO

Nosferatu, a Bob Théâtre production

Not Now, Bernard, a Unicorn production, by David McKee, dir. Ellen McDougall

O Snap, by Erik Kaiel

Othello: The Remix, presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions, by GQ & JQ with Rick Boynton

Pim & Theo, a New International Encounter production with Odsherred Teater & Korjaamo Culture Factory, dir. Alex Byrne

Romeo and Juliet, a Box Clever production, adapted by Michael Wicherek with OneNess, dir. Iqbal Khan

Sensacional, an Imaginart/Unicorn co-production, 2013

Sensacional, an Imaginart/Unicorn co-production, 2014

Something Very Far Away, a Unicorn production, by Mark Arends and Matthew Robins, 2013

Teenage Riot, an Ontroerend Goed, Kopergietery, Drum Theatre Plymouth & Richard Jordan Productions Ltd production, dir. Alexander Devriendt

The Pardoner’s Tale, a Tangere/Unicorn co-production

The Secret Of Q, a Het Filiaal production, by Ramses Graus & Monique Corvers, dir. Monique Corvers

The Summer Book, a Unicorn production, adapted by Jemma Kennedy, dir. Douglas Rintoul

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell

Tube, an Oily Cart production, by Tim Webb

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas… , a Unicorn production, by Douglas Rintoul

Wanted: Rabbit, a Maas Theater & Dans production, dir. René Geerlings

We Dance, Wee Groove, a stillmotion production in association with the Unicorn

You’re Not My Friend Anymore, a Shoofly Theatre production, by Katie Sykes & Craig Edwards



50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), a Unicorn/Fundus Theater/Research Theatre Hamburg production, by Hanno Krieg and Sibylle Peters

Britain’s Best Recruiting Sergeant, a Unicorn production, by Joy Wilkinson, dir. Lee Lyford

Fight Night, an Ontroerend Goed, Border Project, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Richard Jordan Productions & Voornuit in association with Adelaide Festival of the Arts production, dir. Alexander Devriendt

Girls Like That, a Unicorn/Synergy Theatre Project production, by Evan Placey, dir. Esther Baker

Henry the Fifth, a Unicorn production, by Ignace Cornelissen, dir. Ellen McDougall, 2015

How Nigeria Became: A Story, and a Spear that Didn’t Work, a Unicorn production written and directed by Gbolahan Obisesan

Nosferatu, a Bob Théâtre production, 2014

One Little Word, an M6 Theatre Company production, dir. Andy Manley

Planeta KA, an Imaginart/Unicorn production

Seesaw, a Unicorn production, by Stewart Melton, dir. Sarah Argent

Scrunch, a Unicorn Theatre & Theatr Iolo (in association with Sarah Argent), by Sarah Argent & Kevin Lewis

Something Very Far Away, a Unicorn production, by Mark Arends and Matthew Robins, 2014

Tales from the MP3, a 20 Stories High production, dir. Julia Samuels

The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a Unicorn production, by Bertolt Brecht, trans. Frank McGuinness, dir. Amy Leach

The Chair, a Unicorn production, by Lewis Gibson, dir. Lewis Gibson

The Fourth Wise Man, a Unicorn production, dir. Lee Lyford

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a Unicorn production, by Annie Siddons, dir. Ellen McDougall

The Polar Bears Go Wild, a Macrobert/Fish & Game production in association with the Unicorn, by Eilidh MacAskill & Fiona Manson

The Secret Life of Suitcases, an Ailie Cohen Puppet Maker/Unicorn production, by Lewis Hetherington & Ailie Cohen

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell, 2015

Triple Bill, presented by Dance Umbrella & the Unicorn

When I Think About the Universe I Laugh for no Reason, a Unicorn Young Company production, dir. Ellen Edwin-Scott & Emma Higham



A Mano, an El Patio Teatro (Spain) production, by Julián Sáenz-López & Izaskum Fernández

Baddies: the Musical, a Unicorn production, by Nancy Harris & Marc Teitler, dir. Purni Morell

Breaking the Ice, a Unicorn/Filskit Theatre Company

Dance Umbrella: Unplugged, presented by the Unicorn & Dance Umbrella

Grass, a Second Hand Dance production in association with the Unicorn

Jeramee, Hartleby & Oooglemore, a Unicorn production, by Gary Owen, dir. Tim Crouch

The Hamilton Complex, presented by LIFT and the Unicorn, by HetPaleis, dir. Lies Pauwels

Martyr, a Unicorn/Actors Touring Company production, by Marius von Mayenburg, trans. Maja Zade, dir. Ramin Gray

Minotaur, a Unicorn production, by Adam Peck, dir. Tarek Iskander

My Father, Odysseus, a Unicorn production, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, dir. Purni Morell

Once Upon A Christmas, a Unicorn event

The Polar Bears Go Up, a Unicorn/Fish & Game production, by Eilidh MacAskill & Fiona Manson

Raw, a Kabinet K (Belgium) production, by Joke Laureyns & Kwint Manshoven with Thomas Devos

Sensacional, an Imaginart/Unicorn co-production, 2015

Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine, a Unicorn production, by Adam Peck, dir. Cressida Brown

The Snow Child, a Unicorn/Sheffield Theatres/Dancing Brick production, by Valentina Ceschi & Thomas Eccleshare

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell, New York tour

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell, Spain tour



Adler & Gibb, a Tim Crouch & the Royal Court Theatre production, by Tim Crouch, dir. Tim Crouch, Andy Smith & Karl James

Baby Show, a Unicorn production in association with Theatr Iolo, by Sarah Argent & Kevin Lewis, dir. Sarah Argent

Baddies: the Musical, a Unicorn production, by Nancy Harris & Marc Teitler, dir. Purni Morell, 2016

Boing!, a Travelling Light & Bristol Old Vic production, dir. Sally Cookson, chor. Wilkie Branson & Joêl Daniel

Double Double Act, a Unicorn production in association with Made in China, by Jessica Latowicki, Christopher Brett Bailey & Tim Cowbury

Dream City, an Arch * Dancers production, presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with the Unicorn

The Duke, a Hoipolloi, PBJ Management & Theatre Royal Plymouth production in association with Save the Children, by Shôn Dale-Jones

The Hunting Lodge, a Unicorn production, by Ignace Cornelissen, dir. Purni Morell

The Iron Man, a Unicorn production, by Ted Hughes, created by Matthew Robins

Jason & the Argonauts, a Unicorn production, by Valentina Ceschi & Thomas Eccleshare

Jeramee, Hartleby & Oooglemore, a Unicorn production, by Gary Owen, dir. Tim Crouch, 2017

The Man Who Knows It All, a Theater Artemis/Maas Theater co-production, by Jetse Batelaan

My Mother, Medea, a Unicorn production, by Holger Schober, trans. David Tushingham, dir. Justin Audibert

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, a Unicorn production, by Jill Tomlinson, dir. Lee Lyford

Sensacional, an Imaginart/Unicorn co-production, 2016

The Snow Child, a Unicorn/Sheffield Theatres/Dancing Brick production, by Valentina Ceschi & Thomas Eccleshare, Sheffield 2016

Tetris, a De Dansers production, presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with the Unicorn

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell, 2016

Until You Hear That Bell, a Battersea Arts Centre production, by Sean Mahoney, dir. Yael Shavit



Baby Show, a Unicorn production in association with Theatr Iolo, by Sarah Argent & Kevin Lewis, dir. Sarah Argent 2017

Beginners, a Unicorn production, written & dir. by Tim Crouch

Beowulf, a Unicorn production, by Chris Thorpe, dir. Justin Audibert

Boing!, a Travelling Light & Bristol Old Vic production, dir. Sally Cookson, chor. Wilkie Branson & Joêl Daniel

Five Easy Pieces, a CAMPO/IIPM production, by Milo Rau

Laika, a Unicorn production, by Bryony Hannah & Avye Leventis

Othello, a Unicorn production, by Ignace Cornelissen, dir. Ian Nicholson

Seesaw, a Unicorn production, by Stewart Melton, dir. Sarah Argent, 2018

Sensacional, an Imaginart/Unicorn co-production, 2017

The Velveteen Rabbit, a Unicorn production, by Margery Williams, dir. Purni Morell, 2017

Wild Life FM, a CAMPO Arts Centre (Ghent), Unicorn Theatre, Norfolk & Norwich Festival production, by Pol Heyvaert, Kim Noble & cast, dir. Pol Heyvaert, music dir. Jakob Ampe






Call the Midwife and Shrek the Musical’s Laura Main to switch on Edinburgh’s Christmas lights

  • Star of BBC’s Call the Midwife and Shrek the Musical Laura Main is announced to switch on Edinburgh’s Christmas lights during the city’s Light Night celebrations on 19 November
  • With an array of local talent on display and hosted by Forth One DJ Arlene Stuart, Light Night kicks off Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations which run across the city until 6 January 2018
  • Light Night is a free, unticketed event taking place on George Street between 3pm and 5pm on Sunday, 19 November

Sunday 19 November is Light Night in Scotland’s capital! Hosted by Forth One DJ Arlene Stuart, who’ll be joined on stage by Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, and showcasing a variety of amateur choirs and dance groups on two stages in front of an expected audience of 20,000, Light Night is a celebration of community spirit and the traditional start to Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations – one of the biggest and most popular Christmas celebrations in UK.

This year’s Light Night will see Aberdeen-born actress Laura Main, star of BBC’s Call the Midwife, switching on the lights across the city! Laura will also be performing on the Light Night stage alongside her Shrek co-star, to celebrate the opening of the tour of her show Shrek the Musicalat the Edinburgh Playhouse on 12 December.

Laura Main saidWhat an honour it is to be turning on Edinburgh’s iconic Christmas Lights. I am thrilled to be spending the festive season back in Scotland along with another resident, Shrek! We’ll be giving you a sneak peak of our show Shrek the Musical, ahead of its run at the Edinburgh Playhouse in December, where I’ll be donning the green dress as Princess Fiona. Light Night is a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas season and I can’t wait to see you all there.”

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Edinburgh’s Christmas, said: “Light Night heralds the start of Christmas in Edinburgh, it’s a wonderful family event that always gets everyone, including us, into the Christmas spirit with local music and dance groups, fireworks and, of course, the city centre Christmas lights being switched on.  We’re delighted Laura will be pushing the button this year, as well as entertaining the crowds with songs from Shrek the Musical.”

The Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “On stage and on screen, and even on the Strictly dance floor, Laura Main is one of Scotland’s most admired actresses. I am delighted she will return to Edinburgh where she has performed during the Fringe to help us start our winter celebrations. Light Night is the perfect way to bring everyone in the city together to get into the community spirit of Christmas and this year’s switch on will show charity support for the incredible NSPCC. Please give generously if you can.”

Light Night will also see performances from Little Voices Big Stars, Edinburgh Rock Choir, Edinburgh Ballet and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus.

The Christmas Tree on the Mound, a gift to the City of Edinburgh Council from Hordaland County Council in Norway, will be lit as part of the Light Night switch-on.

Light Night is partnering with the NSPCC this year, so please look out for NSPCC collectors on the streets at Light Night and donate kindly! National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is a leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Paul Cockram, Head of Fundraising, NSPCC Scotland said: “We are delighted to be partnered with Edinburgh’s world famous Christmas celebrations as we try to make sure more children and young people have a safe and happy Christmas this year”.

Light Night is an excellent trip for all the family to enjoy! To make it a day out, visit Edinburgh’s Christmas brand new offering, Ice Adventurealso located on George Street: an arctic installation and immersive walk-through experience filled with spectacular ice and snow sculptures, including those of Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Dolly the Sheep!

Stroll down to St Andrew Square and get your skates on to glide all the way round the Melville Monument on a circular ice rink!

To browse Edinburgh’s Christmas programme in full, head to www.edinburghschristmas.com.

Light Night is free and unticketed, just head along to George Street to enjoy the performances, atmosphere, lights and fireworks

Traverse Theatre’s flagship education project, Class Act, returns

Traverse Theatre
  •  Working with the National Theatre of Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to create a new Gaelic strand of the project
  • Class Act: International Symposium 2017 brings together a selection of playwrights, theatre producers, teachers and former student participants for the first time ever
  • Class Act to travel to India as part of the British Council’s UK/India 2017 Season, supported by the British Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government
Traverse Theatre

Traverse Theatre

Class Act 2017

The Traverse Theatre’s flagship education project, Class Act, returns for what will be its 26th year. This year marks a Class Act first, with the Traverse working with the National Theatre of Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to create a new Gaelic strand of the project, supporting pupils from James Gillespie’s High School to create short plays written in the Gaelic language, to be captioned and presented alongside the work of pupils from Drummond Community High School, Liberton High School and The Royal High School.

Working with 67 young people from across the four schools, the Class Act 2017 students will have the support and mentorship of playwrightsCatherine Grosvenor, Alison Lang, Nicola McCartney and May Sumbwanyambe, creating 27 new mini plays which speak to the world they live in.

Traverse 1 will host two evenings of performances – Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 November – premiering on the stage the finished work of this next generation of young playwrights.

Class Act: International Symposium 2017

Alongside these performances, the Traverse, in association with the University of Edinburgh, will also bring together a selection of playwrights, theatre producers, teachers and former student participants to present the first ever Class Act: International Symposium 2017 on Friday 24 November. Another first for Class Act, the symposium will reflect on the project, its methodology, history and future, with myriad international guest speakers – notably Russian playwright brothers Vyecheslav and Mikhail Durnenkov, and Ukranian playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit, who have taken the project into their own countries.

Class Act Mumbai

Then, come January 2018, the Traverse is delighted to produce Class Act Mumbai, working with RAGE productions and young people across the city of Mumbai as part of the British Council’s UK/India 2017 Season, supported by the British Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government. Class Act Mumbai will see Scottish playwrights and directors collaborate with Indian artists through a series of playwright-led workshops and script development, providing an innovative creative learning experience, promoting cultural collaboration and delivering Class Act’s mission of advocating access to the arts for all.

Sunniva Ramsey, Traverse Theatre’s Creative Producer (Learning), says:

‘Class Act is founded on the principal of utilising writing for the stage as a vehicle for young people to explore and respond to the world around them. Whilst the project changes every year, as it connects to the interests of the young playwrights, issues of communication and identity remain a consistent theme. Working with Gaelic language students for the first time has brought this undercurrent of exploring communication into sharp relief – allowing the young playwrights to express themselves on certain topics, and encouraging our Gaelic writers to explore what Gaelic language theatre unlocks in responses from audiences, has been incredibly interesting. All of the 67 young people taking part have boundless creativity and unique perspectives, and we look forward to sharing their work with an audience.

We’re also thrilled to be taking Class Act to Mumbai in January 2018. Kicking of our Year of Young People celebrations, the project will see five Scottish artists working with Indian theatre makers and young people. Having the opportunity to listen and creatively respond to the issues that young people across Mumbai want to cover will be an enlightening and enriching experience.’

Nicola McCartney, playwright and Reader in Writing for Performance, University of Edinburgh, says:

‘Class Act is the most dynamic, life-changing social theatre project – and that’s just for the professional playwrights. It is a privilege to have been involved in its delivery in Scotland and internationally for 20 years, and to help deliver the first ever conversation between all international partners – Class Act: International Symposium 2017. We will be joined by Natal’ya Vorozhbit from Ukraine, whose play Bad Roads is about to open at the Royal Court, and the Durnenkov brothers, two of Russia’s leading playwrights. Each has led a significant Class Act project in their own countries which has sought to address social and political issues within their societies. We will also discuss Class Act Mumbai to come in January 2018 and a possible future Class Act International, bringing young people from all over Europe to Edinburgh to write plays. It’s a very exciting event to be involved in.’


Class Act 2017Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 November, 7:30pm (more here)

Class Act: International Symposium 2017Friday 24 November, all day (more here)

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Box Office: 0131 228 1404 / online here

Be a Caption Hero this Captioning Awareness Week

Captioning Awareness Week, which runs from 6 – 11 November, is asking everyone to be Caption Heroes and spread the word about accessible arts.

Imagine never experiencing Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be’ speech or missing out on the reveal in The Mousetrap; over 11 million people across the UK have hearing loss and Stagetext, an arts access charity, is encouraging you to take action to help make the arts more accessible.

Stagetext want to know what makes you a Caption Hero. Have you taken a friend to a captioned show, campaigned for access at a local venue, or supported Stagetext with fundraising events? Even small actions can go a long way to promoting access.

Melanie Sharpe, Stagetext CEO, said: “We’re calling on everyone to be Caption Heroes, we want people to spread the word, join us online, bring a family member or a friend along to an event.

“Some people are still unaware of how accessible the arts can be, we caption some of the largest shows across the country, we supply live subtitles for museum tours, we even subtitle trailers for shows and events, and we’re asking our Caption Heroes to let any friends and family, that may benefit from our work, know about it all.”

Let Stagetext know what makes you a Caption Hero. Have you taken a friend to a captioned show, campaigned for access at a local venue, or supported Stagetext with fundraising events? Use #Caption Hero on social media, and even small actions can go a long way to promoting access.

There are 18 captioned or subtitled events being held throughout the UK, more than any previous Captioning Awareness Week, and there are many ways people can get involved, including social media competitions, venue discounts, and downloadable content.

The campaigns call for access awareness is supported by a recent report produced by Stagetext, VocalEyes, and Include Arts, who researched the level of access information available on all UK theatre websites, finding over 25% of websites have no access information at all.

To find out more and take part in activities during the week please visit www.stagetext.org/captioning-awareness-week


LINBURY PRIZE 2017 Winners Announced and Exhibition Opens at the National Theatre

National Theatre

The winners of the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2017 were announced at a ceremony at the National Theatre on 1 November. The winners include Khadija Raza designing Dido, a co-production between the Unicorn Theatre and ENO, Eleanor Bull designing Windrush: Movement of the People for Phoenix Dance Theatre and Fin Redshaw designing Pieces of String for Mercury Theatre, Colchester.

At the same ceremony the judges also announced this year’s overall winner of the Linbury Prize 2017, Basia Binkowska who will be designingOthello / Macbeth for the Lyric Hammersmith.

The Linbury Prize for Stage Design is a unique opportunity for graduating designers to work with leading directors and gain a professional commission with four major companies. The winners for the Linbury Prize 2017 were decided by the judging panel which this year was made up of renowned designers Tom Piper, Nicky Shaw and Rae Smith.

Speaking about this year’s competition, judge Tom Piper said:

“The Linbury Prize remains the most important theatre prize open to recent graduates of UK Design schools. We get over 90 applicants and it is a testament to the depth of talent in the students and the extraordinarily dedicated teaching abilities of colleges that the judges have such a tough time selecting the final 12.

We are really excited this year to have a range of different performance forms in the commissioning companies, which we hope will demonstrate the deep range of skills and ground breaking ideas which the young designers bring to bear on their projects.”

All 12 finalists work can now be seen in a new exhibition, including their final models, held in the Lyttelton Lounge at the National Theatre until 2 January, giving visitors a unique glimpse of the behind-the-scenes process of set designers.

Previous winners of the Linbury Prize include some of the most important stage designers working today, including Tim Hatley, whose work includes Timon of Athens at the NT, and Spamalot and Shrek the Musical in the West End and on Broadway; Anthony Ward, whose credits include Sweeney Todd at Chichester and in the West End and Headlong’s Enron; and Vicki Mortimer, whose extensive work for the NT includes Othello and The Last of the Haussmans.

The Linbury Prize for Stage Design was founded by Anya Sainsbury in 1987. The award is sponsored by the Linbury Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.

Cheek By Jowl announce further dates for PéRiclèS, Prince De Tyr including their London Run at The Barbican

Artistic Directors of Cheek by JowlDeclan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod today announce UK tour dates for their production of Shakespeare’s Périclès, Prince de Tyr. Performed in French, with English surtitles, the production will open at the Barbican, where the company is an Associate, on 9 April, with previews from the 6 April, running until 21 April. Following the London dates, the productions runs at Oxford Playhouse from 24 – 28 April.

Also announced today is a major new revival of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle which will be performed by an all-Russian company. The production tours internationally in 2019 – including a first time run for the play in Russia.


By William Shakespeare

Cast: Christophe GrégoireCamille CayolXavier BoiffierCécile LetermeValentine CatzéflisGuillaume PottierMartin Nikonoff

Director: Declan Donnellan; Designer: Nick Ormerod

Périclès, Prince de Tyr is one of Shakespeare’s strangest and most heart rending plays. Pericles, shipwrecked on the Mediterranean navigates a stormy sea of pirates, magicians, brothels, kidnappers, tournaments, plots against his life… and divine intervention from the Goddess Diana. Incest, treachery, murder, love, joy all explode in this giant theatrical firework … the embers dim and glow in one of the greatest and most moving scenes Shakespeare ever wrote, Pericles recognition of his long lost daughter Marina.

Declan Donnellan directs Périclès, Prince de Tyr and The Knight of the Burning Pestle. He is joint founder of Cheek by Jowl with Nick Ormerod. As joint Artistic Director of the company, he has directed over 30 productions, including most recently The Winter’s TaleMeasure for Measure and Ubu Roi. In 2007 Peter Brook invited him to form a French company of actors. He has received awards in Moscow, Paris, New York and London, including three Laurence Olivier Awards. He has been awarded a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his work in France and the Golden Lion of Venice. Donnellan and Ormerod both received OBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2017.

Produced by Cheek by Jowl in a co-production the Barbican, London; Les Gémeaux/Sceaux/Scène Nationale; Théâtre du Nord, CDN Lille-Tourcoing-Hauts de France

With support from Jeune Theatre National-France

With thanks to the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater

The production is performed in French with UK subtitles


Les Gémeaux , Sceaux, Paris, France                        7 – 25 March

Maison des arts de Créteil, Créteil, France             28 – 30 March

Barbican                                                                               6 – 21 April

Press night: 9 April

Members booking opens 2 November. Public booking opens 10 November

To be the first to hear when the Barbican’s new season is on sale, sign up to the newsletter here: [Embed: https://tickets.barbican.org.uk/eticketing/register.asp?news=news]

Oxford Playhouse                                                            24 – 28 April

Théâtre de l’Archipel, Perpingnan, France             3 – 4 May

Théâtre du Nord, Lille, France                                     15 – 19 May

Centro Dramático National, Madrid, Spain            30 May – 3 June


By Francis Beaumont

Director: Declan Donnellan; Designer: Nick Ormerod

Cast includes: Alexander FeklistovAnya KhalilulinaAndrei Kuzichev and Igor Teplov

The play starts … But then the plays stops!

A grocer and his wife in the audience invade the stage.

Just another boring trendy play … Probably anti-grocer too….

What do they want? A return to good old entertainment values with dragons, kidnapped princesses and exotic locations – Excitement and glamour…

And so the pair remain on stage to ‘help’ the actors improve their storyline.

Beuamont’s hilarious satire roars into life again, ever more timely as the 21st century continues to unfold..

Produced by Cheek by Jowl and the Pushkin Theatre, Moscow

Cheek by Jowl was formed in 1981 by Joint Artistic Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. An international company, they stage work in three languages – Russian, French and English.

The company has performed in over 300 cities in over 40 countries, spanning six continents and has received numerous international awards.  They are Artistic Associates of the Barbican, London.



Twitter: @CbyJ


Talks and events for FOLLIES at the National Theatre

FOLLIES © Johan Persson

Join the cast of Follies as they discuss appearing in the sold-out National Theatre production, directed by Dominic CookePeter Forbes and Imelda Staunton will be in conversation with director Paulette Randall, and Josephine Barstow and Tracie Bennett with singer-songwriter and actor Will Young.

There is now limited ticket availability for Follies with tickets available to buy through Friday Rush purchasable online every Friday from 1pm for the following week’s performances. Day tickets are also available in person from the NT box office. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide as part of NT Live on Thursday 16 NovemberFind your nearest venue here.

Peter Forbes and Imelda StauntonMon 11 Dec, 3pm

The actors reflect on the challenges and rewards of playing Buddy and Sally in Follies, chaired by Paulette Randall.

Peter Forbes’ theatre credits include Mamma Mia! (West End), Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland), and for NT, Never So GoodThe James PlaysOur Country’s GoodAfterlife and The Observer. Multi award-winning actor Imelda Staunton was seen on screen as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films, and has a long performance history at the National Theatre including The Beggar’s OperaGuys and Dolls, and A Chorus of Disapproval.

Josephine Barstow and Tracie BennettMon 18 Dec, 3pm

Will Young chairs a discussion with Tracie Bennett and Josephine Barstow about appearing in Follies.

Josephine Barstow has performed in opera houses across the world alongside artists such as Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, and under the baton of Georg Solti and Herbert von Karajan. Tracie Bennett originated the roles of Laura Henderson in Mrs Henderson Presents, Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow and has won Olivier awards for her performances in She Loves Me and Hairspray.

Tickets to both events are £7 (£5 concessions) and can be booked here.

Other upcoming talks and events relating to Follies include:

In Depth: The Works of Stephen Sondheim        Fri 3 and 24 November10.30am – 4.30pm

Staging Sondheim’s Follies                                   Tues 28 Nov, 10.30am – 3.30pm

History of the Ziegfeld Follies                                Fri 24 Nov, 6pm