Deafinitely Theatre announce The Hub – a new theatre training course for deaf artists

Deafinitely Theatre - The Hub
Deafinitely Theatre - The Hub

Deafinitely Theatre – The Hub

Deafinitely Theatre today announced the creation of the Hub – a new theatre training course for emerging deaf artists to gain structured, accessible, professional theatre training, with the aim of equipping participants for mainstream arts employment. The Hub will launch its inaugural year in September 2018.

The year-long programme, which has been developed and expanded from a previous pilot scheme, includes a variety of workshops in acting, writing and other aspects of the theatre industry, including stage management, through its Industry Insights workshops. The Hub will also provide two year-long one-to-one mentorship schemes as well as a series of networking events and other opportunities throughout the year. Interpreter and caption support will be offered across the whole programme.

Following the programme Deafinitely Theatre continues its long-term commitment to supporting deaf artists across the industry, inviting participants to apply for paid internships and acting roles with the company.

Paula Garfield, Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre said today, “For the last few years, it has been amazing to see more and more mainstream theatre companies hire deaf actors, yet while it’s an exciting time for deaf actors to work in high-profile companies – a vital opportunity for them to learn their craft from other trained actors and from mainstream directors and creative teams – we do need deaf actors and theatre makers to have accessible opportunities to drama training.

 Sadly, currently no drama school in London is fully accessible to deaf BSL users. There is only one specific course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We need to see more like this all over the UK and so we are delighted to announce today our new project, the Hub. It is specifically aimed at deaf adults who have no other opportunities to train in theatre practices and learn their craft. There is proof that there is currently high demand in the industry for deaf actors and theatre makers and it is essential they have the same access to training so they are ready to start out in their chosen theatre careers. The long-term aim for the Hub is to establish tailor-made, full-time drama courses accessible for both deaf and hearing.

 We are so excited that the Hub will be this first step, a multi-year course of training available to deaf adults wanting to learn theatre practices here in London. I am delighted that we have wonderful partners on board supporting us with this project. Thank you to Arts Council, England, without their generous funding this would not be possible. Thank you also to our partners – City Lit (City Literary Institute), RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and the Royal Court Theatre – who are helping us to curate and design an incredible activity full of exciting opportunities for the participants. I am grateful to these partners for being willing to work with us here at Deafinitely to create and build more opportunities for the deaf community, enabling us to be more creative within the arts.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director for Arts Council England, said, “Through its ambitious and pioneering work with deaf artists, Deafinitely Theatre is an exemplary champion of Arts Council England’s mission of Great Art and Culture for Everyone. We are thrilled about the launch of the Hub – this is the first training scheme of its kind for deaf adults in London, and will be central to supporting the strong, emerging talent we have in our capital. We hope that deaf artists are as excited about this programme as we are, and that the audiences who experience the work of Deafinitely Theatre in the future enjoy it even more.”

Membership is £5 and participants will receive their first workshop free as well as a discount on subsequent classes. Further benefits include free tickets to theatre shows, invites to networking events and the opportunity to take part in the showcase.

A taster day for prospective members will take place on Saturday 14 July at RADA. Further details about this and information on how to become a Hub member will be available at from next month.

Deafinitely Theatre is partnering with RADA, the Royal Court Theatre and City Lit in support of the Hub.

The programme will run annually and includes:

Actors Course 

Participants will take part in a series of workshops exploring various acting techniques that will culminate in a final showcase, providing an opportunity to engage with and present CVs to the wider industry. The showcases will be fully accessible and archived on film.

Writers’ Group

Participants will take part in a series of workshops led by some of Britain’s top playwrights to provoke, develop and explore their writing for live performance. Throughout, the writers will get first-hand experience of the practicalities of playwriting and have the opportunity to grow their professional networks.

Industry Insights

Hub members will have the opportunity to participate in eight one-off workshops throughout the year offering training in areas of theatre practice, such as theatre design and stage management, led by professional theatre practitioners.

Mentoring Scheme

Two mentors will work across 12 months with two mentees. Mentors will be committed professionals selected according to the skills and needs of each mentee. Each mentee will receive a bursary and have a bespoke brief to design and complete a ‘set task’ with ongoing support from their mentor.

Networking events and experiences

Four networking events will take place annually. These will be structured activities enabling all Hub participants to interact with industry professionals, present ideas and share their CVs. It will also provide the opportunity for Hub members to develop networking skills as a result of attending, very important to those whose first language is BSL.

There will also be theatre trips with an enhancement package attached offered each year. For deaf people, theatres can seem an intimidating place so these will offer a curated opportunity for participants to experience mainstream theatre and also benefit from backstage tours and staff-led Q&A sessions.


In 2002 Paula Garfield set up Deafinitely Theatre alongside Steven Webb and Kate Furby after becoming frustrated at the barriers that deaf actors and directors face in mainstream media. The company launched with a sell-out première of Deaf History at the Gate Theatre in London. In May 2012, the company performed the first ever British Sign Language Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre, Love’s Labour’s Lost, celebrating its 10-year anniversary. In 2018 Deafinitely won the Off West End Award for Best Production for its site-specific production of Mike Bartlett’s Contractions.

The company’s vision is a world where deaf people are a valued part of the national theatre landscape, recognised for the excellence of their work. Deafinitely Theatre is the first professional deaf-launched and led theatre company in the UK that works bilingually in British Sign Language and spoken English and produces work that caters to audiences of all ages. Deaf theatre has a vital contribution to make to the UK’s diverse and vibrant theatre landscape. Deafinitely Theatre challenges barriers to training and opportunities and embraces the deaf world’s diversity. The company work hard to nurture the next generation of deaf actors, writers and audiences through its Deafinitely Youth Theatre and Deafinitely Little productions for young people, plus its Hub training and development programme for adults.

London’s leading pop-opera girl group Ida bring their show ‘IDA Girls’ to The Other Palace on Wednesday 11th July 2018



London’s leading pop-opera girl group, Ida, will perform an impressive collection of re-worked operatic arias, chart-topping hits and musical theatre favourites at The Other Palace on Wednesday 11th July 2018 at 7.00pm. The performance takes place in the Studio as part of The Big Smoke Festival – the venue’s week-long music, cabaret and variety festival.

With spellbinding vocals and slick harmonies, and the exciting marriage of opera, pop and musical theatre – with a twist! – Ida’s impressive versatility has seen them captivating audiences across six continents.

Ida formed whilst performing in the London production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Princess Ida’. It was here that they became close friends and continued to sing together after the show had ended, and thus Ida was born.

Georgi Mottram, Wendy Carr, Laura Coutts and Sarah Vaughan are Ida. Having trained at some of the world’s leading conservatoires, the girls’ classical flare brings a unique quality to every song. Between them, they have performed on the West End (Adelphi, Criterion, Charing Cross Theatre), at Jersey and Sydney Opera Houses, supported G4 and Russell Watson and Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finalists Vox Fortura, have sung with Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe on Classic FM’s charity single and were seen on BBC1’s This Week: Christmas Special.

Book online:, by phone: 0207 087 7900 or in person at the venue. General admission £20 (booking fees may apply).  Running time: 1 hour.

For more information about IDA: / Twitter: @idagirlslondon / Instagram: @idagirlslondon / Facebook:@idagirlslondon


Show: ‘IDA Girls’

Venue: The Other Palace (Studio), 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA

Date & Time: Wednesday 11th July 2018 at 7.00pm (running time 1 hour)

Tickets: £20. Book online:, by phone: 0207 087 7900 or in person at The Other Palace.

 Peter James’ The House On Cold Hill UK Tour

Peter James
Peter James

Peter James

The thrilling work of multi-million selling author Peter James returns to theatres in January 2019 with the world premiere production of the spine-tingling stage play The House on Cold Hill – The announcement comes in the week the acclaimed author hits No. 1 again in the UK book charts for the 13th consecutive time, with his latest page-turner, Dead If You Don’t.

The House on Cold Hill is the best-selling novel by Peter James – author of the award-winning Roy Grace series – and now becomes the fourth play in his box office smash hit and critically acclaimed stage franchise following the huge sell-out success of Not Dead EnoughThe Perfect Murder and Dead Simple on stage.

 The House on Cold Hill is a modern day ghostly thriller that will send shivers down your spine and make you think twice about returning home to a dark, empty house after the show!

The House on Cold Hill

The House on Cold Hill

Within days of moving into the huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion in the remote Sussex countryside, the Harcourt family quickly realise that the house of their dreams hides a dark secret and that they aren’t the only residents at Cold Hill…

James has been acclaimed as ‘one of the most fiendishly clever crime fiction plotters’ (Daily Mail) and his brilliant international bestselling novels have been published in 37 languages and sold over 19 million copies worldwide.

Following the recent nationwide stage success of the Peter James plays with stars including Shane Richie, Jessie Wallace, Claire Goose, Les Dennis, Laura Whitmore, Jamie Lomas, Bill Ward and Tina Hobley, The House on Cold Hill will reunite Peter James with theatre producer Joshua Andrews, the Olivier award winning director Ian Talbot and award winning writer Shaun McKenna.

Peter James said: It has been a great thrill for me to have three stage adaptations of my work so cleverly written and brilliantly performed over the last five years, and a joy to see the huge pleasure they’ve given audiences around the UK, and overseas.

 “I’m very excited by the latest adaptation, of my best-selling ghost story The House on Cold Hill, which starts on a six-month nationwide tour next January, with the same production team behind it.  

 “The intimacy of theatres is particularly well suited to instilling a great atmosphere of suspense and thrills in audiences, and I can promise there will be no shortage of both with the stage production of The House 0n Cold Hill!”

 Casting to be announced.

the quirky and the wonderful at the Birmingham International Dance Festival

UK’s leading dance company working with disabled and non-disabled perfomers, Candoco Dance Company presents a double bill Face In and Let’s Talk About Dis.

The best of Birmingham’s art is embodied in the performances by Birmingham Repertory Theatre (Woyzeck with choreography by Rosie Kay and directed by Roxana Silbert) and Birmingham Royal Ballet (Polarity and Proximity) presenting Alexander Whitley’s Kin, American legend Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room and George Williamson’s Embrace.

·  Cie Didier Theron’s Air featuring men in giant inflatable latex suits floating around Birmingham…

·  Satchie Noro and Silvain Ohl presenting Origami, inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding performance turning a 40 foot shipping container into a shape shifting partner to a human dancer.

·  The Festival opens with Morning Gloryville, a 7am-10am wild mass party with DJs, high on chocolate and music, taking over Birmingham’s Victoria Square.

· Italian children’s theatre legends TPO Compagnie bring their Mini and Kindur to the Festival, exploring the curiosity of childhood with the first and the adventurous life of an Icelandic sheep with the latter show.

· Portuguese legend Rui Horta, a wild veteran, presents Wasp, a performance about an exploding head, about what we fail to achieve because we simply didn’t try.

Akram Khan launches short film, XEN

Akram Khan
Akram Khan

Akram Khan

Sadler’s Wells has commissioned Associate Artist Akram Khan to create a short film inspired by XENOS, his final new full-length solo which receives its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells next week. The 7-minute film, XEN, produced by Illuminations for Sadler’s Wells, is a reimagined version of Akram Khan’s performance for the screen, and is available for viewers to watch online at from noon Thursday 24 May 2018.

XEN is part of Sadler’s Wells’ commitment to developing new forms of dance which reach new audiences.

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive said: “I am so excited about this new collaboration with Akram Khan, which beautifully complements his live performances at Sadler’s Wells. We have a long standing ethos of accessibility and having the short film of XEN available on our website for free means that anyone around the world can enjoy and be inspired by Akram’s work.”

Akram Khan said: “XEN has been a wonderful experience and an incredible learning process, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. When I was growing up, music videos had a huge influence on me and inspired me to dance, and it’s amazing to be able to share XENOS in a different way and with wider audiences through the film.”

Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and highly regarded dance makers working today. He has collaborated with artists including actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost. A career highlight was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, set to Emeli Sandé’s rendition of Abide with Me.

Akram Khan became a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist in 2005. Sadler’s Wells has co-produced many works with Akram Khan Company, including his acclaimed solo work DESH.

XENOS, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, marks Khan’s final performances as a solo dancer in a new full-length piece. It receives its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells from 29 May – 9 June 2018XENOS is part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary celebrations, and is among 20 commissions celebrating 20 years of the current building, which opened in 1998.

Khan conjures the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the context of the First World War. Meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, XENOS takes place where humanity stands in wonder and disarray, on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology. The production reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition and seeks to express tales of loss, hope and redemption, through a movement language that shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance.

Sadler’s Wells’ other broadcast and digital projects in 2018 include curating and commissioning DanceWorks in partnership with the BBC, four 30-minute artist-led films broadcast on BBC Four earlier this month, which are available to view on i-player; a partnership with Channel 4’s Random Acts to commission three original films from Julie Cunningham, Alesandra Seutin and Botis Seva for broadcast later in the year; and Celestial Motion, a virtual reality experience adapted from Alexander Whitley’s production 8 Minutes, made by The Guardian’s award-winning VR team, with the Alexander Whitley Dance Company in association with Sadler’s Wells. Celestial Motion is available to view on Daydream and will be available on Google Cardboard and YouTube 360 video later this year. Download The Guardian’s new VR app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.Celestial Motion was recently seen at Hot Docs in Toronto and is showing at British Council XR Festival in Madrid at the end of May.

During Ballet British Columbia’s visit to Sadler’s Wells in March, the theatre piloted two new digital initiatives; the post-show talk with the company’s artistic director Emily Molnar was live streamed to UK theatres’ Facebook pages, and a new film was created with local Get Into Dance ambassadors discussing their new dance experience. Both films can be seen on the Sadler’s Wells blog, and were produced in partnership with Dance Consortium as part of The Movement.

XEN is available for viewers to watch online at from noon Thursday 24 May 2018


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First Look: Production images released for Translations at the National Theatre


National Theatre to premiere new plays staged by young people at 2018 Connections Festival

Connections 2018
Connections 2018

Connections 2018

Ten UK school and youth theatre companies will stage ten new plays at the 2018 National Theatre Connections Festival, which takes place in the Dorfman Theatre from 26-30 June.

Connections is the largest youth theatre festival in the UK which celebrates new writing for young people aged 13-19. Ten new plays by both established and emerging contemporary playwrights have been exclusively commissioned for young people to stage and perform at this year’s Festival.

With over 6,500 young people taking part in Connections this year, the plays have been premiered across the UK by 250 youth theatre companies and schools. All the companies had the opportunity to transfer their production to one of 28 leading regional Connections Partner Theatres across the UK, with ten companies selected to perform at the National Theatre between 26-30 June. Young people have the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of creating and staging the play both on and offstage, from set design to costume, lighting and stage management.

Rufus Norris, National Theatre Director said, “I look forward to the Connections Festival every year as it is always such a joy to welcome young people from every corner of the UK to perform at the National Theatre. Programmes like Connections are more vital now than ever as they give young people the opportunity to experience and take part in theatre no matter where they are in the UK, and I can’t wait to see each of the ten companies’ productions in the Dorfman Theatre in June and celebrate another fantastic year of theatre-making.”

​The productions invited to appear at the NT in the final week of this year’s Festival are:

Tuesday 26 June the Dorfman Theatre

7pm – [ BLANK ] by Alice Birch performed by See&Eye Theatre, City and Islington College (London)

8.30pm – The Changing Room by Chris Bush performed by Cornwall College (St Austell, Cornwall)


Wednesday 27 June the Dorfman Theatre

7pm – Want by Barney Norris performed by St Brendan’s Sixth Form College (Bristol)

8.30pm – The Sweetness of a Sting by Chinonyerem Odimba performed by Haggerston School (Hackney, London)


Thursday 28 June the Dorfman Theatre

7pm – The Ceasefire Babies by Fiona Doyle performed by Yew Tree Youth Theatre (Wakefield)

8.30pm – These Bridges by Phoebe Eclair-Powell performed by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre (Chichester)


Friday 29 June the Dorfman Theatre

7pm – The Free9 by In-Sook Chappell performed by TRANSMISSION, Jacksons Lane (London)

8.30pm – The Blue Electric Wind by Brad Birch performed by Collision (Central Scotland)


Saturday 30 June the Dorfman Theatre

7pm – When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell performed by CAPA College (Wakefield)

8.30pm – Dungeness by Chris Thompson performed by PACE Youth Theatre (Paisley, Scotland)


All performances will be captioned.

Tickets are on sale from Friday 25 May 2018. To book tickets, visit


Connections 2019

Applications are now open to take part in next year’s Connections Festival. The National Theatre is looking for 300 school and youth theatre companies across the UK to take part. For more information and to sign up, please visit​​


Connections is supported by:

The Mohn Westlake Foundation, The Buffini Chao Foundation, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Jacqueline and Richard Worswick, The Peter Cundill Foundation, Mactaggart Third Fund, The EBM Charitable Trust, Samantha and Richard Campbell-Breeden, The Garvey Family Trust, Susan Miller and Byron Grote, Anthony P. Skyrme, The Derrill Allatt Foundation, Hays Travel Foundation, Faithorn Farrell Timms and supporters of the Connections Appeal.

The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The ten new plays for this year’s Festival are:


Brad Birch

When people at school start forgetting things, Scott wonders if he’s the only one who’s noticed. It seems it’s only him and some of the school misfits who can see what is happening. Is it the weather? Is it a strange virus? They must join forces to try and work out what is causing everyone in town to lose all sense of who they are.

The Blue Electric Wind is a play about why we remember what we do, it is a play about bravery, it’s a play about growing up.



Chris Bush

Chris Bush writes a lyrical piece about existing on the cusp and all the inevitable questions and confusions that come with it. Are we teenagers? Are we children? Do are parents embarrass us? It’s about bodies in flux and perspectives shifting; knowing change is coming but not what that change will look like. Set in and around a swimming pool, it follows a group of teens full of excitement, impatience and uncertainty, each with their own secret worries and desires for what comes next.



In-Sook Chappell

In-Sook took the tragic, true story of the Laos Nine as her starting point and used it to interrogate ideas of hope, escape and cultural difference.

Nine teenagers have fled North Korea and dream of their escape and a new life in the South. Their journey is far from over and with threats around every corner, perhaps the mysterious figure of The Big Brother can help them or is he the very person they’re running from. Their lives hang in the balance and could it all ultimately come down to a garish South Korean gameshow?



Fiona Doyle

Fiona began by looking at the rise in the youth Republican movements across Ireland and in this found a story that looks at the relationship our identities and beliefs have with the past. Do we inherit our beliefs? Can a cycle of ideology and disagreement be broken and who can take the first step? In a city still divided by a crumbling wall, siblings Mikey and Jamie no longer see eye to eye. There’s change in the air and not everyone’s ready for it. Jamie wants to reignite the old conflicts of her father and uncle but Mikey and their friends must decide to either take hold of their own destinies, or allow the ghosts of the past to dictate their futures.



Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Proud Londoner, Phoebe imagines a community divided by politics and water. When the Thames burst its banks, the North and the South became separated. Myths abound about ‘the other side’ – is it really better? Four sets of teenagers ignore the risks of the treacherous crossing to find out whether the other side is all it’s cracked up to be. The drowned commuters of the Circle Line conjure memories of the past. These Bridges looks at a fearful future and seeks to show that if we stick together, we may just survive it all.



Natalie Mitchell

Natalie began writing this play when the prospect of woman leading the free world seemed a sure thing – then things changed.

Social media goes into a frenzy over pictures of Sarah at a party on the weekend – no one knows quite what she got up to. When Miss Reef lectures the girls on taking more responsibility for their actions, Louise becomes enraged that the boys who took the pictures have nothing to answer for. She wages war on the misogyny but when she threatens school stalwart Scott and his claim to the School Captain title, things get very nasty. A website appears, rating the girls on their appearance and shaming them for their actions.

A play about everyday feminism and the changing face of teenage sexuality in an online world. When they go low, we go high.


Barney Norris

Barney and his theatre company Up In Arms champion work that reaches out into forgotten rural communities. His play locates itself firmly in that world. Ross wants Jenny, but Jenny wants adventure. Heather wants Claire to get better and Claire wants a normal life. Gabby wants to go to uni but worries about her brother. Mark and Chris just want something to do. WANT tells the stories of a constellation of young people through a series of charged, longing exchanges. A cycle of characters try to decide what kind of life is waiting for them.



Chinonyerem Odimba

Chino was inspired by the fables of West African storytelling, using nature to tell human stories.

Badger’s parents decide they want to return to their home country, so he is confronted with the possibility of leaving everything he knows and becoming a visitor in a strange world. Attempting to run away and escape his parent’s plans, Badger finds himself in a world full of insects, stories and Thunder – a land beneath our feet that he cannot escape from. This fantastical story looks at what it means to be young – disconnected from nature, and from your identity.


Chris Thompson

Fifty years on from the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England, Chris Thompson wanted to write a play about the struggles and the joy of being gay. In a remote part of the UK, where nothing ever happens, a group of teenagers share a safe house for LGBT+ young people. While their shared home welcomes difference, it can be tricky for self-appointed group leader Birdie to keep the peace. The group must decide how they want to commemorate an attack that happened to people like them in a country far away. How do you take to the streets and protest if you’re not ready to tell the world who you are? If you’re invisible, does your voice still count? A play about love, commemoration and protest.



Alice Birch

A National Theatre/Clean Break co-commission

Alice Birch’s theatrical provocation is a co-commission between Connections and theatre company Clean Break. Clean Break work with women in the criminal justice system, inspiring playwrights and audiences with their ground-breaking work.

[ BLANK ] is no traditional play, it’s a series of 60 scenes – some of which may feel connected, others less so – about adults and children impacted by the criminal justice system. It’s about what life is like when adults feel absent from it. But it can be about whatever you like – you can choose as many or as few scenes in order to construct your own narratives.

RSC to tour Romeo and Juliet in Spring 2019

“After its Stratford and London runs, this production is heading out on an extensive countrywide tour and it will, I strongly suspect, prove a big national hit.”
Evening Standard, 

“A fresh, fleet, blade-sharp revival.”
Daily Telegraph, ★★★★

The Royal Shakespeare Company will tour its critically acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet to Norwich, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bradford, Nottingham and Blackpool between January– March 2019. The production will take to the road after its current season in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it runs until September 2018, and performances at the Barbican in London between November 2018 – January 2019.

In each venue on the tour two groups of four young people from the local area will share the role of the Chorus with the professional cast.

Directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, the production features Bally Gill and Karen Fishwick in the roles of Romeo and Juliet.

Erica Whyman said: “Touring our work is at the heart of what the RSC is about.  It gives as many people as possible the chance to experience our productions.  The RSC’s award-winning Matilda The Musical is currently on a UK and Ireland tour, and later this year we will take our First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors into theatres and schools.

“In 2016 we toured my production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream around the UK, which involved local amateur groups and school children working alongside our professional cast.  I know from first-hand experience the effect this had on those who took part and those who saw the show.  It’s therefore a great delight to me to be taking another of my productions, this time Romeo and Juliet, out on the road in 2019.”

Bally Gill’s previous credits for the RSC include Coriolanus, Salome, Vice Versa, Always Orange and Fall of the Kingdom.  His other credits include The Island Nation (Arcola Theatre), A Local Boy (The Arts Theatre), Dinner with Saddam (Menier Chocolate Factory),The Bureau of Lost Things (Theatre 503) and NW (BBC/Mammoth Screen).

Karen Fishwick makes her RSC debut. She most recently appeared in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre of Scotland/Live Theatre). Her other credits includeGlasgow Girls (NTS/Citizens), Hansel and Gretel (Citizens Theatre), The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Christmas Carol (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh), Badults (BBC Three), James Kirk’s Comedy Blaps, The Illuminati (The Comedy Unit) and Tides and Telegrams (for The Winter Tradition).

Charlotte Josephine, known for her writing as well as acting, plays Mercutio.  Charlotte’s hit plays include the award-winning Bitch Boxer and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell-outBlush. Her acting credits beyond her own work include being part of the Lyric Hammersmith’sSecret Theatre Company and Phyllida Lloyd’s Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse.

Ishia Bennison plays the Nurse. Ishia’s previous RSC work includes: A Mad World My Masters, Candide, A New Way To Please You, Sejanus: His Fall, Speaking Like Magpies, Cymbeline and Measure for Measure.  Her extensive on-screen credits include Happy Valley,New TricksLast Tango in HalifaxMuch Ado About Nothing and King David with Richard Gere

Playing Tybalt is Raphael Sowole, whose credits include Simon Stephens‘ adaptation of The Seagull (Lyric Hammersmith), Pygmalion (Headlong, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nuffield) and Black Theatre Live’s touring production of Hamlet.

The cast also includes: Afolabi Alli (Paris); Donna Banya (Gregory); Stevie Basaula(Sampson); Katy Brittain (Friar John/Apothecary); Raif Clarke (Peter); Beth Cordingly(Escalus); Paul Dodds (Montague); Josh Finan (Benvolio); Andrew French (Friar Laurence); Mariam Haque (Lady Capulet); Michael Hodgson (Capulet); John Macaulay(Cousin Capulet); Tom Padley (Balthasar); Sakuntala Ramanee (Lady Montague) and Nima Taleghani (Abraham).

The production is designed by Tom Piper with lighting by Charles Balfour and sound byJeremy Dunn. Music is by Sophie Cotton and movement by Ayse Tashkiran.




Di Botcher announced as special guest performer at the West End Gala of the 12th Annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer Of The Year 

Di Botcher Credit : Johan Persson
Di Botcher Credit : Johan Persson

Di Botcher
Credit : Johan Persson

The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments today announced Welsh actress Di Botcheras the special guest performer at the 12th annual West End Gala for The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year and the 11th anniversary of The Stiles + Drewe Prize.

Botcher will reprise her show-stopping performance of the Sondheim classic ‘Broadway Baby’ from the National Theatre’s acclaimed, Olivier Award-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies. She is perhaps best known to TV audiences as Aunty Brenda in Ruth Jones’s hit comedy-drama Stella and recently made her debut as series regular paramedics boss, Jan Jennings in the popular, long-running medical drama Casualty.

The 2018 competition is being staged at the Savoy Theatre on Sunday 10th June at 3pm, hosted by Olivier Award winner Tracie BennettChris Hocking returns to direct the annual gala, with musical direction by Mark Etherington.

In addition, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra will orchestrate the winning song of the Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Prize and perform it at one of their private play-throughs in Autumn 2018.

Freddie Tapner, Founder and Conductor of London Musical Theatre Orchestra, said today, “LMTO are delighted that we can offer this opportunity to the winner of the Stiles & Drewe Prize. As a composer, there is nothing more thrilling than hearing your work performed by a full orchestra, and we can’t wait to give that experience to someone this year. Good luck to all entrants!”

This annual competition, co-produced by The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments, sees twelve of the top student performers from musical theatre and drama schools across the UK each perform a classic song by Stephen Sondheim and a new musical theatre song, written by members of Mercury Musical Developments. The first prize is £1,000. Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson returns to Chair the Student Performer judges with Rebecca Caine (the original Cosette in Les Miserables, and Christine in the original London and Canadian companies of The Phantom of the Opera), Rebecca Trehearn (Olivier Award winner for the recent London run of Showboat), Stephen Ridley (Musical Director for American in Paris and The King and I) and David Benedict (Sondheim’s official biographer).

The Stiles + Drewe Prize supports and develops new musical theatre writing via its two distinct arms. Recognising an outstanding song from a new musical and supported by The Entertainment Business, the winner of Best New Song receives £1,000 to put towards developing their work. Judging the Best New Song entries with Stiles and Drewe will be Sharon D Clarke (Caroline, or Change, The Lion King, We Will Rock You) and writer/director Susie McKenna (former Creative Director of Hackney Empire).

In addition, the winner of the Stiles and Drewe Mentorship Award – now in its third year, generously supported by Music Theatre International (Europe) – will also be announced at the Gala. One new musical and its writer(s) will be selected to receive mentorship over a 12-month period, culminating in an industry showcase. Along with Stiles and Drewe, the 2018 judges were composer Grant Olding, the Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate James Dacre and Chichester Festival Theatre’s producer Amelia Ferrand-Rook. A song from each of the three finalist shows will be performed at the event.


 First Look: West End production of Killer Joe