First Look:  Production images: Promenade production of SUMMER HOLIDAY – Octagon Theatre Bolton

Full casting announced for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Tamburlaine

Royal Shakespeare Company

Full casting is announced for Tamburlaine which plays in repertoire in the Swan theatre from 16 August.

Michael Boyd has adapted the original two parts of Marlowe’s play and also directs the show which was originally staged in New York for Theater For a New Audience (TFANA) in 2014, but which has been rethought for the RSC and the Swan Theatre.

Michael was the RSC’s Artistic Director from 2002 – 2012 and directed a huge range of productions including the Olivier award-winning cycle of Shakespeare’s History plays as well as Macbeth, As You Like It, The Grain Store, Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, The Spanish Tragedy and The Broken Heart. For the Tron Theatre, Glasgow where he was Founding Artistic Director his work includes The Trick is to Keep Breathing, Crow, Macbeth, The Guid SistersThe Real Wurld. Other theatre work includes Miss Julie(Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Right Now (Traverse/Royal Bath/Bush theatre), The Big Meal and The Open House (Ustinov studio, Bath) and The Cherry Orchard (Bristol Old Vic). His opera work includes Orfeo (Roundhouse/ROH) and Eugene Onegin (Garsington). He was knighted for services to drama in 2012.

The title role is played by Jude Owusu. Jude recently appeared as Lopakhin in Boyd’s production of The Cherry Orchard at the Bristol Old Vic and prior to that his work includes A Tale of Two Cities (Regent’s Park Open Air), Jeramee, Hartleby and Ooglemoore (Unicorn), Much Ado About Nothing (Faction theatre), Othello (Malachite theatre company) and Romeo and Juliet (TNT Theatre International). He was previously at the RSC in 2012/13 when he played Cinna the Poet in Gregory Doran’s Julius Caesar, and also appeared in Tim Crouch’s interactive one man show I, Cinna. His TV work includes Father Brown, Holby City and The Hollow Crown.

The cast also includes Salman Akhtar (Magnetes/Capolin/Amyras), Sagar I M Arya(Bajazeth/Trebizon), Raj Bajaj (Ceneus/Argier/Calyphas), Shamia Chalabi (Persian Courtier),James Clyde (Menaphon/Morocco/Jerusalem), Anton Cross (Persian Courtier/Bajazeth Lord/Soldier/Celebinus), Ralph Davis (Agydas/Arabia/Orcanes),Ross Green(Ortygius/Tunis/Captain),Mark Hadfied (Mycetes/Soldan/Almeda/Amasia)Zainab Hasan(Anippe/Olympia), Naveed Khan (Soldier), Debbie Korley (Zabina/Soria),Rosy McEwen(Zenocrate/Callapine), Sam Pay (Soldier),Riad L Richie (Usumcasane),David Rubin(Techelles),Vivienne Smith (Ebea/First Virgin), David Sturzaker (Cosroe/Fez/Sigismund/Governor of Babylon),Yasmin Taheri (Second Virgin), James Tucker (Meander/Basso/Governor of Damascus/Baldwin/Perdicas), Edmund Wiseman (Theridamas).

Michael said of the production:

 “We had a lot of success with Tamburlaine in New York, so it wasn’t a straightforward decision to revisit the play for the RSC, but in the end I felt that the world and our understanding of the nature of tyranny have changed so much since 2014 that we will have no choice but to reread the play anew for a contemporary audience.

We are living now through a time when angry rhetoric, and determined, self-dramatising men hold increasing sway over our lives. The received wisdoms of western liberal democracy can look weak and even moribund when faced with the strong men of the American, Russian, and Chinese Right. In this context Tamburlaine seems to be an urgent play for our time.”

The set and costumes are designed by Tom Piper. Tom was previously Associate Designer at the RSC where he collaborated on designing over 30 of Boyd’s shows including winning the Olivier award for the Design of the Histories cycle. His huge range of work recently includes Erica Whyman’s current RSC productions of Romeo and Juliet and Miss Littlewood as well as Boyd’s The Cherry Orchard (Bristol), The Open House (Bath) and Rhinoceros (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh).

He designed the internationally renowned, multi award-winning 2014 installation of poppies at the Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red (original concept by Paul Cummins) which continues to tour across the UK in sculptural iterations The Wave and The Weeping Window. He was awarded an MBE for services to theatre in 2014.

The Lighting is by Colin Grenfell with sound by Claire Windsor and music by James Jones. Movement is by Liz Ranken and fights are by Terry King.



A catch up with Cat from The Lieutenant of Inishmore: ‘It could have really gone tits up.’

Due to popular demand I caught up with Cat in between rehearsals for The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

The revival of Martin McDonagh’s play opens in the West End next month. It stars Poldark’s Aidan Turner and is directed by Michael Grandage.

Originally performed by the RSC in 2001, McDonagh’s black comedy is set in Ireland in the early 1990s, and satirises nationalism and terrorism in the modern day

Here is what happened.

Hello again. How are you?

I’m doing well. This weather is quite tedious; I find a quiet place in between rehearsals to cool – hot on the top, cold at the bottom, you know how it is.

Let’s not discuss our private lives. How are the rehearsals for The Lieutenant of Inishhmore going?

It is going very well. I have to confess I was pretty bruised that I did not feature in any of the rehearsal shots. I mean I would have liked some for my portfolio but the PR is wary of me, she’s threatened, she’s trying to ruin my moment. A bit petty in my opinion but what can you do.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre

The last time we spoke you mentioned that you thought that your co-star Aidan Turner may have allergies. Turner recently confessed that he is, in fact, allergic to cats. How has this impacted your working relationship?

It could have really gone tits up… Luckily, it has been fine. I adore Aidan, he spills over with emotion, continually taking the company in unexpected directions. His accent is exuberant and it helps that he is pretty buff and it has been a joy to take him to the theatre as my guest.

Interesting. I know that you are close to Nick Hytner; have you been to The Bridge?

I saw Nightfall recently; the whole thing seemed like a lot of effort for not much reward. It wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. I think the two Nicks are trying to find their War Horse or Curious Incident; I’m not sure anything else in the current programme really fits the bill. I have a feeling that in a few years we’ll probably look back on the first ten years as the Nicks finding their feet, and it’ll be the second decade that really make the most sense. If it isn’t a Pret a Manger by then.

Have you seen Orlando Bloom in in ‘Killer Joe’?

I know Katy Perry very well so we attended the dress rehearsal together. I am usually wary of star vehicles and stunt casting. Mind you, I think it can be a good thing for theatre because it so often brings new audiences through the door who may have never been to that theatre before. Sometimes, though, all I crave to see is a really good actor. But I thought that Bloom was quite good, so critics are invited to sit the fuck down.

What most drives you to be brilliant – fear of failure or thirst for success?

I try not to take this industry too seriously. I constantly want to outdo the last thing I’ve done.

With Harvey Weinstein being arrested and the #MeToo movement finally having its Hurricane Katrina moment. How widespread is abuse and bullying in theatre?

The thing is, most of the people in power who work in this industry are total bell-ends. I am currently working on an initiative: #MiaowToo – It is important that cats are afforded the same watershed moment to expose theatre-land thugs; I was at an audition recently. I was picked up, stroked and dropped on the *concrete* floor without consent. Anyway, it is mostly men in power abusing that power, habitually and with the belief that they will never be revealed. This careless grooming has to stop.

Do you lead or follow?

I definitely lead.

Is it hard work doing all that leading? It must be a lot easier to just sit around copying people.

No, it’s not hard work, it’s part of who I am. I love to strive to do things differently. That’s part of why I love what I do.

Are you in this for the long run?

I’ve just done an interview with The Guardian with a ‘fresh new voice’ that has replaced Lyn Gardner. Don’t get me started… I’m still furious about it. Anyway, ‘How long do you think you’ll do it?” asked the fresh new voice; I can’t remember her name, I think they used to be a stand-up comic. “A year?” Maybe I’ll stretch it to two, I purred.

Finally, is there anything that you’d like to add?

I’d like to say that The UK’s theatre exports are pretty much restricted to Sonia Friedman, James Graham, Michael Grandage and Caryl Churchill. I am currently looking at a KickStarter to supply emergency subsidies to any theatre company developing half-decent UK theatre talent. Also, please come and see The Lieutenant of Inishmore; it boasts an outstanding cast. It is superbly cast, written and acted with ruthless and icy force. There are no weak links. Martin McDonagh squeezes every gorgeous horrible drop out of the violence. Cheers!

The Lieutenant of Inishmore runs at the Noel Coward Theatre 23 June – 8 September 2018

Read the first interview with Cat from ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ HERE

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Barn Theatre

The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice
The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice

The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice

Concluding its inaugural season and following the huge critical success of its first two productions, The Barn Theatre has announced its production of the Olivier Award-winning play: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Jim Cartwright. The production, which will be directed by Michael Strassen, runs from 7th July to 4th August. First produced in 1992, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was voted third best play of the decade and has been named as one of the top 50 best plays in the history of theatre. The play was nominated for six Oliviers, winning three of them as well as the prestigious Evening Standard Award. Its film adaptation, Little Voice (1998) starring Jane Horrocks in the title role was also a huge hit receiving an Oscar nomination alongside numerous other awards for its screenplay and cast.

Running from 7th July to 4th August at The Barn Theatre, the cast includes newcomer Sarah Louise Hughes in the title role of Little Voice; Gillian McCarthy (Mari) and Angela Phinemore (Sadie) with direction by Michael Strassen. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Little Voice tells the heart-warming story of a reclusive Northern girl-next-door whose remarkable ability to impersonate the great singers provides her with an opportunity to transcend her tragically unappealing domestic life. But pushed by a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking mother and coaxed into the limelight by her mother’s latest talent agent boyfriend, timid ‘Little Voice’ will need to conquer more than just stage-fright if she is to find her own voice in the world.

“Little Voice is a modern British classic and it’s the perfect play to end our inaugural Season. Michael Strassen is one of theatre’s great directors and it’s very exciting to welcome such excellent and prolific creatives to our theatre to bring his radical interpretation of Little Voice to The Barn.” Iwan Lewis – Artistic Director – Barn Theatre


New production of The Elephant Man starring Jamie Beddard reclaims the play for our time

The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man

Disabled actor Jamie Beddard is to play Joseph Merrick in a bold, new production of Bernard Pomerance’s moving play, highlighting views of disability and difference, in past times and in the present day. 

Joseph Merrick is ‘The Elephant Man’ – the wretched spectacle of a traveling freak show who is mercilessly put on display to the horrified delight of Victorian audiences. A London surgeon also takes a keen interest, but is faced with a moral dilemma – to help Merrick or to use him to advance his scientific career?

This year, as the theatre industry begins to reflect the diversity of the world we live in, the Bristol Old Vic/Bristol Old Vic Theatre School annual production has become a three-way collaboration with Bristol Old Vic’s new Associate Company, Diverse City. Together they are creating a new, professionally integrated production with actor and Diverse City’s co-artistic director Jamie Beddard and the Theatre School’s graduating class of 2018.

Speaking today, Jamie said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to be working with drama school graduates and hopefully, by working with someone like me, it will normalise inclusion and exciting approaches to casting. Merrick is also a really iconic part for a disabled performer. In the past, the role of Joseph Merrick has been performed by non-disabled actors, which is really bizarre. It’s time to reclaim The Elephant Man.”

Jamie Beddard was most recently seen on Bristol Old Vic’s stage (and consequently across 300 cinemas worldwide) playing The Beloved in Handel’sMessiah. Jamie’s acting career began with the BBC film Skallagrigg and since then he has taken the arts world by storm. He has previously performed in the National Theatre’s The Threepenny Opera, directed by Rufus Norris, and he has also appeared in the West End production Carrie’s War and the BBC series All The King’s Men.

Director Lee Lyford says: “This is a play I have wanted to do for some time. In many ways the world has become less tolerant and accepting, and The Elephant Man is about how we dehumanise people that are not like ‘us’ (whatever that means). It also felt essential in this day and age that this disabled character should be played by a disabled actor – it’s about seeing opportunities for representation and taking them. We’re not equating Jamie with Merrick but we are exploring what is at the heart of the play and the character, and Jamie has both the skills and life experience to do this. We’re extremely lucky to have him leading the company.” 

Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City collaboration The Elephant Man has confirmed that it will increase audience access during the two-week run. The show will include integrated captioning at every performance, audio description and touch tours, integrated BSL interpretation, and, in a first for Bristol Old Vic, relaxed performances for all (14+ yrs), not just for families. Bristol Old Vic is also trialling more user-friendly wheelchair positions in the Georgian auditorium with a view to including them permanently in the future.

Jamie Beddard as Joseph Merrick is joined by a cast of theatre school graduatesStephanie Booth (Countess), Micky Dartford (Ross), Max Dinnen (Bishop Walsham How), Gerald Gyimah (Carr Gomm), Grainne O’ Mahony (Mrs Kendal),Madeleine Schofield (Duchess), Charlie Suff (Snork), Liyah Summers (Princess Alexandra) and Alex Wilson (Frederick Treves).

Director Lee Lyford is joined by a creative team comprising professionals and graduating students including set designer Caitlin Abbott, costume designer Stavri Papa, lighting designer and AV consultant Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn, AV/captioning designer Emily Leonard and composer/sound designer/musical director Adrienne Quartly.

The Elephant Man is part of Bristol Old Vic’s Year of Change, examining change through a series of ground-breaking theatre productions and provocative city-wide events.

26 Jun – 7 Jul
The Elephant Man
Venue: Bristol Old Vic
Tickets: £31.50 – £7.50
Ages 14+
Please note: this show contains mature themes and some nudity
@BristolOldVic @BOVTS @diversecity1 #ElephantMan

Press night Thu 28 Jun
Signed Performance Sat 7 Jul
Audio Described Performance Sat 7 Jul
Relaxed Performances Sat 30 Jun & Wed 4 Jul
Captioned Performances throughout