Actors Touring Company (ATC) announces new artistic director

Matthew Xia
Matthew Xia

Matthew Xia

Internationally acclaimed Actors Touring Company has today announced the appointment of Matthew Xia as its new Artistic Director. Matthew will take up the position part-time in December 2018 and will be in place full-time from March 2019. He will lead alongside ATC’s Executive Director Andrew Smaje.

Matthew Xia was Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester from 2014 to 2017 where his directing credits included Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, The Bruntwood Award winning Wish List (Royal Court co-production) and April de Angelis’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Whilst at The Royal Exchange Theatre he set up OPEN EXCHANGE, an artist development scheme with over 400 next generation theatre-makers.  Prior to this he was Director in Residence at The Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Associate Director at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Other recent directing credits include: Shebeen (Nottingham Playhouse / Theatre Royal Stratford East); Dublin Carol (Sherman Theatre); Blue/Orange, The Sound of Yellow(Young Vic) and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (Young Vic & Eclipse) and Suckerpunch Boom Suite (Barbican & NitroBEAT) Migration Music and Scrappers (Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse).

Before taking up his new position full time Matthew will direct the world premiere of Hannah Patterson’s Eden for Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in January and a major revival of Athol Fugard’s play Blood Knot at The Orange Tree in March. He will also direct Kemp Powers’ One Night In Miami for Nottingham Playhouse opening in June.

Matthew Xia said:
“It’s an honour to be appointed Artistic Director of ATC. At a time when difference, identity and borders shape our experiences, ATC plays a crucial role in offering a global perspective – developing and touring innovative theatre from writers across the world. I look forward to finding and presenting new international voices to diverse communities in the UK, as well as working with cosmopolitan British writers and introducing their work to international audiences. I’m thrilled to be joining the brilliant team at ATC and leading the company into a new phase of its evolution.”

Maria Delgado
, Chair of ATC said :
“We are delighted to welcome Matthew Xia as the new Artistic Director of ATC. He brings a wealth of experience to this role, having directed original, high quality productions for a range of theatres, both in London and across the country, and engaged with different communities and with works from different cultural traditions. His vision of an international, intercultural practice, with artistic excellence and integrity at its heart, inspired the Board and we look forward to working with him.”

Actors Touring Company (ATC) makes international, contemporary theatre that travels. The company creates plays with a global perspective: activating and entertaining the audience whilst asking questions of the world around us. Placing the actor at the heart of the work, we employ a lean aesthetic which promotes environmental sustainability.

Actors Touring Company was founded by John Retallack in the late 1970’s. Its instant success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was followed by many signature productions that have toured across the world, including Richard Curtis’s adaptation of Don Quixote directed by John Retallack, Mark Ravenhill’s Handbag directed by Nick Philippou, Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Arabian Night directed by Gordon Anderson, Bola Agbaje’s Gone Too Far directed by Bijan Sheibani and David Greig’s The Events directed by Ramin Gray. In 2018, the company revived Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size in a 10th anniversary production at the Young Vic and toured another 5 productions from Madrid to Manchester, and from Hong Kong to Scarborough.

English Touring Theatre announce partnership with Digital Theatre on Othello 

OTHELLO by William Shakespeare ;
OTHELLO by William Shakespeare ;

OTHELLO. Photo Credit & Copyright: Helen Murray

English Touring Theatre announced its partnership with Digital Theatre on a film of Othello for Digital Theatre Plus, the company’s education platform plus a nationwide programme of engagement work, The Othello Project running alongside the UK tour of OthelloOthello, a co-production with Oxford Playhouse and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, has been seen by over 40,000 audience members across 14 cities during its 2017 and 2018 tours.

ETT in partnership with Digital Theatre will present a filmed version of Othello which will be published on Digital Theatre Plus – the award-winning education arm of Digital Theatre. The production, directed by ETT’s Artistic Director Richard Twyman, was filmed live at Warwick Arts Centre during its critically-acclaimed UK tour this autumn and will be published on Digital Theatre Plus for an audience of over 3 million students on Wednesday 23 January 2019.

During the UK tour ETT presented The Othello Project – a series of talks, workshops and artistic responses, curated with host venues and local artists – giving a platform to some of the most exciting Muslim artists and writers working in the UK today, shining a light on the contemporary themes of the play itself. The Othello Project issupported by Amal – a programme of the Saïd Foundation.

ETT today announces the full programme of work which includes The Othello Project Podcast, returning for a second series to discuss Othello’s place in contemporary Britain. The Podcast which is Executive Produced by Abdul-Rehman Malik and Produced by Thomas Glasser features conversations led by Aina Khan and Remona Alywith guests including Majid Majid the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, a response piece by Papatango Prize Winner, Iman Qureshi that has been developed with audiences across the tour and a response by spoken word artist, Tanya Muneera Williams. The first episode of The Othello Project Podcast is will be available to download from Monday 3 December 2019.

 English Touring Theatre said today, “We’re delighted to announce a new partnership with Digital Theatre on the digital capture of our production of Othello. Othello is one of Shakespeare’s most contemporary and immediate plays and is widely studied in the UK and internationally. We’re thrilled that this initiative will give students and institutions around the world access to this production, after the completion of its UK tour, as well as additional resources we have built around the production. We are also pleased to announce the Othello Project, generously supported by Amal, which has allowed us to give a national platform to some of the most exciting Muslim artists, writers and thinkers in the UK. The Othello Project has ensured that Shakespeare’s Othello isn’t the end of a conversation but the beginning of one, opening up a meaningful dialogue around the production and giving audiences multiple routes into Shakespeare’s most urgent of plays. Creative collaborations and participatory activities are essential for ETT in breaking down barriers to accessing the arts, engaging multiple voices and experiences in national conversations.”

Alongside the 2018 UK tour, The Othello Project also saw Tanya Muneera Williams run a series of workshops with schools, community groups, refugees and local artists Oxford, Doncaster, Oldham, Newcastle and Warwick – these workshops have been documented in a short film by Michal Dzierza. In addition, ETT worked with Voices to screen their film ‘Flight’, based on a 2016 Facebook post by Jiva Akbor and part of their Young Muslim Voices project, at venues across the UK for audiences seeing the production of Othello – adding to the conversation around the themes of the play. The Othello Project also commissioned visual artist Mohammed Ali to create an artistic response to the production which is now available online.

To view the films and for more information about The Othello Project please visit – https://www.ett.org.uk/whats-on/othello/additional-events

Sweeney Todd announced at the Everyman, as the Playhouse welcomes bold and innovative companies for Spring 2019

Sweeney Todd
  •  Nick Bagnall to direct Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd featuring Liam Tobin
  • Co-production with Middle Child and Hull Truck Theatre announced
  • Major production of Stones in his Pockets joins Abigail’s PartyThe Girl on the Train
  • Busy children’s programme includes The Cat in the Hat, Around the World in 80 Days and The Worst Witch
  • International company Dead Centre present Chekhov’s First Play

A politically-charged production of the gruesome musical Sweeney Todd (Fri 12 Apr to Sat 18 May) will be brought to life on the Everyman stage in April 2019. Directed by Nick Bagnallthe production explores the social inequalities in a decaying nineteenth century England ruled by the corruption of the upper classes. Liam Tobin (Everyman Company 2017 and 2018) plays the role of Sweeney Todd, with the full cast to be announced in the New Year. This bold production is joined by exciting collaborations with other theatre-makers.

In association with Hull Truck Theatre and Middle Child, the Everyman & Playhouse present the premiere of Us Against Whatever (Wed 20 Mar to Sat 23 Mar). Following a hugely successful run of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything at Edinburgh and the Bush Theatre, Middle Child present an electrifying cabaret featuring live music and karaoke that looks at the most important the most important subject of this age…the people.

Joining the already announced and on-sale major productions of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party (Mon 25 Mar to Sat 30 Mar) and best-selling thriller The Girl on the Train (Mon 11 Mar to Sat 16 Mar)is a new production of the award-winning comedy Stones in His Pockets (Mon 18 Mar to Sat 23 Mar). Directed by Lindsay Posner, two actors take on multiple roles to tell the story of a Hollywood film crew in Ireland. Once there and with many cultural differences, the crew soon find their romanticised view of the Emerald Isle isn’t quite what they imagined.

Comedy Caroline’s Kitchen (Mon 18 Mar to Sat 23 Mar) visits Liverpool ahead of a transfer to New York. Starring Caroline Langrishe (LovejoyJudge John Deed), Aden Gillett (The House of Eliott) and James Sutton (EmmerdaleHollyoaks), the story follows Caroline Mortimer – a TV chef with a seemingly perfect life off screen. But as the cameras go dark, an unexpected guest disrupts a night of celebration, and there’s more than just wine to spill.

A rich family programme sees Kenny Wax Production’s whirlwind Around the World in 80 Days (Wed 17 Apr to Sat 20 Apr) return to the Playhouse after a hugely popular run in Autumn 2017. Joining the programme for young children is Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Wed 27 Feb to Sat 2 Mar), a circus spectacular by Leicester Curve, who also brought George’s Marvellous Medicine to the Playhouse this year. Featuring original songs, music and magic The Worst Witch (Tue 28 May to Sat 1 Jun) flies in, as the accident prone witch-in-training Mildred Hubble from Jill Murphy’s bestselling children’s series goes on another tale of mayhem.

The Everyman will also host the national Family Arts Conference on Tuesday 12 February for creative professionals to explore to value of arts and culture for families across the UK.

As the theatres continue to present innovative and new ways to tell a story, there is a digital re-telling of literary classic Heart of Darkness (Wed 1 May to Sat 4 May) by Imitating the Dog, and Dead Centre do a huge in-justice to a great playwright, as they bring internationally acclaimed Chekhov’s First Play (Wed 8 May to Sat 11 May) to the Playhouse.

With their own devised work, Young Everyman & Playhouse make their debut on the Playhouse stage to dissect elements of our society and challenge audiences. This year,Crowd (Wed 27 Feb to Sat 2 Mar) looks at the mentality of the group and the control of autocrats.

Eclipse Theatre Company make a welcome return with Princess & The Hustler, following 10-year-old Princess on her discovery of what it really means to be black and beautiful in 1960s Britain. The production is part of Eclipse’s Revolution Mix movement aimed at placing Black narrative at the heart of British Theatre.

Returning to the Playhouse and giving our health service an examination is comedian Mark Thomas with Check Up – Our NHS @ 70 (Fri 12 Apr and Sat 13 Apr)Based on interviews with leading experts in and on the NHS, Mark uses his own brand of humour to look at what’s going right, what’s going wrong and how does it get better for our health service.

The Playhouse welcomes Spymonkey back to follow up A Christmas Carol with pulp-gothic romance Cooped (Tue 4 Jun to Sat 8 Jun)Celebrating 20 years of Spymonkey, the physical comedy pioneers present a ‘Hitchcock on acid’ tale. A spooky mansion, a plucky young heroine and a handsome English aristocrat (with a Spanish soap star and German aristocrat thrown in for good measure) all make for a full-throttle farce to close the Playhouse season.

A busy engagement programme sees work travel out of the theatre and into our communities. Taking place over a two-course meal at Hanover Street’s Angel Restaurant, On the Wire present From Shore to Shore (Tue 19 Mar and Wed 20 Mar) blending English, Mandarin and Cantonese, to tell the powerful stories of migrant Chinese communities living in the UK.

The Brilliant Bard (Fri 1 Mar to Fri 8 Mar) at the Everyman is a landmark Shakespeare festival to celebrate one of the greatest ever playwrights. Open to everyone, the festival will feature masterclasses, workshops and culminate in a symposium. Experts from organisations including the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moore’s University and other industry leaders will discuss why the works of Shakespeare are so enduring and how we can use it to learn more about today,

Gemma Bodinetz, artistic director at Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres, said:

“Each season we aim to bring the very best in home-grown, national and international theatre to Liverpool.  And this season is no exception! Both the Everyman and Playhouse feature companies bringing us classic titles, adventurous adaptations and ground-breaking theatre making. Not to mention the extraordinary work of Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) performing this season for the first time on the Playhouse stage.

“Our centre-piece in-house production at the Everyman will be Sondheim’s dark masterpiece Sweeney Todd directed by our associate director Nick Bagnall and featuring Liam Tobin (regular Everyman company member) as the eponymous anti-hero. We are also proud to be working in association with Hull Truck and Middle Child to bring Us Against Whatever to the Everyman. This is an adventurous new work featuring a live band and karaoke opportunities for the audience.

“The Company itself is taking a pause. It achieved so much artistically including several awards and its spirit (and indeed many of its regular members) will continue to infuse our work and our ambition to bring adventurous, ensemble-led theatre to Liverpool remains undiminished.”

 General sale for all shows in the Everyman & Playhouse Spring 2018 programme will be available to the public from Monday 3 December. Tickets will be available by calling Box Office on 0151 709 4776 or at: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on.

HEAD OVER HEELS to Play Final Broadway Performance on Sunday, January 6, 2019

Head Over Heels, the new musical comedy featuring the iconic songs of  Go-Go’s – the most successful female rock band of all time – will play its final Broadway performance at Hudson Theatre (141 West 44th Street) on Sunday, January 6, 2019Head Over Heels, which began preview performances on Saturday, June 23 and officially opened on Thursday, July 26, 2018, will have played 188 regular performances and 37 previews.

“Along with my partners, creative team and cast, it was our desire to create a piece of live theatre that celebrates love of all kinds and portrays a world of beauty in which joy and acceptance reign above all else,” said lead producer Christine Russell. “We are incredibly proud of what Head Over Heels has come to represent, not only on Broadway, but for future generations of theatergoers.” In 2019, Russell will look toward a US tour and explore regional productions and professional licensing of the show.

The stock and amateur performance rights to Head Over Heels have been acquired by Broadway Licensing and will be available for production in the coming year.

A hilarious, dazzling celebration of love, Head Over Heels follows the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction. You’ll meet a king about to lose his throne, a queen about to lose her inhibitions, and two princesses about to find love. It’s a modern musical fairy tale where once upon a time is right now.

The Company

The principal cast of Head Over Heels features Andrew Durand (Spring Awakening), Taylor Iman Jones (Groundhog Day), Jeremy Kushnier (Cirque du Soleil Paramour), Bonnie Milligan (Kinky Boots tour; Broadway debut), Peppermint (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”; Broadway debut; the first trans-woman actress to create a principal role on Broadway), Tom Alan Robbins (The Lion King, original cast), Alexandra Socha (Spring Awakening) and Rachel York (Disaster!).

The Head Over Heels ensemble is Amber Ardolino (Hamilton), Sharon Catherine Brown (Dreamgirls), Yurel Echezarreta (Aladdin), Lisa Finegold (Rock of Ages), Brian Flores (Pippin tour; Broadway debut), Ari Groover (Holler If Ya Hear Me), Tanya Haglund (Chicago tour; Broadway debut), Arica Jackson (Waitress tour; Broadway debut), Gregory Liles (Broadway debut), Gavin Lodge (Annie), Samantha Pollino (Hot Feet), Justin Prescott (Cirque Du Soleil Paramour), Christine Shepard (Broadway debut),Tanner Ray Wilson (Cats, 2017 revival) and Ricardo A. Zayas (Hamilton).

The Go-Go’s

The Go-Go’s (members Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin) have presided over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses. From their very first show, The Go-Go’s wrote and played their own songs, offering five feisty role models for a generation of ready-to-rock girls and guys. The internationally-loved pop hit makers helped cement the foundation of the early ‘80s pop-rock sound.

Head Over Heels features 18 of The Go-Go’s iconic hit songs including “We Got the Beat,” “Get Up and Go,” “Cool Jerk,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Lust to Love,” “Head Over Heels” and Belinda Carlisle’s solo hits “Mad About You” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Creative Team

From the visionaries that rocked Broadway with Hedwig and the Angry InchNext To NormalAmerican IdiotSpring Awakening and Avenue Q, the Head Over Heels creative team is led by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer with musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tom Kitt and choreography by Emmy and Drama Desk nominee Spencer LiffHead Over Heels was conceived and has an original book by Tony winner Jeff Whitty and is adapted by James MagruderHead Over Heels is based upon The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney. The creative team also includes scenic design by Tony Award nominee Julian Crouch, costume design by Academy Award and Tony Award nominee Arianne Phillips, lighting design by four-time Tony Award winner Kevin Adams, sound design by Tony Award winner Kai Harada and projection design by Andrew Lazarow. Casting by Jim Carnahan CastingJulie McBride serves as Music Director. Lisa Iacucci is Production Stage Manager.

Producing Team

The producing team is Christine Russell, Louise Gund, Donovan Leitch, Rick FerrariGwyneth PaltrowScott Sigman, Hunter ArnoldTom Kirdahy and Jordan Roth.

Julie Boardman, Broadway Strategic Return Fund, Vikram Chatwal, John Gore Organization, NETworks Presentations, Insurgent Media, Robert Kravis, Art Lab LLC, Marc Bell, Mara Burros-Sandler, Carrie Clifford, Adam Gorgoni, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Marguerite Hoffman, Dr. Michael Mintz, Sandi Moran, Paramount Pictures, Van Horn Doran Group and Eric Cornell are co-producers. 101 Productions, Ltd. and Red Awning/Nicole Kastrinos serve as Executive Producers.

Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Head Over Heels cast album is now available digitally and in physical formats via Sony Masterworks Broadway. Included in the 20-track cast album is a true bonus from The Go-Go’s themselves: an exclusive new recording of one of the band’s most popular songs, “This Town,” which marks their first studio recording in more than 17 years since their album God Bless The Go-Go’s (2000).

★★★★ A SAUCY & BOISTEROUS CELEBRATION!”

Time Out New York

“A CLEVER, DELIGHTFUL, BUBBLY, EXUBERANT PARTY!”

New York Magazine

“A PERFECT NIGHT OF THEATER!”

People Magazine

“A STIRRING REMINDER OF WHY THEATER MATTERS.”

BuzzFeed 

“JOYFUL AND UNEXPECTED. A giddy neon anthem of acceptance.”

Entertainment Weekly 

“MUSICAL THEATRE NIRVANA! It’s impossible to resist.”

The Telegraph (UK)

The National Student Drama Festival appoints James Phillips as Guest Director for its 2019 Festival 

James Phillips
James Phillips

James Phillips

The Board of the National Student Drama Festival today announces that James Philips will be the Guest Director for the 2019 Festival. A director and writer with more than 15 years professional experience, Philips has been involved with NSDF as a selector, writer and director for eleven years.

Phillips said: “NSDF is a unique and precious thing, that has helped generations of talented young people of all backgrounds find their home within the arts. I’m thrilled to have been asked to help safeguard and expand this legacy. This year the Festival will be brave, bold and brilliant: bringing together some of the most exciting and accomplished professionals working in the British Theatre and a vibrant new generation of emerging young artists, critics, technicians and audience members.”

Michael Brazier, Director of NSDF since 2012, will be leaving the Company on 30 November 2018 to pursue new opportunities. Announcing his departure, Brazier said “Having led six Festivals I am delighted to be handing over to the brilliant James Phillips. It’s been a privilege working for NSDF and a joy to work with the many artists and technicians who have given so much time and skill to make the Festivals so successful. I have seen work of such quality by so many young people; their drive and ambition is very impressive. The Festival offers so much – the opportunity to learn, share work, and really discuss theatre, in a full on immersive week of creativity. I wish James, the Board and everyone connected to the Festival, all the very best for the future.”

Donna Munday, Chair of the Board of NSDF said “The Company wishes to thank Michael for his valuable contributions over the years and wishes him every success with the future.”

NSDF will shortly begin the search for the new Festival Director for the 2020 Festival and beyond, with a view to appoint by Spring 2019. Munday said ““The appointment of a new Director could not be at a more important time for the future of NSDF, which continues to bring young people together from across the UK in a celebration of all that theatre can be. There will be a rigorous process to ensure we find the best possible person to fuel the ambition of this extraordinary organisation, which has kick-started so many successful careers. To have James’ amazing talent, creativity and expertise at NSDF for the 2019 Festival while we undertake that search is an incredible opportunity for us. He is a supremely talented director, writer and producer, with a long association with NSDF. It’s a very exciting time for the company.”

Philips’ first play, The Rubenstein Kiss (which he also directed) won both the TMA Award for Best Play of the Year and the John Whiting Award, and is about to be seen again in a brand new revival at the Southwark Playhouse in March. His 4 part epic show, Flood, was the centrepiece of the UK’s 2017 Capital of Culture, and was voted by Guardian Newspaper Readers as one of the Top 10 UK shows of 2017. Hull ’17 won The Stage’s Award for ‘Producer of the Year’, and Flood’s BBC2 Drama won an RTS Award.

His play City Stories had a Residency at St James Theatre, London from 2014-17 and also transferred to 59East59 Theater in New York City, where it opened to terrific reviews in the New York Times and elsewhere. His play McQueen: or Lee and Beauty, about Alexander McQueen, broke box office records at St James Theatre in London and then transferred to the West End. His recent play Camelot: The Shining City – which was produced with a cast of 150 – was named as one of the top 5 UK Theatre Shows of 2015 by The Guardian Newspaper.

Phillips is Associate Artist of the Oxford Playhouse and an Associate of Wilton’s Music Hall.

National Youth Theatre raises more then £150,000 in annual fundraiser gala

Paul Roseby
Paul Roseby

Paul Roseby OBE attends the annual National Youth Theatre Fundraising evening at Cafe Royal on November 26, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

On Monday 26 November, The National Youth Theatre hosted its annual fundraising gala, this year to the theme ‘Puttin’ on the Blitz Kidz’ at Café de Paris, and was attended by VIP guests, past alumni and current NYT performers. The event, featuring music and theatre performances, auctions and fundraising events significantly exceeded targets, raising more than £150,000 to support The National Youth Theatre’s ongoing projects.

Guests included Seraphina Beh, Barbara Broccoli, Cerrie Burnell, Lolita Chakrabarti, Ellise Chappell, Gwendoline Christie, Giles Deacon, Sope Dirisu, Rusty Egan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Feeling, HRH The Earl of Wessex, Derek Jacobi, Lily James, Beverley Knight, Adrian Lester, Daisy Lewis, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Valene Kane, Kate Kennedy, Yolanda Kettle, Katia Kvinge, Lauren Lyle, Gina Miller, Gareth Pugh, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Matt Smith, Rhys Stephenson, Lucy Verasamy, Arabella Weir, Paula Wilcox, Shane Zaza and Ashley Zhangazha.

Charlie Ross hosted an auction of very special prizes including lunch with Sir Ian McKellen at Coutts HQ, dinner with Bond novelist Anthony Horowitz, a Rolls Royce Tour of London, memorabilia signed by Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Labrinth and Helen Mirren, luxury holidays to South Africa and Marrakech, a Paul Oz Diamond David Bowie print, VIP experiences to the Aston Martin factory and Cheltenham Festival, Conor Collins commissioned artwork, a Remainers’ dinner at the Houses of Parliament, an ITV weather masterclass with Lucy Verasamy and more.

The event was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Cerrie Burnell with music from The Feeling and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a DJ set by Rusty Egan, plus a performance from current members of The National Youth Theatre.

The evening was made possible thanks to the support of headline sponsors Eon Productions and host venue Café de Paris where VIP attendees enjoyed a champagne Bollinger reception followed by dinner specially chosen by Elizabeth Haigh, the youngest female chef ever to receive a Michelin star in the UK. The menu included ceviche of salmon, roasted squash hot salad, rump of lamp with rosemary jus, pan fried potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, vanilla panna cotta and chocolate and orange mousse, accompanied by Majestic Loves wine.

 

Nancy Medina: “There is something emotionally sad about the arts world not embracing more representative stories, because it would be a lot less rich without them.”

It is 2.30pm and today is all about Brookyn born director Nancy Medina. “I am thinking: what am I doing here? How did this happen?” she declares, laughing.

We are talking at Shakespeare’s Globe ahead of an industry reception where Medina will be presented with the Royal Theatrical Support Trust Sir Peter Hall Director Award. “A few years ago I co-directed a scene for The Sam Wanamaker Festival and I shared a photo online with the caption: ‘From the South Side to the South Bank – this Brooklyn girl has come far,” she beams.

Is she nervous? “I feel really positive and I’m very grateful, this is all very surreal,” says Medina. Her breakthrough into mid-scale regional touring theatre directing is a real cause for celebration. She is a director of colour, a parent and a woman in her thirties.

Nancy Medina in rehearsals)

Nancy Medina in rehearsals

In 2017 Nancy won the Genesis Future Director Award at the Young Vic, she has spent fifteen years on “the fringe of NY and UK”. She has lived in the UK for 10 years and says that making her mark as a director, has been, at times, an “up-hill battle”. She explains, “I was new in the theatrical landscape and it took time to find where I fit in to that. I was trying to figure out how the stories I find most meaningful can also be meaningful to audiences here,” she says.

On the subject of diversity she prefers the word “representative,” she says that she does see progress but thinks it is slow. “One of the things that we as artists struggle with is that we are trying to make meaningful work but we don’t often get that larger space for wider audiences to see it,” says Medina.

“Most stories I love tend to be universal. If you want to increase audiences and establish new audiences then you have to start showing people themselves on stage. If you want to inspire more representation across the board, you must allow space for that.”

Sir Trevor Nunn, Nancy Medina, RTST Chair Geoffrey Cass and Mark Hawes

Sir Trevor Nunn, Nancy Medina, RTST Chair Geoffrey Cass and Mark Hawes

I ask if she has ever compared her career to any of her peers. “I try not to compare myself to others, I do sympathise with directors that feel stuck. I myself have often felt that way. You have to come back to exactly why you do what you do – and the reason I do what I do is because the stories that I put on stage are everyday people – because their lives matter and because my life matters.”

How did she stay positive when she hit brick walls? “I would say: don’t worry about all that and keep going. If I don’t fit into this scene maybe the scene will fit in with me. Keep choosing the right text and collaborators, it has to be the right project for you,” Medina reasons.

We discuss further inequalities within theatre, such as gender and race and what is programmed, the size of that space and where it is produced. She says: “There is that word ‘risk’ that gets thrown around quite a lot, but there is something scary and emotionally sad about the arts world not embracing more representative stories because it would be a lot less rich without them.”

On that point, Nancy adds that it is a unique opportunity to premiere August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize nominated Two Trains Running for Royal and Derngate and English Touring Theatre. The play is set in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and explores changing perspectives on race. The production will tour to theatres across the UK.

 Two Trains Running – a co-production for Royal and Derngate and English Touring Theatre will run in 2019.

Theatre503 announces the winner of its 2018 International Playwriting Award + Spring 2019 Season

DANUSIA SAMAL
DANUSIA SAMAL

DANUSIA SAMAL

Danusia Samal is announced as the winner of the third biennial Theatre503 International Playwriting Award at an event at The Bridge Theatre hosted by 503 Chair Erica Whyman and Artistic Director Lisa Spirling on Thursday 22 November.

Danusia Samal is an actor, writer and singer from London who spent part of her childhood in the Middle East. She receives a £6,000 prize for her play Out of Sorts, which will be produced at Theatre503 in 2019.

 Out of Sorts is a rich, funny, layered and beautifully characterised comic drama examining the conflicts that arise for the children of refugee migrants raised in the UK within two very different cultures. The play follows Zara, who has spent her life being two people, neither of whom seem to be good enough. Living in two different worlds and being pulled in different directions she is losing her way. When her parents intervene to ‘fix things’, she is forced to confront her prejudice, and the charade begins to unravel. Over a family dinner and a boozy party in her flat, she finally tells the truth and works out what kind of person she might just be.

 Out of Sorts was chosen from a shortlist of five plays, selected from over 2,055 scripts submitted from 49 countries. The winning play was selected by an industry panel including journalist Lyn Gardner, Audible’s Commissioning Producer for Theatre Abigail Gonda, playwrights Stephen Beresford, Alice Birch, Chinonyerem Odimba and Roy Williams, and Theatre503 Artistic DirectorLisa Spirling.

The other shortlisted plays were: Milk and Gall by Mathilde Dratwa, Meat by Gillian GreerIn That Short Space by Joel MacCormack, and Before Evening Comes by Philana Imade Omorotionmwan

Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC, Theatre503 Chair, Award Judging Panel Chair: From a very fine shortlist of impressively urgent and inventive plays, Out of Sorts touched the judges deeply. It is a delicate, intelligent, funny and profoundly revealing play, which tackles one of the central questions of our time – how to be all the parts of ourselves without falling apart. It does this with great skill and sensitivity through the lens of cultural identity, love, family and friendship. I look forward very much to seeing it on our stage.’

 The announcement of the Award winner coincides with the launch of Theatre503’s Spring 2019 season. Highlights include Ross Willis’ fantastical fairytale about life in and after the care system,Yasmin Joseph‘s timely exploration on the Black British experience and sexual politics of Carnival, and Synergy Theatre Project’s first major four week production. This line-up includes two plays from the venue’s pioneering 503Five. To date the 18 month writers’ residency has launched the careers of, amongst others, Charlene James, Lou Ramdsen, Beth Steel, Jon Brittain, Brad Birch and Vinay Patel.

THEATRE503 SPRING SEASON 2019:

20 February – 16 March 2019 (press night: Monday 25 February)

There is a Field

By Martin Askew, Directed by Esther Baker

Produced by Synergy Theatre Project in association with Theatre503

 Why you all looking at me like that? Eh? You never seen a real Muslim before? Is it cos I’m white?

Mark’s mother wants him to bury his father and it’s up to Saleh to find him and bring him home for a proper East End send off. Only Mark is no longer Mark, he’s Abdullah. There is A Field is a London story of faith, death and family strife reshaped by local crises and global events.

Synergy Theatre Project creates groundbreaking work across theatre and the justice system. They began working with Martin after his release from prison, commissioning There is a Field as his debut full length play. Synergy is continuing their long running partnership with Theatre503 with their first major four week production.

20 March – 13 April 2019 (press night: Monday 25 March)

Wolfie

By Ross Willis, Directed by Lisa Spirling

Produced by Theatre503

 If the sky dropped the stars or the river drained the water there would be outrage, but we treat children like this and there is silence.

 Something’s not right.

Children are being raised by animals.

A Mother is slowly sinking in the bath.

The trees are left doing the paperwork.

The air is filled with screams of children howling for help.

And some twins want to tell you a story about how everything got so f*cked up.

A spiralling odyssey of dizzying theatricality, Wolfie is a bold, fantastical fairytale following two twins separated at birth and asks who is truly responsible for society’s most vulnerable children.

This wildly imaginative, irreverent look at life in and after the care system is the debut play from Ross Willis, one of the 503Five Writers In Residence and directed by Artistic Director Lisa Spirling.

22 April – 18 May 2019 (press night: Monday 27th April)

The Amber Trap

By Tabitha Mortiboy, Directed by Hannah Hauer-King

Produced by Damsel Productions in association with Theatre503

 Some bones are like ice. They’re weaker than you’d think

Katie and her girlfriend Hope work at their local corner shop, where the days pass in quiet, comfortable rhythms. But when new employee Michael arrives, the sands start to shift and the air begins to thicken.

Written by Tabitha Mortiboy (Beacons) and directed by Hannah Hauer-King (The Funeral Director, Fabric), all-female theatre company Damsel Productions (Fabric, Fury, Grotty, Dry Land) presents an unsettling portrait of devotion and control.

29 May – 22 June (press night Monday 3 June)

J’Ouvert

By Yasmin Joseph, Directed by Rebekah Murrell

Produced by Tobi Kyeremateng and BadBreed in association with Theatre503

What people you know can party through all of the earth’s elements?

Carnival is here. The streets of Notting Hill are alive with history, and amongst the pulsating soca, dazzling colour, and endless sequins and feathers, Jade and Nadine are fighting for space in a world they thought was theirs.

A timely reflection on the Black British experience and sexual politics of Carnival, J’Ouvert is a piercing, hilarious and fearless story of two best friends, battling to preserve tradition in a society where women’s bodies are frequently under threat.

A rhythmic, vibrant testimony to womanhood and freedom, J’Ouvert marks the debut play of Yasmin Joseph, one of Theatre503’s 503Five Writers In Residence. It is also the directorial debut of actor Rebekah Murrell (Nine Night, National Theatre, Trafalgar Studios), with the two combining forces with producer Tobi Kyeremateng to create an exciting new theatre company to bring this story to life.

 

Applications open tomorrow for Bristol Old Vic’s 2019-20 Leverhulme Arts Scholarship recipients

Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment on the hunt for 2019-20 Leverhulme Arts Scholarship Recipients. Applications Open Thurs 22 Nov.

Announcing the return of the Leverhulme Arts Scholarships in 2019 for its third year!

Supported by the Leverhulme Trust, Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment team are again offering 5 Leverhulme Scholarships to brilliant artists across disciplines, living and making work in the South West.

Each recipient will receive a £5000 bursary and a bespoke 12 months of support from Bristol Ferment, including plenty of opportunities to engage with Ferment activity – from sharing a piece of work-in-progress during the Ferment Fortnights, to having a space to work regularly, to spending time away with other scholars on a week-long residential; it’s all part of the package.

This opportunity exists to support individuals to think about their own creative development; we understand that sometimes the best way to support artists is to fund the individual, without the pressure of outcome – a previous Leverhulme scholar described their year as an opportunity to ‘breathe in’, a chance to sustain and reflect before moving forwards with renewed ambition.

Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury said: “I’m delighted to launch the next raft of applications for our Leverhulme Scholarships, generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust. Over the past two years these vital scholarships have enabled Ferment to work with ten brilliant artists from the South West across a range of disciplines; we’ve seen this opportunity give space and time for thought, reflection and research as well as vital financial investment in them and their practice.

Ferment’s support is always driven by people rather than outcomes and two years into this scheme, we’re beginning to see the fruits of this opportunity emerge in the ambitious projects our previous scholars are now working on, and the peer support they continue to give to each other. I can’t wait to work with our next group.”

HOW TO APPLY:
If this sounds like the opportunity for you and you’d like to apply for a Leverhulme Scholarship, please complete the form via the link below. You’ll be asked to give some of your details and please choose to complete one of the following;

  • A short statement of no more than 4000 characters
  • A Youtube/Vimeo link to a video of no more than 2 minutes on the same subject

Please apply via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3RYT757

Closing date for applications: 5pm, December 20th 2018.

If you’d like to have an informal chat with Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury about this opportunity, please drop him a line at [email protected]org.uk or head over to www.bristololdvic.org.uk/ferment.

Bristol Old Vic folks understand that forms don’t work for everyone – if you would like to apply, but would rather a different format to what is listed above, email Ben to make an alternative arrangement.

Katharine McPhee to star in Sara Bareillis’ Waitress

KATHARINE McPHEE
KATHARINE McPHEE

KATHARINE McPHEE

Katharine McPhee will make her West End debut starring as Jenna in the UK premiere of Waitress, having played the role on Broadway earlier this year. The Tony Award-nominated musical will begin preview performances on 8 February ahead of its official opening night on 7 March at London’s Adelphi Theatre. Currently playing its third year on Broadway, Waitress will bring with it an all-female lead creative team – a West End musical first.

Since finding international fame as a captivating singer on American Idol – Season 5, Katharine has become a successful recording artist, landing numerous songs and albums on Billboard’s pop, jazz, holiday and adult-contemporary charts in her native US. Her latest album of timeless American standards “I Fall In Love Too Easily” was released by BMG in 2017. As an acclaimed actress, she was the breakout star of the 2013 NBC-TV musical series Smash, Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). She recently starred in the hit CBS dramatic series Scorpion.

Waitress opened on 24 April 2016 at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theater. Based on the 2007 motion picture written by Adrienne ShellyWaitress was the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriterSara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Latarro and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus. The production is currently touring the US and has also recently announced it will have its Australian premiere in 2020 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker in a small town, who dreams of a way out of her loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a new life, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes to happiness. But Jenna must find the courage and strength within herself to rebuild her life. This American musical celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

On its Broadway opening, Waitress was nominated for four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards, including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; two Drama League Award Nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical; six Drama Desk Nominations, including Outstanding Musical; and four Tony Award Nominations, including Best Musical.

Waitress is produced by Barry and Fran Weissler and Norton and Elayne Herrick.

LISTINGS

WAITRESS
The Adelphi Theatre
The Strand,
London WC2R 0NS

Performances from Friday 8 February
Opening night: Thursday 7 March

Monday – Saturday evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

24 Hour Telephone Booking line: 020 7087 7753
waitressthemusical.co.uk

Images from: thecornershoppr.com/download/the-original-broadway-production-images-of-waitress/

Twitter: @WaitressLondon
Facebook: Waitress the Musical – London
Instagram: @WaitressLondon