, , , , ,

Time to Act photographer Simon Annand: “This country’s main strength is culture.”

The cast of Hairspray, Shaftesbury Theatre, 2009

Theatre photographer Simon Annand has been capturing actors backstage for almost forty years. His latest book, Time to Act, is a collection of 234 portrait photographs, taken over the last 10 years, of some of the world’s greatest performers.

All the emotions from the theatre are captured within these pages and remind us what we have all been missing.

Annand’s point of view remains constant, his camera capturing the slightest shifts in mood and expression from dressing room to dressing room.

Speaking on Zoom from his home Annand tells me where the idea for Time To Act came from. “This book is out there to support artists and to encourage people to remember what it was like, and what we hope it will continue to be like again in the future,” he says.

Cate Blanchett, The Present, Ethel Barrymore theater, New York, 2017

He is chatty and philosophical company, some of these photos make up a virtual exhibition. This will be re-hung to show a changing selection of photographs from the collection together with a commentary on the images.

“I have three strands of my work, one is production photography, one is dressing room stuff and the other is headshots,” he says.

“The headshots are very different as they are a tool to give the actor to get the attention of casting directors, which reflect the allowance of key scenes and good scripts. So, they have to have the authority in their face to tell the story.”

With Time to Act, Annand explores the fascinating notion of vulnerability. An intimate and meditative, but never intrusive series of portraits of stars backstage.

“Each actor has their own unique way of spending time before curtain-up. It varies from inhabiting the character at all times, to the opposite, holding the fictional character back and releasing it at the last minute before entering the stage.”

A deceptively simple photobook that comprises of over 200 performers, Annand’s portraits have a sense of suspended time, as if the subtext of the subjects remain somehow elusive despite the deep fascination, he feels for them.

James Earl Jones, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Novello Theatre, 2010

“I’m not trying to catch them out. A photographer only finds what he or she is looking for,” Annand explains.

One close-up snap in Time to Act sees James Earl Jones before taking to the stage in the 2010 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre.

“I walked into that dressing room and that is what he was doing. He has size 16 feet, so when I came through the door, all I saw was those feet and he was flat out with a big fat cigar between his teeth and he said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t tell my doctor.”

In another close-up picture, David Suchet checks the mirror as he prepares to mesmerise audiences as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2015.

“You know, it was a bold and brave choice for David to go from Poirot to Lady Bracknell,” he says, smiling.

David Suchet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Vaudeville Theatre, 2015

“That role was completely on his level. The photo really conveys him in his own terms; it is his agenda – I waited until he had his makeup and costume almost complete but he’s still in the dressing room so there’s still this unique element of him being David Suchet.”

“I suppose I am looking for the relationship that performers have with themselves, and their fictional characters,” Annand says.

Theatres from Shetland to the West End closed in March to slow the spread of Covid-19 with no date set for when venues can fully reopen as England continues to endure a second national lockdown.

“This country’s main strength is culture,” he says, exasperated.

Simon Annand, (credit: Snežana Popović)

“The problem is that the government is not sufficiently helping the thousands and thousands of freelance workers that our precious creative culture depends on,” says Annand, who is making a donation from the sale of every book in the UK to The Theatre Artists Fund.

What does he feel makes a great photograph? “It goes back to being strong and open – what I’m trying to avoid is fancy lenses or a fancy composition. A good photograph allows the viewer to hang their own story onto it.”

Time to Act is out now and the Time to Act: a virtual exhibition will run until Christmas. 

, ,

Olivier Award winners 2020

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The winners of this year’s Olivier Awards have been announced.

The 2020 Oliviers featured performances from nominees Sam Tutty (Dear Evan Hansen) and Miriam-Teak Lee (& Juliet). It was an honouring of the best west end performances and productions of 2019.

Which feels like a lifetime ago.

The majority of the show was pre-filmed in and around the London Palladium, featuring a mixture of the winner’s announcements, performances, interviews, and more.

An audience was non-existent, Jason Manford and the winners were hardly in the same postcode, or popped up on a flat screen and a handful of nominees inexplicably performed at the bottom of a staircase.

Indeed, the fact it was on at all is a bit of a production miracle, even if it looked slightly bereft, on TV.

Also, a shame that Amélie went home empty handed. But here we are.

God, I miss theatre.

Elsewhere, three time Olivier winner Sharon D. Clarke honoured Sunset Boulevard and legendary lyricist Don Black, who received the Olivier Special Award for contribution to theatre. Black was presented his award by Andrew Lloyd Webber and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

HRH Camilla went on to make a heartfelt speech, thanking theatre workers for their ‘determination and flexibility.”

She added: “Please remain resilient. We need you and have missed you.”

Anyway, Ian McKellen was celebrated for his solo show, Ian McKellen On Stage, which toured over 80 venues, raising funds for different charities. 

Originally planned for April, this ceremony was moved online featuring an initial bout of awards, plus an inexplicable late night Sunday slot on ITV.

It was a personal highlight to see Miriam Teak Lee win Best Actress in a Musical for & Juliet; the show belongs to her.

Theatre plays a role in all our lives.

Read the full list of winners (in bold) below

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

David Bedella, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Stewart Clarke, Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Jack Loxton, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre
Rupert Young, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Lucy Anderson, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre
Petula Clark, Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre
Cassidy Janson, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Lauren Ward, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre

Original Original Score or New Orchestration

Bill Sherman and Dominic Fallacaro, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Musical supervisor and arrangements by Barnaby Race, Amélie the Musical, The Other Palace
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, orchestration by Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre
New orchestrations by Jason Carr, Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, Waitress, Adelphi Theatre

Best New Dance Production

La Fiesta by Israel Galván at Sadler’s Wells
Ingoma by Mthuthuzeli November for Ballet Black at Royal Opera House – Linbury Theatre
Mám by Michael Keegan-Dolan for Teaċ Daṁsa at Sadler’s Wells
Vessel by Damien Jalet & Kohei Nawa at Sadler’s Wells

Outstanding Achievement in Dance

Sara Baras for her choreography and performance in Ballet Flamenco – Sombras at Sadler’s Wells
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for her performance in Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind/Bach6Cellosuiten at Sadler’s Wells
Gisèle Vienne for her choreography of Crowd, presented by Dance Umbrella at Sadler’s Wells

Best Entertainment or Comedy Play

Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
Fleabag, Wyndham’s Theatre
Magic Goes Wrong, Vaudeville Theatre
The Upstart Crow, Gielgud Theatre

Best Theatre Choreographer

Fabian Aloise for Evita at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear for Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre
Jerome Robbins and Matt Cole for Fiddler On The Roof at Playhouse Theatre
Jennifer Weber for & Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre

Best Musical Revival

Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The London Palladium
Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre

Best Actor in a Musical

Andy Nyman, Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Charlie Stemp, Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre
Sam Tutty, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre
Jac Yarrow, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The London Palladium

Best Actress in a Musical

Audrey Brisson, Amélie the Musical, The Other Palace
Judy Kuhn, Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Miriam-Teak Lee, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Zizi Strallen, Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre

Best Play Revival

Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre
Death of a Salesman, Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre
Present Laughter, The Old Vic
Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Family Show

Mr Gum And The Dancing Bear – The Musical!, National Theatre – Dorfman
Oi Frog & Friends!, Lyric Theatre
To The Moon And Back, Barbican Theatre
The Worst Witch at Vaudeville Theatre

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre
Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre
Our Lady of Kibeho, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court
Warheads, Park Theatre

Best Lighting Design

Neil Austin, Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre
Paule Constable, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, National Theatre – Dorfman
Howard Hudson, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Bruno Poet, Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre

Best Sound Design

Gregory Clarke, Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre
Emma Laxton, Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
Ben and Max Ringham, ANNA, National Theatre – Dorfman
Ben and Max Ringham, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre

Best Costume Design

Hugh Durrant, Goldilocks And The Three Bears, The London Palladium
Jonathan Lipman, Fiddler On The Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Joanna Scotcher, Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
Paloma Young, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre

Best Set Design

Bob Crowley, Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre
Soutra Gilmour, & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Rae Smith, Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre
Rae Smith, Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play

Arinzé Kene, Death Of A Salesman, Young Vic
Colin Morgan, All My Sons, The Old Vic
Adrian Scarborough, Leopoldstadt, Wyndham’s Theatre
Reece Shearsmith, A Very Expensive Poison, The Old Vic

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Play

Michele Austin, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre
Sophie Thompson, Present Laughter, The Old Vic
Indira Varma, Present Laughter, The Old Vic
Josie Walker, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, National Theatre – Dorfman

Best New Opera Production

Berenice, Royal Opera House – Linbury Theatre
Billy Budd, Royal Opera House
Hansel and Gretel, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Noye’s Fludde, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Outstanding Achievement in Opera

Jette Parker Young Artists for their performances in Berenice, Death In Venice and Phaedra at Royal Opera House
The Children’s Ensemble for their performance in Noye’s Fludde at Theatre Royal Stratford East
Martyn Brabbins and James Henshaw for their conducting of The Mask Of Orpheus for English National Opera at London Coliseum

Best Actor in a Play

Toby Jones, Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre
James McAvoy, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre
Wendell Pierce, Death Of A Salesman, Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre
Andrew Scott, Present Laughter, The Old Vic

Best Actress in a Play

Hayley Atwell, Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre
Sharon D Clarke, Death Of A Salesman, Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre
Juliet Stevenson, The Doctor, Almeida Theatre
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag, Wyndham’s Theatre

Best Director

Miranda Cromwell and Marianne Elliott, Death Of A Salesman, Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre
Jamie Lloyd, Cyrano De Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre
Trevor Nunn, Fiddler On The Roof, Playhouse Theatre
Ian Rickson, Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre

Best New Play

A Very Expensive Poison, The Old Vic
The Doctor, Almeida Theatre
Leopoldstadt, Wyndham’s Theatre
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at National Theatre – Dorfman

Best New Musical

& Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Amélie the Musical, The Other Palace
Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre
Waitress, Adelphi Theatre

, ,

More than 1,000 arts organisations thrown lifeline as Culture Recovery Funds confirmed

Park Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, the Young Vic, The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster and Hope Mill in Manchester are among venues that will be awarded a share of £257 million, in the first allocation of money from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Park Theatre’s Artistic Director Jez Bond said, “
We are delighted and relieved to receive the Cultural Recovery Grant of £250,000 from the government. The very essence of theatre is gathering people together in the same room for a live, shared experience – and the economics of venues at our scale, mean that it’s not financially viable to produce shows with social distancing in place.” 

The tranche of cash is part of the government’s £1.6bn Culture Recovery Fund, and will “protect these special places” which “form the soul of our nation”, said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

Today’s recipients are venues and organisations who applied for less than £1m, with future releases of up to £3m going to larger organisations in the future.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden at Bristol Old Vic

Speaking today, Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director, Tom Morris said: “This is fantastic news for many arts organisations all over the country. For Bristol Old Vic it is transformative. Immediately, it keeps us open and prevents another devastating round of redundancies. Beyond that, it gives us a solid platform from which we can contribute to the economic and social recovery which must follow the pandemic over the next two years.”

Thankfully, people are beginning to understand just how valuable culture is, and how much in danger it is. And how historically important it is.

But while theatre buildings fight for their survival, it is the freelance workforce that brings them to life and they are endangered too. The pandemic has raised awareness of the significant precariousness that self-employed freelancers find themselves in compared with those who are employed by national portfolio organisations.

Interestingly, there were 1,385 CRF grants awarded – with 428 in London and 96 in the West Midlands.

This lifeline will come too late for some organisations who have already been forced to close their doors for good or made valued employees redundant.

Last week hundreds of freelance musicians played outside parliament to highlight the plight of self-employed artists.

The government argued that reopening venues creates work for those freelancers.

Time will tell. 

Full list of successful Culture Recovery Fund applicants 







, , ,

Nimax Theatres to open West End theatres in sequence from 22 Oct with social distancing

Good news everyone: after the worst year in modern history, the owner of the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville theatres will welcome audiences back to London after seven-months of closure, starting with the Apollo in October.

Nimax Chief Executive Nica Burns said: “I am delighted to announce we will be switching on all our lights and presenting a special season of fantastic entertainment.  First up at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave is This is Going to Hurt written and performed by ex-NHS doctor Adam Kay who will open his run with a free performance for NHS staff on 22 October.  Tickets will soon be on sale at as is registration for NHS staff to enter the ballot for their free performance.

Nica Burns

Our full programme of special shows will reopen each of our six venues prior to the return of our brilliant long running shows: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace theatre), Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre), Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre), The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre). Details on this special season of shows will be announced over the next fortnight.

All our venues will open with social distancing plus robust risk mitigation to comply with government COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Although with reduced capacities it is not possible to make a profit, we are determined retain Nimax’s highly skilled, experienced workforce alongside the huge, talented tapestry of freelancers onstage and backstage, plus the many teams and businesses which together give our audiences a night to remember. Our theatre community cannot wait to get back to work safely.

As culture secretary Oliver Dowden wrote this week, ‘…theatre is a lynchpin of London’s West End and its absence is painfully reflected in its deserted streets.’  Even with reduced capacities at our theatres, we can entertain over 20,000 customers a week who we hope will re-energise the beating heart of our city, particularly the cafes, bars and restaurants that are an essential part of the fabric of the West End. Ticket sales for those venues that have managed to open so far, both outdoor and indoor, have been strong and we look to the future with confidence.”

Adam Kay says:
“It’s extremely heartening that Theatreland is starting to gear up again. The people you see on stage are the very tip of the theatre iceberg – behind the scenes are hundreds of hard-working staff – from electricians to stage managers to lighting techs to box office to carpenters – huge numbers of whom fell between the gaps of government support. I’m very proud to return to the West End, following the extraordinary efforts of Nimax to do so in a way that’s safe for staff and theatregoers alike, and doubly proud to open the run with a free show for NHS staff, who can clearly do with a night out more than anyone.“

Why is Nimax opening at a loss?
Like all businesses, Nimax looked at their business strategy post 31 October when the furlough scheme ends.  As part of this, they looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies.  They preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment. When they then fully open, they will have their fantastic workforce in place saving the cost of recruiting again. With this plan Nimax will not be making a profit but will be earning a contribution to their costs post-furlough which will enable them to achieve 4 key aims:-

  • Jobs:  Save the jobs of Nimax’s experienced, highly skilled and valued full time theatre staff teams as well as central management staff teams. They will also be hiring front of house and performance staff. Total jobs 355 plus.In addition, a significant number of freelancers will benefit and freelance jobs will be created or reactivated: actors, musicians, creative teams, stage management, wardrobe plus affiliated sector businesses such as marketing, press and technical hire companies.Everyone in the theatre community is desperate to get back to work. Nimax Theatres would like to thank their fantastic staff team and all our freelancers who were working in their theatres. They would also like to thank the three theatre unions BECTU, Equity and the MU who are working collaboratively across our industry to help us reopen.
  • Assist the stimulation of London economy: Even at a reduced capacity, Nimax will be attracting a significant number of customers into the West End stimulating the local economy in our area, particularly cafes, bars and restaurants.
  • Fulfilling audience demand: Nimax will be helping to fulfil a pent up demand of audiences who wish to return to theatres as demonstrated by our (SOLT/UK Theatre) latest audience survey  from Morris Hargreaves and McIntyre,  where 72% of audiences surveyed said they were looking forward to the thrill of seeing something live. Nimax can’t wait to welcome audiences back to experience a fantastic night out.
  • Consumer confidence: Nimax want to help build up consumer confidence with a return to central London and indoor entertainment spaces. They are proud to display the new industry See it Safely mark to show that our venues are compliant with the latest government guidelines.

Why can Nimax Theatres open when other theatres cannot?

The economics of their business model: they are the smallest of the 4 large West End theatre owning companies.  The smaller the theatre and the shows it presents, the lower the costs.  Hamilton, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella are very expensive to run (both show and theatre) on a weekly basis.  Conversely, costs for The Play That Goes Wrong in Nimax’s smallest theatre, the 500 seat Duchess, are substantially lower.

Special reopening programming: Nimax will be presenting special programming to be announced separately prior to the re-opening of our long running shows.

These shows are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 21 February 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre) – performances are currently suspended until 11 November 2020

Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 15 November 2020

The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 18 October 2020

What help does the theatre sector need from the government?

For the theatre to survive, we need the following:

  • End of social distancing: to reopen as quickly and safely as possible without social distancing and at full capacity. As the larger shows take time to remount, we need a date as soon as possible.
  • Extension of the JRS and self-employed support schemes:  for theatres, businesses and freelancers who cannot open with social distancing.
  • Insurance: a scheme on the same lines as that already agreed with cinema and TV sector.

Asked about the return of pantomimes, Nica says: “We won’t be putting on a pantomime. [But] I know Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Harrison, our greatest panto producer, and I’m really hopeful that, oh yes, we will be going to the London Palladium at Christmas.”

There we have it.



Young Vic celebrates 50th Birthday and launches 50th year programme

Young Vic celebrates 50th Birthday

and launches 50th year programme


Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, today announces the start of the Young Vic’s 50thbirthday with a year-long programme of work entitledWe are the New Tide, dedicated to the theatre’s milestone birthday.

The 50th birthday year of work begins with three major commissions:

  • YV 50th Projection Project – a projection celebrating the people and productions from across five extraordinary decades, illuminating the front of the Young Vic building each evening, with video design by Duncan McLean
  • The Unforgotten – an interactive outdoor art installation commemorating trailblazers Mary Seacole, Marsha P. Johnson and Ulric Cross. Furthering the conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement, the Young Vic community will be invited to contribute to the installation by submitting their own nominations in writing on the side of the building and online, asking us all to (re)consider who we celebrate as our heroes.Created by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle.

  • The New Tomorrow – for the first piece of live theatre since the pandemic closed UK theatres, this weekend festival of speeches and monologues asks what the next fifty years hold. Writers and artists Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters will explore the change that has come and is coming. Cast to be announced.

The 50th Projection Project and The Unforgotten will be unveiled this evening, Friday 11 September, marking the beginning of We are the New Tide, the year-long 50th birthday programme running until September 2021.

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame Kwei-Armah said: “We had planned to hold a giant street party celebration to mark the beginning of our 50th birthday year– we had envisioned 50 individual stages in and around the YV featuring the people who make up its DNA – drama students and community members, actors, artists, creatives, technical crews… – and we were going to invite hundreds of people to join us.


This year has taken a very different turn, and it feels vital our revised birthday plans serve this urgent moment, on this precipice of monumental change. The YV’s extraordinary past will be rightly celebrated, but we cannot do this without acknowledging the seriousness of this present moment and also looking towards our future.

Therefore, the beginning of our 50th birthday year sees three commissions: a projection project on the front of the building to celebrate the past people and productions who have contributed to this unique theatre over the last five decades; a commission called The Unforgotten which speaks entirely to the present moment and the urgent conversations which are taking place right now; and finally The New Tomorrow, a chance for brilliant writers and artists to take a look forward at what the next 50 years might hold for us. By channelling as much of this work into the digital sphere as possible, we continue our YV mission of being as accessible as possible.

The beginning of our 50th year marks a moment of change for everyone, but it is a year I go into with absolute optimism, for We are the New Tide.

Glenn Earle, Chair of the Young Vic Board, said: “The Young Vic has been a theatrical powerhouse for five decades. A daring display of what theatre can be, the Young Vic is both deeply rooted in the local community and applauded internationally for artistic excellence. Our fiftieth birthday is a chance to celebrate the Young Vic’s ambition and brilliance, and also the spirit of community at the heart of this very special theatre. It is a chance to look back on fifty wonderful years of art and impact  – and to dream about the next fifty.”



, , , , ,

National Theatre to reopen with Death of England sequel Delroy starring Giles Terera

Today the National Theatre announces its commitment to begin creating new work again, with plans to resume socially-distanced live performances in the Olivier Theatre in late October.

A new one-person play, DEATH OF ENGLAND: DELROY, by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, will be directed by Dyer, and performed by Giles Terera. This follows on from Dyer and Williams’ play Death of England, which Dyer also directed, and which was performed by Rafe Spall to critical acclaim in the Dorfman Theatre, closing only weeks before lockdown.

The production team, together with Giles Terera, have been back at the National Theatre this week working on the play: the first artists to return to work in the building since it closed. The new play was commissioned by the NT’s New Work Department at the start of lockdown and written over the subsequent five months. It explores a different side of the Death of England story as it focuses on the character of Delroy, the best friend of Michael, the protagonist of the first piece.

London, 2020. Delroy is arrested on his way to the hospital. Filled with anger and grief, he recalls the moments and relationships that gave him hope before his life was irrevocably changed. This new work explores a Black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.

Delroy: Roy Williams, Giles Terera and Clint Dyer at the National Theatre ( Helen Murray )

Delroy: Roy Williams, Giles Terera and Clint Dyer at the National Theatre ( Helen Murray )

Government have now confirmed that indoor, socially-distanced performances can resume from this Saturday. Death of England: Delroy will begin performances in late October. Tickets will go on sale in September, when full details of the performance schedule, ticketing, and safety measures for audiences will also be available.

Speaking about the play Clint Dyer and Roy Williams said: “There’s a moment in Death of England at his father’s funeral where Michael tells Delroy, ‘you may act like us and talk like us, but you will never be one of us’. In telling Delroy’s story, we hope to take audiences on an illuminating journey into the Black British psyche and realities of a ‘tolerant’ England in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “This week Death of England: Delroy will have its first workshop as we finally, carefully open the doors of the theatre to artists and put in place plans to start live performance again this Autumn.  Clint Dyer and Roy Williams have delivered another explosive piece of work; set during lockdown and charting its own fearless and provocative course through the same subjects as its prequel, and a very English reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is so important for us to be welcoming artists back into the building again, and planning for doing the same for our much-missed audiences. The moment the incomparable Giles Terera steps out on the Olivier stage at that first performance will be an incredible one, and I’m thrilled to be reopening our theatre with such an important and timely piece of work.”



The Show Must Go On merchandise raises £250,000 for arts charities

After phenomenal public demand for ‘The Show Must Go On!’ t-shirts, Theatre Support Fund + has reached an incredible milestone by raising a huge quarter of a million pounds for Acting For Others, The Fleabag Support Fund and NHS COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.


Theatre Support Fund + was set up eight weeks ago by theatre industry workers Chris Marcus and Damien Stanton who wanted to form an initiative to help individual workers who are now out of work due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. They created and designed ‘The Show Must Go On!’ t-shirt, the design of which is an amalgamation of the world-famous artwork of 16 of the biggest musicals in the West End. Since Theatre Support Fund’s inception the team have received 20,000 orders and have shipped to 63 countries across the globe. The orders are being packed daily by a small team of volunteers from within the West End theatre community. All profits from merchandise sold goes to Acting for Others, Fleabag Support Fund and the NHS Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

Chris and Damien said today, ‘We are incredibly overwhelmed with the generosity and support people have given to the theatre industry and with the government announcing arts funding last week, it is all moving in a very positive direction. However there are still individuals out there that need our help and we will continue to unite and work together to raise monies for these charities to help all of those that have been affected from the pandemic until the theatre industry is up and running again’.

Since the charities inception they have also gathered a fantastic celebrity following which includes Michael Ball, Samantha Bond, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alan Carr, Dame Judi Dench, Todrick Hall, Amanda Holden, Derick Jacobi, Myleene Klass, Kiera Knightly, Beverley Knight, Patti LuPone, Sarah Parish, Melanie Sykes and Denise Welch amongst others.


Pheobe Waller-Bridge who is the figurehead for The Fleabag Fund said today “These shirts must go on!” A massive thank you to Theatre Support Fund for supporting Fleabag Support Fund and other wonderful charities with this incredible range of merchandise’.

The shirt design is an amalgamation of the world-famous artwork of 16 of the biggest musicals in the West End. Shows included on the design are & Juliet, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Everyone’s Talking about Jamie, Hamilton, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Matilda The Musical, Six The Musical, Tina, The Tina Turner Musical, The Book of Mormon, The Prince of Egypt, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.

In addition to the t-shirt, merchandise now includes a re-useable face covering, notebook, mug, badge and tote bag. All profits from merchandise sold goes to Acting for Others , Fleabag Support Fund and the NHS Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. All of ‘The Show Must Go On!’ merchandise continues to be available via the website

, , ,

£1.5bn lifeline thrown to theatre & arts institutions

£1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions

·       Cultural and heritage organisations to be protected with £1.57 billion support package

·       Future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be protected with emergency grants and loans

·       Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic

Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, the government announced today.

Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.

Many of Britain’s cultural and heritage institutions have already received unprecedented financial assistance to see them through the pandemic including loans, business rate holidays and participation in the coronavirus job retention scheme. More than 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began.

This new package will be available across the country and ensure the future of these multi billion-pound industries are secured.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

“This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

Oliver Dowden Culture Secretary said

“Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast growing creative industries.

“I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer said:

“Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture.

“That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.”

The package announced today includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic. This will be a big step forward to help rebuild our cultural infrastructure.

This unprecedented package includes:

£1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance  and £880 million grants.

£100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.

£120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

A week in the life of Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

There is a problem with assuming that all politicians are idiots: more often than we realise, they are smarter than we are.

Hopelessly out-of-his-depth Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden has been busy this week. A man who has all the authenticity of a character at a murder mystery weekend; he has spent all week covering himself in infamy.

Which is fitting. The gung-ho Cabinet are behaving like a besieged rat colony.

Oliver Dowden

Oliver Dowden

The destruction of the arts and live entertainment industry seems almost too big to take in, doesn’t it? It is an impossible thing to consider. The real tragedy is not that we cannot prevent it. The real tragedy, I think, lies in the fact that we can.

Industry leaders are at their wits end from repeating the fact that 34 million theatregoers attend 63,000 performances and all the financial benefits that brings to the economy – and that is before hotels, restaurants, bars, and other economic activity.

According to The Sunday Times, theatres will ‘not reopen until next year.’ It stated that venues will be encouraged to “aggressively mothball” until they can open under profitable conditions in 2021, without social distancing. Yikes.

Indeed, Chancellor Rishi Sunak holds piggy bank. He is, though, expected to announce a cultural rescue fund as part of his mini budget on Wednesday. The package is said to be a mixture of loans and grants offering direct help to arts organisations. Arts Council England are set to get a £1.57 billion cash injection; about 90 days too late.

Dowden spoke out following criticism of his handling of the pandemic and the ways in which the arts are being supported. Or not, in this instance.

The MP tweeted after comments made by BBC Front Row’s John Wilson, who said that he’d heard that Dowden “believes UK arts are ‘better & stronger’ for NOT having the sort of financial support offered by other European countries”. When Dowden was told that “UK arts need huge new investment”, Rattle states that this “wasn’t something that was welcome for him [the Culture Secretary] to hear”.

Dowden clapped back, which was unsettling as he never replies to anybody on Twitter: “Not true. What I said was that arts organisations who have worked hard to increase income from non-government sources should not be penalised for it in this crisis. I understand the seriousness of the situation and am working on it every single day.”

The following day Dowden was at the Palladium to meet with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sigh.


Last month Lloyd Webber revealed plans to test safe performances at the Palladium, with thermal imaging cameras and silver ion self-cleaning door handles to help prevent any spread of infection.

Yet the reality is that we are in the middle of a unique recession, created by deliberate Government action to save lives. All industries were put into an artificially induced coma and most of them are now being resuscitated. But the arts are being left behind and are in serious trouble.

The situation is as desperate as Dowden’s timeline.

And yet, today the MP for Hertsmere found time during his schedule to Zoom with Tom Cruise to tell the Hollywood star about the relaxing of quarantine rules meaning that production can resume on the latest Mission Impossible blockbuster.

Back to reality: the grim outlook on jobs is part of a wider picture of economic gloom; the fate of 290,000 jobs across UK Theatres hang in the balance.

The fact that Dowden worked as a special adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to David Cameron where he said most of his time was spent on “day-to-day crisis management” makes him feel like a broad stroke in a heavy-handed satire.

Encouraging to see him building on his friend Cameron’s legacy: trotters up even before you have screwed the country, instead of only after.

Maybe this is what you get into politics for. On the other hand, is there a less self-respecting role in public life than being the haunted face of the decimation of our ‘world-beating’ theatre industry?


, , ,

UK Theatre Awards 2017: A blow by blow account

12.30pm I arrive at the Guildhall, London and head for the drinks reception in the Crypts. It’s quite posh. I have a glass of champagne and bump into theatre critic Mark Shenton. “Hello! I’m surprised you managed to fit this in between all your meetings,” he says, laughing. We have a quick gossip.


Mark Shenton

12.45pm I mingle and bump into critics Lyn Gardner and Fiona Mountford, which is nice. “What on earth are you doing here!?,” Lyn says. I wouldn’t miss it for the world – congratulations, Mrs. I say. Bless.

12.55pm A man from Scottish Ballet asks me to take his photo around forty times – because the lighting is not flattering. I oblige. Great days.

1.00pm Everyone is having lunch. Here is the menu.


(I was afforded a cheese roll, a banana and a Kit Kat. Beggars can’t be choosers.


Guildhall, City of London: The Great Hall.

1.30pm The guy from Scottish Ballet appears. “I need somewhere to throw up my gum,” he says to me and the chap from UK Theatre. Words fail me. I suggest a bin around the corner.

2.00pm It’s starting. I think.

2.05pm Oh here comes Gemma Bodinetz who has won the Best Director award for artistic directorship of Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse’s new repertory season. “I’m looking forward to the whole thing now: I can get drunk,” she says. Amazing.


Gemma Bodinetz

2.08pm “Yayyy Gemma!” Shrinking violet Sam Hodges is gate crashing my interview, which is a bit annoying. Oh well, he’s charismatic.

2.14pm Anyway, why is today so important to Gemma? “I’m absolutely thrilled…  It’s taken me 14 years to win this award. It’s a very important thing for us as an organisation,” she states.


Samuel Hodges chatting away

2.16pm Let’s have a quick chat with Nuffield Southampton Theatres Sam Hodges then. He has just picked up the Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre for Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Why is today so important for him and this production, I ask. “It’s a massive deal; it was a glorious show. We’d never done anything on this scale and arguably we shouldn’t have – luckily our board backed this decision fully and this is the icing on the cake,” he says, smiling.

2.18pm I lose the thread of what’s going on and before I know it along comes actor Joseph Millson who has won Best Performance in a Play. What is it about regional theatre that is sexy? “I am hugely devoted to the supporting of local and regional theatres; it saved my life when I grew up in the middle of nowhere,” he says. “Even if it hadn’t doesn’t make you an actor – it gives young people such an independence.” He continues. “There’s something so individual and so much expression. If everyone just bought one ticket a year at their local theatre then everybody could reap the benefits.”

2.25pm I have a glass of white wine. 7/10.

2.30pm Sharon Duncan-Brewster has deservedly won Best Supporting Performance for A Streetcar Named Desire at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. “A lot of people do not venture out to do any work outside of London, so when I was asked to be in Streetcar I thought the only role I could play is the negro woman,” she says, candidly. What does this win mean to her? “Every city or town that I go perform in, there are people who look like me in the theatre and its time they saw themselves represented on stage,” she says. “I would love to see more of the amazing diverse work happening out in regional theatre coming into London,” she pauses and has a little cry. We have a hug.


Sharon Duncan-Brewster

2.41pm I run to the toilet and bump into West End Producer Nica Burns(!) She looks fierce in a white gown- I am too scared to talk to her, which is a shame.

2.45pm Best Touring Production went to The Who’s Tommy, which was co-produced by New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich and Ramps on the Moon. The two organisations also received the award for Promotion of Diversity for their groundbreaking work in the inclusion and integration of deaf and disabled individuals. Here comes the Former Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Kerry Michael. What more needs to be done on the diversity front, going forward? “We need continue making inclusive show because they are so exciting – we’ve got to keep winning awards which aren’t just about inclusion but are about high-quality art,” he replies. Indeed.

3.00pm There is a break. Everyone has a chat, dessert and more wine.

3.25pm Sheffield Theatres’ production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which will open at London’s Apollo Theatre in November, wins Best Musical Production. John McCrea, who plays the eponymous role of Jamie, won the award for Best Performance in a Musical. Here come the boys.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie lads

3.30pm I have a quick photo with John McCrea who is wearing a rather fetching scarf indoors. ‘Trendy’.

3.34pm Personality vortex Freddie Fox appears with Playwright Sir David Hare. Hare is the recipient of the Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts from The Shakespeare Guild. We have a photo (I’m really very shy) and I collar Freddie for a chat. “Stories need to be told everywhere all over the country and the world. Not just London. It’s a chance to be heard and seen and celebrated – it clearly means an awful lot to many people,” he says.


Freddie Fox and Sir David Hare

3.40pm I decide to have another glass of wine. ‘Lol’.

4.00pm Lyn Gardner is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre award and so actual Emma Rice is here to introduce her. That’s pretty amazing. The whole thing feels quite exciting now.


4.03pm “A critic being honoured by the theatre industry? John Osborne once suggested most of you are supposed to feel towards people like me the way: “a lamp-post feels about dogs.”” Gardner says, which gets a big laugh. She continues. “If you want to see theatre’s future, then get on a train.” The whole place erupts into applause. Inspirational.

4.10pm Lyn Gardner walks up to me clutching her award. I ask her how would she describe her state of mind? “Discombobulated,” she says. Why is this annual event so significant for the sector, I enquire. “Quite simply, too often regional theatre is not as celebrated as it should be. Regional theatre is a thing in itself – it is not simply a training ground or somewhere where people begin their careers until they move to London. It’s where the vast majority of the population live,” she says, emphatically. She’s got a point. Also, Surely she should get an OBE soon – Billington has one.


Emma Rice and Lyn Gardner

4.12pm Emma Rice looks uncomfortable and our eyes meet. As someone who is moving forward with a regional company (Wise Children), why do you think regional theatre should be celebrated, I ask quickly. She smiles, enigmaticly. “At Kneehigh – we lived by the Joan Miró quote “To be universal, you also have to be local” – you find communities with stories to tell and friends that they want to tell them with. That’s integrity and that’s the real deal,” she says.

4.15pm What a day. The ceremony concludes and I go and find somewhere to eat a burger.

The end.

Find out more about UK Theatre at


The Renee Stepham Award For Best Presentation Of Touring Theatre

Nuffield Southampton Theatres for the world premiere touring musical production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox

Best Show for Children and Young People

The Snow Queen, New Vic Theatre

Best Director

Gemma Bodinetz, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse new repertory season

Best Touring Production

The Who’s Tommy, New Wolsey Theatre and Ramps on the Moon

Best Supporting Performance

Sharon Duncan-Brewster, A Streetcar Named Desire, Royal Exchange Theatre

Best Performance in a Play

Joseph Millson, The Rover, Royal Shakespeare Company

Best New Play

Narvik by Lizzie Nunnery

Theatre Employee Of The Year

Jane Claire, English Touring Theatre and Liz Leck, Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust

Clothworkers’ Theatre Award

Derby Theatre

Best Design

Jon Bausor, The Grinning Man, Bristol Old Vic

Achievement in Dance

Scottish Ballet for the European premiere of Crystal Pite’s striking one-act ballet Emergence

Promotion of Diversity

New Wolsey Theatre and Ramps on the Moon for their groundbreaking work in the inclusion and integration of deaf and disabled individuals

Achievement in Opera

Scottish Opera, Pelléas And Mélisande

Gielgud Award

David Hare

Best Performance in a Musical

John McCrea, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Sheffield Theatres

Best Musical Production

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Sheffield Theatres

UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre 2017 with Smooth Radio

The Mill at Sonning

Achievement in Marketing/Audience Development

Scottish Ballet for its Digital Season in April 2017

Outstanding Contribution To British Theatre 2017

Lyn Gardner