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Casting update for Sheffield Theatres’ 2019 season

Robert Hastie

Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres Robert Hastie today announced the full casts for the debbie tucker green’s hang; and the world première of his production of the new musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge with music and lyrics by Richard Hawley and book by Chris Bush.

For hangTaio Lawson directs Diveen Henry (Three), Marianne Oldham (One) and Sid Sagar (Two). The production opens on 26 February, with previews from 21 February, and runs until 9 March.

For Standing at the Sky’s EdgeRobert Hastie directs Darragh CowleyNicole DeonLouis GauntAdam HugillRobert LonsdaleFela LufadejuMaimuna MemonJohanne MurdockDamian MyerscoughAlastair NatkielFaith OmoleDeborah TraceyRachael Wooding and Alex Young.          The production opens on 20 March, with previews from 15 March, and runs until 6 April.

STUDIO

A Sheffield Theatres Production

hang

By debbie tucker green

 21 February – 9 March 2019

Press night: 26 February, 7.45pm

Cast: Diveen Henry (Three), Marianne Oldham (One) and Sid Sagar (Two)

Director: Taio Lawson; Designer: Rosanna Vize; Movement Director: Jenny Ogilvie; Lighting Director: Andy Purves; Sound Designer: Dan Balfour; Casting Director:Karishma Balani

‘You want to know my decision’

Nearly now; in a Britain with a radically altered legal system, a woman has made her choice. As the victim of a serious crime, she is in control of the perpetrator’s fate.

Searing and darkly humorous, hang explores morality and a sense of justice through the lens of one victim’s decision.

 debbie tucker green is a writer-director and works across theatre, television and film. Her theatre credits include a profoundly affectionate passionate devotion to someone (-noun)hangtruth and reconciliation and random (Royal Court), nut (National Theatre) and generations (Young Vic). The film version of random, which she adapted from her stage play and directed for Channel 4, won the BAFTA for Best Single Drama in 2012. Debbie’s first feature film Second Coming won the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015 Big Screen Award and was BAFTA nominated. She has written and directed several radio plays including an adaptation of Assata Shakur’s biography Assata Shakur – the FBI’s Most Wanted Woman, as well as original work including lament – winner of a gold ARIAS award, gone and freefall.

Diveen Henry plays Three. Her theatre work includes Hamlet (Barbican), Cape (Unicorn Theatre), Helen (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night(RSC), Guts, Sunburn, Out of It, Trying It On, The Carnival King, Stories of War, Get Away from Me (Royal Court Theatre) and The Darker Face of Earth (National Theatre). For television, her work includes Temple, Death in Paradise, Bliss, No Offence, Apple Tree Yard, From the Cradle to the Grave, Dumping Ground, Count Arthur Strong, Coming Up, Misfits and Luther; and for film, Dreams of a Life, London River, Hell’s Pavement and Grown Your Own.

 Marianne Oldham plays One. Her theatre work includes A Monster Calls, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (The Old Vic), The Argument (Hampstead Theatre),The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Chichester Festival Theatre), Sons Without Fathers (Arcola Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry), You Can Still Make a Killing(Southwark Playhouse) and The Real Thing (ETT). For television, her work includes A Very English Scandal, The Living and The Dead, Life in Squares, Obsession, The Musketeers and The Crimson Field; and for film, Finding Your Feet, Absolutely Anything, Silent Girl and Titus.

Sid Sagar plays Two. His theatre credits include White Teeth, The Invisible Hand (Kiln Theatre), Julius Caesar (Bridge Theatre), Queen Anne (RSC/Theatre Royal Haymarket), The TempestCymbelineThe OresteiaThe Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe), Treasure (Finborough Theatre), The History Boys (UK tour), True Brits(HighTide/Edinburgh/Bush Theatre), and Eternal Love  (Shakespeare’s Globe & English Touring Theatre). His television work includes Press, Strike: Career of Evil, The Hollow Crown and The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies; and for film, Eaten By Troll, Murder on the Orient Express, Karma Magnet.

Taio Lawson directs. He is Resident Assistant Director at Sheffield Theatres (part of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme). For Sheffield Theatres, Assistant Director credits include Love and Information, Frost/Nixon, The Wizard of Oz and Desire Under The Elms. As Director credits include How To Make Love To A Muslim Without Freaking Out (Rehearsed Reading, Bush Theatre), Face in a Jar (St Paul’s Furzedown Church/Rhoda McGaw Theatre), What We Are, 90’s Kid (ETC Theatre), Gutted ‘n’ Battered(UK/International Tour) and Sexy Buff Ting (Cockpit Theatre). As Assistant Director credits include Life of Galileo, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (Young Vic), OIL, They Drink It in the Congo (Almeida Theatre), Octagon (Arcola Theatre) and Perseverance Drive (Bush Theatre). Lawson is also a patron for COMMON which is a non-profit arts organisation which exists to support the UK theatre industry in achieving greater socio-economic diversity, and make theatre more accessible to the working-class; whether they be artists, audiences or communities.

CRUCIBLE

A Sheffield Theatres Production

World Première

STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE

Music and Lyrics by Richard Hawley

Book by Chris Bush

15 March – 6 April

Press night: 20 March, 7pm

Cast: Darragh CowleyNicole DeonLouis GauntAdam HugillRobert LonsdaleFela LufadejuMaimuna MemonJohanne MurdockDamian MyerscoughAlastair NatkielFaith OmoleDeborah TraceyRachael Wooding, and Alex Young.

Director: Robert Hastie; Designer: Ben Stones; Choreographer: Lynne Page

Musical Supervisor: Tom Deering; Musical Director: Will Stuart; Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson

Sound Designer: Simon Baker; Casting Director: Stuart Burt CDG

“Tonight the streets are ours”

Park Hill. To the dreamers who designed it, it’s a streets-in-the-sky paradise for the workers of a great city. To successive governments, it’s a symbol of everything they’d rather ignore. To the people who live there, it’s home. With a soaring score combining new and classic songs by Richard Hawley, Standing at the Sky’s Edge tells the story of three families through 60 turbulent years in a heart-swelling, heart-breaking love song to Park Hill, Sheffield’s concrete utopia, where there’s ‘hope hung on every washing line’.

Richard Hawley is synonymous with his native city of Sheffield. He has released eight studio albums over the last 16 years with two being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. He is also a Brit nominee and received a South Bank award in 2007. Over the years Richard has become as well known for his guitar playing as his singing and has dueted with Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra and Shirley Bassey, and also having played with Arctic Monkeys, Elbow, Paul Weller, Manic Street Preachers and Pulp, the band he played guitar with for a number of years. Best known for his mix of classic songwriting, soothing vocals and northern grit realism, Richard is something of a unique artist in British popular music; being able to cross boundaries from one musical style to another whilst keeping intact his own strong identity.

Chris Bush is a Sheffield-born playwright, lyricist and theatre-maker. For Sheffield Theatres, her credits include Steel, What We Wished For, A Dream and The Sheffield Mysteries. Other work includes Pericles (National Theatre) and The Changing Room (NT Connections 2018) The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatre Clwyd – Best Musical UK Theatre Awards), A Declaration from the People (National Theatre), Larksong (New Vic Theatre), Cards on the Table (Royal Exchange Manchester), ODD (Royal & Derngate concert performance), Sleight & Hand (Summerhall and BBC Arts), TONY! The Blair Musical (York Theatre Royal and UK tour), Poking the Bear (Theatre503) andWolf (National Theatre Studio reading).

Darragh Cowley plays Gary. Cowley graduated from Guildford School of Acting in 2018. His theatre credits include Spring Awakening (Hope Mill Theatre) and Snow White(London Palladium).

 Nicole Deon plays Connie. Her theatre work includes Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre), The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium and UK tour) and Mack and Mabel (Chichester Festival Theatre and UK tour).

 Louis Gaunt returns to Sheffield Theatres to play Kevin  – he previously appeared in Kiss Me, Kate. His theatre work includes Oklahoma! (Grange Park Opera – The Stage Debut Award for Best Actor in a Musical), Sweet Charity (Nottingham Playhouse) and Dick Whittington (London Palladium). For television, his work includes Strictly Come Dancing and The Entire Universe.

 

Adam Hugill plays Jimmy. He recently graduated from LAMDA and this marks his professional stage debut. His television work includes Pennyworth and World on Fire; and for film, How To Stop a Recurring Dream and The Banishing.

 

Robert Lonsdale plays Harry. For theatre his credits include A Lie of the Mind (Southwark Playhouse), Plaques and Tangles, Open Court: Piigs and Brilliant Adventures (Royal Court Theatre), Another Place (Plymouth Theatre Royal), From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre), A Life (Finborough Theatre), Anna Christie (Donmar Warehouse), Finding Neverland (Curve, Leicester), La Bete (Harold Pinter Theatre) and The Indian Wants the Bronx (Young Vic). For television his credits include Vera, Chewing Gum, Love Sick, The Interceptor, Lost Christmas, A Passionate Woman, Plus One and Decisions; and for film, The Glass House.

 

Fela Lufadeju plays George. His theatre work includes Guys and Dolls (Manchester Royal Exchange), Room (Theatre Royal Stratford East and Abbey Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Birmingham Rep and Curve Leicester), Beautiful (Aldwych Theatre) and Dessa Rose (Trafalgar Studios).

 Maimuna Memon plays Nikki. Her theatre work includes Into the Woods (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Busker’s Opera (Park Theatre), Lazarus (King’s Cross Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatr Clywd). Most recently she performed in, and composed the score and lyrics for, Electrolyte (Edinburgh Fringe and forthcoming UK tour).

 Johanne Murdock plays Vivienne. For theatre, her credits include Leave to Remain (Lyric Hammersmith), King Lear (Duke Of York’s Theatre), Toy Boy Diaries (Hope Mill Theatre), Duffy Beats The Devil (Acorn Theatre, Penzance), The Other Shakespeare (Anne Hathaway’s House and Oxford), Julius Caesar, Wind In The Willows, Taming Of The Shrew, Macbeth, Long Live, Richard III, Merry Wives Of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet (Guildford Shakespeare Company) and The Comedy Of Errors (The Globe on Tour). For television, her work includes Hollyoaks, Holby City, EastEnders and Obsession Dark Desires; and for film, My Mother, Postcards From London, Being and Kayleigh’s Love Story.

 Damian Myerscough plays Charles, Trevor, Seb, Workman. For theatre, his work includes Romeo and Juliet (HOME Manchester), A Bunch of Amateurs (The Watermill Theatre), Mamma Mia! (international tour), A View From the Bridge (Bolton Octagon), The Play What I Wrote, Arsenic and Old Lace (UK tours), Driving Miss Daisy (Oldham Coliseum) and Night Swimming, A Christmas Carol, Oedipus, Treasure Island, The Tempest, Abigail’s Party and The Count of Monte Cristo (Nuffield Southampton Theatres). For television, his work includes PhoneShop, Missing, Gunpowder Plot, Ivanhoe and Out of the Blue; and for film, Charlotte Gray, Jeremiah and The Man Who Knew Too Little.

 Alastair Natkiel plays Marcus. For theatre, his work includes Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse Theatre), Strangers on a Train (Gielgud Theatre),Shrek the Musical (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), The Go Between (Trafalgar Studios), After the Blue (Jermyn Street Theatre), and Closer than Ever, Early Birds and Our Boys(Edinburgh Fringe). For television, his work includes Line of Duty and The Marchioness Disaster; and for film, Mad to be Normal and The Innocent.

 Faith Omole plays Joy. Her theatre work includes An Ideal Husband (Classic Spring Theatre Company at the Vaudeville Theatre), Jack and the Beanstalk (Lyric Hammersmith), Bushmeat (HighTide), Twelfth Night (Royal Exchange Manchester), The Rolling Stone (Orange Tree Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange) and Walk in the Light (National Theatre). For television, her work includes Endeavour; and for film, Dumpee and He Loves Me.

 Deborah Tracey plays Grace.  Her theatre work includes Red5, Alice’s Adventures Underground (Les Enfants Terribles), Fever (Birmingham Rep), A Mad World My Masters(RSC), The Last Women (Belgrade Theatre Coventry), as well as writing and performing in her own work Death of a Beauty Saleswoman and Fades, Braids and Keeping It Real. Her television work includes Obsession and Fee Fi Fo… Yum; and for film, Absolutely Fabulous and Patient Zero.

Rachael Wooding returns to Sheffield Theatres to play Rose – she previously appeared in A Chorus Line and My Father’s Son. For theatre her work includes Fat Friends the Musical, Wonderland, Evita, Footloose (UK tours), We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Street of Dreams (Manchester Arena), Jersey Boys (Prince Edward Theatre), Bright Lights, Big City (Hoxton Hall), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre), Saturday Night Fever (Apollo Theatre) and Fame (Aldwych Theatre). For television, her work includesGirlfriends; and she was a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent in 2016.

Alex Young returns to Sheffield Theatres to play Poppy – she previously appeared in Show Boat (also New London Theatre) and Anything Goes (also UK tour). Her other theatre work includes Me and My Girl (Chichester Festival Theatre), Follies (National Theatre), Carousel (ENO), Promises Promises (Southwark Playhouse), Bette Midler and Me (The Gilded Balloon), I Can’t Sing (London Palladium) and High Society (UK tour).

Robert Hastie’s recent productions as Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The York Realist (co-production with the Donmar Warehouse – Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination for Best Director), The Wizard of OzOf Kith and Kin (co-production with Bush Theatre) and Julius Caesar. Previous directing credits include Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), Breaking the Code (Royal Exchange Manchester), Henry V (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof(Theatr Clwyd). As an Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse, his work includes My Night with Reg by Kevin Elyot (Donmar Warehouse/West End – Best Newcomer nomination at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and Best Revival nomination at the Olivier Awards) and Splendour by Abi Morgan. His other directing credits include Carthage and Events While Guarding The Bofors Gun (Finborough Theatre), Sunburst (Holborn Grange Hotel), Sixty-Six Books (Bush Theatre) and A Breakfast of Eels (Print Room).

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David Eldridge, Playwright Interview: “If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write.”

 Playwright David Eldridge

David Eldridge ( Picture credit – Keith Pattison/Royal Court Theatre 2012)

START
Questions: Carl Woodward
Answers: David Eldridge (Obviously)
David Eldridge is a prolific playwright. His work has been seen on our country’s biggest stages (The National, Donmar Warehouse, Hampstead theatre and The Royal Court to name a few.
He was busy marking essays but agreed to talk to me for a few minutes.
Just don’t get him started on cooking…

Hello! Where are you and what are you up to? 
Right now it’s 8.30am and I’m at home in north London. I’ve just had a bowl of porridge and I’m catching up on a few emails before I head to my office to crack on for the day. Not a writing day today though. I’ve a pile of plays to grade as I teach part-time at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Your work has been commissioned by the National, The Royal Court, Bush, Hampstead, Almeida theatres and many more. Do you ever pinch yourself? 
All the time. I always remember vividly a time in my early twenties when I was living at my mum and dad’s after Uni and working in the evening in the hotchpotch old extension at home. As I was writing I could hear the sound of my dad outside in the garden shed tapping heels in to women’s shoes at 10p or 20p a pair a time to earn a bit more extra money for him and mum and by extension me. I always think about that when I’m struggling with what I’m writing. I never want to be that writer that signs a card to a friend “David Eldridge”. In a sense Dominic Dromgoole is right about me in his book. I’m incredibly serious about what I do and totally committed. But there’s another part of me that could not give a fuck. Having a play on at one of those theatres is great but it’s always the audience that makes the play, wherever it’s on and much of a writer’s life is quite lonely and boring. I’d be quite happy cooking full time (I write now on a laptop on the kitchen table) and the best days are days spent cooking and writing. Last May I spent a Sunday when my girlfriend was away making a Dal Makhani (which has to be cooked very slowly and with real care) and writing. It was perfect. Being a parent is the most important and fulfilling thing in my life. What’s making a play compared to raising a child and trying to be a good dad?

 I was chatting to a writer recently and she said that a lot of the writing process is about when the planets align, when that perfect moment comes along. Do you work to that principal or do you have a knack to force the planets into alignment?
I can see a bit of truth in that. Just this autumn I had an unexpected gap partly because a film company couldn’t get together a meeting for a few weeks to give notes on a draft of a screenplay I’ve written. My fingers were itchy and I couldn’t sit still and I wrote a play I’d been wanting to write for ten years, but never found the right moment until then. On the other hand I think when we talk about planets aligning it makes me cringe a bit. No disrespect to the other writer but I believe more in screenwriter William Goldman’s approach “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.” Its work, writing. I think you get the first draft out. And then you rewrite until its ready to share. Managements never see anything less than my third draft. I think a lot of young and new writers are crazy to show managements their first drafts. Your third or fourth draft should be the managements first draft. It’s play-WRIGHT. Do the graft. That’s not to say you don’t collaborate and often you rewrite a lot more. But do your job first.

Which other writers would you recommend at the moment?
Oh God. There are so many brilliant playwrights, we’re very lucky in the UK. I think Penelope Skinner, debbie tucker green and Annie Baker are the bees knees. Anna Jordan and Chris Urch both wrote wonderful Bruntwood Award winning plays. Gary Owen has had a great year as has Jack Thorne, both of whom I admire hugely. How does Caryl Churchill still do it? I said to someone recently she’s “our Picasso, our Pankhurst, our Bowie, our Orbach” and I believe that. Robert Holman is a great playwright and fortunately not such a secret pleasure any more after the last few years. But my mind is full this morning of Leo Butler’s “Boy” which I saw last night. It’s fantastic and brave and true and unlike anything else. He’s not always had a great luck (his Royal Court downstairs debut premiered on 9/11) but this play is a reminder he’s one of our best and most thoughtful playwrights painting on a big canvass. Really Rufus Norris should commission him to write for one of the big spaces at the NT. While Rufus is at it he should try and persuade screenwriter Sarah Phelps to write for theatre again. She’s ace.

What would be the worst way to die?
My paternal great-grandmother was burned alive in a house fire. I don’t want to go that way and I don’t want any of my nearest and dearest to go that way.

Easy question: what’s the best play ever written?
Yeah, right do one mate. Seriously you’ve got to be kidding. I’m a play geek. You could get a dissertation length answer. For me, this morning it’s Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. I don’t think that can ever change for me because it’s the play that turned me on to theatre aged 17.
What word do people incorrectly use to describe your work?
Naturalistic.
It seems that you’re quite ambitious in terms of wanting your work to make an impression. 
If you don’t want to change people, even a tiny bit, through the experience of your writing then don’t write. If I was running a theatre I would not programme or commission writers that are merely wanking or getting the next play on the shelf.
If for some reason I had to ban you from making theatre is there something else you’d like to do?
Well I’d write for TV or film (as I am already) or write a novel which I want to write, or I might get to spend enough time on some of my poems so they’re good enough to actually show someone one day. But as I say I’d be happy cooking. I’d be happy being a full time dad.
Anything you’d like to add? 
Writing for performance is an odd endeavour as its all collaboration in the end. But you have to be independent (and absolutely not dependent on others) and do your job and know yourself and your work as much as possible to be the best you can be in that collaboration. A collaboration that often starts with you alone one morning, wasting time on social media in your PJ’s and ends several years later in a little theatre above a pub in W12 with an audience. You don’t make the best work if the writer gets lost along the way.
END