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Wise Children announce Emma Rice to step into role of Nora Chance during final weeks of UK tour

Emma Rice

Wise Children today announced that Artistic Director, Emma Rice will be stepping into the role of Nora Chance in the critically acclaimed production of Wise Children. Rice will be taking over the role from Etta Murfitt, between 26 March – 6 April, covering performances at Richmond Theatre and Belgrade Theatre.

Let’s have all the skeletons out of the closet, today, of all days!’ It’s 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday.’

In Brixton, Nora and Dora Chance – twin chorus girls born and bred south of the river – are celebrating their 75th birthday. Over the river in Chelsea, their father and greatest actor of his generation Melchior Hazard turns 100 on the same day. As does his twin brother Peregrine. If, in fact, he’s still alive. And if, in truth, Melchior is their real father after all…

A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand. Emma Rice brings her unique, exuberantly impish vision to Angela Carter’s great last novel, Wise Children, launching her new theatre company of the same name.

Emma Rice said today, “We’ve been on such a glorious adventure with our company Wise Children, and I can’t think of a better way to finish our debut tour than stepping into the limelight alongside our wonderful cast to perform in Richmond and Coventry. It’s an honour to share the stage with them and I’m very much looking forward to it!”

Emma Rice is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics AnonymousTwelfth NightA Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include: The Flying Lovers of VitebskTristan & Yseult946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus TipsThe Wild BrideThe Red ShoesThe Wooden FrockThe BacchaeCymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre); Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions); Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic); Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages); and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes: the West End production of The Umbrellas of CherbourgOedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC); and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). Brief Encounterwas revived this year at the Empire Cinema Haymarket.

 

Tour Dates

Bristol Old Vic

Until Saturday 9 February

www.bristololdvic.org.uk

Box Office: 0117 987 7877

HOME Manchester

Tuesday 26 February – Saturday 2 March

www.homemcr.org

0161 200 1500

York Theatre Royal

Tuesday 5 March – Saturday 16 March

www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Box Office: 01904 623568

Storyhouse Chester

Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 March

www.storyhouse.com/

Box Office: 01244 409 113

Richmond Theatre

Tuesday 26 March – Saturday 30 March

www.atgtickets.com/venues/richmond-theatre/

Box Office: 0844 871 7651

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 April

www.belgrade.co.uk

Box Office: 024 7655 3055

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First Look: Production Images : Wise Children at The Old Vic

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FIRST LOOK: Rehearsal images – Wise Children at The Old Vic

Emma Rice’s first production from new company Wise Children to play at Bristol Old Vic in 2019

Emma Rice
Emma Rice

Emma Rice

On the first day of rehearsals for Emma Rice’s inaugural production from her Bristol-based company Wise Children, the company announced tour dates to Bristol Old Vic, running from 23 Jan – 9 Feb 2019, with tickets going on sale today. Tickets will go on sale to priority bookers at noon today, with general on sale from 10am, Wednesday 29 Aug.

The company’s first show, also named Wise Children, is an adaptation of Angela Carter’s great last novel. A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Emma Rice brings her unique, exuberantly impish vision to this celebration of show-business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect showgirls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.

Following the world première at The Old Vic, London (who co-produce with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal) the production will tour to venues across the UK including Oxford, Cambridge, York and Coventry. Bristol will mark the ‘home-leg’ of the tour for Wise Children, who are also Associate Artists of Bristol Old Vic for 2018-19.

Emma Rice said today, “It is a joy to share our debut production, Wise Children, with our home city Bristol! And where better to present it than the Bristol Old Vic? Steeped in theatrical history and layers of friendships, old and new – Angela Carter’s glorious and tender novel will fit like a long, satin, burlesque glove!  Wise Children marks the start of an exciting adventure and as we enjoy making firm friends across the region as well as being an Associate Company at the Bristol Old Vic – we feel incredibly lucky to have the support and goodwill of the South West. We can’t wait to share the thrills and spills and show everyone what glamorous naughtiness we have been up to! “What a joy it is to dance and sing!” 

Emma Rice is the Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales) which played at Bristol Old Vic for Christmas 2017/18.

For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Many of her productions will be well-known to Bristol audiences and include: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (co-produced with Bristol Old Vic), Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline(in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions – the production has been revived this year and is currently playing at the Empire Cinema Haymarket), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages) and Steptoe and Son.

Other work includes: the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC); and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).

Wise Children – inaugural tour announced with free first performance and further details of the School for Wise Children

Wise Children
Wise Children

Wise Children

Emma Rice on Wise Children…

After months of hard work and a lifetime of dreaming, Wise Children is up and running!

 Our first show, an adaptation of Angela Carter’s iconic novel Wise Children, has just gone on sale at The Old Vic in London where we are proud to be the first Company in Residence. To mark this historic moment we’ve decided to open up the final dress rehearsal to our friends and supporters. It will be our first ever public performance, and we want you to be there to start us off with a bang.  All the tickets will be available for free!

 Since receiving our funding from Arts Council England we have experienced an overwhelming show of support from friends, colleagues, theatres and charities alike. We feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such goodwill and to be embraced by our home, the South West!

 This energy and enthusiasm has made our first months a rollercoaster of possibilities and delight. We are particularly indebted to The Old Vic and the amazing group of regional co-producers, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, whose very real investment in Wise Children has made our dreams a reality. This brave and creative support is what will keep regional touring alive and we couldn’t be more excited to be waving the flag for this vibrant, joyful and historic way of life. Tickets for Wise Children at venues across the country will be on sale soon.

 We are also proud to announce that The School for Wise Children is well and truly underway. We’ve already completed our first course with 12 astonishing theatre musicians, and will be announcing dates for a second course very soon.

 Wise Children is heating up, but the proof will be in the delicious theatre pudding that we are making! Come and taste, come and play, come and be part of this new and thrilling theatre adventure.

Wise Children today announce the tour of their inaugural production as a company – an adaptation of Angela Carter’s Wise Children. Following the world première at The Old Vic who co-produce with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, the production will tour to venues across the UK including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, York and Coventry.

To mark the launch of the company, tickets for final dress rehearsal at The Old Vic will be available free. Tickets will be available through a lottery via Wise Children’s website: www.wisechildren.co.uk.

Also announced today are further details of the company’s School for Wise Children – a new training and apprenticeship scheme. The scheme aims to develop skills across the sector, training independent artists and diversifying the creative workforce. All courses will be affordable and 50% of places will be available free, either to people receiving means-tested benefits, or through referrals from partner organisations. The company is working towards accreditation for courses and the scheduling will be sensitive to artists who need to subsidise their training by working alongside it.

Created and led by Emma Rice, with Executive Director Judith Dimant and Executive Producer Poppy Keeling, Wise Children is an Arts Council, National Portfolio Organisation for 2018-22. Based in Spike Island in Bristol, Wise Children will create and produce world-class, innovative ensemble theatre; a culmination of the process and ethos Emma has developed over her theatrical career. Wise Children will work in partnership with venues to create ensemble work to tour nationally and internationally. Through a series of residencies, the company will develop and diversify audiences.

Website: www.wisechildren.co.uk 

Blog: www.wisechildren.blog

Twitter: @Wise_Children

Facebook: @WiseChildrenCompany

 

Wise Children and The Old Vic present

The world première of

WISE CHILDREN

By Angela Carter

Adapted and directed by Emma Rice

Co-produced by the Belgrade Theatre CoventryOxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal

‘Let’s have all the skeletons out of the closet, today, of all days!’ It’s 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday.

In Brixton, Nora and Dora Chance – twin chorus girls born and bred south of the river – are celebrating their 70th birthday. Over the river in Chelsea, their father and greatest actor of his generation Melchior Hazard turns 100 on the same day. As does his twin brother Peregrine. If, in fact, he’s still alive. And if, in truth, Melchior is their real father after all…

A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.   Emma Rice brings her unique, exuberantly impish vision to Angela Carter’s great last novel, Wise Children, launching her new theatre company of the same name and its London residency at The Old Vic.

The production opens on 17 October at The Old Vic, where Wise Children are a Company in Residence, with previews from 8 October, and running until 10 NovemberWise Children then tours to Oxford Playhouse; Cambridge Arts Theatre; Bristol Old Vic; Derngate Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Belgrade Theatre Coventry, with further venues to be announced shortly.

Emma is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directedRomantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales).

 For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions – the production has been revived this year and is currently playing at the Empire Cinema Haymarket), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages) and Steptoe and Son.

Other work includes: the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC); and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).

Wise Children is a company in residence at The Old Vic.

The London run of Wise Children is supported by funding from the London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts.

Suitable for ages 12+.

SCHOOL FOR WISE CHILDREN

At the heart of Wise Children’s core mission is a commitment to training the next generation of alternative, multi-disciplinary theatre makers and independent artists. The School for Wise Children will provide these opportunities, offering high quality training courses and structured apprenticeships leading to employment for actors, musicians, directors and writers.

Led by Emma – and the leading industry figures who are her regular collaborators – the School for Wise Children is made up of flexible modules of different durations, scheduled in a time frame that is realistic for those who can’t afford to stop work while training. The training will be accredited, and students will complete a series of modules to achieve recognised qualifications.

All courses will be affordable and 50% of all places will be available free, either to people receiving means-tested benefits, or through referrals from partner organisations. These partners are all organisations which use theatre and/or music to engage disadvantaged groups, and will refer talented people who they feel are ready for the next step into a career in the industry.

This commitment is particularly urgent in light of the escalating costs of arts training which is making access into theatre unattainable for young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Black and Minority Ethnic young people are disproportionately represented in these groups and, consequently, poorly represented on our stages.

School for Wise Children graduates will also have access to annual paid apprenticeships with the company. Apprenticeships will be paid at living wage or above and will include a position on a Wise Children show, where apprentices will work alongside an experienced mentor who will then continue to provide support and guidance for a further five years.

Students will have access to business support – with sessions on freelancing and financial management, establishing and running theatre companies, arts administration and funding – and to a casting director with particular expertise working with alternative artists.

For further details on how to apply for the School for Wise Children:

https://wisechildren.blog/2018/03/15/school-for-wise-children-apply-now/

Wild Children                                                                                                                                        Tour Listings

The Old Vic

Monday 8 October – Saturday 10 November

Press night: Wednesday 17 October

www.oldvictheatre.com

Box Office: 0844 871 7628

Oxford Playhouse

Tuesday 13 November – Saturday 17 November

www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Box Office: 01865 305305

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Tuesday 20 November – Saturday 24 November

www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

Box Office: 01223 503333

2019

Bristol Old Vic

Weds 23 Jan – Saturday 9 Feb

www.bristololdvic.org.uk

Box Office: 0117 987 7877

York Theatre Royal

Tuesday 5 March – Saturday 16 March

www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Box Office: 01904 623568

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 April

www.belgrade.co.uk

Box Office: 024 7655 3055

The Old Vic announces Emma Rice’s Wise Children as new company in residence

Wise Children

Wise ChildrenThe Old Vic will be the London home for Emma Rice’s Wise Children as Company in Residence. Its first production, also titled Wise Children, will be a new adaptation of Angela Carter’s novel and will open Matthew Warchus’ fourth Season (2018/2019) as Artistic Director of The Old Vic, with a second production to follow.

Created and led by Emma Rice, Wise Children will become an Arts Council, National Portfolio Organisation for 2018-22, they will be based in the South West and have national significance. The Old Vic, London’s independent, not-for-profit theatre, celebrates its bicentenary in 2018. The theatre was the birthplace of Sadler’s Wells, English National Opera, the Royal Ballet and the National Theatre and will now be the first home to the Wise Children.

Wise Children will conceive, create and present world-class, innovative ensemble theatre; a culmination of the process and ethos Emma has developed over her theatrical career. Her bold, imaginative productions and gift for celebratory storytelling have made her one of the most important and acclaimed directors working today. Wise Children will work in partnership with venues to create ensemble work to tour nationally and internationally. Through a series of residencies, the company will develop and diversify audiences. The company will create a training and apprenticeship scheme, ‘Emma Rice’s School for Wise Children’. The scheme aims to develop skills across the sector, training independent artists and diversifying the creative workforce.

Matthew Warchus says: “In 2018 The Old Vic celebrates 200 years of independent, creatively adventurous theatre. I am thrilled to welcome Emma and her new company, Wise Children, as our Company in Residence for the bicentenary. Emma and all she stands for is symbolic of the optimism and irrepressible spirit that has kept The Old Vic at the forefront of artistic adventure for the last two centuries.”

Emma Rice says: “I named my new company Wise Children after Angela Carter’s seminal novel, which is set in South London and is a love letter to theatre. It makes total narrative and thrilling sense to start the Wise Children journey at The Old Vic! This iconic, independent and proudly innovative theatre has hosted Shakespeare and Variety, music and dance alike for almost 200 years and it is the perfect first home for my company and for our first production. It will come as no surprise that this first production will be an adaptation of the novel, Wise Children – “What a joy it is to dance and sing!”. I am following in extraordinary footsteps and grateful to Matthew Warchus and his team for welcoming Wise Children with such brave and open arms.”

Emma Rice’s new company, Wise Children, backed by Arts Council

Wise Children
Wise Children

Wise Children

A new company created and led by Emma Rice, Wise Children, has been awarded funding by the Arts Council South West, becoming one of their National Portfolio Organisations from April 2018.

Based in the South West of England, the company marks a new chapter for Emma Rice. Wise Children will conceive, create and present world-class, innovative ensemble theatre; a culmination of the process and ethos she has developed over her theatrical career. Emma has worked for twenty years as an actor, director and Artistic Director at Kneehigh and steps down from her current position as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in April 2018. Her bold, imaginative productions and gift for storytelling have made her one of the most important and acclaimed directors working today.

Wise Children will work in partnership with venues to create ensemble work to tour nationally and internationally. Through a series of residencies, the company will develop and diversify audiences. Key partnerships are secured and will be announced in due course.

The company will create a training and apprenticeship scheme, ‘Emma Rice’s School for Wise Children’. The scheme aims to develop skills across the sector, training independent artists and diversifying the creative workforce. The training will be structured around intensive modules, with Emma drawing from the many excellent and established artists she has worked with over the years to support the next generation of practitioners.

Emma Rice said: “I am delighted that the Arts Council South West have chosen to support Wise Children. Anyone starting up a new theatre company in the current climate struggles against the odds to get started, and the Arts Council have given us a much-needed chance to begin our journey. I look forward to growing Wise Children to become the inclusive, passionate and imaginative company I know it will be. We will nurture and support diverse new voices and talent, bringing them together with the most brilliant and creative established artists and practitioners in the industry. This is a movement with a commitment to the generous exchange of skills, humanity and ideas at its heart. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to share in our journey and to celebrate the power of theatre and all the curiosity, bravery and freedom it brings.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Wise Children into the National Portfolio. Emma Rice has an exceptional reputation for artistic and directorial leadership, it’s fantastic that she will be basing her new theatre company in the South West. We’re excited by the creative opportunities that will come through this investment, giving more people in more places across the country the opportunity to benefit from the wide benefits that arts and culture bring.”

Shakespeare’s Globe announces ‘The Winter Selection’ in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

The Winter Selection
The Winter Selection

The Winter Selection

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced the 2017 winter season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, entitled The Winter Selection.

The season opens with Romantics Anonymous, a new musical directed by Emma Rice, with book written by Emma Rice, lyrics by Christopher Dimond, and music by Michael Kooman, presented by special arrangement with Radio Mouse Entertainment. This will be followed by The Secret Theatre, a new play by Anders Lustgarten, directed by Matthew Dunster, and Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born, an alternative Christmas show from post-post-modern cabaret sensation Meow Meow.

The new year brings a new production of All’s Well That Ends Well, directed by Caroline Byrne, and The Captive Queen, a reimagining of John Dryden’s Restoration drama Aureng-zebe, directed by Barrie Rutter and co-produced with Northern Broadsides. The winter season closes with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – a reimagining, created by Gyre & Gimble and recomposed by Max Richter, and the return of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, in co-production with Bristol Old Vic.

Emma Rice, Artistic Director, said: “I’ve always seen the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as a little box of treats, encouraging the primal need to tell and hear stories and inviting tales and magic to unfurl beneath the flicker of the candles. For my final season as Artistic Director at the Globe, I knew I wanted to present the most delicious, unique and beautiful box of delights. The Winter Selection will take us to a singing chocolate factory in France, the inner sanctum of Elizabeth I’s court, the dark and dangerous world of All’s Well That Ends Well, the palaces of India, the emotional depths of Vivaldi, and the tender chaos of Meow Meow’s Christmas, before we tumble back down the rabbit hole with the return of The Little Matchgirl.”     

Opening 20 October, Romantics Anonymous is a new musical directed by Emma Rice, with book by Emma Rice, lyrics by Christopher Dimond, and music by Michael Kooman. Adapted from the French-Belgian film Les Émotifs Anonymes written by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband, the musical follows Angélique, a gifted chocolate maker inhibited by social anxiety, and Jean-René, the awkward boss of a struggling chocolate factory, in an unusual and tender love story about finding the courage to be happy. Romantics Anonymouswill be the final new production directed by Emma Rice as Artistic Director of the Globe.  Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman, whose previous musicals include Dani Girl and Judge Jackie and who are currently writing the score for an animated Disney television series, will be making their London professional debut as musical theater writers. Romantics Anonymous is presented by special arrangement with Radio Mouse Entertainment, a Tony Award-winning New York-based theatre and media production company that has been developing the project for the musical stage since 2014.

A new play by Anders Lustgarten, The Secret Theatre, opens 16 November, directed by the Globe’s Associate Director Matthew Dunster. As the nation’s relationship with Europe deteriorates and civil unrest grows, Elizabeth I’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, adopts extreme tactics to keep his queen and country safe. Set in a world of espionage, double-crossing and blackmail, The Secret Theatre asks what we are prepared to sacrifice to ensure our safety.

Anders Lustgarten is an award-winning playwright renowned for his bold approach to social and political questions. A long-standing political activist, he won the inaugural Harold Pinter Playwright’s Award for If You Don’t Let Us Dream We Won’t Let You Sleep (Royal Court). Commissioned as part of Soho Theatre’s Political Party Season, Lampedusa returned to Soho Theatre for a second run, transferred to HighTide Festival and toured in 2016. His latest play, The Seven Acts of Mercy, opened at the RSC to critical acclaim in 2016. Anders is developing original projects for television and radio.

Matthew Dunster is an Olivier Award-nominated director, a writer and actor. His recent directing credits include Imogen at the Globe, Hangmen (Royal Court and West End), Love’s Sacrifice (RSC), The Seagull (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Liberian Girl (Royal Court). This summer his adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities will premiere at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

On 20 December, Meow Meow returns to the Globe for a Christmas show like no other, Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born. Following her appearance in Emma Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream last summer, the post-post-modern cabaret sensation brings her hilarious and heart-wrenching festive extravaganza to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This untraditional Christmas show will combine moments of hare-brained hijinks with poignant and tender reflections on loneliness, lost dreams and the apocalypse. Conceived, created and performed by Meow Meow (with a little help from her friends), the show was originally commissioned by Southbank Centre. Meow Meow’s career has encompassed sell-out concerts at Lincoln Center New York and the Sydney Opera House.

Following her critically acclaimed The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe in 2016, Caroline Byrne will direct Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, opening 11 January 2018. Caroline was previously Associate Director at the Gate Theatre and her recent credits include Parallel Macbeth (Young Vic), Eclipsed (Gate Theatre) and Macbeth (Chapter Arts). She has also directed shows at the Bush Theatre, Project Theatre Dublin, and RSC Education. This summer she will direct Oliver Twist at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

In a co-production with Northern Broadsides, Barrie Rutter will direct The Captive Queen, a reimagining of John Dryden’s Restoration drama Aureng-zebe (1675). Opening 2 February 2018, The Captive Queen is set in the woollen mills of the North of England in the late 20th century, but retains a flavour of Dryden’s original Mughal Indian setting.

An ageing Emperor and his Governor rage at the loss of their youth and beauty, whilst two fratricidal sons are spurred from victory in war to the warfare of love. All four are besotted with the same captive queen. Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides, Barrie Rutter, will assemble a cast of British Asian actors for this wry exploration of the folly of old age, the allure of power, and the bewildering effects of lust and desire.

Following a career as an actor in the National Theatre and the RSC, Barrie founded Northern Broadsides in 1992. The multi-award-winning touring company is based in the historic Dean Clough Mill in West Yorkshire. The company has built up a formidable reputation, with a repertoire combining Shakespeare, European and English Classic plays, as well as new writing. Productions are noted for their distinctive northern voice, strong musicality and clear narrative journey. In 2003, Barrie won the Sam Wanamaker Award, and in 2015, he received an OBE for services to the arts.

Opening 9 March 2018, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – a reimagining will be created by Gyre & Gimble’s master puppeteers, with Max Richter’s acclaimed musical reworking of the original masterpiece, newly arranged for a quintet of London’s finest musicians. This unprecedented collaboration will explore the crystalline acoustic and candlelit ambience of the playhouse.

Composer Max Richter is an accomplished pianist, producer and collaborator, and indisputably one of the most prolific contemporary musical artists. Gyre & Gimble place puppetry at the heart of storytelling. The company, founded by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, former associate puppetry directors of War Horse, uses puppetry to create compelling characters and tell fantastical, improbable stories.

The season will come to a close with the return of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, in co-production with Bristol Old Vic. Inspired by Andersen’s beautiful and devastating tale, and incorporating several of his other beloved stories – ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, ‘Thumbelina’, and ‘The Princess and the Pea’ – it is written by the award-winning Joel Horwood (I Caught Crabs in Walberswick, Mikey the Pikey, Food, I Heart Peterborough). After a triumphant run in 2016, the production will open on 27 March 2018.

Romantics Anonymous

Directed by Emma Rice

Book by Emma Rice, Lyrics by Christopher Dimond, Music by Michael Kooman

Based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes written by Jean-Pierre Améris and Phillippe Blasband

Presented by special arrangement with Radio Mouse Entertainment

20 October 2017 – 6 January 2018

Press Night: Friday 27 October

 

The Secret Theatre

Directed by Matthew Dunster

16 November 2017 – 16 December 2017

Press Night: Wednesday 22 November

 

Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born (This show is recommended for ages 14+)

20 – 31 December 2017

 

All’s Well That Ends Well

Directed by Caroline Byrne

11 January – 3 March 2018

Press Night: Wednesday 17 January

     

The Captive Queen

Co-produced with Northern Broadsides, directed by Barrie Rutter

2 February – 4 March 2018

Press Night: Wednesday 7 February

 

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – a reimagining

Created by Gyre & Gimble

9 March – 21 April 2018

Press Night: Friday 16 March

 

The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales

Co-produced with Bristol Old Vic, directed by Emma Rice

27 March – 21 April 2018

 

Assisted Performances

  • Romantics Anonymous: Relaxed – 2 Dec; Captioned – 5 Dec; AD – 9 Dec
  • The Secret Theatre: Relaxed – 6 Dec; Captioned – 12 Dec; AD – 16 Dec
  • All’s Well That Ends Well: Captioned – 27 Jan and 20 Feb; Relaxed – 15 Feb; AD – 3 March
  • The Captive Queen: Captioned – 28 Feb; AD – 1 March
  • Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – a reimagining: Captioned – 10 April; AD – 15 April; Relaxed – 17 April
  • The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales: AD – 7 April; Relaxed – 14 April; Captioned – 19 April

 

 

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Mike Shepherd, Kneehigh: “I used to walk over the Millennium Bridge full of hope and now it is with a knot in my stomach.”

Mike Shepherd

Mike Shepherd

Mike Shepherd, Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre Company has had a remarkable career as a director, performer and as founder of Kneehigh.

We are talking on the same day that Emma Rice, former Artistic director and long-time friend and collaborator with Shepherd penned a spirited open letter to the incoming Globe artistic director. Rice offered candid insight into the politics behind the scenes of the organisation. It is, by all accounts, a fascinating thing. When offering up advice from the perspective of her time in post, she reveals, “I have learnt, never again, to allow myself to be excluded from the rooms where decisions are made” she continues, “…as important and beloved as the Globe is to me, the board did not love and respect me back.”

So, what does Mike think about it all? “The thing that is a huge shame is that Emma created a brilliant and vibrant artistic community at the Globe and that hasn’t been valued at all,” he pauses. “I used to walk over the Millennium Bridge full of hope and now it is with a knot in my stomach.”. He continues: “Essentially after head-hunting her and taking her away from Cornwall they discarded her – it is a dreadful situation.” Their mutual respect and affection will last long after Rice leaves the Globe. Indeed, he is very clear that they will work together in the future and that Emma will always be a part of the Kneehigh family.

His dynamism is, he confesses, the result of finding his artistic feet during a genuinely political time. “Look, I’m so old, I’m from a generation where we genuinely thought we could change the world; that Bob Dylan era. I was never a hippy, though I’m contemplating becoming one. An effective hippy.” Shepherd laughs when I tell him that I wish it was two years ago and ask his thoughts on our Prime minister’s surprise announcement of a Snap Election outside No 10, saying she has delivered stability after the Brexit referendum result. “It’s pretty desperate isn’t it,” he says bluntly. “I was horrified that we voted Brexit. I spent some time recently touring around a very troubled America… On one hand, we have to keep fighting and on the other you want to turn your back in disgust.”

Before coming to the bigger issue – the global refugee crisis and how to make a difference, when it comes to making work that is relevant to audience members’ lives and concerns, Kneehigh are in a league of their own. “Our latest show 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips ends with the Martin Luther King, Jr quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” At the end of the show we asked audiences to buy a lucky button, make a wish for a better, safer world. We raised over $50,000 for organisations helping refugees in Europe and Syria.”

Shepherd has been steering Kneehigh since Rice left two years ago, continuing the political and socially sensitive work with gusto. How has he been getting on working closely with Charles Hazlewood and Carl Grose? “Well, Charles is an extraordinary man, he comes up with the most brilliant projects, he has an amazing creative energy. Carl came up through the company; he was originally our apprentice,” he says. “Those two really chime and are absolutely best friends. I should also mention our close links with choreographer Etta Murfitt and our magnificent lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth. That is a very strong creative team that is fuelling our work and continuing the Kneehigh journey,” he adds.

Lyn Gardner recently wrote an article about the Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’s success in making theatre universally appealing and how our strongest culture triumphs are only conceivable because of the subsidised arts sector.  “How wonderful that Steven Hoggett and John Tiffany are artists that have come from subsidised theatre backgrounds. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is an exemplar of mainstream theatre attracting a whole new generation of theatre audiences, many of whom will be attending theatre for the first time,” he says. “That’s one of the biggest challenges for me always; it’s hard earned – we don’t just dip from one good idea to another, we want to make a difference and engage with diverse and new audiences.”

Next month Kneehigh will take up residence at Brighton Theatre Royal as part of the Brighton Festival with a restaging of the critically acclaimed Tristan and Yseult; Emma Rice’s acclaimed staging of the Cornish legend that catapulted Kneehigh onto the national stage. “Yes, I’ll be doing Tristan and Yseult for the last time,” he pauses. “As King Mark I say ‘We don’t look inland there’s not much point. No, outward, outward lies the way!’. Looking ahead, we are also thrilled to be working with Keziah Serreau who will be assistant director on the Tin Drum in collaboration with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse. We will also be looking into a new Kneehigh show based on Marie Curie, currently titled ‘Radioactive (Love and fall out)’”.

He ends on at note of upbeat positivity about the next generation of artists and the future. “I’d just like to encourage organisations to pull together and to collaborate– there needs to be a spirit of hope. Theatre is there to provoke, challenge and entertain.”