Posts

#FinboroughForFree Strictly Limited Online Release For August

SCROUNGER

SCROUNGER by Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre Athena Stevens

The world premiere

Directed by Lily McLeish.

Design by Anna Reid.

Lighting by Anthony Doran.

Sound by Julian Starr.

Presented by Sarah Lawrie for Aegis Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

Cast: Leigh Quinn. Athena Stevens.

The video is free to view, and will be available from the Finborough Theatre YouTube channel here.

Available from 9am on Saturday, 1 August until midnight on Monday, 3 August 2020, and again from 9am until midnight on Monday, 31 August.

On the streets of Elephant and Castle, everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. She needs help, she must not be aware of the complexities of the world, she is sent from the demons to torture her mum… at least according to her Nigerian Uber driver.

Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen.

That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair.

Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens herself, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

Originally seen as part of Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough PlaywrightsScrounger received its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre in January 2020 where it received rave reviews, was nominated for six OffWestEnd Awards and a London Pub Theatres Standing Ovation Award, and was named one of The Stage’s Top Five Theatre Shows and Time Out’s Show of the Week.

As part of the Finborough Theatre’s #FinboroughForFree initiative, the theatre will be releasing a new play every month for as long as they can during their closure to watch online for free. For more information about this and other Finborough Theatre productions currently available to stream online, visit their website here.

Follow the Finborough Theatre on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more updates about upcoming releases as part of #FinboroughForFree.

Audiences can contribute to support the future of the theatre by donating or becoming a Friend of the Finborough Theatre, more information on their Support Us page here.

Playwright Athena Stevens returns to the Finborough Theatre where she is a Playwright in Residence, and wrote and performed in the Olivier nominated world premiere of Schism. She is an associate artist at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. She is currently writing the book for a new musical, and is under commission for the National Youth Theatre. She was the first actor in a wheelchair nominated for an OffWestEnd Award for her performance in Schism, as well as appearing at the Barbican Theatre as Juliet last year. Her radio plays include Reluctant Spirit (BBC Radio 3). Stevens is also a spokesperson for the UK’s Women’s Equality Party.

Press acclaim for the Finborough Theatre production of Scrounger

★★★★ Four Stars, Time Out

★★★★ Four Stars, London Living Large

★★★★ Four Stars, Close-Up Culture

★★★★ Four Stars, Reviewsgate

★★★★ Four Stars, The Spy in the Stalls

★★★★ Four Stars, The Upcoming

★★★★ Four Stars, A Younger Theatre

★★★★ Four Stars, London Pub Theatres

★★★★ Four Stars, Breaking the Forth Wall

★★★★ Four Stars, The Londonist

The Stage – Top Five Theatre Shows

Time Out – Show of the Week

Nominated for six OffWestEnd Awards and a London Pub Theatres Standing Ovation Award

“Athena Stevens’s excellent new play…provocative, smart and calls out its liberal audience…and that’s something so little of the theatre that’s on stage is doing right now. Instead of preaching to the converted…it sinks its teeth into the hypocrisies of people who tell themselves they’re doing good without actually doing anything.” Rosemary Waugh, Time Out

“Some great moments of humour and two cracking performances.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres

“A stimulating, challenging evening it makes an admirable opening to the theatre’s fortieth season…a terrific polemic.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“A notable step ahead in terms of representation and the tackling of a major issue.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

Scrounger refuses to pander to the audience and will leave them questioning themselves afterwards.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres

“An impassioned – and provocative – piece of work.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The brilliance of Stevens’s work is that it directly angles its comments about how disabled people are routinely treated at those lovely, left-leaning, Guardian-reading, petition-signing people most likely to be sitting in the audience.” Rosemary Waugh, Time Out

“Her voice rings out loud, true and scathing as she digs the dirt on the congratulatory liberal frame of mind.” Lyn Gardner, Stagedoor

“She takes no prisoners as she calls out “woke culture” and the well-meaning people who actually get it very wrong and refuse to acknowledge it.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“It would be easy to read Scrounger as a simple David and Goliath story. But writer and performer Athena Stevens makes it far more interesting than that.” Lyn Gardner, Stagedoor

“Great comic moments.” Rob Warren, Everything Theatre

“Leigh Quinn dextrously performs multiple characters.” Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

“Played impressively by the very energetic Leigh Quinn.” Keith McKenna, British Theatre Guide

“Quinn’s talent for multi-roling and aptitude for accent and dialect is remarkable.” JN Benjamin, The Stage

“A delightfully non-realist staging here from director Lily McLeish and designer Anna Reid.” Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

The press on previous #FinboroughForFree online releases

“Utterly gripping drama – political, personal and perceptive, with a strong sense of story.” ★★★★ Arifa Akbar, The Guardian on Continuity

“A very welcome digital revival from a lifeblood theatre we simply cannot afford to lose.” ★★★★ Mayer Wakefield, Morning Star Online on It Is Easy To Be Dead

“Unmissable is a word too often carelessly used, and I did miss the production at the Finborough being away at the time, so this came as a revelation. It is exactly that. Not to be missed.” ★★★★ William Russell, ReviewsGate on It Is Easy To Be Dead

Continuity is an excellent 75 minutes of tense theatre, which continues the venue’s great track record of presenting great new writing.” Aleks Sierz on Continuity

First Finborough Theatre production to be shown online for free

IT IS EASY TO BE DEAD

When twenty year old Charles Sorley is killed in action during the First World War, his devastated parents are left with only his letters and poems to remember him by. Using his extraordinary writings, together with music and songs of the period, It Is Easy To Be Dead is a tender portrait of a brief life filled with promise, cut short by the futility of war.

 Charles Sorley was a witty, intelligent and spirited young man from Aberdeen, with a talent for poetry and dreams of escaping his privileged background. Studying in Germany in 1914 – where he was briefly imprisoned as an enemy alien – his life, like those of millions of other young men and their families, was ripped apart by the start of the First World War.

Inspired by his experiences in Germany and of the horror and pity of war, he created some of the most profound and moving war poetry ever written, directly inspiring the grim disillusionment of later poets such as Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon.

It Is Easy To Be Dead features live music and songs from some of the greatest composers of the period including George Butterworth, Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna, Ivor Gurney, John Ireland, Rudi Stephan and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The cast includes Jenny Lee (West End, Royal Court Theatre, The Young Vic, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), Tom Marshall (National Theatre, West End, Royal Court Theatre, nominated for an OffWestEnd Award for Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role for It Is Easy To Be Dead) and two new discoveries – actor Alexander Knox as Charles Sorley, nominated for an OffWestEnd Award for Best Male Performance for It Is Easy To Be Dead; acclaimed young tenor Hugh Benson; and prize-winning pianist Elizabeth Rossiter.

Artistic Director Neil McPherson said: “We are very pleased to make the first of what we hope will be many Finborough Theatre productions available online. The process of clearing rights and permissions for streaming recordings of past shows (assuming, of course, that they were recorded in the first place) is always difficult, and we are especially grateful to the company and creative team of Easy for generously allowing us to make this video available to watch for free.

During our closure, we continue with our two playwriting competitions – the winner of the 2020 RADIUS Playwriting Competition will be announced soon, and we have extended the deadline and increased the prizes for the ETPEP Playwriting Competition for new writers who work in theatre. We continue to celebrate our 40th anniversary by updating our online production archive on our new website, and are regularly posting reviews and images from the last 40 years across all our social media channels. We will be making more of our shows available online, and also hope to take our monthly Finborough Forum online shortly.

But, theatre is a live art form, and no amount of streaming, competitions or Zoom chats can replace that, so we are also using this time to rethink what we do, so that we can come back stronger when we finally reopen.

Sadly, we fall between the cracks of government and local authority support, so if you would like to support us to ensure another 40 years of our work, we would of course be hugely grateful for any donation you can afford to make.”

 

Press acclaim for the Finborough Theatre production of It Is Easy To Be Dead

★★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★★ BritishTheatre.com
★★★★★ Broadway World
★★★★★ London Pub Theatres
★★★★★ The Upcoming
★★★★★ Carn’s Theatre Passion
★★★★ and Pick of The Week, The Sunday Times
★★★★ The Times
★★★★ The Herald
★★★★ Time Out
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ The Jewish Chronicle
★★★★ Musical Theatre Review
★★★★ Reviewsgate
★★★★ LondonTheatre1
★★★★ LiveTheatre
★★★★ Ginger Wig and Strolling Man
★★★★ TheSpyintheStalls

Nominated for an Olivier Award

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

Nominated for a MyTheatreAward

Best Original Work

Nominated for 7 OffWestEnd Awards

Best Male Performance

Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role

Best New Play

Best Director

Best Lighting Designer

Best Sound Designer

Best Set Designer

Nominated for four Broadway World UK Awards

Best Actor in a New Production of a Musical

Best Direction of a New Production of a Play

Best New London Fringe Production

Best New Play

“A century on, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we’ve heard enough from the trenches. This artful evening reminds us that there is always more to learn, to be appalled by and, yes, dazzled by too.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“A fitting and poignant tribute.” Theo Bosanquet, Time Out

“A sharp reminder of the fragility of peace and the terrible consequences of taking that state for granted.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“A poignant moving narrative of one man’s war. What Charles Sorley achieved in his short life should remain an inspiration to us all. Not to be missed.” TheSpyintheStalls.com

“This beautiful tribute to the First World War poet Charles Sorley took me by surprise. After all, I had — I’ll confess — never heard of Sorley, a poet celebrated by his peers if not by a huge wider public, who died aged 20 in 1915 in the Battle of Loos. And the prospect of a show made up of his letters and poems, with British and German songs from the period and dramatisations of his stiff Scottish parents’ reactions to his death . . . it sounded more National Trust than National Theatre. Yet It is Easy to be Dead turns out to be a tender, absorbing, eye-opening account of both an awful conflict and a great lost talent.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Hugely worthwhile piece, moving yet never mawkish, pertinent for its quiet reminder of the fragility of life, civilisation and peace.” Patricia Nicol, The Sunday Times

“Charles Sorley is not a First World War poet as familiar as Wilfred Owen or Rupert Brooke, whose works are ingrained on the national consciousness. But on the evidence of Neil McPherson’s fascinating dramatisation of his short life, he merits no less attention.” Theo Bosanquet, Time Out

“A haunting tribute to a remarkable forgotten war poet” Claire Allfree, The Daily Telegraph

“Quietly devastating.” Dominic Cavendish, The Daily Telegraph

“Well crafted, well staged, well acted.” Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail

“Powerful musical moments.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Neil McPherson’s thoughtful play…conveys both the young man’s enthusiastic energy and the intensity of his parents’ loss.” Patricia Nicol, The Sunday Times

“Beautifully written…McPherson’s perfectly judged script…The cast are tremendous.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Alexander Knox is stunning as Sorley, giving him the bonhomie of a young thing, the clear-sightedness of an old soul.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Alexander Knox’s inquisitively engaging Charlie.” Patricia Nicol, The Sunday Times

“An excellent central performance: Alexander Knox honours Sorley with a deeply sympathetic portrayal, finely balancing passion and poise.” Theo Bosanquet, Time Out

“In Alexander Knox’s likeable, bright-eyed performance you get a palpable, painful inkling of what was lost.” Dominic Cavendish, The Daily Telegraph

“Tom Marshall and Jenny Lee as his parents are perfect.” TheSpyintheStalls.com

“Heartbreaking scenes as his parents, played by Jenny Lee and Tom Marshall.” Liz Dyer, Carn’s Theatre Passion

“Tom Marshall and Jenny Lee make wholly believable parents: he the epitome of the Calvanist tradition, stiff upper lip maintained – until he cracks; she the grieving mother, emotions just about held in check, but unable to cope with the void in her life.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Hugh Benson sings beautifully.” Jessica Handscomb, A Younger Theatre

“Hugh Benson, wonderful.” Patricia Nicol, The Sunday Times

“The music, sung exquisitely by Hugh Benson and accompanied on piano by Elizabeth Rossiter, hauntingly underscores Sorley’s conviction in the beauty of German culture.” Claire Allfree, The Daily Telegraph

“Elizabeth Rossiter’s deft music direction, accompanied by Hugh Benson’s singing, appropriately combines British and German songs.” Theo Bosanquet, Time Out

“The director, Max Key, keeps the atmosphere vivid throughout.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

Extended deadline for ETPEP Award

ETPEP Award

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP).

The Award’s purpose is to find and nurture a playwright who has worked in theatre for two years or more (but not in a literary department setting or as a paid script reader), who is looking to further their ambitions and skill in the art and craft of playwriting.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is open to UK residents of any age who have not had a play professionally produced, and who have worked front of house, in administrative roles, on stage, backstage, lighting, design etc. or in a creative capacity in theatre for at least two years, either now or in the past.

The award is intended to target and encourage those who are currently working in theatre but who are new to playwriting, and therefore, the Award is not open to those who have worked in any capacity in a literary department, a literary agency, theatre critics, or those who ever have undertaken paid script reading work.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an award for playwrights. It is an award for those who work in theatre IN SOME OTHER capacity who also write plays.

We are looking for a play of substance which contributes in some way to our understanding of the human condition or experience, from a writer with potential to enhance our political and social awareness.

The award will be judged completely anonymously until the very final shortlist and interview stage, and brief feedback will be provided on every entry.

The winner will receive a prize of £6,000, a development relationship with the Finborough Theatre including one-to-one dramaturgy with Finborough Theatre Artistic Director and playwright Neil McPherson; a rehearsal workshop with actors and a director to develop the play; and a staged reading performance of the winning play at the Finborough Theatre, London on Sunday, 20 September 2020 (subject to confirmation, depending on events).

The judges for the 2020 Award are playwright Winsome Pinnock; Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Neil McPherson; Literary Manager of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Sue Healy; Actor, Playwright and Activist Athena Stevens; and Clive Webster of the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust, which founded the award. More judges will be announced shortly.

Before entering you should study the full submission guidelines, available here.

The deadline for scripts is Tuesday, 30 June 2020 at 11.00pm.

ETPEP Award 2020 Submission Information

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new writers who have previously had at least two year’s experience working in theatre. We are looking for promising writers, rather than projects specifically targeted for production. The winner will be given the chance to develop and present their work in a supportive environment.

The Award is open for submissions from Monday, 9 September 2019 until 11pm on Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

The winner will receive:

  • The winner will receive a prize of £6,000.

  • A development relationship with the Finborough Theatre including one-to-one dramaturgy with Finborough Theatre Artistic Director and playwright Neil McPherson.

  • A rehearsal workshop with actors and a director to develop the play.

  • A staged reading performance of the winning play at the Finborough Theatre, London, on Sunday, 20 September 2020 (subject to confirmation, depending on events).

There will be 10 runner-up prizes of £300.

  • The Award is open to new playwrights who have previously worked in theatre in another capacity for a minimum of two years:
    • ‘New playwright’ – you must not have had more than ten performances of a full length play you have written.

    • “Working in theatre” – This refers to any role from front of house and administrative roles, to backstage, to acting, directing or design. You must submit the name and contact details of a referee, or referees who can verify your work. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE AWARD IS NOT OPEN TO THOSE WHO HAVE WORKED IN ANY CAPACITY IN A LITERARY DEPARTMENT OR A LITERARY AGENCY, THOSE WHO HAVE EVER UNDERTAKEN PAID SCRIPT READING WORK.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an award for playwrights. It is an award for those who work in theatre IN SOME OTHER capacity who also write plays.

The judges for the 2020 Award are playwright Winsome Pinnock; Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Neil McPherson; Literary Manager of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Sue Healy; Actor, Playwright and Activist Athena Stevens; and Clive Webster of the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust, which founded the award. More judges will be announced shortly.

  • What to submit:

    • Full-length play (without contact details) via email to the contact details given below, and:

    • Cover sheet with contact details.

    • CV.

    • Referee contact details or references.

  • We will accept plays on any theme, although we tend to look favourably on plays with a contemporary subject or a fresh perspective on a historical situation, or life as we know it.

  • The competition is open to anyone resident in the United Kingdom.

  • There is no age limit.

  • The play should be full length, with a playing time of at least seventy minutes.

  • Entries should include page numbers on every page.

  • Any entries received after the deadline will not be read, and no extension is possible.

  • We are only able to accept entries submitted by email in Word or PDF format.

  • Scripts must be entirely complete and in one document only, and not include the writer’s name or contact details anywhere on the script.

  • All entries should include a separate cover sheet with the writer’s name and contact details, including an email address and telephone number.

  • All entries should also include a professional CV (if you have a writing CV you are welcome to include that, but the prize is only open to those who work in theatre IN SOME OTHER capacity who also write plays, so we need your CV for your non-writing job in theatre. Also please include the name and contact information of a referee, or referees, who can verify the details of your background working in the theatre.

  • To prevent confusion, please note that the two year’s experience period does not include training or education, therefore someone who left drama school last year would not be eligible. Likewise, the competition is only for those actively working in the professional theatre – drama teachers or lecturers are not eligible.

  • In a change to last year’s competition, people who have worked for at least two years in the professional theatre in the past, but no longer do so, may enter the competition, strictly provided that they can submit a CV of their theatre experience, and the name and contact details of a referee, or referees who can verify their work in the professional theatre.

  • The award will be judged completely anonymously until the very final shortlist and interview stage, and brief feedback will be provided on every entry.

  • The play submitted must be an original, unperformed and unproduced piece of work. It cannot have received a professional production in any form, anywhere in the world. This does not include amateur productions, or up to a maximum of THREE script-in-hand readings or work-in-progress showings. Plays that have already received more than three months of dramaturgy and development with a professional theatre company are not eligible. Any scripts that have been professionally produced or published will be automatically disqualified.

  • Plays previously entered for the ETPEP Award in the past are not eligible.

  • Translations, children’s plays, adaptations, music theatre, television, film or radio scripts are not eligible for the competition.

  • The entrant must exclusively own and control all copyright and all other related rights to the submitted script. It must be available for production and unattached to any other organisation or individual.

  • The winning play will be under exclusive option to the Finborough Theatre for a period of three months after the announcement of the awards; this reflects the substantial development the play will be likely to undergo with the Finborough Theatre.

  • The judges’ decision on all matters is final including decisions on an entrant’s professional status, and we regret that no correspondence can be entered into regarding any part of the judging process.

  • We reserve the right to withhold awarding a prize in the event of entries not reaching a sufficiently high standard.

  • All entries must be received by 11pm on Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

  • Interviews with the final shortlist writers will be held at the Finborough Theatre, London. Dates to be confirmed in future.

  • The performance of the winning play will be at the Finborough Theatre on Sunday, 20 September 2020, and you should ideally be available on that date and for the week before for rehearsals and dramaturgy. Depending on events, we will confirm nearer the time whether that date will go ahead as planned.

  • Submissions should be emailed to etpepaward2020@gmail.com

    Any submissions sent direct to the Finborough Theatre will be ignored.

  • Any queries should be emailed to etpepaward2020@gmail.com

    Any queries sent direct to the Finborough Theatre will be ignored.

The ETPEP Award is managed by the Finborough Theatre on behalf of a charitable trust, the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust.

The Finborough Theatre is a Registered Charity no. 1071304.

The Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust is a Registered Charity No. 1154561.

40th Anniversary Year Season Announced at the Finborough Theatre

Finborough Theatre

2020 is the Finborough Theatre’s 40th anniversary year and they have announced another season of vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries that you can’t see anywhere else. This season they introduce London audiences to one of Northern Ireland’s most acclaimed recent dramatists; rediscover an award-winning play from 1980, the year that they opened; a phenomenally successful comedy-drama from Canada; and a stunning early play from 1938 by a pioneer female playwright.

The season opens with the English premiere of On McQuillan’s Hill, a vicious black comedy by the late Joseph Crilly, a playwright The Guardian called “Ulster’s Martin McDonagh”, playing 4-29 February 2020. When proud IRA man Fra Maline is released from prison, his daughter throws a welcome home celebration at the local community hall. But with the Good Friday Agreement in a precarious state, it’s not long until bitter memories and secrets from the past are calamitously exposed. On McQuillan’s Hill confronts the horrors of abuse and absurdities of sectarian violence, with insight and coruscating humour.

Commissioned to celebrate their 40th anniversary year, they present the first new UK production for 40 years of Paul Kember’s award-winning 1980 comedy-drama Not Quite Jerusalem which plays 3-28 March 2020. It’s 1979, and Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave have fled grim, divided England for the sun, sex, beer and bagels of a Israeli kibbutz. But they soon find that what was supposed to be a working holiday, turns out to be more like hard labour in 100-degree temperatures. A play about what it means to be young, conflicted, English and a very long way from home, Not Quite Jerusalem won first-time playwright Paul Kember the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.

The season continues with the European premiere of Michael Melski’s smash-hit Canadian play Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, playing 31 March-25 April 2020. Teddy and Donner are two lonely working-class single parents who meet at their children’s minor league ice-hockey match. Love, violence and sport collide in this tender, uproarious, and occasionally disturbing story about competitive obsession and what it means to be a (single) parent. Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad was named one of the ‘Top Ten Plays of The Year’ by The Toronto Star, was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award (Toronto’s Olivier Award), has toured Canada twice, and received over forty professional productions.

The season comes to an end with a classic Finborough Theatre rediscovery – Women Without Men – a stunning early play by pioneer Irish female playwright Hazel Ellis, which plays 28 April-23 May 2020. When enthusiastic young teacher Jean Wade arrives at Malyn Park Private School, her high ideals and friendly manner bring her into conflict with the sharp-tongued staff, whose cloistered existences are consumed by jealousy and petty feuds. A frank, affecting picture of working women in a man’s world, Women Without Men was originally produced at the Gate Theatre, Dublin in 1938, and now receives its long-overdue UK premiere.

Two major playwriting competitions also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020:
The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson says:
“The first season of our 40th anniversary year features our usual inspiring and eclectic selection of world drama with plays from Northern Ireland, England, Canada and Ireland.  As always, our programme is focused on vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries, and continues our commitment to never presenting work that has been seen anywhere in London during the last 25 years. In celebration of our 40th anniversary year, we have also undergone a major rebrand with a new logo, new designs for all our publicity, and – coming shortly – a brand new website.

Finborough Theatre  would like to thank Bill Kenwright for his very generous donation to them. His support has made this year’s work possible.

Do please consider celebrating our 40th birthday with us by becoming a Friend of the Finborough Theatre. We are a registered charity, and receive no public funding of any kind, so your membership plays a vital role in supporting one of London’s most acclaimed Off West End theatres. There are four categories of Friends, each named after a theatrical figure resident in nearby Brompton Cemetery, and each offering you a wide range of benefits in return for your support.

I look forward to welcoming you.”

February – May 2020 | Press Nights and Photocalls
Tuesday, 4 February – Saturday, 29 February 2020
The English premiere
ON McQUILLAN’S HILL
by Joseph Crilly. Directed by Jonathan Harden.

Press Nights: Thursday, 6 February and Friday, 7 February 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 4 February 2020 at 1.00pm-1.30pm

Tuesday, 3 March – Saturday, 28 March 2020

The first new UK production for 40 years

NOT QUITE JERUSALEM

by Paul Kember. Directed by Peter Kavanagh.

Press Nights: Thursday, 5 March 2020 and Friday, 6 March 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 3 March 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Tuesday, 31 March – Saturday, 25 April 2020

The European premiere
HOCKEY MOM, HOCKEY DAD

by Michael Melski. Directed by Jimmy Walters.

Press Nights: Thursday, 2 April 2020 and Friday, 3 April at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 31 March 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Tuesday, 28 April – Saturday, 23 May 2020

The UK premiere after more than 80 years
WOMEN WITHOUT MEN

by Hazel Ellis. Directed by Laura Jayne Bateman.

Press Nights: Thursday, 30 April 2020 and Friday, 1 May 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 28 April 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Playwriting Competitions:
The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Performance Times and Prices
Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.00pm.

For On McQuillan’s Hill, Not Quite Jerusalem, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, and Women Without Men

Prices for Weeks One and Two – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews £14 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.
Prices for Weeks Three and Four – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

New season for the 40th year of the Finborough Theatre

Chemistry

The multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary year in 2020 – and to mark the occasion, they will shortly be unveiling a whole new look for our publicity, including a new logo, and a brand new website.

The winter season at the Finborough Theatre features a European premiere from the United States, a world premiere by our own Playwright in Residence Athena Stevens, and another classic Finborough rediscovery – unseen in London since 1945 – from Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams. Alongside the season, we are also relaunching our Finborough Forum discussion group, and two major playwriting competitions will also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020.

Finbourough Theatre has also expressed gratitude to Bill Kenwright for his very generous donation to the theatre. His support has made this year’s work possible.

The season opens with the European premiere of Chemistry, the acclaimed multi award-winning American play by Jacob Marx Rice, playing 29 October-23 November 2019. Steph struggles with chronic depression. Jamie just over-achieved himself off the deep end. When they meet in their psychiatrist’s office, sparks fly and they stumble unexpectedly into a beautiful relationship. But how do you trust someone else when you are already in a battle with your own brain? An intimate, frank and uncompromising examination of the chemicals we take and how they impact our ability to love.

For Christmas, they present the first London production in nearly 75 years of Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams’ The Wind of Heaven, playing 26 November-21 December 2019. In the immediate aftermath of the Crimean War, the mountain village of Blestin in rural Wales has no children and worships no god since a disaster snatched away all its youth. Until a miracle allows one small community to rediscover its lost faith, with startling consequences for the village, and the world beyond…

The first production of the Finborough Theatre’s 40th anniversary year is the world premiere of Finborough Theatre Playwright in Residence and Olivier Award nominee Athena Stevens’s new play Scrounger, playing 7 January-1 February 2020. Scrounger is a successful online personality. Educated, ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen. That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair. Inspired by real events, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

After two very successful years, they are also relaunching our invitation-only group for playwrights, directors, designers and other creatives connected with the Finborough Theatre, the Finborough Forum, with the generous support of The George Goetchius and Donald Howarth Society of Friend’s Awards.
Two major playwriting competitions also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020:

The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson says:
“Our winter season – which includes the very first production of our 40th anniversary year – features a European premiere from a stunning new American playwright, a world premiere by our own Playwright in Residence Athena Stevens, and another classic Finborough rediscovery from Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams, unseen in London for 75 years.

In celebration of our 40th anniversary year in 2020, they will also be unveiling a whole new look with a new logo, new designs for all our print, and a brand new website; relaunching our Finborough Forum discussion group, and offering the opportunity to enter two major playwriting competitions.

For more information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

– Neil McPherson, Artistic Director

October 2019 – January 2020 | Press Nights and Photocalls

Tuesday, 29 October – Saturday, 23 November 2019

The European premiere

CHEMISTRY

by Jacob Marx Rice. Directed by Alex Howarth.

Press Nights: Thursday, 31 October 2019 and Friday, 1 November 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 29 October 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm

Tuesday, 26 November – Saturday, 21 December 2019

The first London production in 75 years

THE WIND OF HEAVEN

by Emlyn Williams. Directed by Will Maynard.

Press Nights: Thursday, 28 November 2019 and Friday, 29 November 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 26 November 2019 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Tuesday, 7 January – Saturday, 1 February 2020

The world premiere
SCROUNGER

by Anthea Stevens. Directed by Lily McLeish.

Press Nights: Press Nights: Thursday, 9 January 2020 and Friday, 10 January 2020 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 7 January 2020 at 1.00pm–1.30pm

Playwriting Competitions:
The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February 2020 and closes on 30 March 2020, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020.

The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP). Entries are now open, and close on 31 March 2020. The prize is £8000, a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in September 2020 and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the Finborough Theatre.


Performance Times and Prices
Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.00pm.

For Chemistry, The Wind of Heaven and Scrounger

Prices for Weeks One and Two  – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews £14 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.
Prices for Weeks Three and Four  – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

,

New season announced at the Finborough Theatre

Blue Print by Julia Pascal
Blue Print by Julia Pascal

Blue Print by Julia Pascal

The Finborough Theatre’s summer season features two world premieres from female playwrights – a new play written and directed by the first woman ever to direct at the National Theatre, and a debut play from a brand new American dramatist – alongside another classic Finborough rediscovery from one of the greatest theatrical figures of the 19th century, unseen in London for over 120 years. We also bring you the eleventh consecutive year of our annual celebration of new writing, Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, giving us a chance to share with you just a few of the exceptional writers we have developed, nurtured and championed over the last year.

The season opens with the world premiere of playwright and director Julia Pascal’s award-winning Blueprint Medea, a gripping new drama loosely inspired by Euripides’ Medea, which connects the classical to the contemporary to explore eternal questions of passion, war, cultural identity, women’s freedom, sex, family and love. Blueprint Medea plays 21 May-8 June 2019.

In its first London production in over 120 years, our season continues with After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life by Dion Boucicault, based on Les Oiseaux de Proie by Eugène Grangé and Adolphe d’Ennery. Written in 1868, the year that the Finborough Theatre’s building was constructed, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life is a classic Victorian melodrama, but is also startlingly contemporary with a thrilling climax on the London Underground, and its sympathetic portrayal of London’s homeless community. It plays 12 June-6 July 2019.

Playing alongside After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life, our annual celebration of new writing Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights returns for its the eleventh consecutive year, playing on Sunday and Monday evenings and Thursday matinees between 16 June-4 July 2019. This year’s Vibrant includes the winner of this year’s ETPEP Award in association with the Finborough Theatre which has awarded £8000 to a new playwright who works in another job in theatre, alongside stunning new plays from many Finborough Theatre favourites.

Rounding off our summer season is another world premiere, Lunatic 19’s – A Deportational Road Trip, by a new American playwright, Tegan McLeod, playing 9 July-3 August 2019. With coruscating humour and caustic observation, Lunatic 19’s captures the human stories at the heart of the current debate about migration and refugees.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson says: “Our new season features two world premieres alongside another of my rediscoveries from Victorian drama – with a play written in 1868, the very year that the Finborough Theatre building was constructed. And Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, our annual festival of new writing, returns for its eleventh consecutive year.

The Finborough Arms, our pub home, was taken over by an entirely new management and extensively refurbished at the end of last year, and now offers a wide menu of traditional pub favourites, all cooked on the premises. We both look forward to welcoming you.”

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk – Neil McPherson, Artistic Director

May to August 2019 | Press Nights and Photocalls

Tuesday, 4 May – Saturday 8 June 2019

The world premiere

BLUEPRINT MEDEA

Written and Directed by Julia Pascal.
Press Nights: Thursday, 23 May 2019 and Friday, 24 May 2019 at 7.30pm.

Photocall: Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm.

Wednesday, 12 June – Saturday, 6 July 2019

The first London production in over 120 years
AFTER DARK; OR, A DRAMA OF LONDON LIFE

by Don Boucicault. Based on Les Oiseaux de Proie by by Eugène Grangé and Adolphe d’Ennery. Directed by Phil Wilmott

Press Nights: Wednesday, 19 June 2019 and Thursday, 20 June 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 9 July 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm.

Tuesday, 9 July – Saturday, 3 August 2019

The world premiere

LUNATIC 19’S – A DEPORTATIONAL ROAD TRIP

by Tegan McLeod. Directed by Jonathan Martin.

Press Nights: Thursday, 11 July 2019 and Friday, 12 July 2019 at 7.30pm

Photocall: Tuesday, 9 July 2019 at 1.00pm-1.30pm

Prices for Blueprint Medea

Prices for Week One – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. Previews £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.

Prices for Weeks Two and Three – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

Prices for After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life and Lunatic 19’s – A Deportational Road Trip 

Prices for Weeks One and Two – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. Previews for After Dark (11-18 June) £15 all seats. Previews for Lunatic 19’s (9 and 10 July £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday evening, when booked online only.

Prices for Weeks Three and Four – Tickets £20, £18 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.

Prices for Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Thursday matinees at 3.00pm.

All tickets £5.

, ,

Finborough Theatre, Neil McPherson: ‘Fringe theatre is undergoing a lasting change… I don’t want it to become a rich kid’s playground.’

The Finborough Theatre has had a remarkable year; acclaimed sell-out productions, London and New York transfers, the tenth Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme Playwright in Residence Bursary, nominations for The Stage Debut Award and an Olivier Award.

4629397517[1].jpg

Neil McPherson

Since 1998, Neil McPherson has been artistic director of the Finborough pub theatre. It’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing on the theatre front and if you’re in the market for a chat about that then today is your lucky day.

Anyway I hopped on the phone with Neil to find out what he’s got to say for himself.

In 2018, the Finborough celebrates 150 years of the Finborough Theatre building with the FINBOROUGH150 series, an anniversary selection of the best plays from 1868. McPherson may be approaching twenty years in post but he shows no signs of losing enthusiasm. “Next year is the 150 Anniversary of our building so we are going to be doing an anniversary selection of the best plays of 1868 – our new season, for example, features one play from 1868 alongside five pieces of new writing,” he says, excitedly.

Last week, Lyn Gardner wrote about the state of play of the London fringe, saying: The days when the London fringe was a place where the penniless and the radical could find a nook of cranny, where they could thrive, have long gone. Does he agree? “Sadly, Lyn is absolutely right.  Fringe theatre – as it is now – is on the cusp of a massive change,” he says. “Almost as big as the shift of print media vs the internet. For many years in London – the number of fringe theatres stayed constant – then suddenly over the last five or six years – a dozen theatres or more popped up. And that brings its own challenges for a 50-seat venue paying market rent,” McPherson says.

He continues, “I’ve never been a subscriber to the belief that “fringe” means amateurish. I’ve always tried to take the best of the fringe – the ability to find new and exciting writers, directors, designers, actors theatre; the ability to respond to events quickly; and to be radical and controversial; and marry that with the best of the commercial theatre’s values – a respect for training, and high production values, for example,” he says.

“It’s got to be good – just because it’s a fringe theatre doesn’t mean it can’t be world class.”

We talk about the renewed discussion of masculinity in crisis and the constant developments around sexual harassment. “I think the best thing we can do is shut up, listen – with humility – and do and be better. It’s time for a big change. And, it goes hand in hand with bullying which also needs to be addressed,” says McPherson emphatically.

DPZ_TreWkAAW1jw[1].jpg

What steps has he taken to ensure that he is doing all that he can within the organisation? “Just this very last week we’ve altered our production manual we give to companies’ clear guidance. We also have the Royal Court code of conduct on display in working areas. The awareness is all, and, as my favourite teacher at drama school used to say “N.T.T.” which stands for “Nobody’s That Talented,” he says, laughing.

Earlier this year McPherson was nominated for an Olivier Award for his play Is It Easy to be dead – a play is about a remarkable WWI poet, Charles Hamilton Sorley. The play received solid reviews and transferred to Trafalgar Studios. McPherson is realistic about the sustainability. “In terms of critical acclaim and commercial sales – we could transfer 1 in 3 of our shows; however, we only transfer 1 in 7. And perhaps not always the most deserving ones. I always go back to the Noel Coward quote “Just do what you like and believe in and just hope to God other people like it too,” he says.

easy.jpg

Alexander Knox in It Is Easy To Be Dead. Photo: Scott Rylander.

McPherson is deeply aware of the importance of seeking out diverse voices and not being dependent on playwriting competitions. “I’ve judged some playwriting competitions in the past and personally I think it’s best to just do the new writing development work I’m doing anyway and then put on the plays when they are ready,” he says.

“I’m not altogether convinced by decision by committee, and I think quite often with competitions, we know something has to win and so we pick one that is the least bad,” he tells me, before adding, “They can be a good thing and an important thing but it should only be part of it the process, not the whole process for getting new voices discovered.”

What are the biggest challenges for the Finborough in 2017? “The Equity low pay – no pay campaign is hugely important, and we’re doing all we can to do our part. But nothing happens in a vacuum, and the campaign does have serious knock-on effects which in the long run may mean a lot less opportunities for actors and creatives,” says McPherson, adding that 9 out of 12 Finborough main shows paid at least Equity Fringe Agreement minimum this year.

“It’s slow progress, but we’re not being lazy,” he says. “The people now putting on shows are coming from a much more moneyed background than, say, five years ago. But, as an example, one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with – a female working class director/producer – she should be having a really successful career now but she’s more or less had to give up because she can’t work in the current climate as she is terrified of being sued if she was to do another fringe show.”

Is there anything that he’d like to add, I ask. “Fringe theatre is undergoing a massive and lasting change and I don’t know where it’s going to go yet, and we’re confronting those new challenges on a daily basis. I don’t want it to become a rich kid’s playground,” McPherson replies.

The Finborough’s 2018 season is now on sale 

 

Coverage of the above interview in The Stage

Coverage of the above interview in The Stage

 

,

Late Company, at The Finborough Theatre: One in the eye for those who say theatre is afraid to take chances.

Interview: Adrian Lukis & Jill Winternitz,’I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard'(Finborough Theatre)

Adrian Lukis

Adrian Lukis

Halley Feiffer’s black comedy, ‘I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard’ has received its UK premiere at the Finborough. Feiffer’s play is about an actress who wants to make her famous playwright father proud. Jill Winternitz and Adrian Lukis are the cast members – playing the dysfunctional father and daughter.

I thought it would be nice to catch up with Adrian and Jill to see exactly what’s happening. And I was right – it was very nice indeed.

Here is our chat.

Why should we come along to see ‘I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard’?
The play should be seen because it is an extraordinary piece of writing. It deals with the anxieties and hopes of the ‘artist’, the sheer difficulty of facing down the opinions of others and surviving in an often hostile world, not only as actors and writers but as people.
The Finborough Theatre is quite nice isn’t it. 
The Finborough is a small intimate theatre. It is alarming to look up and see the audience sitting three feet away, but that too is the strength of the space. There is nowhere to hide!
What’s the play about?
What’s the play about? It’s about how to survive as an artist and also how to survive as a human being. How much do we allow ourselves to be affected by the judgement of others? David chooses survival by force, by belittling the critics, by powering through and believing in his own genius. Of course, he is vulnerable to those critics but the question is, how to deal with that.
We, as actors, are particularly familiar with this dilemma. We are dependent to some extent on the praise and good opinion of others while at the same time being aware that we still have to have the balls to do the play despite the reviews!
The play is quite blistering in the way it examines the dynamic of a father-daughter relationship. 
David has got by on furious egotism, coming from a severely fractured childhood and a bullying, abusive father. But there is a price. He makes huge demands on his daughter to ‘man up’ as he has done and when she fails, he loses all respect for her. The sins of the father are passed on to the next generation.

As a creative person, if you have had your sights set on something and then you get there, can it be dangerous?
If you work your balls off to serve a play and render up as true and engaging a performance as you can and you succeed, then that is about as good as it gets. Of course you want to feel that you have honestly and successfully portrayed the character. The danger for actors and for all of us in life, is that we depend on the kind words of others for our self esteem and that is dangerous, because we put ourselves in the hands of other people (and other people do not always have our best interests at heart!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

Jill Winternitz

Jill Winternitz

How was the rehearsal process? 
I love rehearsing as I find it such a free and creative time.  Working on a two-hander meant that there were only a few of us in the room everyday.  We really bonded, experiencing so much together in a relatively short space of time.  It’s been a joy to work with Jake Smith as he has an amazing instinct for story and nuance.  It’s also worth noting that we rehearsed above a coffee roastery, which was pure aromatic bliss.

You played Baby in ‘Dirty Dancing’, how different is this role? 
My gut reaction to this question is that they couldn’t be further apart.  But on second thought, both Baby and Ella have complex relationships with their fathers and both strive to make them proud, whilst also trying to assert their own voice and be independent people in their own right.  Stylistically though, it goes without saying, that they are very different roles with very different requirements for me as the actor.  Though I suppose I could ask Adrian if he fancies adding in ‘The Lift’ during our bows… 😉

Your character, Ella is a ‘precocious and fiercely competitive actress’. Was it hard to get into character? Definitely not.  In many ways, this play feels uncannily close to home which is why I am so passionate about doing it.

What is your best advice for auditions?
The advice I give myself is: prepare, prepare, prepare, then throw away your preparation, open your heart, and enjoy the moment.  When you’re in the room, that is your chance to play the character.  Relish it.  And if more chances come to play that character again, fantastic!  If not, at least you threw yourself into it when you had the opportunity.

What do you hope your audiences take away from this show?
I hope our audiences will enjoy the brilliance of Halley Feiffer- a bright, brave, thrilling voice of theatre today.  I hope we can give them a funny, moving, and thought-provoking evening.

‘I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard’ runs at the Finborough Theatre from 2 to 25 March, with previews from 28 February.