West Side Story – Back by Popular Demand in 2020

West Side Story
West Side Story

West Side Story

The Royal Exchange Theatre has announced that their current smash-hit WEST SIDE STORY will return to the stage in 2020 due to unprecedented popular demand. Recognised as one of the world’s most iconic musicals, tickets for Sarah Frankcom’s reimagining of this Broadway classic, with new choreography by Aletta Collins, have been in high demand from the moment the production was originally announced and were close to selling out before the previews had even begun. Opening last week to critical acclaim and loved by Manchester audiences  the Exchange is delighted to confirm that this celebrated production will be back next year running from Saturday 18 April – Saturday 23 May 2020.

Royal Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom said…

West Side Story was such a radical piece of work when it was first staged and I’m delighted that our new production has caught the imagination of today’s audiences, and that the electricity of it all – the story, the music, the dance – is still so urgent in 2019. The demand for tickets has been incredible so to be able to bring the show back next year and give people another opportunity to see Leonard Bernstein’s masterpiece is fantastic. Our unique in-the-round theatre brings viewers right into the action and to be able to do that all over again with a new audience is really exciting.

Casting for the 2020 production is yet to be confirmed and will be announced in the autumn along with further details of the production and the Spring/Summer season in full. Tickets are on sale to members from today and the public from Tuesday 30 April 2019, it is a stand-alone production and will not form part of the Royal Exchange Spring/Summer 2020 season ticket package.

What Girls Are Made Of Returns To Edinburgh Festival Fringe To Rock An Even Bigger Venue

Simon Donaldson, Cora Bissett, Susan Bear and Harry Ward in What Girls Are Made Of. Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
Simon Donaldson, Cora Bissett, Susan Bear and Harry Ward in What Girls Are Made Of. Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic

Simon Donaldson, Cora Bissett, Susan Bear and Harry Ward in What Girls Are Made Of. Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic

Raw Material and Traverse Theatre Company co-production busts out of the Traverse 1 theatre walls into the bigger Festival space of Assembly Hall

  • London transfer to Soho Theatre (9-28 September) also announced
  • Winner of a Scotsman Fringe First award and a Herald Angel award
  • Tickets on sale now

 Following a sold-out world premiere run at Traverse Festival 2018 – and a follow-on tour taking it around Scotland, to Northern Ireland, and internationally to the USA and Brazil – the Traverse Theatre Company and Raw Material reunite to reveal that during August 2019, What Girls Are Made Of will return to bust out of the Traverse 1 theatre walls. With unprecedented Festival demand leaving people queuing for hours for returns, it will take to the larger space of Assembly Hall – almost four times as big – from 1-25 August. This run also marks Raw Material’s return to Assembly Hall, where their 2016 presentation of Glasgow Girls (in association with Regular Music), directed by Cora Bissett, proved to be the best selling show of that year’s Fringe, selling 12,600 tickets across the month.

Immediately after, What Girls Are Made Of will transfer to London’s Soho Theatre (9-28 September), hot on the heels of the recent acclaimed run of Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley (Traverse Theatre Company in association with HighTide).

A Raw Material and Traverse Theatre Company co-production, in association with Regular Music, What Girls Are Made Of is written and performed by Cora Bissett and charts her rollercoaster journey from indie-kid hopeful to wised-up woman. This epic piece of gig theatre – with live backing band actor/musicians Susan Bear and Simon Donaldson reprising their roles, plus the new addition of Harry Ward – celebrates the euphoric highs (touring with Radiohead, partying with Blur) and epic shitstorms (untrustworthy managers, £40,000 debt) of her young life, poignantly interspersed with the personal losses and gains of her adult lifeDirected by former Traverse Artistic Director Orla O’Loughlin.

During its Traverse Festival 2018 run, the production received a swathe of five-star reviews, with The Herald hailing it ‘a life changing litany of pure joy’, while The Guardian called Bissett’s performance ‘magnificent, The Scotsman praised the production as beautiful, passionate and exhilarating’ and The Telegraph pegged it an ‘undisputable hit. In addition, it received a Scotsman Fringe First award and a Herald Angel award.

In the run up to the Festival 2019 dates at Assembly Hall, What Girls Are Made Of will continue its touring, with dates atEdinburgh (Traverse Theatre, until 20 April); Belfast (The MAC, 1-5 May); Kirkcaldy (Adam Smith Theatre, 7 and 8 May);Dundee (Dundee Rep, 14 and 15 May); Stirling (Macrobert, 17 and 18 May); Brazil (Cultura Inglesa Festival, 24-26 May); andCharleston, USA (Spoleto Festival, 4-8 June).


Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, EH1 2LU

Tickets on sale now: 0131 623 3030 and online via assemblyfestival.com here

Soho Theatre, London, W1D 3NE

Tickets on sale now: 020 7478 0100 and online via sohotheatre.com here


Sweet Charity – Oh God

Look, I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that we’re not going to look back on ‘Sweet Charity’ as a roaring success.

You think Theresa May’s got a job on her hands?

Spare a thought for the sound crew on The Donmar Warehouse’s new show, where someone has inexplicably cast Ann Marie-Duff as the terrible, terrible lead.

‘Cos it really is the equivalent of trying to shove a boulder up Kilimanjaro. Act 1 ends with the sound of someone falling down a hole that is trapped in an elevator that is portrayed using an overhead projector. I’m not making this up, the whole occasion grinds with jerking efficiency.

It works on paper.

Josie Rourke’s production, her final production as artistic director of the Donmar, is a mess.This is a perfect example of a good idea gone bad. It is all too jarring to work. Duff and Arthur Darvill star as Charity and Oscar in this revival of the 1966 Broadway hit. The run is sold out and you are probably gutted that you can’t get a ticket.

So I’ll help you out.

What stops Sweet Charity from being the most pointless exercise in The Donmar’s history, though, is the choreography by Wayne McGregor his ensemble of ten hip-thrusting Andy Warhols are fantastically eccentric; they are the new dancing fish people in dreadful 80’s musical Eugenius!

There are, though, moments when this collection of talent threaten to hit the mark, as the fine ensemble demonstrate. Namely Debbie Kurup, who is sizzling. Seriously.

Elsewhere Sweet Charity underwhelms, even if you accept that three of the Britain’s most interesting creatives (Rourke, Duff & McGregor) would always struggle to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It would be cruel to think of this as a complete vanity project – it’s intended to sell. However, at least vanity projects carry a sense of artists finding and needing space to spread their creative wings.

What a waste.

With music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and a book by Neil Simon, this show starts off being far better than you might have expected, ends up being far worse than you could ever have feared. It is not even an improvement on the film. It is mind-numbingly dull and Duff is as erotic as a wet sock.

For it’s one thing assembling a set of tin foil and step ladders, plus a rotating cast of folk to play the role of Daddy Brubeck, featuring appearances from the brilliant Adrian LesterBeverley Knight, Clive Rowe and La Gateaux Chocolat. Impressive. But in the brutal and relentless process, Rourke has somehow turned this epic final send off into one of theatreland’s funniest musical non-events, and I just wish that it was intentional.

I am sorry to report that Duff cannot sing; she also lacks the vulnerability that this character requires and she looks embarrassed to be there. And the thing lasts nearly three hours. Mad.

If this production actually managed to deliver the entertainment, like a theatrical version of a cheap acid trip, you might forgive her complete lack of characterisation or the uncertainty of tone that leaves the evening awkwardly pitched between the bonkers and the kitsch.

Let’s never talk about it again.

N.B. Anyone aged 25 and under will be able to enter a ballot for free tickets to see the show on its Friday performances between April 19-May 31, with schools in London also invited to see the show for free, which is nice.

Sweet Charity runs until June 8

Daniel Kramer to step down as English National Opera’s Artistic Director

Daniel Kramer
Daniel Kramer

Daniel Kramer

Daniel Kramer is to step down as ENO’s Artistic Director at the end of July 2019 in order to focus on directing more opera and theatre full time.

He will continue to work with ENO until the end of 2019, as Artistic Consultant, to oversee the Orpheus series of four operas.

Stuart Murphy, CEO, ENO said: “I have loved working with Daniel as Artistic Director from day one. His continual desire to push for distinctive creative is hugely admirable, and his energy, sense of humour and passion for bringing new stories to life and nurturing new talent has been completely contagious.

“His seasons have been marked by a huge mix, from the Olivier nominated Turn of the Screw at Regent’s Park and Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall, the Olivier Award winning Porgy and Bess, to SalomeIolanthe, and The Merry Widow, to the world premiere of Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. Daniel’s War Requiem was a beautiful and stately reflection on the horrors of war, and deserves all of the accolades that it has received to date.

“He leaves with the very best wishes from everyone at ENO.”

Harry Brunjes, Chair, ENO said: “Over the course of his three years in the role, Daniel Kramer’s focus on creative artistic output is the underlying reason why our most recent season was both thought provoking and entertaining, as well as commercially successful.

“On behalf of the board I would like to personally thank him for all of his hard work and dedication to ENO. We are so pleased that he will continue to work with us on the Orpheus series and look forward to welcoming Daniel back at the London Coliseum. We wish him the best of luck as he pursues fantastic opportunities around the world.”

Martyn Brabbins, Music Director, ENO said: “Collaborating with Daniel has been an enormously rewarding and fruitful experience. I wish him all the good luck for the future and look forward to working with him again in the autumn on Harrison Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus – a project that we are both passionate about.

“The season ahead has a huge breadth and depth of work, and I continue to be excited for the next chapter for ENO.”

Daniel Kramer said: “I am proud to leave ENO after a season that has broken box office records, innovated and challenged, while delivering commercial success. We have recruited thousands of new, diverse and young audience members, and over-achieved our year box office target, delivering on our promise to provide “Opera for All” and reflect the diversity of our culture. I am particularly proud that the work we initiated outside the Coliseum has been such an equally resounding success with numerous 4 and 5 star reviews, awards and nominations.

“I am looking forward to continuing my relationship with ENO, overseeing the Orpheus series I commissioned, as well as directing Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus. Stepping back will allow me to focus full-time on my 2019/20 freelance directing commitments of La boheme and Nixon in China in Europe, and War Requiem in Taiwan. Never has an experience been more fruitful, more demanding, nor more clarifying to my beliefs as an artist. I thank everyone who crossed my path at ENO and wish Stuart, Martyn, the Board and everyone at ENO the absolute best in this new chapter.”

In order to ensure a seamless transition for the rest of the 2019/20 season, and as ENO plan up to the 2021/22 season, Bob Holland in his role as Associate Artistic Director will continue to work closely with Martyn as well as with the rest of the artistic team to deliver plans beyond those that ENO are committed to already.

h Club London Announces h Foundation Emerging Creatives 2019 Cohort

h Club London

Today, h Club London (formerly The Hospital Club) has announced the h Foundation Emerging Creatives 2019 cohort. The programme is designed for talented 21-35-year-olds who are looking to progress their career in the arts. The creatives include British-Lebanese filmmaker, Celine CotranLondon-based creative director, visual producer and filmmaker Souvid Datta, designer Harry Grundy, composer and multi-instrumentalist Stefano Fasce and Danish theatre director, Camilla Gürtler.

Launched in 2014, the h Foundation was created to promote diversity across the creative industries by providing access opportunities into creative disciplines for underrepresented young people. Emerging Creatives is the Foundation’s flagship programme that aims to discover, nurture and showcase the next generation of creative leaders in the UK. Each year the scheme works with five creatives (representing music, fashion, film, art and design and theatre and performance) over the course of twelve months, to help them produce original work and get it in front of the right audiences. The programme gives winners the space and support they need to grow as an artist, while gaining the knowledge, skills and contacts to make a business of their talents. h Club host individual showcases for each of the creatives throughout the programme.

The Emerging Creatives Cohort Each Receive:

  • A £3,000 grant towards a creative project
  • One year’s complimentary club membership
  • A professional coach
  • An industry mentor
  • Access to a series of masterclasses
  • Opportunities to showcase their work within the creative industries

Hannah Hedges, h Foundation said:

“We are incredibly proud to be working with this year’s talented cohort of Emerging Creatives. All to often talented young people go unrecognised as they are not given the opportunity to progress their career. We hope to give this year’s programme the chance to reach their full potential with the support and guidance of an experience group of mentors and professional coaches.”

Celine Cotran is a British-Lebanese filmmaker with a passion for telling female-driven stories that touch on the fantastical and the absurd. After completing a BA in French and Russian Literature at the University of Oxford, Celine graduated with a Distinction from the London Film School, where she was mentored by Academy award-winning producer David Parfitt (Shakespeare in Love, My Week with Marilyn). Her graduation film, After Eights, has been nominated in several film festivals worldwide, including the BAFTA Qualifying Carmarthen Bay Film Festival for Best Comedy Short. Her first professional short The Time Tree, co-starring Frances Tomelty and Daisy Waterstone, was adapted from the children’s novel of the same name by Enid Richemont. It was produced in association with the Academy award-winning production company Trademark Films, and was a grant recipient of the Doha Film Institute 2017 Fall Grants Programme. It had its world premiere at the Oscar Qualifying Sarajevo Film Festival 2018, and has since screened at Cinekid Film Festival, the largest children’s film festival in the world, with an upcoming screening at the Oscar Qualifying RiverRun FF in April 2019. Her most recent film, Layla, has just completed post production. It stars Wafa Al Shalati, a refugee from Syria, in her first role. She is also in post-production on a feature-length documentary about refugees in London, exploring both the joys and difficulties of beginning a new life from nothing. Both pieces do so much to break down stereotypes, and as a Middle Eastern filmmaker, this is a project that is incredibly close to her heart.

Celine Cotran said:

I am beyond thrilled to be part of a programme that does so much to help young creatives. I know this will be a transformative year, and I am incredibly excited to begin my journey as this year’s Film Emerging Creative.

Souvid Datta is a London-based creative director, visuals producer and filmmaker with six years experience developing stories and multimedia content for the editorial, news, advertising and commercial sectors. After completing a degree in International Relations, Law and Conflict Studies at UCL, he went on to produce commissioned and personal projects in over 50 countries with clients including Google, National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, Channel 4, BBC Studios, TIME and The Guardian. Through narrative storytelling and visual-led investigations, Souvid’s work tackles under-reported contemporary issues through the lens of empowering, human-led stories.

Souvid Datta said:

“I’m thrilled to have been selected alongside such incredible and diverse talents! It’s so rare to find a program that provides not only a central-London space, but hands-on coaching and financial resources to pursue passion projects, and rarer still to find one that focuses on investing in your personal creative growth above all else. I’m really excited to make the most of it, and to build my body of professional work as well as my creative network with h Club’s generous support.”

 Harry Grundy’s studio practice seeks playful answers to familiar questions. By applying an idea-centric attitude to furniture, architecture, visual art, storytelling and performance, his work asks you to look again at the solemn and familiar moments in life.

Harry Grundy said:

“At this unpredictable, embryonic stage of my career it means an awful lot to be supported by such a wonderful scheme, put together by people with a genuine interest in the growth of my work.”

 Stefano Fasce is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, devoted to story-telling through music. Graduated from the National Film and Television School in 2018, his recent credits includes a 5-part series for the History Channel (”Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate The English?”) and “Dead Birds” which was nominated for a Student Academy Award and won both the Student Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Poitiers Film Festival. His concert pieces have recently been performed in Brussels and Singapore.

Parallel to his film music career, Stefano is working on his debut album that aims to blur the line between orchestral and electronic music.

Stefano Fasce said:

“I’m delighted to have been selected as an Emerging Composer and I can’t wait to get stuck into the programme and ensure I make the most out of this fantastic opportunity.”

Camilla Gürtler is the artistic director of Cut the Cord, a theatre company focusing on bringing new Scandinavian and Nordic plays to the UK. Cut the Cord is known for its visual and physical productions and their focus on social change through theatre and what it means to be human. Cut the Cord is currently curating a Nordic Festival in London in 2020.

She trained at Drama Centre London and StoneCrabs Theatre’s Young Directors’ Programme, and  was awarded a Judges Commendation in Directing for Kinder K at The National Student Drama Festival 2018.

In addition to directing, Camilla works as a practitioner with years of experience in outreach work in the UK and abroad, including the Almeida Theatre, Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins, Omnibus Theatre, Poplar Union and The Space. She also works as a translator and reader and recently translated and read for the Royal Court’s International Residency 2019.

Directing credits include:

I Run (Vault Festival/Platform Theatre), Endless Second (Theatre503), Beyond the Blue (Camden People’s Theatre/Theatre Royal Stratford East/Old Vic Lab 17), Kinder K(The National Student Drama Festival/Bunker Theatre), Mydidae (Wimbledon College of Arts), When Mr. Excavator Came and Ate All the TreesThe Monkeys and Hamster-Beavers Had a Battle (Omnibus Theatre), The Nightingale and the Rose (Etcetera) and An Incident at the Border (The Albany).

 Camilla Gürtler said:

I’m so excited to be named Emerging Creative with a place as vibrant as the h Club. Being an artist can feel very isolating, so having a base and a support network for a year is an invaluable opportunity. I’m at the point of my career where things are starting to move really fast, so being part of a network that can support me in developing my work as a theatre director into something sustainable will be a game-changer for me. Finding a place that supports you to this extend is rare so I cannot wait to see what this year will open up for me!”

Robert Bathurst cast in unique pub production as Norman’s Coach & Horses stands against Fuller’s

From left: Landlord Alastair Choat, Actor Robert Bathurst and Director James Hillier
From left: Landlord Alastair Choat, Actor Robert Bathurst and Director James Hillier

From left: Landlord Alastair Choat, Actor Robert Bathurst and Director James Hillier

Robert Bathurst will play the iconic journalist in a brand-new immersive production of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell at Norman’s Coach & Horses. Additional tickets released due to demand.

  • British actor, Robert Bathurst star of award-winning comedy-drama series Cold Feet, historic-period drama Downton Abbey and sitcom Toast of London has been announced to play the role of infamous Jeffrey Bernard.
  • The play will run on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from May 7th – June 1st 2019, starting from 7pm with late night lock-ins beginning at midnight on Saturdays.
  • Due to outstanding demand, extra performances will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • The famous Keith Waterhouse play tells the musings of London journalist and alcoholic, Jeffrey Bernard who is locked overnight in The Coach & Horses Soho.
  • The play is being put on by independent landlord, Alastair Choat Artbeat in association with Defibrillator. Alastair has run the pub for over a decade and is fighting against Fuller’s attempt to evict him and create another chain pub with no atmosphere.
  • Directed by James Hillier, OFFIE nominee, who brought to life the acclaimed, site-specific productions of Tennessee William’s The Hotel Plays which sold-out at the Grange, Holborn and Langham Hotel, London.
  • Tickets can be purchased online at www.coachsoho.co.uk

English actor, Robert Bathurst has been cast as Jeffrey Bernard in an immersive production of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, created by Alastair Choat, which will be staged in its original setting at Norman’s Coach & Horses Soho from May 7th – June 1st 2019.

Bathurst’s career spans both stage and television and he is well known for roles including David Marsden in ITV’s award-winning drama Cold Feet, Sir Anthony Strallan in Downton Abbey, and Ed in Toast of London.  Due to popular demand, additional tickets are being released so more people can experience Robert Bathurst’s reenactment of Jeffrey in the pub where it all began.

 Commenting on the role, Bathurst says, ‘I jumped at this when they suggested it; it’s so obviously a good idea, and appealingly odd. It brings Jeffrey Bernard’s journalism onto the stage, his own version of himself, not necessarily how others saw him. It’s a brilliantly funny, sour and surprisingly moving manifesto for the right of people to destroy their liver and wallet in any way they choose. What will it be like, padding round the Coach & Horses performing the play, trying not to tread on the audience’s toes? I look forward to it.’

Attending this play is more than just a theatrical evening as it also gives people a chance to make a stand for an independent landlord under threat from pub giant, Fuller’s, despite 76 years of continued independent service as a thriving community pub and London’s first vegan and vegetarian pub.

The play tells the tale of Jeffrey who wrote the “Low Life” column in The Spectator in the 1970s where he chronicled his drunken debaucheries in Soho, especially at Norman’s Coach and Horses. It was inspired by the apology, “Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell” which was written when he was unable to complete the column and follows the story of Jeffrey being locked in the pub overnight, sharing comically tragic anecdotes from his life.

Alastair Choat, independent Landlord of Norman’s Coach and Horses says: ‘By staging Jeffery Bernard is Unwell in this way, we are celebrating the life and living history of one of London’s great public houses. I want to create a unique moment, that like Norman’s Coach & Horses itself, will become part of Soho legend. We are thrilled to have such an iconic actor involved in the play and we hope his involvement will help raise awareness of our movement to stay independent.’

James Hillier the Director of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell staged at Norman’s Coach & Horses says: ‘It’s great to work alongside Robert for this production who will do a brilliant job at reenacting Jeffrey Bernard’s life. Written by Keith Waterhouse in 1989, the play was well ahead of its time in looking at the shifting demographics and erosion of the creative and social fabric of Soho. Staging the play at this moment, in its original setting, when the area and Norman’s Coach & Horses itself is under threat of becoming just another homogenised urban block, is a stand for independent London businesses and pub-landlords and we’re looking forward to doing out bit to help stop this.’

Choat continues, ‘From all of Fullers statements it is clear that the main concerns they have are about the condition of their freehold stock, they have a great reputation in maintaining their properties to a very high standard. The Coach & Horses is run and presented as a traditional old boozer and always has been. I am hoping that through the play and the overwhelming support we have Fullers will be able to see the real value of us and the Coach and that we can work together to satisfy their needs to protect and enhance their property, whilst maintaining it as a traditional boozer run as an independent lease hold. The media and social value and support for Fullers to make such a bold move would be off the scale and long lasting. This would be true and real stakeholder value.’

Due to exceptional demand The Coach & Horses will be hosting extra performances each week. To purchase tickets to Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell and support the pub’s legacy, visit www.CoachSoho.co.uk, #SaveCoachSoho.

Full Casting Announced for Peter Morgan’s The Audience, a  Nuffield Southampton Theatres Production

left to right Faye Castelow, Paul Kemp, Lizzie Hopley and Sharon Singh
 left to right Faye Castelow, Paul Kemp, Lizzie Hopley and Sharon Singh

left to right Faye Castelow, Paul Kemp, Lizzie Hopley and Sharon Singh

With SS Mendi, a co-production with Isango Ensemble, opening this week at Royal Opera House, Director of Nuffield Southampton TheatresSamuel Hodges, today announced the full cast for a new staging of Peter Morgan’s The AudienceSamuel Hodges directs Lizzie Hopley as Margaret Thatcher and Bobo MacDonald, Paul Kemp as all other Prime Ministers, Sharon Singh as The Equerry and Fay Burwell and Maddie Farmer share the role of Young Elizabeth, joining the previously announced Faye Castelow as Queen Elizabeth II. The production opens on 30 May, with previews from 24 May, and runs until 22 June.

65 Years. 13 Prime Ministers. One Queen.

For 65 years, the Queen has met her Prime Minister every week in an Audience at Buckingham Palace. Both parties agree never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.

What is discussed? What secrets are shared? Does her Majesty have her favourites?

Sometimes intimate, often confessional, occasionally explosive, The Audience imagines the private moments that define a changing Britain. One head of state. Endless heads of government. This play asks where the real power lies.

Nuffield Southampton Theatres Director Samuel Hodges directs an intimate and re-worked production of the smash hit play from Peter Morgan, the writer of the critically acclaimed TV series The Crown and the Oscar award winning film The Queen.

Samuel Hodges, Director of Nuffield Southampton, said today, “This is a play that interrogates where power lies. Is it in the parade of middle aged, almost entirely male prime ministers or the unchanging, unwavering woman they meet with? For that reason I knew I wanted to cast one actor to play all of the male PMs from the start.

 I’m really pleased to have such a strong local presence in the cast with Sharon, who grew up minutes from our new theatre, and both of our young Elizabeths from the local area, one a member of our youth theatre.”

Peter Morgan’s other work for theatre includes Frost/Nixon. His television work includes The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, The Jury, The Special Relationship, Longford, Colditz, Henry VIII and The Deal; and for film, Rush, 360, Hereafter, State of Play, The Damned United, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last King of Scotland and The Queen.

Faye Castelow plays Queen Elizabeth II. Her theatre credits include The Rover, The Witch of EdmontonThe White DevilThe Roaring Girl (RSC), Man and SupermanAfter the DanceTime and the Conways (National Theatre), NijinskyThe Deep Blue Sea (Chichester Festival Theatre), How to be Another Woman (Gate Theatre), Mountain Hotel and The American Clock (Orange Tree Theatre). Her television credits include Pure and Rellik.

Lizzie Hopley plays Margaret Thatcher and Bobo MacDonald. Her theatre credits include The Taming of the Shrew (US tour), Roaring Girls (RSC), Tis Pity She’s a Whore (international tour), Abigail’s PartyTwelfth Night (UK tour) and Six Characters in Search of an Author (Young Vic). For television, her credits include The Long SongLittle Boy BlueLutherCall the Midwife and Randall & Hoprick Deceased II; and for film, Day of the FlowersJane EyreNowhere Boy and Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman.

Paul Kemp plays the Prime Ministers: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, John Major and Harold Wilson. His theatre credits include Imperium (Gielgud Theatre), Richard III (Arcola Theatre), Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC), Ghost Stories (Arts Theatre), The Lady in the Van (UK tour), Seven Year TwitchHow to be Happy (Orange Tree Theatre), The Lady form the Sea (Royal Exchange Theatre), The Crucible (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), My Wonderful Day (Stephen Joseph Theatre/59E59, New York/UK tour), Woman in Mind (Stephen Joseph Theatre/Vaudeville Theatre). For television his credits include Maxwell, The Trial of Tony BlairLife on Mars; and for film, When Saturday Comes.

Southampton’s Sharon Singh plays The Equerry. Her theatre credits include Arabian Nights (Hoxton Hall), The Game of Love and Chai (Tara Arts/UK tour), Death of Kings, The Misanthrope (Conservatoire National Supérieur D’art Dramatique), Cyrano de Bergerac (New Vic Theatre), Hamlet (Bussey Building), Titus Andronicus, Othello (UK tour) and Holes (Arcola Theatre); and for television, Vera.

Samuel Hodges is Director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST). His productions for NST include The Shadow FactoryDedication – Shakespeare and Southampton, and The Glass Menagerie. Previously he founded the HighTide Festival Theatre in 2007 and was the Artistic Director for five years, during which time he produced over 25 new plays, co-producing with the National Theatre, The Old Vic and the Bush Theatre, amongst others. Between 2012 and 2014, he ran the Criterion Theatre in London’s West End, for whom he curated a late-night programme and a one-off summer season of new work to celebrate the London Olympics.



Shakespeare’s Globe announces programme for new festival, ‘Women & Power’, featuring Winsome Pinnock and Clean Break

‘Women & Power’

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced the programme for ‘Women & Power’, a new festival of events opening on Sunday 12 May 2018. With performances, panel discussions, and a scholarly symposium, the festival will celebrate the work and voices of women of all backgrounds and will explore how the work of Shakespeare speaks to the current gender revolution, and how women can use Shakespearean performance to tell their own stories of oppression.

Dr Farah Karim Cooper, Head of Research at Shakespeare’s Globe and curator of the festival, commented:

“We live in a time when it is essential to interrogate the relationship women have to power and leadership in the arts, politics and education. If we ask the question are women in a position to lead? The answer is a resounding yes! If we ask the question, are there enough opportunities for women to lead in these sectors? The answer is, not really. At this festival we intend to ask why, and seek to find ways to obliterate the structures and mindsets that get in the way”.

Opening the festival on Sunday 12 May will be a celebration of Virginia Woolf’s seminal works, A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineasboth of which will be read in candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. A rallying cry to begin the festival, both texts powerfully articulate Woman’s right to intellectual and financial independence.

On Monday 13 May, Professor Clare McManus and Professor Lucy Munro will lead a one-off workshop, Engendering the Stage, in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Part of the Globe’s Research in Action series of workshops, in which actors and academics uncover the practices of the Shakespearean stage, this workshop will explore the history of gendered performance on the Renaissance stage and will illuminate the practice of playing with gender on stages across Europe.

Professor Clare McManus works on English and European Renaissance drama at the University of Roehampton, focusing on gender in the writing and performance of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and Renaissance women’s performance. She is also an editor of Renaissance plays. Professor Lucy Munro is a scholar and teacher of early modern literature at King’s College London. She is interested in presenting old texts to new audiences, and the dynamic relationship between old and new in literary cultures and their afterlives.

A panel event entitled Women & Power: Directing Theatre in the 21st Century will follow on Tuesday 14 May, with panellists including Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and Globe Associate Artist Athena Stevens. Sarah and Athena have both directed plays by Shakespeare or his contemporaries, as well as directing or creating new feminist writing. They will discuss how female directors can shape the future of theatre, interrogate the place for feminism in classical theatre, and expand upon the opportunities and challenges a director’s gender presents.

Sarah Frankcom joined the Royal Exchange Theatre as Literary Manager in 2000, and has been its Artistic Director since 2008. With Royal Exchange Theatre credits including Orpheus DescendingMiss JulieA View from the BridgeWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Kes, Sarah’s career has also seen her working with the Lyric Hammersmith, the Crucible Theatre, the National Theatre and the Young Vic. Athena Stevens is an actor, writer, director and spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party. She is a writer on attachment at the Finborough Theatre and recently wrote a female response to Doctor Faustus for the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ festival at Shakespeare’s Globe. She also wrote and starred in Schism at the Park Theatre, and is the Artistic Director of Aegis Productions Ltd in Elephant & Castle.

On Wednesday 15 May, theatre company Clean Break will join not-for-profit Southall Black Sistersas both celebrate 40 years of activism. Clean Break & Southall Black Sisters @ 40: Activism, Women and Power will bring together a selection of speakers from each organisation to discuss how we can either become activists or support activism in the fight for equality and human rights.

Clean Break was set up in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience. The only women’s theatre company of its kind, Clean Break continues to inspire playwrights and captivate audiences with groundbreaking plays on the theme of women and crime. Founded in the same year, Southall Black Sisters aims to highlight and challenge all forms of gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives, and live without fear of violence. They are at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender-related violence locally and nationally, and have campaigned for the provision of proper and accountable support services to enable women and their children to escape violent relationships and live in dignity.

Bang Rome: Why Pickup Artists Read Ovid and Why It Matters is on Thursday 16 May. Classicist Donna Zuckerberg will take to the Playhouse to discuss her seminal book Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age, an exposé of how today’s alt-right men’s groups are turning disturbingly to ancient sources to promote an ideal vision of masculine life and, in some cases, to justify ignoring women’s boundaries. Donna Zuckerberg received her PhD from Princeton University in 2014 and is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Eidolon, an award-winning online publication for informal Classics scholarship.

At the end of the week, Women and Leadership: A Symposium will delve into the myriad challenges women in leadership roles face in politics, the arts, culture and academia. The day will consist of three panel discussions: Women, Culture and ArtWomen and Politics; and Women, Education and Academia.

Winsome Pinnock, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Claire van Kampen and Stella Kanu will appear on the Women, Culture and Art panel. Playwright Winsome Pinnock won the prestigious Alfred Fagon Award in 2018. Most recently, a revival of her 1987 play Leave Taking played at the Bush Theatre to critical and commercial success. Her award-winning plays include The Wind of Change (Half Moon Theatre), Picture Palace (Women’s Theatre Group) and A Hero’s Welcome (Women’s Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs). Morgan Lloyd Malcolm was commissioned by The Globe to write Emilia, which became a sell out production in summer 2018 and is now playing in the West End. It has since been optioned as a film. Morgan’s other critically acclaimed plays include Belongings and The Wasp (Hampstead/Trafalgar Studios). Claire van Kampen is a composer, playwright and a director. She served as Artistic Associate at the Globe from 1996-2006, and has continued to be the Globe Associate for early Modern Music since 2007. Claire’s playwriting debut was Farinelli and the King (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse/Broadway) and her directorial debut was Nice Fish (Guthrie Theatre). Claire directed Othello at the Globe last summer. Stella Kanu is currently Executive Producer at Ovalhouse, overseeing the artistic activities of the company as they build a new theatre and merge with the artistic and local community of Brixton. As a creative writer and performer, Stella created Africa Centre’s first Children’s Literature Festival; A List Performing Arts Festival and Southampton Live Street Arts Festival.

Baroness Kingsmill CBE and Rachel Reeves will appear on the Women and Politics panel, chaired by Dr Will ToshBaroness Kingsmill has enjoyed a diverse and varied career spanning fashion, law, business, the arts and politics. She qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court, and, after a 20 year legal career, was appointed Deputy Chair of the Competition Commission. In 2000 Baroness Kingsmill was awarded a CBE, and in June 2006 she was appointed to the House of Lords as a Life Peer. Rachel Reeves is Labour MP for Leeds West and former Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions. Prior to her parliamentary career, she worked as an economist. She is the author of Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon and Women of Westminster: The MPs who changed politicsDr Will Tosh is Lecturer and Research Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe. He led the Indoor Performance Practice Project (2014-16), which examined playing in the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and coordinates the Globe’s ongoing Research in Action series of public workshops. He is the author of Male Friendship and Testimonies of Love in Shakespeare’s England and Playing Indoors: Staging Early Modern Drama in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Professor Liz Schafer and Dr Sumi Madhok will appear on the Women, Education and Academiapanel, chaired by Dr Gillian WoodsProfessor Liz Schafer is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her publications include MsDirecting Shakespeare: Women Direct Shakespeare, performance histories of The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night and a biography of Lilian BaylisDr Sumi Madhok is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender Studies, LSE. She is the author of Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights; the co-editor of Gender, Agency and Coercion; and of the Sage Handbook of Feminist TheoryDr Gillian Woods’ research concentrates on early modern drama in its cultural and historical contexts, with a particular focus on early modern stage practice, post-Reformation religion, visual arts, nostalgia, and the representations of space.

Deep Throat Choir will take to the stage on Saturday 18 May to close the festival. The all-female singing collective will present an intimate one-off concert celebrating the power of women’s voices. Formed by Luisa Gerstein, composer of the West End transfer of the Globe’s hit production Emilia, the choir are renowned for stripping music-making to the simple components of vocals and percussion.

Maxine Peake to star in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake in Avalanche: A Love Story
Maxine Peake in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake in Avalanche: A Love Story

Maxine Peake is to star in Julia Leigh’s adaptation of her powerful memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story, at the Barbican from Saturday 27 April–Sunday 12 May. A prolific theatre, television and film actress Maxine Peake’s career highlights include Black MirrorFunny CowRed RidingThe Devil’s WhoreThe Theory of EverythingPeterlooThe FallingShameless and an extensive list of dramas for the BBC including The VillageSilkCriminal JusticeThree Girls and most recently, The Bisexual.  Constantly looking for new challenges and surprising audiences she has played a range of provocative and award-winning characters, notably the title role in Hamlet at the Manchester Royal Exchange. As a writer, she has retold fascinating stories of women in British history who achieved greatness, or faced adversity, though her plays, BerylThe Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca and Queens of the Coal AgeAvalanche: A Love Story marks her debut at the Barbican Theatre.

When a woman rekindles an early love in her late 30’s her whole life changes. Deeply in love, she and her new husband decide they want to have a child together and, like countless other couples, they make a visit to the IVF clinic, full of optimism. So begins a long and costly journey of medical procedures, nightly injections, rituals and the oscillation between high hope and the depths of despair.

Avalanche lays bare the stark truth of one woman’s experience of the seductive promises made by the multi-billion-dollar IVF industry to those in the grip of a “snow blind” yearning and desire to make a baby. The devastating toll on her body, her relationships and her career as an author/filmmaker, are portrayed with compelling honesty and moments of black humour. At the heart of this dramatisation is an exploration of who we are and how we love – the potent power of the desire for family and future. Inspired by Leigh’s story, it is a courageous and ultimately wise account of a profoundly important and widespread experience.

Avalanche: A Love Story is the centrepiece of Fertility Fest 2019, the only arts festival devoted entirely to the subjects of modern families and the science of making babies, now in its third year. Founded by Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier, Fertility Fest is a rare, open and collaborative platform that aims to drive social change through improved fertility education, patient mental health, care and general public discourse about fertility and infertility. This latest, expanded edition of Fertility Fest will run from Tuesday 23 April–Saturday 18 May and is presented in association with the Barbican as part of the 2019 season Life Rewired which explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

Directed by Anne-Louise SarksAvalanche: A Love Story, is co-produced by the Barbican, Fertility Fest and Sydney Theatre Company and will play at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney, from Thursday 29 August–Saturday 14 September 2019.

Julia Leigh’s debut novel, The Hunter, was published around the world and won numerous awards, including a Betty Trask Award and the 2001 Prix de l’Astrolabe. It was also selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her second novel, Disquiet, won the Encore Award. Her film Sleeping Beauty was officially selected for the Festival de Cannes in 2011. Her memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story, was published in 2016 to international acclaim.

Anne-Louise Sarks is one of Australia’s most prolific directors. Her work has premiered in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Basel, Mexico City, New York, Auckland, Warsaw, Mannheim, Perth and Mumbai.

In 2018 Sarks was Artistic Director of the Lyric Ensemble at the Lyric Hammersmith and from 2013–2016 was Resident Director at Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney. In 2011 she was the Director in Residence at the Malthouse Theatre Company in Melbourne, and an Associate Artist for Belvoir. From 2010-2013 she was Artistic Director of the celebrated independent theatre company The Hayloft Project.

In 2018 Sarks directed a new production of her acclaimed Medea for Theater Basel, created a new devised work Abandon with the Lyric Ensemble, directed a new feminist adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People for Belvoir, and directed Sarah Kane’s Blasted at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. In 2017 she directed Seventeen for The Lyric Hammersmith, Jasper Jones for Belvoir, Minnie & Liraz for Melbourne Theatre Company, Merchant of Venice for Bell Shakespeare and The Testament of Mary for Malthouse Theatre.

In 2015 Sarks directed a new modern day imagining of Medea, co-written with Kate Mulvany, at The Gate Theatre in London. Medea won five 2013 Sydney Theatre Awards including Best Direction, Best Mainstage Production and Best New Australian Work. It was also awarded an AWGIE for Best Stage Play and in 2013 was nominated for four prestigious Helpmann Awards including Best Direction, Best New Australian Work and Best Play.

Listings information

Avalanche: A Love Story
Inspired by Julia Leigh’s memoir, Avalanche
Barbican/Fertility Fest
Directed by Anne-Louise Sarks
Design by Marg Horwell
Sat 27 Apr–Sun 12 May 2019
Barbican Theatre
7.45pm; 3pm only on Sun 28 Apr, Sun 5 and Sun 12 May 2019; also 2.30pm on Sat 4 and Sat 11 May
1 hour 30 mins/no interval
£16–60 plus booking fee (£2 off top three ticket prices for preview performances on Sat 27, Sun 28 & Tue 30 Apr 2019)
Age guidance 14+
Press night: Wed 1 May 2019, 7.45pm
Captioned performance: Thu 9 May 2019, 7.45pm
Audio-described performance: Fri 10 May 2019, 7.45pm

Produced by Barbican Theatre Productions and Fertility Fest
Co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company

Curve (Leicester) Announce New Co-Production Of Hanif Kureishi’s ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’

My Beautiful Laundrette_Tour

CurveBelgrade Theatre Coventry, Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and Leeds Playhouse have today announced that they are joining forces to co-produce a new stage production of Hanif Kureishi’s screenplay My Beautiful LaundretteThe national press night will be held at Curve on 26 Sep at 7:15pm.

This bold new production of Hanif Kureishi‘s ground-breaking 1985 Oscar-nominated film of the same name will be directed by Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster (Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual and Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw, both at Curve). Presented against a funky backdrop of 80s music and culture, this drama will explore cultural conflict, gender equality, class and generational strife.

The production will open at Curve in Leicester 20 Sep – 5 Oct, before touring to Everyman Theatre Cheltenham (8 – 12 Oct), Leeds Playhouse (15 – 26 Oct), Belgrade Theatre Coventry (29 Oct – 2 Nov) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre (5 – 9 Nov).

Set in London during the Thatcher years, My Beautiful Laundrette tells the story of young British Pakistani, Omar, who transforms his Uncle’s run-down laundrette into a thriving business. After being confronted by a fascist gang, Omar recognises school-friend Johnny and uses their history to diffuse the situation. As they renovate the laundrette together, love blossoms between them. This culture clash comedy is also a subversive work of social realism, sprinkled with magic and joy running through the rich veins of Kureishi’s writing.

Speaking about the announcement, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said

“We are thrilled to be presenting Hanif Kureshi’s astonishing adaptation of his Oscar-nominated film My Beautiful Laundrette.

“Hanif surfs a multitude of strikingly relevant issues in his 1985 masterpiece – from the journey of the immigrant, English working class society, women’s roles in the family and the results of Thatcher’s policies. Kureishi does all of this with bucketloads of wit, openness, compassion and a sense of mischief at the absurdity of it all.

“We are looking forward to working with Hanif and our partners at Leeds Playhouse, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Everyman Theatre Cheltenham very much.”

Hamish Glen, Artistic Director of Belgrade Theatre Coventry said:

“We’re really pleased to be continuing our ongoing partnership with Curve after the success of our previous co-productions Wipers and Pink Sari RevolutionMy Beautiful Laundrette forms part of our ongoing efforts to reach and retain new audiences, and with the support of our co-producers, we hope to strengthen the relationships we have already begun to develop with the Midlands’ diverse communities, particularly as Coventry moves towards its year as UK City of Culture in 2021.”

Everyman Theatre Cheltenham Chief Executive Mark Goucher said:

 “The 1985 film had a tremendous effect on me. It was radical, moving and very funny. The film launched the career of Daniel Day Lewis and made gay men of any race or class feel empowered and less frightened at a very difficult time. My theatre is delighted to be part of producing this exciting stage adaptation.”

Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:

“It’s really exciting to include the first major production of this contemporary classic as part of the first season in the newly refurbished Playhouse. The film broke new ground when it was released but its story still feels like a powerful and important statement about love, community and humanity. We are delighted to be co-producing with some excellent partners and sharing this incredible story with audiences throughout the UK.”

Further details and casting will be announced in due course.

Creative Team

Director – Nikolai Foster
– Grace Smart
Lighting Designer – Ben Cracknell
Sound Designer – Tom Marshall
Casting Director – Kay Magson CDG

Tour Listings:


Curve, Leicester
20 Sep – 5 Oct
Tickets on-sale from 16 Apr

Everyman Theatre Cheltenham
8 – 12 Oct
Tickets on-sale soon

Leeds Playhouse
15 – 26 Oct
Tickets on-sale from 15 Apr

Belgrade Theatre Coventry
29 Oct – 2 Nov
Tickets on-sale soon

Birmingham Repertory Theatre
5 – 9 Nov
Tickets on-sale soon