#LDNTheatreBloggers And #UKTheatreBloggers Have Set Up Home Together! (OK Not Literally)

 

It’s a love story baby just say..Yes the wonderful #LDNTheatreBloggers are joining forces with the equally marvellous theatre bloggers from all of the UK known as #UKTheatreBloggers to create TheatreBloggers.co.uk ( @theatreblogs).

Thanks to the founder of #LDNTheatreBloggers Rebecca Felgate who along with eminent bloggers West End Wilma and Theatre South East, have created a power house with TheatreBloggers.co.uk. This will bring together regional bloggers from all over the UK, to create pure magic with double the incredible content and community! There will be organised theatre trips and networking galore, which is music to any theatre bloggers ears. 

Let me just emphasise #LDNTheatreBloggers can still be used to share posts etc but #UKTheatreBloggers will incorporate those regional theatre bloggers in to the fold..Well hello there! This you will agree, is an exciting time for theatre bloggers as the new TheatreBloggers.co.uk is the start of something quite spectacular. 

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Theatre Voliere Are Bringing All Things Theatrically French to Bridewell Theatre!

 

Following the success of their award-nominated production of POILU AND TOMMY last year, Strasbourg based company Theatre Voliere are returning to London. They are filling Bridewell Theatre with #VoliereFest, a month of Anglo-French plays and events from 12th August-4th September. This theatre festival is very affordable which is always a bonus! Below are examples of productions at Voliere Fest:

CONSOLATION written by award winning poet Mick Wood and directed by Voliere’s Artsictic Director Natasha Wood. Set in Southern France, CONSOLATION is about the relationship between a young French re-enactor, who plays a Cathar knight in a Visitor’s Centre, and a middle-aged Englishwoman who believes she has experienced a past life as a Cathar heretic in thirteenth century Languedoc. Featuring a stunning multi-media design by award-winning young Latvian designer Rūta Irbīte, and thrilling stage combat by Dan Styles, CONSOLATION is a witty, disturbing, and ultimately life-affirming journey in to lost worlds, pseudo-history, and the search for belonging – with a very contemporary twist in the tale

PIERROT LUNAIRE, a new exquisite piece of dance theatre devised by the company with songwriter and sound artist Paul Meyr, Mick Wood, Natasha Wood alongside their cast Audrey L’Ebrellec, Jan Wood & Gabriel Wood (Gabriel and Jan are Natasha and Mick’s very talented children.) Dance Theatre inspired by, and featuring original song settings of, the French poems of Albert Giraud. An English country house circa 1890; a French governess shares her passion for the poetry of Pierrot Lunaire with her young charge but, isolated and homesick, she finds herself increasingly haunted by the enigmatic figure of Pierrot.

For more details on Voliere Fest http://www.jollygoodshow.fr/

Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me

 

Made In China return to London with their new show, Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me at Soho Theatre, exposing how we conduct our relationships with an awareness that they just won’t live up to what the movies promised. Yes ladies and gentleman I mean those movies you watch on the sofa, with your chocolate and cup of tea and say out loud ‘wish that was me!’

A woman takes to the stage. A man watches from the wings. They both wonder if their love will survive what’s about to happen. It’s going to be tense! Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me is a physical endurance act that crashes at full speed into an impossibly true love story – and out the other side. Based on the real relationship of founders Tim Cowbury and Jess Latowicki, it touches the heart of our obsession with outlasting hardship. Intimate and startlingly immediate, it defies you to watch in spite of yourself. This play really is a fascinating look at how we perceive relationships!

Although based on the harshness of reality, Cowbury and Latowicki then distance the story from reality and transfer the truth into fiction. The audience aren’t always completely sure if what they are watching is reality. Incredibly honest and comically imagined, this disjuncture is typical of Made In China. Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me forces us to consider how much we can endure – in relationships, in society and in life.

“Not since Forced Entertainment burst on to the scene almost 30 years ago has a company arrived with such a fully formed and distinctive voice” (Lyn Gardner, The Guardian). 

Soho Theatre – 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE Monday 7th – Saturday 26th September 2015, 7pm Press night: Tuesday 8th September 7pm 

Tickets are available from http://www.sohotheatre.com or 020 7478 0100 from £10

The Reasons Why As Is Will Be One Of The Best Plays You Will See This Year.

  
Rather than write a review, with this article I’m focusing on the reasons why Andrew Keates production of William M. Hoffman’s Play As Is is a vital must-see in it’s West End Transfer to Trafalgar Studios 2. It is one of the best pieces of theatre you will have the pleasure and indeed privilege of watching this year (it’s as simple as that).

1. 

When an actor has that magic amount of charisma along with skill, well it’s a winning combination to put it mildly. They can make you feel just about every emotion, to the point where you want to watch them continuously portraying the character in front of you. Steven Webb is such an actor, his performance as Rich in this outstanding production of As Is is flawless. It literally feels like Rich is one of your closest friends and his HIV diagnosis and subsequent struggle is impacting your life too. This is rare. 

2.

What Director Andrew Keates has created with the production is make you taste and smell New York in 1985, in it’s excess and glamour that the 80’s heyday is synonymous, as well as a contrasting sensitivity. The energy that he brings out of his actors is phenomenal. For example when he had them scattered on the stage saying the names of people whose funerals they had attended as they had succumbed to AIDS was hauntingly beautiful and perfectly set.

3.

The devoted and gentle Saul ( David Poynor) Rich’s ex partner, is a contrast to the exuberant and creative nature of Rich. It is a joy to watch the two sparking off each other, in such a naturally comedic way, that brings the text of Hoffman’s play in to it’s own exquisitely. Poynor and Webb cast together is just spot on, I truly can’t imagine two other actors having better chemistry.

4.

The atmosphere is remarkably  heightened by Neil Brinkworth’s lighting design that well and truly deserves a great deal of praise. Whether to emphasise the Frankie Goes to Hollywood vibes inside an 80’s New York Club or to spotlight a hospital bed, it’s masterful and adds something extra to the production.

5.

The ensemble cast are outstanding actors each bringing something unique and authentic to the table. Notably Jane Lowe is dryly funny as the hospice worker, whose stories make you want to weep and laugh in equal measure and Natalie Burt as Rich’s Actress friend is deliciously frivolous and just oozes warmth and charm.

6.

As Is will move you in a way that you feel in the pit of your stomach and depths of your soul. It may have been called the ‘First AIDS Play’ when it was first performed in 1985, but it should also be described as the definitive. HIV and AIDS is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago to which this stunning production is a reminder. If you haven’t already seen this production, it is performing until August 1st 2015 so PLEASE DO!

To book tickets: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/as-is/trafalgar-studios/

What Makes Gatsby So Great? Well A 90th Anniversary National Tour For A Start!

  Stephen Sharkey has decided to strip back The Great Gatsby for it’s 90th anniversary (what a gift!) and revive it to it’s flappin’ best. F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel captured the 1920’s decadence and changes that were happening socially perfectly, so a tour performed by Blackeyed Theatre really is a fitting present. 

The combination of Stephen Sharkey and Blackeyed Theatre is an exciting one, as both have a long list of impressive credits under their belt. Sharkey’s work includes The May Queen (Liverpool Everyman) and The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui (Liverpool Playhouse/Nottingham Playhouse) to name just a few. Blackeyed Theatre have been established for over 10 years and are known for their imaginative touring productions.

With making the play more character driven, the glamour and excess of the roaring 20’s speaks for itself with Sharkey describing it as “..a decadent decade heading towards it’s inevitable crash.” This paired with lost love and passions running high complimented by live music, means that the story will engage those who are familiar with The Great Gatsby and those who are not.

Director Eliot Giuralarocca has these  glowing comments to say about Sharkey’s production:

Stephen Sharkey has shaped and distilled Fitzgerald’s novel into a muscular and narrative-driven portrait of the Jazz Age, full of cool, sexy, stiletto-sharp dialogue as cool as ice in a cocktail. Throw into the mix our wonderful design team along with an ensemble of seven fabulously talented actors, who all sing, dance and play instruments, and I hope we have all the ingredients needed to give the audience a wonderful party and bring Fitzgerald’s Great American masterpiece roaring into life.

Performance Dates for The Great Gatsby  
8th – 12th September – Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne 15th – 16th September – Stahl Theatre, Oundle
17th – 19th September – Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 22nd – 23rd September – Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Taunton 24th – 26th September – Wilde Theatre, Bracknell
29th – 30th September – The Castle, Wellingborough 2nd – 3rd October – The Atkinson, Southport
6th – 10th October – Greenwich Theatre, London 13th – 14th October – Artsdepot, Finchley
15th – 17th October – New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth 19th – 20th October – New Barn Theatre, Blandford Forum 22nd – 24th October – Connaught Theatre, Worthing
27th – 28th October – Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy
29th – 30th October – The Brunton, Musselburgh
2nd – 6th November – Dundee Repertory Theatre, Dundee 10th – 11th November – Octagon Theatre, Yeovil 12th – 14th November – Towngate Theatre, Basildon 16th – 21st November – Theatre Royal, Windsor
23rd – 25th November – Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton 27th – 28th November – Palace Theatre, Newark
30th November – 2nd December – Mumford Theatre, Cambridge 4th – 5th December – Queens Hall, Hexham

Tickets are available from theatres (see http://www.blackeyedtheatre.co.uk)

There Is Nothing Grim About Grimeborn 

   It is highly likely you have heard of Glyndebourne, the world renowned Opera Festival that is held annually in East Sussex during the summer months. There is also another Opera festival at London’s Arcola Theatre that you should have heard of too, perhaps Glyndebourne’s assertive cousin, that as the theatre website perfectly describes, produces the following:

Innovative adaptations of traditional operas. Unknown, rarely-seen or under-appreciated works. Brand new pieces from the most exciting up-and-coming composers, musicians and companies.

What is this festival? It is called Grimeborn. First launched in 2007, from the 4th-29th August this innovative showcase of new works will be capturing the audiences imagination for another year, whether an established opera fan or a newcomer to the genre. This variety of topics covered by the operas will appeal to a wide spectrum of ages and interest which makes this fringe festival such a must-see.

In particular, a rehearsed work in progress called The Queen and I sounds particularly promising. Showing for only two performances on the 23rd August, this new opera is based on the book by Amy Rosenthal with music and lyrics by KS Lewkowicz. It tells the story of the little known love affair that takes place between Queen Victoria and her Muslim servant, which was also her last, as she was in the latter stage of her life. The outrage of the relationship felt by the Prince of Wales, means he wants to commit his mother to an asylum for being mentally ill. This story sounds especially gripping, with forbidden love and heightened emotions to elevate the drama to boiling point.

With new productions of classics such as La Boheme and Falstaff at Grimeborn 2015 you can be sure old favourites will become new ones in no time, in fact they will practically be unreconigseable apart from of course the music and libretto! There really is even more of a reason to get excited about classic operas that you know are getting the direction and style that they truly deserve.

To find out more about Grimeborn and to buy tickets here is the link to the Arcola Theatre Website: https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/grimeborn

What Fringe Means to Me..

Everyone has a differing definition of just about every word in the English Dictionary. What something means to one person, again in the same vein, can have a totally different meaning to another. I am not going to get in to a debate on the difference between definition and meaning (although this does sound quite interesting!), instead this article is regarding why I feel drawn to writing about Fringe Theatre (as well as of course West End shows).

Imagine a world where people are oppressed from creating new theatrical works, where vision and imagination is eliminated. This is what would happen if Fringe Theatre didn’t exist, I really believe with without it new ideas would be trampled on by conventions. It is fair to say that there is a time and a place for convention, but theatre is certainly not one of them. 

The term Fringe Theatre derives from Edinburgh Fringe Festival, that incredibly is in it’s 68th year. As well as being the largest Arts Festival in the world, it is renowned for it’s experimental and boundary crushing theatre. It is no exaggeration that every writer, director, production team and actor wants to have a slot in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to show just what they are capable of creating and bringing to the table. This festival is the founder of all fringe festivals and will most likely be still leading the way for many a new production, ranging from classic Shakespeare to new Musical Theatre in another 68 years!

I firmly believe that there are many venues all over the country, whether reconigsed or not, that are producing incredible productions alongside established London ones such as Arcola Theatre and Tristan Bates Theatre. London’s West End may be the epicentre for some creatives wanting to bring their shows, but it is not the only location in the UK by any stretch of the imagination! So many are making their productions a reality, but only a small amount get a large amount of critical acclaim and a subsequent west end transfer. Acclaim and transfers are definitely not the sole goal though, surely making theatre that challenges as well as entertains an audience is the ‘ultimate’.

Other noteable Fringe Festivals include Camden, Brighton and Manchester, that evolve many creatives and their work. These festivals are making the fringe scene even more exciting and creating more varied programmes at smaller theatres, with genres ranging from opera to puppetry. There really is something for everyone which really makes Fringe something unique as well as very special indeed.

With this article, I sincerely hope you have gained more of an insight in to my love of Fringe. It has described my thoughts, which as an Arts Writer is vital, as to give an insight in to your motivation and love of a particular aspects of the arts and reveal a piece of yourself. 

Here’s my advice…definitely go and see that new fringe production you are not decided on, take a chance on it, could be the best production you have seen in a long time! 

What does Fringe Theatre mean to you? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Bea Roberts Draws Inspiration From Her West Country Heritage.

  

Much eagerness and inevitable expectation can be felt for Bea Roberts play And Then Come The Nightjars, which opens Theatre503’s autumn season, marking the theatre’s first co-production with Bristol Old Vic. This poignant and gritty play is one of the two winners of Theatre503’s inaugural international Playwriting Award and was selected from over 1600 submissions.

The Press Release for the play reads as follows:

And Then Come The Nightjars charts a farm’s struggle to survive the march of history. Fierce with rage yet achingly tender, this is a story of enduring friendship and a requiem for rural England. Reflecting on the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001, Nightjars sees how, ten years on, scars are still evident on the landscape and also on the relationships of those the disease affected.This heart-wrenching play explores the devastating effects of the pandemic which saw the slaughter of four million animals, the virtual closure of the countryside and the postponement of a general election. Against this backdrop Roberts depicts an intimate friendship between two world-weary men.

Roberts is commited to making work that challenges both herself as a writer and also her audience’s perceptions and attitudes towards the West Country world that she hails from (A Younger Theatre). A passion for her home is evident in Devon-born Roberts writing, something which a lot of other playwrights could take inspiration from, with actually writing about something they truly have knowledge and empathy towards.

Director Paul Robinson was so moved by the play he admits to crying in public the first time he read it as well as missing his bus stop! This is definitely a sign of something quite special indeed and it is unsurprising that he decided to be part of this production. Robinson describes Roberts as a ” hugely talented writer who has already made an impression in Bristol.” With RSC veteran David Fielder already cast in the production, it is safe to say And Then Come The Nightjars is in very safe hands.

Wednesday 2nd – Saturday 26th September 2015 Tuesday to Saturday, 7.45pm
Sunday, 5pm

Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road,
London SW11 3BW, https://theatre503.com/

Tickets are available priced £15 (£12 concessions) Pay What You Can Sundays
Available from Theatre503 Box Office and https://theatre503.com/, 020 7978 7040.

Shakespeare The Father Of All Playwrights…Visits The Birthplace Of Jazz

 There is nothing more stimulating for an audience, than a production of a classic play that fuses genres, which actually enhance the core plot. This is what Ruby In The Dust are creating with William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream In New Orleans at The Arts Theatre (Upstairs). With over twelve previous productions under their belt, since their formation in 2007 by Linnie Reedman and Joe Evans, Ruby In The Dust have gained a well respected reputation. 

Adapted and edited by Director Linnie Reedman A Midsummer Night’s Dream In New Orleans is loyal to the original text, whilst exploring the rich history and culture of the crumbling New Orleans Jazz Clubs, as well as the surrounding influences of early twentieth century Voodoo giving it a sense of grit. Oberon and Titania are portrayed as “The Night Tripper” and Voodoo Queen respectively, while the ‘Mechanicals’ form one of the earliest New Orleans jazz bands. ‘The play within a play’ evolves into a Mardis Gras style jam session. 

This particular adaptation is certainly musically infused, with Musical Director Joe Evans receiving approval from the jazz legend Dr John to feature some of his greatest songs in the show. Along with the music of Louis Armstrong, Randy Newman and Professor Longhair (to name just a few), the Shakespeare classic is certainly going to be capturing the mood and rawness of jazz.

On Friday and Saturday evenings any musically minded audience members are also invited to bring their instrument to join in an after-show jam session with the cast. This is definitely a welcome addition to the production, as it means a sense of musical unity from a range of musicians from all genres who all have a passion for jazz.

ARTS THEATRE (Upstairs) 6 – 7 Great Newport Street London WC2H 7JB
Leicester Square Underground

August 4 to August 30 Tues – Sun 7:30pm
 Tickets £25 Concs £22 

Box office 0207 836 8463

http://www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk

My review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream In New Orleans will be published on http://musicaltheatrereview.com