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Feb 1st

A Nation’s Theatre Festival Celebrates UK Theatre This Spring

By Carolin Kopplin

This spring the A Nation’s Theatre Festival will spill across London as part of a two-month celebration of theatre from around the UK, in partnership with the Guardian. 18 theatres in the capital are joining forces to shine a light on theatre-makers based in villages, towns and cities with wildly different backdrops and characteristics that colour the work that they make. 

 

A multitude of styles and formats provide a snapshot of UK theatre and creativity. Audiences are invited to experience and champion a rich variety of work including one-on-one aerial circus made in Glasgow, fairytales rooted in Cornwall brought to life by hand-carved puppets and an audio performance from Belfast experienced whilst lying in a hospital bed. 

During the festival in April and May over 60 shows will be performed by more than 350 artists, with some travelling over 400 miles to reach venues across London. The festival will also feature takeovers of London venues from Sheffield showcase Forge North, Glasgow’s //BUZZCUT// festival, Leicester’s Curve Theatre and Leeds-based Transform festival. Artists Emma Frankland and Myriddin Wannell from Truro, Little Bulb Theatre from Farnham, Victoria Melody from Cheshire and Tom de Freston from Sidmouth will also design and create performances for Battersea Arts Centre’s new artist bedrooms and living quarters, inspired by where they live and where they grew up. 

For early-career artists interested in discovering what support initiatives exist across the country a day-long event – All Tomorrow’s Theatre – will bring them together with venues, producers and organisations to discuss the future of artist development. Ideas for new shows will also be bubbling away during artist residencies at venues across the city. 

Over the coming months a clutch of Guardian Live conversations will be presented by Arena Theatre and Unlimited in Wolverhampton, Farnham Maltings, National Theatre of Wales and Curve Theatre in Leicester to discuss questions including whether disability is a creative advantage and how to ensure the very best theatre is being shown all over the UK, accompanied by a series of Guardian Theatre blogs and articles. 

As well as celebrating the rich breadth of theatre being made across the UK, A Nation’s Theatre Festival aims to provoke thought on topics including reversing the flow of theatre from London out to the rest of the UK, encouraging more arts provision outside of the capital and what theatre can tell us about politics, devolution and identity. 

 

For the full festival programme please visit:

 www.anationstheatre.org.uk.

Jan 25th

POP Drama Award Promises Full-Scale Touring Production

By Carolin Kopplin

The University of Wolverhampton are now accepting proposals for the Creative Europe Playwriting Award for POP Drama.

The POP Drama Award is part of The European Playwriting project, which aims to support the circulation of European dramaturgy by selecting four pieces of playwriting that will be toured as staged readings in four countries.

The Centro Diego Fabbri (Italy), centre for studies, research and training in theatre and performance languages, the University of Wolverhampton (United Kingdom), the Universitatea de Arte Din Târgu-Mureș (Romania), and the Fundacion CajaGranada (Spain) are the four institutions involved in this project.

The POP Drama Award is open to all authors willing to try their hands at playwriting. Each author can submit more than one play.

Each piece must be original and unpublished; having never been performed in any form whatsoever. Entries must be 40-60 pages and printed single-sided on A4 paper (double-spaced, Times New Roman size 12).

The work can handle any subject, provided that the chosen theme is able to be understood universally. The panel will look favourably upon plays that take into consideration the contradiction between human nature and morality, with specific attention being paid to plays that deal with issues related to social exclusion. Authors may explore the chosen theme through ironic and/or playful perspectives.

Plays must be sent by parcel/registered mail, containing 1 (one) paper copy and 1 (one) electronic copy to the following address:

POP DRAMA PLAYWRITING COMPETITION
Arena Theatre
University of Wolverhampton
Wulfruna Street
Wolverhampton
WV1 1SE

Deadline: 31st March 2016

The Prize

The 2016 POP Drama prize winner will have their play performed at the Arena Theatre – anticipated to be during the 2017/18 season – with their play also being worked into a full-scale touring production that will be performed in venues in the partnering countries (Italy, Romania, Spain). The Arena Theatre will support the winning entry to make this possible.

Anonymity must be retained when submitting your play. The only information that should be on your script is the title and tagline.

Please note that entries in the UK must be in English, the partner organisations are hosting entries in the other languages within the competition.

Full details of the English section of the competition are available on this website: https://popdramawlv.wordpress.com/ 

Please note that these schemes are listed here for your convenience. However, they are run by external organisations and unless otherwise noted the BBC has no involvement with them. Therefore the BBC cannot respond to any queries in connection to those and accepts no liability for the accuracy of third party websites and the information contained on them.

 

Photograph is copyright of Matt Cawrey Photography.

Dec 9th

Papatango New Writing Prize Adds Commission for Follow-Up Play to Award – Submissions Open Today until 31 March 2016

By Carolin Kopplin

 

The Papatango New Writing Prize, now in its eighth incarnation, opens for submissions today, 9 December 2015, until midnight on 31 March 2016.  

The Papatango Prize is the UK’s only annual opportunity guaranteeing a new writer full production, publication, and a royalty of 10% of the gross box office. 

Papatango are now announcing a major expansion to the Prize: from 2016; the winning writer will also receive a £6000 commission and full developmental support from Papatango to enable them to progress to a second play. 

Papatango’s George Turvey and Chris Foxon explain the reasoning behind this commitment: 

When the Prize started in 2009, we were the only opportunity promising to take the risk of production, publication and fee on a new writer. Now, adding a full commission for a follow-up play is another step forward in publicly backing new writers.”  

The winning play will run at Southwark Playhouse from 2 November – 26 November 2016, published by Nick Hern Books. It will be Papatango’s second year at Southwark Playhouse, following the world premiere of the 2015 Papatango New Writing Prize winner Tomcat by James Rushbrooke, nominated for Off West End Awards for Best New Play, Best Female Performance and Best Male Performance. James Rushbrooke describes the experience: 

Winning the Prize has had a huge impact on my life. It has directly led to me being signed by an agent, being approached by TV companies, and being nominated for an Off West End Award for Best New Play. The support, guidance and encouragement given by the Papatango team has been exemplary and they have helped me every step of the way. To have something that only existed in your head come to life so vividly and be shared so widely is a both an empowering and magical process - that magic has been provided by the Papatango team.” 

Entries should be at least 80 minutes in length, original and previously unproduced, and entered anonymously as Microsoft Word or PDF files to scripts@papatango.co.uk by midnight, 31 March 2016.  

Further information: www.papatango.co.uk

Dec 4th

World Premiere of P’YONGYANG by In-Sook Chappell at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

"We have to be careful, we can’t trust anyone. But, in the dark, your thoughts are your own."

The world premiere of a new North Korean story from award-winning playwright In-Sook Chappell,P'yongyang opens at the Finborough Theatre for a four week limited season on Tuesday, 5 January 2016. 

Crossing military borders and class divides, P’yongyang tells the epic love story of two North Korean childhood sweethearts spanning three decades. Chi-Soo and Eun-Mi dare to dream of a life together in P’yongyang, working for Kim Jong Il’s film studios. But as those around them start to disappear and information from the outside world trickles in, the devoted Communists are forced to view their glorious homeland in a different light.

Written by award-winning, Korean-born playwright In-Sook Chappell - who was inspired by a childhood visit to the Demilitarized Zone at the height of the Cold War and by the experiences of North Korean refugees - P'yongyang is a striking new work that was shortlisted for the 2013 Bruntwood Prize Award.

A play that pits hope against hunger.

Directed by Chelsea Walker. Designed by Max Dorey. Lighting by Jamie Platt. Sound and Composition by Harry Blake. Movement by Jenny Ogilvie. Presented by Chloe Courtney in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.
Cast: Lourdes Faberes. Chris Lew Kum Hoi. Anna Leong Brophy. Daniel York.

Further information: www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Nov 23rd

F*cking Men returns to the King's Head Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

In December, the King’s Head will be restaging their smash success F*cking Men, which has already extended once since their August production and will now be entering a third month. The production will be undergoing changes, retaining artistic elements while streamlining the show for a sustainable touring future that will continue to provide employment for the artists involved.

The play is – very loosely – based on Schnitzler's La Ronde and provides a moving portrayal of hunger and desire as it follows the erotic encounters of 10 men (now played by 3 actors) in their interconnected search for sexual satisfaction. Each scene in the play is a frank, candid and sometimes brutally honest depiction of the lustful transaction between two men. It is a loose adaptation of the 19th century play La Ronde in which pairings of characters are featured in scenes preceding and succeeding sexual encounters.

This extension proves the continued popularity of the show, after the original premiere run in 2009 began at the Finborough Theatre, from which it transferred to the King’s Head to play for 9 months (the longest ever Off West End run of a play). It then transferred into the West End to the Arts Theatre.

Artistic director of the King’s Head Adam Spreadbury-Maher says “This new production has been praised for its universality across sexual orientations. We’re proud to be producing gay theatre that speaks to a universal audience!”

More information: http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/

Photograph by Andreas Grieger.

Nov 10th

New Season at the King's Head Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Pub opera returns in rep in new season at the King's Head Theatre amongst Edinburgh transfer hits and female-led new writing

After an exciting and innovative 45th year, the unfunded King’s Head continues its new artistic policy of being a crucible of new writing and critical rediscoveries, whilst also welcoming the much-anticipated return of pub opera.

Artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher originated pub opera in his first season at the King’s Head in 2010, and now relaunches that tradition at its original home with a stylish new production of Mozart’s classic opera Cosi fan tutte in March, directed by international opera director Paul Higgins. This return to pub opera will play in rep alongside Louis Nowra’s play by the same name, Cosi, where patients in a mental asylum perform Mozart’s piece whilst questioning madness in the face of the Vietnam War, which is directed by ex-Sydney Theatre Company artistic director Wayne Harrison. Adam Spreadbury-Maher says “Two Cosis at the same time?! If a large funded arts centre said they were going to do this, it would raise an eyebrow – the fact that an unfunded pub theatre is doing it is completely bonkers”.

Before that, in February, the theatre welcomes back the smash hit Trainspotting after a sell-out Edinburgh Fringe 2015 run, which plays at the King's Head for a month before heading on a national tour.

There is also a wealth of new writing this season: January offers new plays The Long Road South, by Paul Minx, focusing on the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and Big Brother Blitzkrieg, by Hew Rous Eyre & Max Elton, which sees Hitler enter the Big Brother House! April features work exclusively by female playwrights with Adrian Pagan Award winner and insightful new play about female relationships Russian Dolls, by Kate Lock, alongside Edinburgh transfer To Kill a Machine, by Catrin Fflur Huws, which delves into the sexuality and chemical castration of Alan Turing. We also have new British musical Something Something Lazarus joining us in March, performed in a “broken cabaret” style, by John Myatt and Simon Arrowsmith.

The new writing offerings this season champion female and international playwrights alongside new work with the continuation of #Festival45, #Festival46 in July, featuring work from 4 trainee resident directors, who will be graduating from the Queen's Jubilee Award winning scheme this summer.

Further information: http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/

Photo by Christopher Tribble

Nov 6th

…A MILLION TO ONE – BUT STILL THEY COME… THE WEST END DEBUT OF JEFF WAYNE'S MULTI-AWARD WINNING MUSICAL

By Carolin Kopplin

Since its inception in 1978, Jeff Wayne’s original double album has become one of the most ground-breaking and bestselling musical works of all time - with over 15 million copies sold and 330 weeks in the UK Album Charts to date, a number one album in 11 countries, two international hit singles, a number-one music DVD, 8 years of world-wide arena tours, and huge critical acclaim across the globe (and probably the universe!). 

Reimagined and brought to spectacular theatrical life for its world stage premiere, this breathtaking new production of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds, produced by Bill Kenwright, will preview at the Dominion Theatre from Monday 8 February 2016 with an opening night gala performance on Wednesday 17 February 2016 at 7pm. 

The iconic score is played live and conducted on stage by Jeff Wayne. The show will include new music, star cast, and a full supporting company of performers - as well as video walls, the iconic Martian Fighting Machine, special effects and in 3D holography LIAM NEESON as The Journalist. 

Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds has also won two prestigious UK Ivor Novello Awards, the US Best Recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy (the judges included Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg), as well as winning for Jeff, Classic Rock's 'Showman of The Year' Award. 

HG Wells’ novel, first published in 1898, was the prototype for all science fiction. An international phenomenon, The War of the Worlds describes the invasion of Earth by ruthless Martians with superior intelligence, incredible machines and devastating weaponry. An invading alien race bent on conquering humanity. 

Both shocking and thrilling the world by exposing the flaws and hypocrisy of Victorian society with his futuristic thinking and alternate views, Wells unlocked a door into the future that took his readers on a unique adventure far away from the social constraints of 19th Century England.

 

Bill Kenwright and Jeff Wayne present 

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

Based on the classic science fiction story by HG WELLS

Adapted by DOREEN WAYNE

Music by JEFF WAYNE

Lyrics by GARY OSBORNE, PAUL VIGRASS & JEFF WAYNE 

Directed by BOB TOMSON

Nov 2nd

New Season at the Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

After the devastating fire, the Battersea Arts Centre is still going strong and offers a fascinating program for 2016.

The new year gets underway with a UK premiere by Ridiculusmus, furthering their mind-bending investigations into mental health. Theatre Ad Infinitum treat the senses to a feast of stimulation with a torchlit thriller whilst themes of mortality echo in artist Tania El Khoury’s haunting interactive installation and a lyrical and tender tale of grief presented with Chris Goode & CoA Nation’s Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre’s partnership with the Guardian, continues to celebrate theatre from around the UK in spring, with highlights ranging from a musical duet by Farnham’s Little Bulb Theatre to a distorted television show by internationally acclaimed and Glasgow-based Vanishing Point.

Further information:

www.bac.co.uk

Oct 27th

Write Now Festival at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Submissions are now open for the annual new writing festival at the Jack Studio Theatre

Deadline for submissions: Friday 29th January 2016

WRITE NOW 7 Festival: May 2016

The Jack Studio Theatre is proud to announce WRITE NOW 7, its annual new writing festival that will open in May 2016, and run for four weeks. Under the artistic direction of Kate Bannister, the WRITE NOW festival is an essential part of the Jack Studio Theatre’s yearly programme, and which each year looks to find and produce the most exciting, diverse and significant work of emerging writers who have a connection to south east London. From the submissions of plays to a specific brief, in 2016 one play will be chosen for the month-long festival. It will appear alongside writing workshops, audience discussions, and the performance of seven new short plays.

For Write Now 7:

• One winning play is given a full-production for three weeks

• The playwright will be given the opportunity to fully explore and develop the play before rehearsals, with mentoring support from the director and Write Now dramaturg. The winning playwright also receives financial support to attend rehearsals and career development advice.

Past winners of the festival have gone on to have work developed and produced by the BBC writersroom, High Tide, and The Liverpool Everyman. The WRITE NOW festival is also about celebrating the local area of south east London, and the theatre’s connection and engagement with its audience. The festival is a wonderful celebration of this culturally diverse and dynamic area of London, with writers exploring themes and subject matter which resonates with the local audience and beyond. The WRITE NOW FESTIVAL reading panel is led by Jack Artistic Director Kate Bannister and Literary Manager David Bottomley, and consists of the Jack’s associated artists and industry professionals. The final selection panel will be announced shortly.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN

We are now accepting submissions of scripts. The deadline for this year’s applications is Friday 29 January 2016.

Full guidelines and a 2016 application form are available on the Write Now page on our website: www.brockleyjack.co.uk

Scripts are submitted via email to: admin@brockleyjack.co.uk

Oct 26th

New Season at the Orange Tree Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

The Orange Tree's new season from January to June 2016 features plays by Robert Holman, Chris Urch, Brad Birch and Bernard Shaw, directed by Ellen McDougall, Alice Hamilton, Mel Hillyard and Artistic Director Paul Miller.

The Orange Tree, despite losing all its funding when AD Paul Miller took over, can look back at a year of award-winning theatre playing to 90% capacity and 25% newcomers. The OT production of Alistair McDowall's Pomona has played to full houses at the National Theatre and will transfer to the Royal Exchange Theatre from 29 October, with Deborah Bruce's hit OT play The Distance opening at Sheffield Crucible Studio on the same night.

At the UK Theatre Awards Ned Bennett has just won Best Director for Pomona and Joel MacCormack won Best Performance in a Play for Doris Lessing's Each His Own Wilderness.

The new season opens with the London premiere of Chris Urch's The Rolling Stone directed by Ellen McDougall. Set in Uganda it focuses on a gay couple having a relationship in a country where homosexuality is illegal and a religious family struggling to come to terms with it. Winner of a Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, it is a co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre where it premiered to critical acclaim in April 2015. The cast includes Faith Alabi, Fiston Barek, Jo Martin, Faith Omole and Sule Rimi.

The first major revival of Robert Holman's 1977 play German Skerries will be directed by Alice Hamilton in a co-production with award-winning touring company Up in Arms (Barney Norris' Eventide and Visitors). This pertinent play is set against the backdrop of the Redcar steel works on Teeside, the closure of which has just been announced. It will then go on tour.

Mel Hillyard's production as the recipient of the J. P. Morgan Award for an Emerging Director will be the world premiere of Brad Birch's new play The Brink, in a co-production with W14 Productions and the National Theatre Studio.

Following his sell-out production of Bernard Shaw's debut full-length play Widowers' Houses in 2014, Paul Miller will direct Shaw's second play The Philanderer in a major new revival designed by Simon Daw.

Take Part, the OT’s education and participation work involves over 20,000 people from the local community every year. This year the Shakespeare Up Close production of Romeo and Juliet directed by Gemma Fairlie aimed at secondary school students plays in the Theatre and on tour to schools. Our Primary Shakespeare production will be The Comedy of Errors, directed by Imogen Bond.

The OT will be a partner theatre for National Theatre Connections for the first time in May, with 7 young companies visiting the OT to perform plays written especially for Connections over its incredible 20 year history, alongside our own Connections Company which presents James Graham's Bassett, directed by Corinne Meredith. The Orange Tree Young Company will also present a one-off performance of their show The Joy of Normal, directed by Rob Watt.

Orange Tree Extras, a new series of one-offs and short runs of the best comedy, music and theatre features West End and Broadway star Hadley Fraser, Edinburgh Festival hit The End is Nigh from Jonny and the Baptists, Sally Phillips & Lily Bevan, plus classical concerts from the Allegri Quartet. P

Further information: www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk