Rank #1: Edinburgh 2019: Shakespeare for Breakfast and Paines Plough's Roundabout
In this episode from the final week of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for 2019, we hear from the current director of a production that has become, after 28 years, an Edinburgh Fringe and C venues institution, Shakespeare for Breakfast. Damian Sandys has directed the production since 2006, as well as its younger brother, Dickens for Dinner, and he explains what audiences can expect from both, as well as how the shows are devised each year.
This year, we spoke to director Steph O’Driscoll, who has directed three productions to be performed by the same company of actors in Roundabout this year: Daughterhood by Charley Miles, On the Other Hand, We’re Happy by Daf James and Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency by Nathan Bryon. Steph explains about the process of creating productions for this unusual performance space for Edinburgh and for a subsequent tour.
(Image of Stef O'Driscoll, credit: Rebecca Need-Menear)
Aug 21 2019
Rank #2: New Octagon Artistic Director launches her first season
Lotte Wakeham, who took over as Artistic Director of Bolton's Octagon Theatre in February 2019, spoke to us after three months in the job about launching her first season in the post, her background as a director and an Associate Artistic Director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre and her plans for the future at the Octagon, which remains closed for refurbishment until spring 2020.
The autumn 2019 season starts with Beryl on 19 September, continuing with Seagulls starting on 24 October and I Wanna Be Yours from 11 November, all at Bolton’s Library Theatre, and then the Christmas production of Treasure Island will run from 8 December in the Premier Suite of University of Bolton Stadium.
May 19 2019
Rank #3: Stella Duffy: bringing Joan Littlewood's idea of fun to a palace near to you
The Fun Palace was an idea conceived originally by influential theatre maker Joan Littlewood with architect Cedric Price in the early 1960s.
Their building-based idea was never built, but writer and actor Stella Duffy OBE came up with the idea to resurrect it in a different way for Littlewood’s centenary in 2014. This has become a fast-growing annual event co-directed by Stella with Sarah-Jane Rawlings and is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
In this episode, David Chadderton talks to Stella about her realisation of the Fun Palace idea for the twenty-first century on a countrywide scale, and she also makes some provocative suggestions about theatre, culture, outreach projects and diversity.
The fifth Fun Palaces event will be on 6 and 7 October 2018. For information on fun palaces near to you or details of how to create a fun palace of your own, see the Fun Palaces web site.
Aug 12 2018
Rank #4: Jude Christian directs othellomacbeth at HOME Manchester
For its first production of the autumn 2018 season, HOME in Manchester has again teamed up with Lyric Hammersmith for a pairing of two of Shakespeare’s plays, Othello and Macbeth, assembled into one production by director Jude Christian to highlight, in particular, the stories of the female characters in both plays.
A week before the production’s Manchester opening, Jude spoke to BTG editor David Chadderton at HOME about how the production came about and redressing the gender politics in Shakespeare, as well as some thoughts on panto, which she will also be directing later this year at Lyric Hammersmith.
(photo by Helen Murray)
Sep 07 2018
Rank #5: RashDash on what we may find in their (and our) Future Bodies
The latest production from acclaimed theatre company RashDash, Future Bodies, has been produced in collaboration with Unlimited Theatre and HOME Manchester as a trailblazer event for the 2018 Manchester Science Festival.
What does it mean to have and to be a body? As we increasingly fuse our biological brains with technology, at what point do we stop being human? Does it even matter?
During rehearsals at HOME, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to RashDash co-founder Helen Goalen, who is co-directing the production, about the show, how it was created and the ideas behind it.
Future Bodies will be at HOME Manchester from 28 September to 13 October 2018 before touring to Northern Stage in Newcastle from 16 to 18 October and the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on 19 October.
(Image: Helen Goalen (R) in rehearsals)
Sep 26 2018
Rank #6: Jackie Kay's Red Dust Road runs from Edinburgh to Manchester
Jackie Kay is the current Makar, the Scottish national poet, whose 2010 memoir, Red Dust Road, is to be adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta for a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and HOME Manchester, which will open at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Jackie at HOME Manchester about the subject of her book, her quest to find her birth parents (she was adopted as a baby and brought up in Glasgow), one in Scotland and the other in Nigeria, and what she is hoping for from the adaptation.
Red Dust Road is published by Picador. The production will open at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre from 14 to 18 August 2019 before touring to Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, Eden Court Theatre in Inverness and finishing at HOME Manchester from 11 to 21 September.
May 10 2019
Rank #7: Classic Thrillers return to Nottingham Theatre Royal
The Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season has been a regular feature at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal since 1989. An ensemble performs four plays over the space of four weeks, a short rehearsal period proving quite a challenge. In 2019, the season features plays by Frederic Knott, Francis Durbridge, Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner and N J Crisp.
In this episode, BTG Midlands editor Steve Orme speaks to Thriller Season regulars Anna Mitcham and David Martin about their experiences and what audiences can expect from the different plays.
The Classic Thriller Season 2019 runs at the Theatre Royal from 30 July until 24 August.
Jul 28 2019
Rank #8: SBC Theatre considers Where We Began with migrant stories
Where We Began is a new piece of theatre devised by a multicultural cast and instigated by Stand and Be Counted Theatre. This company works extensively with asylum seekers, migrants and others seeking sanctuary.
Here, BTG reviewer Mark Smith speaks to writer/performer Rosie MacPherson, one of the Artistic Directors of Stand and Be Counted, and Tafadzwa Muchenje, one of the devisers and performers of the show. They discuss the company's development as well as Taf's own route to working with SBC. After ten years living and studying in the UK, his residency status was suddenly thrown into uncertainty. Watching SBC's previous work, Tanja, provided inspiration and impetus for him as he challenged the Home Office ruling on his "right to remain", and led to this new collaboration.
Where We Began is devised by Shireen Farkhoy, Zoe Katsilerou, Fernanda Mandagará, Gaël Le Cornec, Rosie MacPherson and Tafadzwa Muchenje, and directed by Hannah Butterfield. It tours across the country until the end of October.
"We want to give the audience space, in the chaos, to connect with the stories."
Sep 15 2018
Rank #9: Edinburgh 2018: Rick Conte on The Time Machine and Guy Masterson's 25th Fringe
In our first podcast episode on the 2018 Edinburgh Festivals, we speak to two people who are now veteran Fringe producers and performers.
Rick Conte will return to the Fringe this year as Dog in the multi-award-winning Puppet State Theatre production The Man Who Planted Trees. However he is also performing and producing a new adaptation of The Time Machine by H G Wells that combines puppetry with human actors for The Scientific Romance Theatre Company,
The Time Machine will be at the Scottish Storytelling Centre from 2 to 19 August at 2:30PM, and then The Man Who Planted Trees will take over the same slot from 20 to 27 August.
Guy Masterson has been a fixture of the Edinburgh Fringe for 25 years as an actor, director and producer. With his company Theatre Tours International, his annual programmes of productions have ranged from solo shows to international collaborations and shows with star-studded casts, many of which have lived on after Edinburgh with international tours and West End runs.
This year, Guy will bring four productions to Edinburgh: Hamlet—Horatio’s Tale and Henry V—Lion of England will be performed on various dates at Assembly Rooms; A Christmas Carol and The Marilyn Conspiracy will be on most days throughout the Fringe at Assembly George Square Studios.
Aug 02 2018
Rank #10: Edinburgh 2019: The Wardrobe Ensemble and Daniel Bye
As the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe was about to start, we spoke to two people whose work will be featured in this year’s festival.
Jesse Jones is co-director of the latest devised theatre piece from Bristol-based The Wardrobe Ensemble, produced in collaboration with Complicite and Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton, called The Last of the Pelican Daughters. He spoke to us about the themes of the show, their devising process and about working with a company that was one of their greatest inspirations when they started working in theatre.
The Last of the Pelican Daughters is at Pleasance Beyond until 25 August 2019.
Daniel Bye’s previous solo shows at the Fringe and elsewhere have always been quite interactive, but for his latest piece, he will be coming to the homes of his audiences to perform his show Arthur, which is named after his a co-star, the four-and-a-half-month-old son of Daniel and director Sarah Punshon.
(Images, The Last of the Pelican Daughters cast; Daniel Bye and Arthur, photo by Jonathan Ackley)
Aug 03 2019
Rank #11: Rankin's Inspector Rebus embarks on first UK tour
Ian Rankin's Edinburgh detective Inspector Rebus, the star of many of his novels and short stories, is about to make his first ever stage appearance in a brand new story from Rankin with playwright Rona Munro.
BTG Midlands Editor Steve Orme spoke about the production to Ian by phone from his home in Edinburgh, then in person to actors Charles Lawson (Jim McDonald in Coronation Street) and John Stahl (Rickard Karstark in Game of Thrones), who play, respectively, John Rebus and his nemesis, the Edinburgh gang boss 'Big Ger' Cafferty.
The world première of Rebus: Long Shadows by Ian Rankin and Rona Munro opened at Birmingham Rep on 20 September 2018, where it runs until 6 October before touring to Edinburgh, Malvern, Nottingham, Manchester, Northampton, Aberdeen and Guildford until November.
(Photo of Charles Lawson and John Stahl by Steve Orme)
Sep 22 2018
Rank #12: Lisa Holdsworth: bringing Andrea Dunbar's story back to Bradford
Playwright Andrea Dunbar from Bradford in Yorkshire, most famous for Rita, Sue and Bob Too, died in 1990 at the age of 29. Her story was retold in Adelle Stripe’s award-winning debut novel Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, which is about to be brought to the stage by Bradford-based Freedom Studios.
The book will be adapted by Yorkshire writer Lisa Holdsworth, who has written extensively for prime time TV, including episodes of Fat Friends, New Tricks, Midsummer Murders and Call the Midwife. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Lisa about her adaptation, about Dunbar and her struggles as a working class female writer and also about the current report by the Writers Guild of Great Britain, of which Lisa is Deputy Chair, into the diversity of writers for TV and film.
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile adapted by Lisa Holdsworth from the novel by Adelle Stripe opens at The Ambassador in Bradford on 30 May 2019 before touring until 30 June to venues in Farsley, Barnsley, Horbury, Bradford, Leeds Doncaster, Wakefield, Harrogate, Oldham and South Kirby.
May 03 2019
Rank #13: Braham Murray: how the Royal Exchange Theatre was born in Manchester
Braham Murray OBE arrived in Manchester in the 1960s as the youngest artistic director in the country, of the travelling Century Theatre, remaining in the city to co-found the 69 Theatre Company which went on to become the Royal Exchange Theatre, still one of the UK’s leading regional theatres.
Murray died in 2018 at the age of 75, but BTG editor David Chadderton spoke to him in 2011 when he had just announced that he would leave the theatre he co-founded 35 years earlier. He spoke about working with Century Theatre's travelling auditorium, forming the 69 Theatre Company at the University Theatre (now Contact) and the process of designing the unique Royal Exchange Theatre module, as well as the rebuilding of the theatre after the 1996 IRA bomb.
This interview was originally recorded for TheatreVoice in 2011, but we are reissuing it as a tribute to a man who was very influential in helping to turn Manchester into a major theatrical centre.
For more information about the Royal Exchange Theatre, see www.royalexchange.co.uk.
(Photo of Braham Murray, credit: Mia Rose)
Apr 26 2019
Rank #14: MIF 2019: John McGrath, Leo Warner and Phelim McDermott
The 2019 Manchester International Festival will take place at various venues around the city in July. An edited version of the main presentation at the MIF launch on 7 March can be heard in a previous British Theatre Guide podcast episode, but we also spoke directly to some of the artists involved.
We asked MIF Artistic Director John McGrath for his highlights of the theatre programme and how Manchester has changed since he was head of the city's Contact Theatre.
We also spoke to Leo Warner of 59 Productions about his collaboration with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, writer Lolita Chakrabarti and Rambert Dance on an adaptation of Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities.
Finally, we asked director Phelim McDermott about Tao of Glass, his collaboration with composer Philip Glass on a new stage performance featuring ten brand new pieces of music composed by Glass.
Invisible Cities will be performed at Mayfield beside Piccadilly Station in Manchester from 4 to 14 July. Tao of Glass will be at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from 11 to 20 July.
The Manchester International Festival 2019 will take place at various venues from 4 to 21 July.
- John McGrath, MIF Artistic Director and Chief Executive introduces the MIF19 programme. Image credit Tarnish Vision.
- Leo Warner, Lolita Chakrabarti, Benoit Swan Pouffer—Invisible Cities. Image credit Joel Chester Fildes.
- Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott. Image credit Rod Morata.
Apr 05 2019
Rank #15: Derby Theatre takes BSL to the Jungle
Derby Theatre is preparing for a new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, in an adaptation by Neil Duffield, which will be the theatre’s first ever production to full integrate BSL signing into the production.
BTG’s Midlands Editor Steve Orme speaks to director Sarah Brigham about the production, followed by Ivan Stott, who wrote the songs and will play Baloo, and Caroline Parker MBE, who will play Tabaqui and be signing for other characters in the play.
The Jungle Book runs from Friday 5 to Saturday 20 April 2019.
Photo: Caroline Parker (Tabaqui), Ivan Stott (Baloo and composer) and Sarah Brigham (director).
Mar 30 2019
Rank #16: MIF launch 2019
Highlights of the launch event for the Manchester International Festival 2019, held in Manchester on 7 March 2019.
Introduced by MIF artistic director John McGrath, this episode also features announcements from festival participants including Phelim McDermott of Improbable Theatre, Kwame Kwei-Armah of Young Vic Theatre, actors Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson, Leo Warner of 59 Productions, writer Lolita Chakrabarti, choreographer Claire Cunningham, Mary Anne Hobbs of BBC 6 Music and grime artist Skepta.
Other artists appearing at the festival include Philip Glass, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson and David Lynch.
Image from MIF launch: Michael Symmons Roberts, Emily Howard, John McGrath, Maxine Peake, Grainne Flynn, Wesley Thistlewaite, Adam Ali, Kirsty Housley, Claire Cunningham, Leo Warner, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Isaiah Hull, Young identity poet, Reggie Gray, Animals of Manchester child-curators, Sibylle Peters, Karl Hyde, Lois Keidan, Adam Thirlwell, Danny Collins, Adania Shibli, Juliet Stevenson, Lolita Chakrabarti, Benoit Swan Pouffer, Christine Cort, Mark Ball
Mar 09 2019
Rank #17: From Shore To Shore: migrant stories come to your local Chinese restaurant
From Shore to Shore is a play written by British playwright Mary Cooper in collaboration with M W Sun based on real migration stories from Chinese communities throughout the UK that will tour nationally to Chinese restaurants and Chinese community centres rather than theatres.
For this episode, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to the play’s director, David Tse, and veteran British Chinese actor Ozzie Yue, who leads the cast, about the play, the process of collecting stories, their own family connections with Chinese migrant stories and also how opportunities have changed for British Chinese actors over the last few decades.
From Shore to Shore, directed by David K S Tse for On the Wire and starring Ozzie Yue, will open at the Yang Sing Restaurant in Manchester from 9 to 16 March and will then tour until 6 April, with performances in Liverpool, Lancaster, Morecambe, Newcastle upon Tyne and Birmingham.
Feb 26 2019
Rank #18: Box of Tricks sets spark to new play from Manchester actor and writer David Judge
The latest production from Manchester-based new writing theatre company Box of Tricks is SparkPlug, written and performed by David Judge based on his own experiences being brought up as a mixed race child by a white stepfather in 1980s Manchester.
The production is directed by Box of Tricks Joint Artistic Director and co-founder Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder and begins its 9-week tour at HOME in Manchester, where BTG editor David Chadderton spoke to David and Hannah in a dressing room during a break from technical rehearsals.
SparkPlug runs at HOME in Manchester from 13 to 23 February 2019 before touring to Unity Theatre in Liverpool, Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, Cheltenham Everyman Studio, Harrogate Theatre Studio, Live Theatre in Newcastle, York Theatre Royal, Hull Truck Theatre, Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Crewe Lyceum Studio, Spring Arts Centre in Havant, The Lighthouse in Poole, Marlowe Studio in Canterbury, Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead, The North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford, Square Chapel in Halifax, The Met in Bury and Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, before finishing at Birmingham Rep from 10 to 13 April.
Feb 14 2019
Rank #19: Much Ado About Benedick at Northern Broadsides
Conrad Nelson’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing for Northern Broadsides Theatre Company had a cast change on the first day of rehearsals when Reece Dinsdale had to drop out of the key role of Benedick due to a family illness and Robin Simpson took over the role.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Robin during the second week of rehearsals about the additional pressure that may have put on him and also about the production as a whole, playing Shakespeare, performing comedy and even a bit of panto.
The Northern Broadsides production of Much Ado About Nothing runs at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire from 8 February to 2 March 2019, before embarking on a national tour until the end of May to The Dukes Lancaster, Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, Salisbury Playhouse, Derby Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, Viaduct Theatre in Halifax, The Lowry in Salford, York Theatre Royal and Harrogate Theatre.
Feb 01 2019
Rank #20: New consortium for theatre for young people stages Blackman's Noughts and Crosses
A new consortium has been formed to produce new theatre for young audiences, including Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre Colchester and York Theatre Royal.
The first production to come out of this collaboration will be a new adaptation of former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman's hard-hitting YA novel Noughts and Crosses, which raised issues or racism and forbidden love in an alternative version of our own world.
For this episode, director Esther Richardson of Pilot Theatre spoke to BTG Midlands Editor Steve Orme on the process of adapting this popular novel to the stage, and then actors Billy Harris and Heather Agyepong, who play the two leading roles, discussed their parts in the play.
Jan 27 2019