Category: London

Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford E…

Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nadia Fall, today announces her inaugural season, beginning this September.

The season opens with The Village, a new adaptation of Lope de Vega’s masterpiece Fuenteovejuna by April de Angelis. A powerful play about community and solidarity, Fall directs the production in homage to Joan Littlewood, who staged the production at Theatre Royal Stratford East under the title The Sheepwell in 1955. Transported to contemporary India and with a renewed poignancy, Fall’s first production opens on 13 September.

October sees the return of Cassa Pancho’s hugely popular Ballet Black, who as part of their partnership with the theatre return for their third consecutive year with a new Double Bill.

This is followed by the European première of Sarah DeLappe’s award-winning debut play The Wolves which premièred in 2016 in the US. Directed by Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, Ellen McDougall, The Wolves opens on 30 October.

Matthew Xia returns to Theatre Royal Stratford East, having previously directed here as well as being a member of the theatre’s young company, to direct the much-loved annual pantomime opening in December. Staying true to its critically acclaimed tradition, Sleeping Beauty, with the Book by Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton with Music and Lyrics byRobert Hyman will also feature original songs.

In the new year, Frantic Assembly and Theatre Royal Plymouth’s production of The Unreturning has its London première when it comes to Stratford as part of the show’s UK tour. Written by Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner Anna Jordan and directed by Frantic Assembly Associate Director Neil Bettles, the production celebrates the 10th anniversary of Frantic Assembly’s Ignition training programme, of which Theatre Royal Stratford East has been a partner.

Get your tickets at www.stratfordeast.com

Open from April until the end of September, …

Open from April until the end of September, Underbelly Festival Southbank brings the best in live circus, comedy, cabaret and family entertainment to the heart of London. We’ve got an amazing line-up of shows in an amazing city-centre, pop-up festival world. You can enjoy international street food, after work drinks in one of London’s largest outdoor bars and a true festival atmosphere on the banks of the Thames.

Get your tickets here: http://www.underbellyfestival.com

VAULT Festival was created in 2012 around a …

VAULT Festival was created in 2012 around a triangle of the audience, the artists, and the staff. With contributions from Silent Opera, future Fringe First-winners Katie Bonna & Richard Marsh and several others, an exciting artist-led programme began to emerge, playing to 7,500 people.

It is London’s biggest arts festival, and from January 24th, hundreds of new shows, events and performances will explode across our Waterloo home.

Eight undiluted weeks of entertainment for London. From top notch comedy to thrilling drama, from table-top stomping music to an eye-popping film selection.

Check out what’s on here: https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/

When the audience become diners in the ‘Faulty…

When the audience become diners in the ‘Faulty Towers’ restaurant, pretty much anything can happen – because two-thirds of the show is improvised. The fun starts as guests wait to be seated. It then hurtles along in a 2-hour tour de force of gags and shambolic service as Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve a ‘70s-style 3-course meal together with a good dollop of mayhem. Expect the unexpected!

Internationally acclaimed, the show was born in Brisbane in 1997 as a loving tribute to the BBC’s best-loved sitcom. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have seen it since. Today, ten teams of cast working from England and Australia tour around 20 countries a year. The show is also into its fifth year in London’s West End, where it holds TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for three years running.

‘Faulty Towers the Dining Experience will feed your need for world-class comedy, nourish your soul with howling laughter and have you begging the hotel staff to extend your stay.’ Perth Now, Fringe World 2016

‘5* rollercoaster entertainment’ Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe 2015

* Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is a loving tribute to Fawlty Towers the TV series written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Their original TV scripts are not used in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.

Get your tickets here: http://www.torquaysuitetheatre.com/tickets_london.html

Our Home: A History of Bankside, LondonTour Guide and Exhibition…

Our Home: A History of Bankside, London

Tour Guide and Exhibition Assistant Jon Kaneko-James explores what the area of Bankside would have been like in Shakespeare’s time.


The Globe is a work of beautiful and almost impossible dedication, the result of a mission to reconstruct the best possible version of a timber-framed 16th century amphitheatre and to explore what that building would do to and for performance. Built with the time and money of a dedicated group of supporters, it sits framed by trees next to Tate Modern. 

The area has moved on around it. Just as the King’s Pike Garden became warehouses which became Shakespeare’s Globe, the Victorian buildings of the Bankside have become bars and eateries. New buildings replaced old. Breweries became apartment buildings.

However, for a few decades in the 16th and 17th centuries, The Bankside – a handful of streets between what is now London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge – was alive with a strange mixture of industry and entertainment. 

From the start, Bankside was where London put things it needed, but didn’t want. The city might have been covered in a perpetual pall of smoke, but there were things that even Londoners didn’t want for a neighbour: dyers, creating their pigments by fermenting ingredients in urine; sulphur workers; mercury boiling – important both for hats and medicine; tanners; brewers; soap makers and paint makers. 

These businesses would have rubbed shoulders with the amphitheatres and other, more violent, entertainments of Shakespeare’s world. Park Street, now a mixture of offices and housing, would have been Maiden Lane. A visitor to The Globe on a show day afternoon would have turned onto the street with the Monger Brewery on their left and commercial pike fisheries to their right. The Globe and Rose playhouses would have been surrounded by tanneries, dyers and glassworks. 

Alarmingly, for a modern person, plays would have been disrupted by the roars of bears in the local baiting arenas: buildings in similar style to the Globe and Rose, but used for blood sport between animals. Fliers for celebrity bears like Old Harry and George Stone would have papered the area, with occasional glimpses of the animals being wrangled from the bear sheds on what is now the street Bear Gardens, to nearby baiting houses like the Davies amphitheatre and the Hope. 

The way home would have either been a dark, hazardous journey across London Bridge, under the heads of those who had offended Elizabeth I, or the slightly more pleasant experience of a ferry ride, leaving behind the smells and noises of the Bankside for the claustrophobic overcrowding of the smoke-haunted city of London. 

The Bankside Tour explores the sights and culture of Shakespeare’s Bankside. Tours depart every half an hour from the Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition on matinee afternoons.

Read more blogs by our Guided Tours & Exhibition staff

Words: Jon Kaneko-James

Photo: From William Smith’s MS. of the Description of England, c. 1580 – The Project Gutenberg eBook, Shakespearean Playhouses, by Joseph Quincy Adams, Wikimedia

Experimental Education: Studying with Shakespeare’s GlobeWords:…

Experimental Education: Studying with Shakespeare’s Globe

Words: Kim Gilchrist

As I write this, I’m two weeks past my viva – the meeting where a student is required to defend their completed PhD thesis, answering questions posed by two senior academics. Happily, I now get to call myself Doctor Gilchrist. 

It’s been a long process, an adventure, from Shakespeare enthusiast to doctor of early modern drama. And the journey started, academically at least, with an application form to KCL and Shakespeare’s Globe MA in Shakespeare Studies

I have a BA, and general background, in theatre studies. I had worked on a number of productions of Shakespeare’s plays over the years, in a role we called co-directing but which would probably now be called dramaturgy – I filled gaps that needed filling: talked to the actors one-on-one, composed songs for our folk-rock wayward sisters in Macbeth, researched the plays, read all the Arden footnotes etc. I wrote a play of my own, Forgiving Shakespeare, a comedy in verse about Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Cervantes, and Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith. I read books, and books, and books, about Shakespeare. But I’d never thought I could “do” Shakespeare for a living. 

For some reason, around the end of 2011 it all fell together and I realised I spent more time reading and thinking about Shakespeare and his world than almost anything else. Without realising, I’d stumbled on the thing I was meant to be doing. Back to that application form.

The KCL and Shakespeare’s Globe MA in Shakespeare Studies runs, at the King’s College London end, from the English department. As such, I was an unusual candidate – out of further education for many, many, years, and with no English literature experience since my A-levels. Yet I soon found, in a good way, that a grounding in English Literature offered only partial preparation for the MA. For those used to studying Shakespeare and early modern drama only on the page, only as a kind of refined form of novel – reading the characters for psychological dimensions, arguing about motive and metaphor – the MA could be a shock. 

There were classes on textiles and costume, the most valuable properties owned by any early modern playing company or theatre owner; sessions on music, and make-up – Globe Education’s Farah Karim-Cooper has literally written the book on cosmetics in early modern drama: I remember the reverent hush the day we passed a pot of shimmering pearl powder around the class; we learned about the strange acoustics of playhouses, the economics of touring, the poetry of doubling, how the person sitting on the throne of England determined what did, and didn’t, get played; we learned about the cultural pressures that caused, shaped, and sustained Shakespeare’s plays, pressures that are often left invisible by more traditional teaching methods.
Central to the MA was its location – within the Globe complex itself. 

There was always a sense of practical activity, of theatre at work –crowds audible as we walked to class, costumed actors swooping past, props under construction in the car park. This helped the theories, the history we were learning feel less abstract. We could study theories of bare-stage, open-air performance, and then see theory put into practice from the pit of the theatre itself. Was Henry VI different when performed over ten hours in torrential rain? It was. It was. 

Meanwhile, through the modules offered on the KCL campus, the culture of the Elizabethan-Jacobean world was uncovered. Just as Shakespeare’s Globe afforded greater understanding of the material pressures and conditions of theatre and performance, at KCL we learned about the production, economies, and peculiarities of playbooks, those ephemeral, fragile, largely disposable little volumes without which we would have no access to the texts of early modern drama. Who printed these books, once the players were done with their scripts? Who bought them? How much did they cost? Why were so many hundreds of plays printed? Why were so many thousands of plays never printed? 

When I started teaching early modern drama at my current university, Roehampton, I took some students on a tour of the Globe. They were able to see the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, a version of the kind of space in which, for example, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi was first performed. We then crossed the river via Blackfriars Bridge to the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, once the centre of the London book trade. We stood on the spot where, once it had been published, The Duchess of Malfi was first put up for sale by a bookseller called John Waterson from his wooden stall. 

From the Globe, we were able to retrace the footsteps, and the lifecycle, of a single play and its customers, from stage to stall. On this theme, if you want to read more about what I learned, I adapted my MA dissertation on the play Mucedorus – the most frequently published play of the early modern era – into an article that was published last year by the journal Shakespeare.

Beyond the formal parameters of the course itself, there were constant opportunities to participate in and observe events put on by Globe Education. Of particular impact for me was Read Not Dead, the regular stagings of little-or-never-performed early modern plays put on by skilled actors with a single morning’s rehearsal. It opened my eyes to strange and beautiful plays I would never otherwise have been able to see; it provided valuable insight into how plays work in performance – a play that may have been dismissed by literature scholars as unpoetic or crude can reveal subtleties and depth of artistry when spoken and acted aloud. 

Finally, there are Globe Education’s internships – open only to MA students when I was there, now open to applications across the UK. I was lucky enough to get a placement, and even luckier that this coincided with the opening of the SWP. I filled a bulging folder full with articles and research for the director of the SWP’s inaugural production, The Duchess of Malfi and then, like all dramaturgs and researchers will do, I scrutinised the final production to see if my research had had any influence. 

To learn at Shakespeare’s Globe was also to conduct research, watch plays for fun, and make long-sustained personal and professional friendships that have enriched my life and career ever since. It was, and is, a dynamic, forward-thinking, challenging and experimental institution. I learned a lot.  

Photo: Pete Le May

Your favourite festive film is now a major n…

Your favourite festive film is now a major new musical adapted for the stage by Debbie Isitt, the creator of the much-loved films.

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette’s School they’re attempting to mount a musical version! Only trouble is teacher Mr Maddens has promised that a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show to turn it into a film. Join him, his teaching assistant the crazy Mr Poppy, hilarious children and a whole lot of sparkle and shine as they struggle to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true.

Feel –good, funny and full of yuletide joy, Nativity! The Musical features all of the favourite sing-a-long hits from the films including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth, One Night One Moment, She’s the Brightest Star and a whole host of new songs filled with the spirit of Christmas!

With the cast including West End favourites Daniel Boys (Avenue Q), Sarah Earnshaw (Wicked, Spamalot) and Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, Guys and Dolls), Nativity! The Musical is the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

So join us this Christmas for some MAYHEM in Bethlehem!

Tickets available here: https://www.eventimapollo.com/events/detail/nativity-the-musical

Tipped to be London’s theatrical event o…

Tipped to be London’s theatrical event of 2018, the multi-award winning and critically acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I comes to London’s iconic Palladium in Spring 2018.

Starring the original Broadway stars; reprising her Tony Award-winning performance, Kelli O’Haraand Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe. Fresh from London’s critical smash hit production of Oslo, director Bartlett Sher reunites the original creative team of Catherine Zuber (Tony Award winner for Best Costume), set designer Michael Yeargan, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Scott Lehrer and choreography by Christopher Gattelli based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

With a superior score of treasured songs including; Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You, and Shall We Dance, and featuring a company of over 50 world-class performers, The King and Iis a testament to the lavish heritage of gloriously romantic musical theatre.

The greatest musical from the golden age of theatre. A once in a life time opportunity – limited engagement booking until 4 August 2018.

Get your tickets here! http://www.kingandimusical.co.uk/

Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of the c…

Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of the classic fairy tale, has, at its heart, a true war-time romance. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.

With Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets, which won an Olivier Award for his original designs, and lighting by Olivier Award-winning Neil Austin, Cinderella will be performed in surround sound, designed by Paul Groothuis and featuring a specially commissioned recording played by a 60 piece orchestra. Matthew Bourne’s vivid storytelling has never been more heart-stopping and touching, and will take the audience into the heart of Prokofiev’s magnificent score, and the sights and sounds of war-torn London.

Tickets available here: https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2017/matthew-bournes-cinderella/

Following its sell out run here at The Old Vic…

Following its sell out run here at The Old Vic, Girl From The North Country will transfer to the Noël Coward Theatre for a limited run of 12 weeks only from 29th December 2017.

Duluth, Minnesota. 1934.

A community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse.

The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for.

And, when a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return…

Brought to life by a 20-piece company of actors and musicians, award-winning playwright Conor McPherson beautifully weaves the iconic songbook of Bob Dylan into this new show full of hope, heartbreak and soul.