thu 17/10/2019

Theatre Features

theartsdesk in Flanders: Return to Journey's End

Alice Vincent

The battlefields of the First World War are frequented most by secondary school groups and military history enthusiasts. And by David Grindley: a man for whom the play Journey’s End is an obsession, and his direction of it award-winning. RC Sherriff's play follows a group of British officers preparing for battle in frontline trench warfare, and which places “ordinary men into extraordinary circumstances”. This month sees Grindley’s production returning to the West End.

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theartsdesk in Stratford-upon-Avon: A New Stage for Shakespeare

james Woodall

When the Royal Shakespeare Company seemed to be falling apart in the late 1990s, there was genuine cause for concern. The troupe had no automatic monopoly over performances of Shakespeare, nor could it claim a very particular style in its stagings. But since the 1960s it had held a special place at the higher end of British theatre culture as the natural, and national, promoter and evolver of the world’s greatest body of plays. By 2001, under artistic director Adrian Noble, the RSC was out...

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Exploring Tom Crean, Antarctic Hero

Jasper Rees

The tiny Kussuluk airport, halfway up the jagged eastern coast of Greenland, caters mostly for intrepid climbers. Like all airports it sells mementoes and knick-knacks that nobody needs, including in this case a set of classic polar pipes. No matter that it’s the pole at the other end of the Earth they’re talking about. The pipes are named after famous explorers: the Scott, the Amundsen, the Shackleton and - a good one, this, for Antarctic trainspotters - the Crean.

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theartsdesk in Brighton: At the Festival Where Anything Goes

bella Todd

Persecuted Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi may be this year’s guest director, provoking a loose theme of "freedom of expression, liberty, and the power of the individual voice" that’s all the more powerful for her enforced absence. But a week in to the 2011 Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe, I’d say it’s the stewards who are this year’s under-sung heroes and heroines. As the craze for interactive performance burgeons, the tricky task is falling to them of reassuring...

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Interview: Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Hilary Whitney

The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has always been one of London’s theatrical success stories, attracting luminaries from Flora Robson to Judi Dench, but over the past few years under the stewardship of artistic director Timothy Sheader, it has really come into its own. In 2010, its Olivier Award-winning production of Into the Woods became the highest-grossing production in the venue's history, whilst The Crucible by Arthur Miller attracted a whole new audience to the...

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Precocity of Vice: 'Tis Pity She's a Whore returns

Martin White In the family: Sara Vickers and Damien Molony as the incestuous lovers in ''Tis Pity She's a Whore'

John Ford’s tragedy‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, set in the Italian city of Parma, tells the story of a young brother and sister, Giovanni and Annabella, who discover a mutual love for each other and embark on a passionate sexual relationship. The challenges of family, church and society increasingly curtail their freedom to pursue their desires, and the play culminates in a terrifyingly brutal and bloody climax. When Ford wrote the play, probably in the late 1620s, he was in his...

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In the Beginning Was the Word: The King James Bible 400th

theartsdesk

The King James Bible, that great monument in the biography of the English language, is 400 years old this year. To use its own wording, it is as old as the hills, as old as Methuselah. Contemporaneous with Shakespeare, it has given us as many of the richly colourful phrases by which we still live: a nest of vipers, a thorn in the flesh, a fly in the ointment, a lamb to the slaughter, the skin of your teeth, in the twinkling of an eye. And so on and on.

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Rona Munro on writing Little Eagles

Rona Munro

My latest play, Little Eagles, marks the 50th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit around the Earth. Gagarin’s place in history is, quite rightly, assured but little is known about Sergei Korolyov, a brilliant engineer and the chief designer of the Soviet space programme. Koroloyov may not have won the race to put a man on the moon, but he was responsible for a series of extraordinary firsts in the space race, including the first human in space.

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Crawling in the Dark: youth theatre at the Almeida

Alice Vincent Some kids do 'ave 'em: Michael Lewis, Kellie Bright and Tahirah Sharif rehearse 'Crawling in the Dark'

In a play about drugs for a secondary-school audience there is always the potential for cringing. My own experience of theatre for a young audience involved PSHE lessons, overtly moral drama from hammy actors and dated street names for drugs. It was The Magic Roundabout, only more awkward and less entertaining. The Almeida Theatre and its solid Young Friends scheme is working hard to give youth theatre a better image through Crawling in the Dark, a new play which...

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Opinion: Please will you stop talking?

Jasper Rees

I can tell you the year (1983). I can tell you the theatre (the newly opened Barbican), the actors (Gambon, Sher), and the speech (“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!”). Hell, I can all but tell you the seat number. Lear and the Fool in the storm stood on a platform mounted on a high pole. It was an arresting way of establishing their elemental isolation. Or it would have been if the gantry gaining the actors access to the platform had been withdrawn.

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