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London Theatre News Today: Wednesday 9 December

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai Published 9 December 2020

Theatre Royal Stratford East returns with new season

Extinct, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Theatre Royal Stratford East today announced its return to live work on stage with three new productions for February-May 2021 including:

  • The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars: Artistic Director Nadia Fall directs emerging playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s new play about a young woman’s quest for justice following the racially-motivated murder of her twin brother.
  • After the End: The resilience of colleagues Mark and Louise is put to the test when they find themselves in a fallout shelter following a nuclear attack with only two weeks of supplies. Dennis Kelly’s bitingly dark comedy is given a new production by director Lyndsey Turner.
  • Extinct: A new play by April De Angelis that addresses the climate emergency and questions what drives activists to break the law in pursuit of their beliefs.
  • Learning & Participation: Theatre Royal Stratford East will be expanding its work within the community in early 2021, with its first iteration engaging with two local partners to work with an elders’ group and local families.

Tickets for the season go on sale to access bookers and Theatre Royal Stratford East Members at noon today and on general sale at noon on Friday 11 December.

    Speaking about her new season at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Artistic Director Nadia Fall said: “Despite a challenging year, we found new and innovative ways to continue making work and to keep the connection with our audiences and local community alive. We have staged site-specific theatre in a basketball court, made films online and broadcast on Sky Arts, as well as platformed new writing as audio plays, all of this whilst the physical doors of the theatre had to remain closed. But what we’ve wanted most of all is to welcome people back into our building and to reignite our stage. Stratford East’s reopening season is designed to do what theatre does best; a live communal connection through story. The three plays capture our times and current psyche in very different ways, but none tiptoe gently, they boldly demand our attention. I hope they’ll be an invigorating tonic after months of isolation and separation.

    We have eagerly been preparing our building for the return of artists and audiences, putting in place stringent cleaning regimes, seating plans and new routes through the theatre to ensure our staff and visitors remain safe. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the audiences, donors and funders who have helped us during this tumultuous period, including Telford Homes for their support in sponsoring our new season. We cannot wait to see you all soon.”

    Click here, to book your tickets or to find out more!


    Hackney Empire’s Jack and the Beanstalk will now open in December 2021 

    Jack and the Beanstalk which was previously scheduled to open in December 2020, will now open in December 2021, marking the 22nd pantomime at the East End venue.  Jack and the Beanstalk will run from 20th November 2021 to 2nd January 2022. Tickets will go on sale to the public today at 12noon.

    For 2021 and as previously announced earlier this year, Hackney Empire is proud to confirm Grande Dame Olivier Award-winner Clive Rowe will make his 14th pantomime appearance starring as Dame Daisy Trott. The full creative team and casting will be announced in due course.

    Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director, and Jo Hemmant, Executive Director, from Hackney Empire said: “Every year pantomimes across the country create opportunities for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to experience first-hand the incredible and transformative effects of live performance in theatre. For many, it is a first of its kind; a truly inclusive, representative and multigenerational access point to arts and culture in theatre, and this is particularly true here at Hackney Empire. So it means a lot more to us than ‘just not being able to put on a show’, it means we have to work doubly hard to create a powerful, magical, exciting and fun experience for you all in 2021 and we can’t wait to welcome you back next year to do just that!”

    Clive Rowe added “Sadly pantomime isn’t happening this year at Hackney but in true Panto spirit I’m going to shout, “It’s behind me“ and focus on Jack and the Beanstalk 2021 , which will also celebrate 120 years of Hackney Empire.  My excitement is already bubbling and I can’t wait, even though we’ll have to, for all the magical, mischievous mayhem and the crazy, colourful collidescope of fantastic family fun that Hackney pantomime brings. So “Cooooeeeeeee” and see you all in 2021.”

    So, as only Hackney Empire can, Jack and the Beanstalk will get the festive season underway once more, with all the fun, magic and razzle dazzle that Hackney audiences love and will sadly miss this Christmas.

    When happy-go-lucky Jack is tempted into selling his family’s beloved cow for a fistful of magic beans, he finds himself tangled in an adventure of epic proportions! Join Jack on his journey up an enchanted beanstalk as he tries to outwit a rampaging giant, all with the help of his larger-than-life mum.

    This tall-tale is packed full of slapstick comedy, laugh-out-loud topical gags, outrageous costumes, dazzling song and dance numbers and plenty of chances to cheer, boo and hiss.  Hackney Empire’s pantomime has become one of the city’s most anticipated annual highlights bringing West End value at East End prices to attract an ever growing local, national and global fanbase.

    Over 44,000 people attended last year’s pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat including 10,000 schoolchildren. 41% of the audience were first time visitors to Hackney Empire.

    Tickets for Jack and the Beanstalk go on sale today at 12noon from www.hackneyempire.co.uk

    New pics from Love Letters

    We’ve got a sneak peak at Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove in romantic drama Love Letters at Theatre Royal Haymarket.

    Love Letters is the tender, tragi-comic story of the shared nostalgia, missed opportunities, and deep closeness of two lifelong, complicated friends. A play that could have been written for the Covid era about two people physically separated yet brought together by candid communication and shared confidences, a romance blossoming across the miles and the years.

    Casting announced for new Crips Without Constraints season

    Dame Harriet Walter, Sharon D. Clarke, Mandy Colleran and Naomi Wirthner will feature in five exciting new plays from a new generation of Deaf and disabled artists.

    In Spring 2020, at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown, the UK’s leading disabled led theatre company, Graeae launched a weekly series of new works to be streamed online.  Crips Without Constraints played for eleven weeks to critical acclaim.   Today, the company announces Crips Without Constraints Part 2 which will launch in the new year with five brand new short plays, celebrating the best talent and creativity of Deaf and disabled artists from across the UK.

    Graeae can also reveal initial casting will include award-winning actor and Graeae patron Dame Harriet Walter, Sharon D. Clarke (Death of a Salesman – Young Vic, Holby City – BBC), Mandy Colleran (comedy duo No Excuses), Naomi Wirthner (The Doctor – Almeida & West End) and Julie Graham (Benidorm – ITV, Doctor Who – BBC) with further exciting casting to be announced in January 2021.

    The new plays, all bold and brilliant duologues, are written by Leanna Benjamin, Rebekah Bowsher, Karen Featherstone, Kellan Frankland and Jessica Lovett, all alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme, covering topics from sibling rivalry to death by post stick notes.  Additionally this year, the pieces will all be directed by upcoming disabled  directors Stephen Bailey, Hana Pascal Keegan, Cheryl Martin, Alex Whiteley and Lilac Yosiphon.

    Nickie Miles-Wildin, Graeae Associate Director says:

    “It’s exciting that disabled writers are being given the platform they deserve. Such an eclectic mix of stories that have been creatively told using the digital world of online communication. Incredibly hyped and proud of the entire team, from writers and actors to directors and composer.  Can’t wait to share it with the world.”

    Filmed on Zoom and released every Tuesday at midday from 19 January until 16 February 2021, all pieces will be captioned and audio described. A new theme tune has been composed by sound designer Jonathan Leitch.

    Combined with these plays, every Thursday from 21 January, Graeae will release a short, filmed conversation with Deaf artists in British Sign Language, discussing in more detail the themes from that weeks’ play.

    The plays and BSL conversations will be available to watch through Graeae’s YouTube channel and website, www.graeae.org.


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