Ought To Be Clowns barely saw 250 shows this year, quiet by his standards. And as is the way of these things, here’s a rundown of some of the productions that moved me most…
Mind the Blog has a fairly wide-ranging wish list of things I hope to see, including major shows such as Sunday in the Park with George, Evita, Magic Goes Wrong, Uncle Vanya and the Jamie Lloyd Company residency at the Playhouse Theatre.
Looking ahead to some of 2020’s exciting shows, most with an emphasis away from the West End and instead focusing at the London Fringe and across the UK.
The Royal Exchange has built a reputation for consistently delivering knockout versions of classic musicals as an alternative to the traditional pantomime. I’m pleased to be able to say that the standard remains just as high this year – Gypsy is an absolute triumph.
Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a stage mum going off the rails! Gypsy offers a different festive treat at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
Rather tickled that no less than the artistic director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris himself does time out of his hectic schedule to answer Ten (9) Questions for Ten Years.
Where were you 10 years ago?
I’d just directed Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka in the Olivier Theatre.
Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
An impossible question to answer but if I had to pick one it would be Pericles (Public Acts) in the Olivier last year.
What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
Becoming Director of the National Theatre and London Road.
Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
Many plays have the potential to be boring or resonant so it’s the creative team’s role to bring a play to fresh life.
Name someone who you think is a really underappreciated talent (in the world of theatre)?
There are so many unsung heroes working within theatre, from the technical teams behind-the-scenes making magic happen on stage, to those ensuring the smooth running of a building, I’m always amazed by their commitment. A few people who come to mind are Erin Lee in Archive, Nicky Holderness in Props and the set builder Simon.
What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?
An education system that recognises the huge benefit that only the arts can deliver, and a shift in philosophy that correctly views subsidy as investment for the good of this country.
Which is your favourite theatre?
The National Theatre, of course. I also love the Royal Exchange in Manchester.
Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?
Loads of plays including our next Public Acts show As You Like It with a cast of 100 community members at the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch. Hopefully a little time spent in nature in between.
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Aletta Collins’ new choreography is just one of the highlights of a most successful West Side Story at the Royal Exchange.
So many of the recommendations for shows to see next year focus on the West End. And for sure, I’m excited to catch big ticket numbers like All About Eve, Come From Away and Waitress, but I wanted to cast my eye a little further afield.
As you might expect, Maxine Peake, under Sarah Frankcom’s direction, meets the challenges posed by Beckett’s Happy Days head-on and gives a perfectly-measured powerhouse performance.
The Royal Exchange has succeeded in bringing psychologically unnerving horror to its stage. With an underlying sense of uneasiness, Frankenstein is guaranteed to make you jump out of your skin on more than one occasion.
Lots of different things opening across the country in March. In London there are a lot of Fringe and Off West End productions coming your way.
Much of my ‘touring’ has been concentrated in Bristol and Chichester; there are a few other UK venues to add to the list, as well as some from my week in New York, of course.
We’ve had premieres, modern adaptations and watched some shows receive West End transfers – the Manchester stages have been truly brilliant this year. Here is Upstaged Manchester’s round-up of theatrical highlights through 2017.
Jubilee is a riot. From the slogans spray-painted on to plywood surrounding the Royal Exchange’s in-the-round space to the chaotic way the cast commandeer the stage, it is obvious from the start that this is no ordinary night at the theatre.
Industry body UK Theatre has announced the nominations for the annual UK Theatre Awards, which celebrate creative excellence and the outstanding work seen on stages throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Notably, for the first time in the Awards history, all nominations for Best New Play are written by female playwrights.
“If music be the food of love, play on” and certainly the production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Manchester’s Royal Exchange is full of music, mirth and mischief, particularly during one particular night of mayhem.
How My Light is Spent is a charming and beautiful play about love, loneliness and belonging. Written by Alan Harris, it follows the intertwining lives of Newport Nuts employee Jimmy and phone sex worker Kitty.
This is a remarkably intense Streetcar and it is one that requires dedication throughout its 3 hours+ running time, Frankcom’s key conceit taking its time to play out as Peake charts Blanche DuBois’ startling decline in the New Orleans abode of her sister Stella and her virile but violent husband Stanley.
The wonderful and hilarious Man Booker Prize winner, The Mighty Walzer by Howard Jacobson, bounces into the Royal Exchange in a world premiere stage adaptation by Simon Bent. Bent’s adaptation of The Mighty Walzer is a real scream, giving the Royal Exchange’s audience an uplifting dose of superb theatre to close the season on.
Talawa Theatre Company has been making theatre since 1986 and to mark their 30th anniversary year, and to commemorate 400 years since Shakespeare’s death artistic director Michael Buffong returns to the play he first directed in 1994, King Lear. In this co-production between Talawa Theatre, Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Birmingham Rep, Don Warrington steps into the royal breaches and takes on the title role.
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