Royal Court And The Guardian Collaboration

Royal Court TheatreThe Royal Court theatre and the Guardian newspaper are set to collaborate on a web-based play series. Directors, playwrights and journalists are all headed to collaborate on a new series of short plays, which will be available to watch online. Making these theatrical works more readily available to audiences all over increases the reach of the arts and puts it in greater stead for the long term.

To be named Off the Page, the collaboration between the Royal Court and the Guardian will begin with a piece which sees playwright Laura Wade and director Carrie Cracknell collaborate with food blogger Jack Monroe and Guardian social affairs correspondent Amelia Gentleman. The short play is named Britain Isn’t Eating, and is available on starring Katherine Parkinson and Kyle Soller.

Subsequent short plays will cover topics such as music, fashion, politics, sport and education and are all around five minutes long. They will also feature actors including Rafe Spall and Tobias Menzies, alongside playwrights such as Chloe Moss and Tim Price, and directors including Christopher Haydon and Hamish Pirie. Guardian journalists taking part in the project also include Aditya Chakrabortty and Hadley Freeman.

For the Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone, the partnership between the Guardian and Royal Court is truly ground-breaking in its approach to producing theatre, and reflects the strengths and vision of each organisation involved. Playwrights and theatremakers are continuously looking for inspiration and new challenges to feed their work, and for Featherstone this is frequently found in the pages of newspapers.

The collaborations between the Guardian and Royal Court theatre look set to be innovative, entertaining and inspiring with lots feeding in to each short work.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Hunger Games Is Coming To London

The Hunger Games Stage ShowThe Hunger Games phenomenon is heading to the London stage. The unique theatrical experience based on the popular young-adult novels and Lionsgate film franchise will launch in summer 2016 in a new purpose-built theatre next to Wembley Stadium in London. The company is partnering with Dutch media company Imagine Nation and US-based Triangular Entertainment, who will use innovative and immersive staging techniques to bring the dystopian story to the stage.

The theatrical experience – as it is being referred to – will be produced by award-winning Broadway producer and Imagine Nation co-founder Robin de Levita, UK promoter Harvey Goldsmith, Triangular Entertainment’s Warren Adams, Brandon Victor Dixon of WalkRunFly Productions and entertainment executives Robert Harris and R&R Media’s Gary Ricci.

De Levita recently created groundbreaking presentations for two Holland stage shows. For the sold-out Dutch musical Soldier of Orange, the audience sits in a 360-degree rotating auditorium that turns from set to set. ANNE, the first authorised play in 55 years based on The Diary of Anne Frank, uses rotating life-size stage sets. As a result it seems de Levita and the rest of the production team are the perfect partners for extending The Hunger Games into a live experience.

Creative genius, world-class production values and state-of-the-art technology will combine to provide a uniquely immersive experience for fans around the world, with a tale that resonates so deeply with global audiences, now for an innovative next-generation studio.

The first two installments of the Hunger Games film franchise have grossed more than $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office. Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, the first of the two-part final installment, will hit cinemas in late November. The stage show is just the latest extension of Lionsgate’s popular, Jennifer Lawrence-starring story, with the company considering a theme park among other business opportunities.

The Railway Children Returns To London

The Railway ChildrenThe award-winning production of The Railway Children will return to London this year from 16 December, in a specially built venue at King’s Cross station. Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children will be moving to a purpose built 1,000 seat theatre, complete with a railway track and platforms, and with a state of the art heating system. The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, will once again feature a live 60-tonne steam locomotive and Gentleman’s Carriage.

Directed by Damian Cruden, with design by Jo Scotcher, lighting by Richard G. Jones, music by Christopher Madin and sound by Craig Vear, the adaptation was first produced by York Theatre Royal at the National Railway Museum, York, where it enjoyed two sell-out and critically acclaimed seasons in 2008 and 2009. The production then opened at Waterloo Station in the former Eurostar terminal in July 2010, and won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, before opening in Toronto in 2011 in a temporary theatre built at the base of CN Tower in Roundhouse Park.

The Railway Children tells the story of Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, three children whose lives change dramatically when their father is mysteriously taken away. They move from London to a cottage in rural Yorkshire with their mother, where they befriend the local railway porter, Perks, and embark on a magical journey of discovery, friendship and adventure. The much loved classic was first published in 1906 and has subsequently been adapted for the stage and screen, most famously in the 1970 film version directed by Lionel Jeffries and starring Jenny Agutter, Bernard Cribbins, Dinah Sheridan and Sally Thomsett.

The Railway Children is booking until 1 March 2015.

Queensland Ballet’s London Debut

Queensland BalletAustralia’s Queensland Ballet is set to debut the Olivier and Evening Standard award winning production of ‘La Sylphide’ at the London Coliseum from 4–8 August 2015. Over 30 years since it first captivated the capital’s audiences, the legendary production of August Bournonville’s ‘La Sylphide’ will return to London, performed by the internationally acclaimed Australia’s Queensland Ballet in their London debut.

Schaufuss’ La Sylphide premiered in London in 1979 and has been seen by millions around the world. The production was captured by an award-winning BBC production for TV, whilst a number of leading ballet companies have presented Schaufuss’ provocative interpretation of the Danish classic to widespread critical acclaim. It is one of the world’s oldest remaining ballets, one which paved the way for romantic ballets with its tragic story that has fascinated audiences since the early 19th century. La Sylphide tells the story of a young man who encounters an ethereal sylph on the eve of his wedding: in the pursuit of the seemingly attainable true love and happiness, he abandons everything, including his bride-to-be and ventures into the unknown.

The London debut of Queensland Ballet – Australia’s premier ballet company – is under the direction of international former dancer and author Li Cunxin, known for his bestselling book and movie “Mao’s Last Dancer”. Herman von Løvenskjold’s buoyant score will be performed by a live orchestra led by prominent British conductor Andrew Mogrelia during the 2015 London season. La Sylphide has always evoked strong responses and excited audiences since its very first performance back in 1836 and is set to again in the capital next year with the spectacular and evocative ballet.

Wilton’s Strike!

Wilton's Strike!Wilton’s Strike!, a new dance platform, is offering emerging dancers and choreographers the opportunity to develop a piece of work with Wilton’s Music Hall and to perform on its historic stage. Wilton’s is the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall and London’s best kept secret, so this opportunity to work within the building is an incredible opportunity.

The atmospheric building full of history and stories is led by Frances Mayhew and produces an exciting programme of imaginative, diverse and distinct entertainment including theatre, music, comedy, cinema and cabaret. For Wilton’s Strike!, the performances will also be live-streamed on the Wilton’s website and will remain online after the event too.

Running from 25–27 September the programmes presented include:

Ieva Kuniskis ‘They Live Next Door’ (working title)

Ieva Kuniskis creates theatrical dance pieces rooted in Lithuanian theatre, folklore and everyday experiences. Her piece explores the story of an older man embodying and pushing the boundaries of social stereotypes.

Jack Webb ‘Inside Opulence’ (working title)

Exploring the connections between animal and human nature, Jack Webb’s contemporary piece investigates the desire to be seen and fighting for survival in the setting of a modern day Vaudeville show.

Rebecca Evans (Pell Ensemble) and Lorenza Lo (Flock Collective) ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ (working title)

This contemporary piece looks at how modern society is undergoing a metamorphosis in communication through the use of texting, how this new way of interacting is modifying our verbal and physical language and affecting our human stories.

Dane Hurst ‘Finding Freedom’ (working title)

Dane Hurst has an attraction to dramatic works driven by a strong narrative which he translates into beautiful contemporary choreography. This piece is inspired by the narrative of American death row inmate, Jarvis Jay Masters, and his metamorphosis from darkness and isolation to enlightened peace.

NEBT Round-Up

New English Ballet TheatreThe recent performances of the New English Ballet Theatre were a breath of fresh air for its spread of audiences. Opening night at the Peacock Theatre, London, saw a multitude of audiences vying for a taste of the company’s work, still reasonably new and fresh on the dance and ballet scene. The cast were all a credit to the company, well trained dancers who ate up the stage.

The company began as a summer festival of productions, looking to becoming a full time company. It is neo-classical in genre and encompasses a huge variety of styles and vocabulary in as wide a spectrum as possible. The company employs over one hundred classical dancers, giving them lots of support from the dance world at a high level. This company of emerging dancers was born from the huge talent pool of the industry and the lack of jobs available.

The company is solely dedicated to producing neo-classical work but as a cross-discipline company, commissioning a number of young artists, musicians and designers to work alongside the company. It is clear the company is going from strength to strength, especially evident from the mixed programme recently presented in London. Following the Peacock Theatre, the company will be performing at the Lantern Studio Theatre in Canary Wharf: it has recently been rehearsing five world premieres!

In terms of long-term goals, the company aims to expand its programming and build up the company’s repertoire of commissioned works of exciting new neo-classical choreography, becoming the number one company for this style of work. It has been lucky recently to receive an arts council grant for audience development and touring to arts festivals in Europe, and delivering larger programmes in the UK.

ROH Production Of The Wind In The Willows To Return!

The Wind In The WillowsDirected and choreographed by Will Tuckett, the Vaudeville Theatre will see the Royal Opera House production of The Wind in the Willows return to London’s West End this Christmas, running from 26 November 2014.

The Olivier Award-winning production will play an eight week season at the Vaudeville Theatre with full casting to be announced soon. The production’s transfer to the Duchess Theatre in December 2013 marked the Royal Opera House’s first commercial transfer and the production was named Best Entertainment and Family at the 2014 Oliviers.

Based on Kenneth Grahame’s timeless classic, the adventures of four woodland friends are retold through dance, song, music and puppetry along a peaceful riverbank, with a speeding car, a racing train and criminal deeds from the Wild Wood. The escapades of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger are brought to life in a production that has charmed audiences of all ages, suitable for all from the age of 5. Drawing inspiration from the music of Edwardian composer George Butterworth, the action is set to a score by Martin Ward. Tuckett’s choreography is accompanied by narration written by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion.

Tuckett is an award-winning choreographer, dancer and director. He was a member of The Royal Ballet 1990–2005, with whom he is now a Guest Principal Character Artist. His work as a choreographer and director includes The Wind in the Willows, The Soldier’s Tale, Timecode, Pinocchio, The Thief of Baghdad, Faeries, Into the Woods and Pleasure’s Progress (ROH2), The Seven Deadly Sins, ‘Diana and Actaeon’ in Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, (Royal Ballet), West Side Story (Sage, Gateshead), The Canterville Ghost (ENB), Hansel and Gretel (Ilford Arts Festival) movement and puppet direction on The Orphan of Zhao (RSC), as well as projects in Europe, the USA, Japan and China. He has choreographed widely for film and television, was Creative Associate for ROH2 and was the Clore Dance Fellow 2008-10. Tuckett’s production of The Wind in the Willows is in its eleventh year.

West End LIVE’s 2014 line up

West End Live 2014The line up has been revealed for West End LIVE 2014, and it looks set to delight each and every visitor. Last year more than half a million people descended on Trafalgar Square for West End LIVE, and this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better. Now in it’s tenth year, the celebration of the West End’s top shows is a staple in the capital’s performing arts calendar. It will take on the square on 21 and 22 June.

The tenth anniversary of the festival will be celebrating all things musical, and will feature performances from musicals including Wicked, Miss Saigon, Jersey Boys, Matilda the Musical, as well as other shows confirmed to be included in the two day spectacular, such as Billy Elliot The Musical, The Bodyguard, Disney’s The Lion King, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, The Phantom Of The Opera, Once, Stomp, Thriller Live, The Commitments, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Pajama Game

This annual festival is free to attend, and guarantees there to be something for everyone with a mixture of both West End newcomers and Theatreland veterans performing throughout the weekend. Opera fans will also be treated to performances by the Royal Opera House Chorus and the English National Opera, whilst cabaret lovers can enjoy a special show entitled 10 From 10. The cabaret sees a star-studded line-up return to their former roles to perform ten iconic songs from the last decade’s most popular West End shows.

If your interest is more backstage than onstage, the Spiegeltent Theatre Emporium in Leicester Square enables visitors to take a sneak peek at the inner workings of Theatreland. As well as giving an insight into scriptwriting, costume, and special effects, there will be a talks from the cast of Handbagged and award-winning director Jamie Lloyd (Shakespeare in Love).

New Multi-Arts Festival For The Roundhouse Summer Sessions

Camden RoundhouseThe Roundhouse, Camden, has announced a new multi-arts festival, named ‘Roundhouse Summer Session, in some of the best live entertainment for London this summer. Whilst lots is going on inside, outside visitors can enjoy Camden Beach, the Roundhouse’s very own seaside resort, all of which is taking place throughout July and August. On the terrace, Camden’s biggest outdoor space, there will be 150 tonnes of the finest sand, deck chairs, beach huts, live music and some of the best food pop-ups in the city.

Summer Sessions will present live music, dance, comedy, cabaret, spoken word and live-scored cinema in an intimate, table-seated setting. The eclectic line-up includes the world premiere live scoring of There Will Be Blood, exclusive UK headline performances from Sinéad O’Connor and Chilly Gonzalez, a preview of new work from BalletBoyz, performances from rising star Andreya Triana, Penguin Café, Funk Da Cirque, Boom + Bang Cabaret and The Nest Collective host London’s biggest Ceilidh.

Following international success, BalletBoyz present their award-winning show Serpent/ Fallen for the final time in London, together with a chance to see an excerpt from their much anticipated new full length work Young Men, choreographed by Iván Pérez, based on the theme of war and the men that train and fight together. Serpent is choreographed by Liam Scarlett (Royal Ballet Artist in Residence) and Fallen is choreographed by Russell Maliphant. Fallen won the award for Best Modern Choreography at the 2013 National Dance Awards.

Funk Da Cirque returns to the Roundhouse with Soul Trip, a show that combines street dance styles including boogaloo, house, waacking and b-boying – mixed with theatre, acrobatics, human pyramids and body percussion. Following sold out debut shows at Roundhouse CircusFest 2012 and hot on the heels of appearances at the National Theatre’s Watch This Space and Camp Bestival, Funk Da Cirque includes some of the best young street dancers and acrobats from across London, aged 11-25.

Boom + Bang Cabaret is a cabaret circus extravaganza featuring the most talented circus performers from around the world including evil clowns, fire breathing panthers, a drag ringmaster, a Russian prima ballerina, death-defying aerial feats and more. The Boom + Bang Circus is the new creative collaboration between producer Bioux Lee Hayes (formerly of Boom Boom Club and La Reve) and the award winning, international burlesque and circus performer Kitty Bang Bang.

O Snap at the Unicorn Theatre

O Snap at the Unicorn TheatreO Snap, a co-production of Het Lab Utrecht, tanzhaus NRW and supported by Take-Off: Junger Tanz Dusseldorf and Grand Theatre/Jonge Harten Theaterfestival Groningen is set to run from 22-23 May at the Unicorn Theatre in London. Aimed at participants aged 13 and above, O Snap is a dance performance about finding your own identity in an overloaded world.

The performance brings together three young dancers to explore friendship, loyalty and what matters most when you’re young, something which is incredibly identifiable during the teen years. Presented for just two days during May, O Snap is definitely not something to pass up.

The work has been created by Erik Kaiel, a choreographer who has been making dances for over 20 years, having started his career in New York where he stayed for a decade before moving to the Netherlands where he is currently based. Kaiel brings a multitude of experience to the Unicorn Theatre: he now dances, choreographs and teaches across Europe. He also tours extensively with arch8 productions with whom he has been making performances with young dancers in public spaces, in locations such as Benin, Senegal, Egypt, Frankfurt, Utrecht and the Hague. In 2010 Kaiel won the No Ballet Competition in Germany and the Dutch national prize for choreographic potential.

As well as the performances of O Snap, there will be free pre-show practical workshops to get involved in that will explore the themes of cooperation and self-expression – the workshops will take place an hour before each show and are suitable for all experience levels in order to enhance the O Snap performances.

There will also be a Unicorn Late event after the show on 23 May, where the Unicorn’s bar will extend its hours and there will be live music to enjoy in the foyer.