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21st November – THE BIRMINGHAM REP GETS TAILS WAGGING WITH FUNDRAISING EFFORTS FOR HEARING DOGS.

Registered charity, Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced a joint fundraising partnership with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.  The city centre theatre will be raising funds during the run of their production of The Hundred and One Dalmatians which bursts to life on stage from Thursday 30 November – Saturday 13 January.

There are various fundraising activities planned during the run of the show, which will help to jointly fundraise towards Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s million pound campaign REP First and the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

REP First is a three year campaign which aims to raise vital funds in order to ensure that the theatre can continue to nurture the region’s talented young artists, commission exciting new works, welcome new audiences and reach out to the communities of Birmingham and beyond.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, now in their 35th year, trains dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they would otherwise miss – simple sounds that many people take for granted like the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm. A hearing dog can also give a deaf person a newfound sense of independence and confidence helping to overcome the feeling of isolation and loneliness experienced by so many suffering from hearing loss.

Twenty pence of every pound raised will go towards the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, with the remainder going towards REP First initiatives, such as providing interpreters for the REP’s youth theatre in order for Deaf children and young people to take part, as well as allowing the theatre to stage more accessible productions for people with a variety of additional support needs.

Steve Heyes, Marketing Manager of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said;
“It’s wonderful that Hearing Dogs has been chosen as the official partner charity for The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of ‘101 Dalmatians’, especially in this, our 35th year. We’re working closely with The REP on a number of fun and exciting plans to engage families and visitors coming to see the show, to help raise awareness of the amazing work our hearing dogs do, completely transforming the lives of thousands of Deaf people in the UK. We’ll hopefully raise some important funds for the two charities during the show’s run.”

As part of The REP’s commitment to making theatre accessible to everyone, the entire run of The Hundred and One Dalmatians will be Audio Described and Captioned, meaning that audiences with visual or hearing impairments can enjoy these services on any performance.

Dalmatians Pongo and Missis enjoy an idyllic life with their humans, Mr and Mrs Dearly. Then one day, the house is filled with the patter of tiny paws when Missis gives birth to a litter of adorable puppies. But just as the Dearlys get used to their new housemates, the puppies mysteriously vanish.

With the help of the canine community and an Old English Sheepdog, Pongo and Missis set out on an adventure to find the missing puppies. Their quest leads them to the vicious Cruella de Vil. She hates dogs but loves fur coats and has set her sights on a certain black and white spotty pattern. Will the animals be able to get home safely in time for Christmas?
Children and adults alike will be gripped by this magical tale as it comes to life live on stage, complete with beautiful staging and mesmerising puppetry from Director Tessa Walker and Designer Jamie Vartan who collaborated for the record-breaking 2015 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Dodie Smith’s delightful and much-loved tale, adapted for the stage by the Writer and Director of the hugely popular Nativity! films, Debbie Isitt, is sure to get tails wagging this Christmas.


14th November – Wise Children today announces that Judith Dimant and Poppy Keeling will join Emma Rice to lead the newly formed company. Keeling will take up her role as Executive Producer in the new year, with Dimant joining as Executive Director later in the Spring as the company launch nationwide. Both join Bristol based Wise Children from Complicité.

Judith Dimant said today, “After 25 years at Complicité I feel privileged to join Emma Rice at the start of this new venture. Emma is an artist I have long admired and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.”

Emma Rice commented, “Judith and Poppy bring an unparalleled wealth of skills, understanding and experience to Wise Children – not to mention their unique shared history. I feel lucky beyond words to share the Wise Children journey with these remarkable women by my side – prepare for wonders!”

Judith Dimant is currently Executive Producer at Complicité where she has worked opposite Simon McBurney since 1993. Her work with Complicité includes The Encounter, Lionboy, The Master and Margarita, Shun-Kin, A Disappearing Number, The Elephant Vanishes, Mnemonic, The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, The Chairs, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, the revival of A Minute Too Late and seasons in London’s West End, Broadway and Off-Broadway. She also designed and leads the new Complicite Associates Programme through which the Company supports brilliant emerging and mid-career artists. As part of which scheme she produced Bryony Kimmings’ A Pacifist’s Guide to the War On Cancer in 2016. Before joining Complicité, Dimant was press officer at the Royal Court Theatre, Administrator for Glynis Henderson Management (touring companies including STOMP) and for four years she programmed comedy and ran the Press Office at the Pleasance Theatre Edinburgh Fringe festival. In 2014, Dimant was awarded an MBE for Services to Drama.

Poppy Keeling has worked at Complicité for nearly ten years, as a Producer and as the Director of the company’s award-winning Creative Learning Programme. As producer, productions include The Encounter, A Pacifist’s Guide to the War On Cancer, Lionboy, The Master and Margarita, Endgame, Shun-Kin and A Disappearing Number. Creative Learning work includes participatory projects Like Mother, Like Daughter for mothers and daughters from different religious groups; the Ensemble Maths Project; Seen and Not Heard with Kirsty Housley; and the award-winning Tea with Geraldine Pilgrim.

EMMA RICE ON WISE CHILDREN:

Wise Children is a new company conceived, created and led by me, Emma Rice. Firmly and deeply rooted in the South West, it is the beginning of a crisp new chapter and the culmination of the process and beliefs I have developed over my surprising career. It is built on strong and tested foundations, and even the thought of it makes me resonate with hope, glee and anticipation. Inclusive and passionate, Wise Children will make exceptional, contemporary, ensemble-based theatre – but its mission is so much more.

Wise Children will be a National Portfolio Organisation, with offices at Spike Island in Bristol.

Roger Graef OBE, Chair of Complicité added, “We’re very sad to see Judith and Poppy go but delighted they are going on to something so exciting, and we’re looking forward to a new chapter for Complicité.”

Complicité will announce their future plans shortly.


8th November – Tom Morris and Emma Stenning today outlined the 2018 programme of work from Bristol Old Vic, under the banner Year of Change, which was suggested as a theme for 2018 by Roger Griffith of Bristol Old Vic Associate Company, Ujima Radio.

Bristol Old Vic’s aim for 2018 is not just to reopen a brand new Front of House and Studio theatre, thereby completing its multi-million pound redevelopment project, but also to renew its own relationship with the city, both as a place of entertainment and as a place where the most important concerns of the day can be explored, contested, discussed and understood.

A PROGRAMME OF TRANSFORMATION

Tom Morris today revealed Change as the governing theme for the year, pointing to a context of unprecedented political, social, economic and environmental changes in our world. Exploring some of these ideas, he announced a series of major productions which will play at Bristol Old Vic across the year.

This will include:

  • A brand new translation of The Cherry Orchard from Rory Mullarkey in March. Directed by Michael Boyd, celebrated former Artistic Director of the RSC, for the first time directing a play by the literary love of his life: Anton Chekhov. This mournful comedy, Chekhov’s final masterpiece, reels from farce to heartbreak as it maps an insecure world on the brink of seismic change. Written by an artist at the height of his powers and nearing the end of his life, it bridges the divide between the longing to hold onto what is familiar, and the irresistible lure of the new. It will be produced in co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre, and designer Tom Piper will reconfigure Bristol’s 250 year-old auditorium into an ‘in-the-round’ space. On general sale 17 Nov. The production will transfer to Manchester in Spring 2018.
  • The return of Mayfest, curated by Bristol Old Vic Associates MAYK, brings the change of innovation to a city which thrives on it. This year, Mayfest will once again take over the city with some of the best and brightest theatre from around the world. Bristol Old Vic is delighted to host the festival’s flagship production in the theatre where Mayfest began back in 2002.
  • In May, we present the first stage adaptation of Patrick Ness’ transformative insight into love, loss and hope, A Monster Calls. Commissioned by Matthew Warchus (alumnus of Bristol Old Vic) this production forms part of the 200th anniversary of our ‘mother’ theatre company, The Old Vic, London. This brand-new production is created by Bristol Old Vic Associate Artist Sally Cookson, whose successes with Peter Pan and Jane Eyre (both of which originated at Bristol Old Vic) have won her a global reputation.
  • The ongoing partnership with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the summer will be further developed into a three-way collaboration with our new Associate Company, Diverse City. As the theatre industry changes to reflect the diversity of its performers and audiences, the Theatre School’s graduating class of 2018 will create a new, professionally integrated production with Diverse City. Speaking at the launch, Emma Stenning said: “Over the last two years we have been thrilled by the reinvigoration of the relationship between Bristol Old Vic and its sister company the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. To be now in a position to develop this further by working with the incredible Diverse City is very special. Their brilliant and enlightening work with us so far has helped us to change the way we think about accessibility and integration on stage and off.”
  • In September, Bristol Old Vic will throw open the doors of its brand-new Front of House redevelopment with Tom Morris directing the first stage adaptation of Joe Simpson’s memoir Touching the Void, an international bestseller and BAFTA-winning film sensation, looking at personal change in its most vivid and catastrophic form. The heart of the story is Joe Simpson’s mental battle as he teeters on the very brink of death and despair in a crevasse from which he can’t possibly climb to safety. Also unforgettable in the story is the appalling dilemma of Simon Yates, perched on an unstable snow-cliff, battered by freezing winds and desperate to rescue the injured Simpson, who hangs from a rope below him. Knowing that they will both ultimately fall into the void, he makes the critical decision to cut the rope, forever changing the lives of both of them. Tom Morris directs a Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Royal & Derngate Northampton and Fuel co-production which also brings award-winning writer David Greig back to Bristol for the first time since his college days. On general sale 17 Nov.
  • In October, Bristol Old Vic will present the joyous Shakespearean comedy, Twelfth Night. This brand new production will be co-produced with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and directed by The Lyceum’s Associate Director Wils Wilson (The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart). Wilson’s bold and playful style will bring a fresh energy to Shakespeare’s mischievous story of identity, gender and love in all its forms. On general sale 17 Nov.
  • And what better way to finish the year off, than with the greatest comedy of change in English literature, A Christmas Carol, depicting the archetypal story of a wicked man who looks at his wasted and cruel life and resolves, successfully, to change everything about it! (Creative team to be announced in January). On general sale 17 Nov.
  • And as our theatre itself reveals a changed entrance and a changed welcome to the city, 2018 will also see Bristol Old Vic opening a new Studio theatre, dedicated to new and emerging work. It will be Bristol Old Vic’s telescope into the future of theatre, providing a new home to Bristol Ferment (which has been supporting artists of Bristol and the region for almost a decade) and a space for young people to make and watch inspiring work, both through the award-winning Bristol Old Vic Young Company and the Engagement team’s city-wide collaborations.  A full Studio programme will be announced in Spring 2018.
THE POWER OF CHANGE

When Roger Griffith first suggested 2018 as a Year of Change, he was inspired by the anniversaries of some significant and powerful advocates for change; by the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Martin Luther King and the Black Power salute and the 70th anniversary of the voyage of the Windrush, to which we add the centenary of women’s suffrage and the bicentenary of the birth of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

As Bristol Old Vic looks to its future, we are also re-examining our relationship with our past and, alongside many others in the city, resolving to look afresh at Bristol’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, which made it so wealthy and contributed so strongly to many of its most beautiful buildings, including our theatre.

Bristol Old Vic’s ambition as a theatre is to be a place where the city can hold itself, its history and its future to account, and where those histories can be re-understood, so we are pleased that our Year of Change can also accommodate this powerful and important conversation.
We are therefore also announcing a major new play about the slave trade, The Meaning of Zong, by Giles Terera, jointly commissioned by the National Theatre and presented and developed with partner theatres in Liverpool, Glasgow and London. It will be presented in workshop form in October 2018 and fully staged in 2019.

These performances will sit alongside a series of conversations curated in collaboration with Bristol’s Festival of Ideas, and will be introduced by a series of City Conversations, jointly organised by The Bristol Post, Ujima Radio and Bristol Old Vic. These conversations will be on topics related to the city’s commemoration of, and attitude towards, the transatlantic slave trade. The first conversations will happen in venues across the city with the final conversation held in the theatre.

Speaking at the launch today, Tom Morris said:
“Liberal-minded Bristolian folk like me are often reluctant to talk about the slave trade. When drawn into conversation we tend to bemoan its atrocity and condemn it as an outright wrong, but we moderate our moral judgment by saying that people thought differently in the eighteenth century, that the transatlantic slave trade was a fact of life at that time, that we should be careful not to judge the past by today’s standards, because our eighteenth century forbears simply didn’t see it as wrong.

“In the research for Giles Terera’s play The Meaning of Zong, I have discovered that this opinion is startlingly false. A close reading of the primary sources shows that many of those directly involved in the trade knew very well that it was wrong, but found it too difficult politically, economically, and socially to stop.

“So part of the conversation we are going to have connects at root with the role which Emma and I hope our theatre can have in the future in this city. If we are brave enough to judge the people who were involved in the transatlantic slave trade in this city by our own standards, then it becomes possible to judge ourselves by their standards too. It allows us to look at ourselves and our role in the world and ask: what are the things we are doing which we know to be wrong, but which we keep doing, because it is socially, politically and economically difficult to stop doing them? Then we can work out together how we can generate and share the courage and the vision, TO MAKE THOSE THE THINGS WHICH WE START TO CHANGE IN 2018.”

 


 

11th October – Oxford Playhouse has a new Chair of the Board. Elizabeth Paris has recently taken over from Danby Bloch, who has served as Chair of Trustees for the past 8 years.

Elizabeth Paris, a Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, is an Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. This follows a 19 year career as a Managing Director in investment banking at Chase Manhattan and JP Morgan. She currently also serves as Chair of The Orwell Youth Prize and Chair of Didcot Garden Town Board, and is a Trustee of The Orwell Foundation. Previous board experience includes nine years on the board of the Crafts Council, also an Arts Council England funded organisation, and nine years as a Governor of the educational group Activate Learning.

Louise Chantal, Director of Oxford Playhouse says:

‘Elizabeth brings a wealth of business and finance experience to the Playhouse, coupled with a real passion for the arts and Oxfordshire.  Her appointment marks an exciting time for the Playhouse as she takes over from Danby, who has contributed so much over the last 8 years.’

Elizabeth will serve an initial 4-year term as Chair of Trustees.  Three other Trustees have also been appointed to serve for 4 years: development consultant Moss Cooper, business and IT expert Warwick Hampden-Woodfall and Andrew Parker, currently domestic bursar of Somerville College and former Finance Director of Finance and Administration at the Royal Shakespeare Company.


6th October – Bristol Old Vic confirms groundbreaking musical THE GRINNING MAN will transfer to West End!

Following a triumphant premiere as part of the Theatre’s 250th Anniversary season, Bristol Old Vic is delighted to announce the long awaited news that The Grinning Man will transfer to the West End for a run in Studio 1 at Trafalgar Studios. Performances will begin on Tuesday 5 December, with tickets going on sale next Wednesday 11 October.The rumour mill has been speculating since August about the possibility of a future life for this trailblazing musical from director Tom Morris and we are delighted to be able to confirm this today.

This production joins several other recent Bristol Old Vic hit shows in transferring to the London stage, including Peter Pan and Jane Eyre at the National Theatre and Long Days Journey Into Night starring Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville at Wyndham’s Theatre opening January 2018.

A strange new act has arrived at the fairground. Who is Grinpayne and how did he get his hideous smile? Helped by an old man, a lone wolf and a blind girl, his story must be told. The epic tale of an abandoned child with a terrible secret. A disfigured youth who is desperate to hide and a sightless girl who longs to be discovered. Let the darkness seduce you.

The Grinning Man is a macabre new musical directed by Tom Morris and based on The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo (Les Misérables). Brought to life by writer Carl Grose (Dead Dog in a Suitcase) “powered by an outstanding score” (The Sunday Times) from Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler and puppetry from Gyre & Gimble, the original puppeteers of War Horse. The cast is led by Louis Maskell and Julian Bleach, who will reprise the roles of Grinpayne and Barkilphedro during the London run.

After gaining cult-like status amongst Bristolians who caught the show at Bristol Old Vic, the production has garnered major award nominations (WhatsOnStage Awards, UK Theatre Awards, BroadwayWorld UK Awards) and a flurry of critical acclaim (“blackly comic brilliance” The Telegraph, “defies theatrical convention” The Guardian) proving laughter really is the best medicine.


2nd October – The North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford announces the appointment of John Hoggarth and Ria Parry as the new Co-Directors. They will join the Oxford venue in November this year.

On their appointment, John and Ria said: “We are delighted to join The North Wall as Co-Directors. We are hugely excited by the organisation’s steadfast support for bold new work and emerging talent. We look forward to enhancing its reputation as a centre of excellence that inspires the next generation of artists, musicians and theatre makers.”

Mike Stanfield, Chairman of The North Wall Trust, commented, “John and Ria’s extensive experience both in theatre and with young people makes them the perfect pair to drive The North Wall forward on a number of levels. The breadth of their work in theatre and the arts brings fresh thinking to the venue, ensuring that it will continue to fulfil its mission to inspire and to educate – in the wider community, and within St Edward’s School.”

Ria Parry has directed work for the Bush Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Regents Park Open Air Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and Out of Joint. She was a Producer at Watford Palace Theatre before being awarded the National Theatre Leverhulme Bursary for Emerging Directors in 2010, becoming Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio.

John Hoggarth was Joint Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre 2003-2008. As a writer and director John has developed a reputation for nurturing comedy talent, and has seen collaborations lead to Perrier nominations, and the winning of both the ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ award and the BBC New Talent award.

John and Ria are co-founders of the critically acclaimed Iron Shoes, previously Associate Company at the Bush Theatre. They have received two Scotsman Fringe First Awards for Mad About The Boy by Gbolahan Obisesan and Crush by Paul Charlton, and been nominated for several others including Best of the Fringe New York Award, whatsonstage Best Off West End Production, and two Stage Acting Awards. They have worked closely with The North Wall over the last few years as co-directors on several ArtsLab projects, and have a strong reputation for nurturing and supporting the talents of young and emerging artists.

Ria Parry and John Hoggarth’s appointment coincides with the tenth anniversary of The North Wall. Over the last decade, the venue has established itself as an innovative performance and gallery space for Oxford and beyond. With a deliberate emphasis on offering alternatives to the mainstream, the eclectic public programme has featured a number of celebrated theatre companies from across the UK, including Paines Plough, Theatre Ad Infinitum, 1927, Shared Experience and Out of Joint.


Theatre Royal Bath and Bath College launch brand new BATH THEATRE ACADEMY.Theatre Royal Bath is pleased to announce an exciting and ambitious new partnership with Bath College. The newly-formed Bath Theatre Academy will offer students studying on the full-time Level 3 UAL Performing and Production Arts course at Bath College a unique curriculum that combines a practical introductory theatre programme with real-life industry experience.

The Performing and Production Arts course will be delivered at both the Theatre and the College, and is aimed at students aged 16 and over. Students will have weekly use of professional rehearsal studios as well as access to the world-renowned Theatre Royal Bath and its three dedicated performance spaces.

Jon Domaille, Head of Creative Arts and Enterprise at Bath College, comments, “We are incredibly excited about this innovative partnership.  This venture will provide our students with a clear ‘line of sight’ into the performing arts industry. To have professionals from the world of performance and production feeding directly into our curriculum is invaluable and will provide our learners with vocationally relevant, exciting and memorable experiences in a professional and creative environment.”

James Moore, Course Leader and Acting Head of Creative Learning at Theatre Royal Bath, has designed the new course to work with the theatre. “The creative curriculum empowers students to begin making choices about the theatre makers that they would like to be, drawing on their interests and allowing for student lead progression. Working in a professional theatre will allow students to be fully immersed within the world of theatre making, enabling a fully rounded experience of the standards and expectations of a professional theatre maker.”

The new course will offer:

  • Dedicated teaching from a variety of active and leading industry professionals
  • Access to the full suite of spaces and resources at Theatre Royal Bath
  • Professional mentoring and career advice from industry insiders
  • A clear line of progression from course to employment or further study
  • A commitment to students’ routes into the industry

James adds, “The students we will work with are dedicated and committed to the performing arts industry with a passion to create innovative and exceptional new theatre, on or off stage, and this course offers an unparalleled insight into the industry.”

Places are still available on the course, and applications for the Bath Theatre Academy can be made through the college – full details about the application process can be found online at www.bathcollege.ac.uk


8th May – RARE OPPORTUNITY TO OWN A PIECE OF THEATRE HISTORY.

The iconic Bristol Hippodrome is saying goodbye to their historic theatre seats this summer and are offering the opportunity for you to own a piece of the theatre’s history.

The theatre is a superb example of the grand architecture of the late Victorian era and is one of the masterpieces of design by Frank Matcham, the most eminent theatre architect of his time.

Having survived the war unscathed during which time the theatre contributed enormously to the morale of Bristolians with a continuous run of first-rate entertainment, it was a tragic irony when a disastrous fire broke out and almost destroyed it in 1948.

The seats have been in situ following that fire and have been witness to some huge shows and great performers. So if you are a theatre lover looking for a unique talking point for your home, your venue or your business look no further! Jenny Hutchinson, General Manager says, “This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of Bristol Hippodrome history that may also hold some very special memories for you or a loved one.”

The Bristol Hippodrome will be making a generous donation to a local Bristol charity, selected from those nominated by purchasers, so this is also a great opportunity to support an important cause.

Seats will be sold on a first come first serve basis and will require collection w/c 21st August 2017.

For further information and to purchase please contact Alicia Petchey on aliciapetchey@theambassadors.com or 0117 302 3238.