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Border Tales launches Greenwich Dances 2015

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a sold out run at The Place and a UK tour last year, Protein’s Border Tales returns for three performances (May 22 and 23) to launch Greenwich Dances 2015, as part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals.

Conceived and directed by Luca Silvestrini and based on research conducted with different types of migrants and refugees across Europe, Palestine, India and the UK, Border Tales takes a look at multi-cultural living as seen through the eyes of the characters on stage.

Performed in the round by a cast of international dancers, Border Tales sees Luca Silvestrini turn his sharply satirical gaze to stereotypical thinking, tolerance and where lines are drawn between ‘them’ and ‘us’ – questions that continue to have a bracing relevance in view of current world events.

July 2015 will see Protein work once more with refugees from the Islington Refugee Centre, who participated in the research process for Border Tales, in a project hosted at The Place. Dancers from the company will work with service users from the Centre to create a piece of work to share with invited guests, family and friends.

Luca Silvestrini said: “We are delighted to be performing Border Tales this year in our home borough of Greenwich. Issues around migration and the movement of people have been very much in the news this year, so it feels highly relevant to be reviving this show. Border Tales sheds light on some of the human stories behind the headlines and encourages us to question our own assumptions and prejudices.”

Border Tales is devised and performed by Temitope Ajose-Cutting, Eryck Brahmania, Salah El Brogy, Kenny Wing Tao Ho, Stephen Moynihan, Yuyu Rau and Stuart Waters, with additional material devised by Femi Oyewole and Jodie Honeybourne. Music is performed by Anthar Kharana and composed by Andy Pink and lighting design is by Jackie Shemesh.

Including a chance to Lunch with Luca, Greenwich Dances 2015 showcases a collection of inspirational dance performances, free outdoor events and opportunities to meet the artists involved. In addition to Protein’s engaging performance of Border Tales, this year’s programme also includes Austrian company Willi Dorner with the London premiere of performative trail fitting, Family Cabaret Uncovered, Greenwich Dance’s free outdoor event for families at St Alfege Park and company Lila Dance with intimate dance experience The Deluge.

Tickets: £12, £9 concessions – available on 020 8293 9741 or online at

Times: Friday, May 22 and Saturday May 23 at 8pm, Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Greenwich Dance, The Borough Hall, Royal Hill, London, SE10 8RE

Professor Sir Brian Vickers presents the Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture

Theatre news

ON THURSDAY, June 11, 2015, Professor Sir Brian Vickers will deliver this year’s prestigious Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture, John Ford and Feminine Virtue, at Shakespeare’s Globe as part of the John Ford Experiment.

The annual Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture is given in honour of the American actor, director, and producer who founded the project to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe. Sam died in 1993 after 23 years of tireless campaigning, advancing research into the appearance of the original Globe and planning its reconstruction.

Sir Brian is a British academic known for his work on the history of rhetoric, Shakespeare, John Ford and Francis Bacon. He was knighted for services to literary scholarship in the New Year Honours of 2008. He is Emeritus Professor at ETH Zurich, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, London University, Fellow of the British Academy, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is General Editor of The Collected Works of John Ford in five volumes (Oxford University Press, 2011—), the first collected edition of Ford’s works since 1869.

In John Ford and Feminine Virtue, Sir Brian will explore Ford’s creation of dramatic situations that reveal feminine virtue under pressure, including defining the values for which they are prepared to suffer and ultimately celebrating their courage.

Sir Brian said: “I am honoured to be associated with Sam Wanamaker’s great project of re-creating the theatres for which the plays of Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights were written. For lovers of Ford it is exciting to experience his plays in the new indoor theatre, very similar to the “Cock-Pit” or Phoenix in Drury Lane where they were first performed. I have enjoyed working with Globe Education on their Read Not Dead season devoted to Ford, casting light on rarely-performed plays. Ford’s is a unique voice, and it is high time that his distinctive qualities were recognized.”

And Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education, said: “No one is better placed to champion the work of John Ford than Professor Sir Brian Vickers. We are honoured and delighted that Sir Brian has accepted the Sam Wanamaker Fellowship this year.”

Ford was one of the leading playwrights of the generation following Shakespeare. Best known for his play ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Ford has been considered one of the most underrated playwrights of the early 17th century. However, Ford is currently enjoying a renaissance: ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, and The Broken Heart both featured in the most recent season in the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

This year, Shakespeare’s Globe is presenting productions and staged readings of all of John Ford’s solo-authored works. The John Ford Experiment began on February 15 with a Read Not Dead staged reading of Love’s Sacrifice at Gray’s Inn.

The Experiment continues with four more Read Not Dead performances of Ford’s plays in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from May 17: The Queen, or The Excellency of her Sex, The Lover’s Melancholy, The Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck, A Strange Truth and The Fancies Chaste and Noble.

On Saturday, September 26, four Ford scholars will share their perspectives on Ford in an open study day, culminating in a performance of The Lady’s Trial by Edward’s Boys, the world-renowned boys’ company from King Edward VI School (KES) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s own grammar school.

Details and booking information for the Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture and all events in the season are available on the Shakespeare’s Globe website at Tickets are available from the Globe box office on 020 7401 9919 or online at

Tickets: £15 (£12 Friends of Shakespeare’s Globe/concessions/students).

Time: 7pm in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Peter Bowles and Adam Riches head the cast of Stop! The Play at Trafalgar Studios

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PRESENTED by former Reduced Shakespeare Company members John Schwab and Tim Beckmann, Stop! The Play receives its world premiere at Trafalgar Studio 2, where it runs from Tuesday, June 2 to Saturday, June 27, 2015.

Written by David Spicer, Stop! The Play is described as a madcap, theatrical comedy in which the worst night in the theatre becomes the most hilarious play in town.

Act 1 is set in the rehearsal room as five neurotic actors, one inexperienced director and an overworked stage manager, battle with the task of mounting what is surely the world’s most terrible play. Act 2 is the hysterically chaotic first night.

The production, The Dark Heart of Art, starts out as a worthy (if slightly dull) English kitchen sink drama about a struggling artist. But then daily rewrites start arriving from the persistently absent writer. Characters are cut, new characters are introduced… everything changes from day to day. The cast battles to keep up. But instead of making the play better, the rewrites make it worse, and crazier.

The Dark Heart of Art becomes a shockingly sexual pseudo-psycho drama called Banksy Ain’t Gay – a masterclass in appalling modern playwriting. (Anyone who has ever sat through anything which describes itself as ‘edgy’, ‘experimental’, ‘controversial’ or ‘shocking’ will recognise it with a shudder).

The cast features Adam Riches (2011 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner) as The Leading Man, Peter Bowles (To the Manor Born) as The Seasoned Veteran, Tosin Cole (Hollyoaks) as The Hollywood Cameo, Hatty Preston (The Royals) as The Leading Lady, Hannah Stokely (Skyfall) as The Perennial Co-star, Charlie Cameron (National Theatre’s Macbeth) as The Stage Manager and Ben Starr (Survivor) as The Director.

David Spicer has written stand-up and TV material for comedians including Jasper Carrott, Armstrong & Miller and Michael Barrymore. His extensive radio writing includes the acclaimed sitcom Double Income No Kids Yet with David Tennant and Kind Hearts and Coronets with Alistair McGowan. His first stage play, God Save the Mad Parade, will tour nationally early next year.

Produced by Tim Beckmann for Hatch It, Stop! The Play is directed by John Schwab.

Tickets: £15 – £25 – available from the box office on 0844 871 7632 or online at

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.45pm; Thursday and Saturday at 3pm.

NB: Stop! The Play will preview in The Studio at Fairfield Halls, Croydon from Tuesday, May 26 to Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 7.30pm. For tickets, call the box office on 0208 688 9291 or visit

Shrek on tour - casting announced


Casting news

FRESH casting has been announced for the touring production of Shrek The Musical, which will visit New Wimbledon Theatre from January 20 to January 31, 2016.

Dean Chisnall, who continues in the title role, is joined by Bronté Barbé as Princess Fiona, alongside continuing cast members Idriss Kargbo as Donkey and Gerard Carey as pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad.

They in turn are joined by Laura Baldwin, Nikki Bentley, Jennifer Caldwell, Alexander Day, Candace Furbert, Will Haswell, Keith Henderson, James Lacey, Will Jennings, Iain Mattley, Christina Modestou, Sam Murphy, Amy Oxley, Ryan Reid, Jacqui Sanchez, Jake Small, Oliver Tester, Dawn Williams, Kerry Winter and Kevin Yates.

Dean Chisnall’s theatre credits include Shrek The Musical (original cast member, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Love Never Dies (Adelphi Theatre), La Cage aux Folles (Playhouse Theatre), Never Forget (Savoy Theatre and on tour), Evita (Adelphi Theatre) and The Woman in White (Palace Theatre).

Chisnall has also appeared on television in Text Santa, Britain’s Got Talent, Loose Women, GMTV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Children in Need.

The touring production is directed by Nigel Harman, who played Lord Farquaad in the West End production.

Shrek The Musical is a stage adaptation of the original 2001 Shrek film and has been described as part romance, part twisted fairy tale and irreverent fun for everyone.

In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue a feisty princes. Throw in a donkey who won’t be quiet, a bad guy with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude and a dozen or so other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero – Shrek.

As well as new songs, the production includes the cult Shrek anthem I’m a Believer.

Shrek The Musical is suitable for ages 5+.

The tour will also visit Glasgow, Sheffield, Norwich, Southampton, Plymouth, Milton Keynes, Bradford, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Sunderland, Liverpool, Cardiff and Salford.

Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story - Above the Stag

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

Written by Taggart creator Glenn Chandler, Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story makes its debut at Above the Stag Theatre. The true story of Victorian cross dressers Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park, it runs from May 15 (previews from May 13) to June 14, 2015.

Boulton and Park were known and adored as Fanny and Stella. They not only dazzled in female roles on the nation’s stages but also in clubs and bedrooms from London to the Highlands.

Showy and theatrical both on and off the stage, Fanny and Stella were arrested at The Strand Theatre in 1870. They appeared in court the following morning still in their evening gowns, and the trial for homosexual offences of this judge’s son and a bank clerk was the sensation of the age, especially when Boulton’s respectable and accepting mother, Mary Ann, took the stand.

Now, at Above the Stag Theatre, they present the shocking story of their rise to fame and fall from grace.

This new play with original music has been created by writer Glenn Chandler, composer Charles Miller (When Midnight Strikes) and West End director Steven Dexter (Loserville, the Olivier award-winning Honk!) with the support of choreographer Carole Todd and designer David Shields.

As well as Taggart, Glenn Chandler’s other work includes the award-winning The Custard Boys, Cleveland Street – The Musical, and last year the acclaimed Sandel, a hit at Above The Stag Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe.

The cast of Fanny & Stella includes Alexander Allin (as John Safford Fiske), Christopher Bonwell (Louis Charles Hurt), Mark Gee Finch (Frederick Park aka Fanny), Robert Jeffrey (Ernest Boulton aka Stella), James Robert-Moore (Lord Arthur Clinton) and Phil Sealey (Mr Grimes).

The production has lighting design by Chris Withers and sound by Jason Kirk.

Ernest Boulton (Stella) was born in December 1848. Blessed with an extraordinary soprano voice, he was set on a stage career but was pushed by his father to get a job in a bank. Resigning before he could be sacked, he set about making the most of his androgynous looks and his lovers included Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton, son of the Duke of Newcastle. The godson of prime minister William Gladstone and an MP, Lord Arthur was a trophy friend for a middle-class boy and Boulton proudly brought him to meet his mother, Mary Ann.

A year older, Frederick William Park (Fanny) was the youngest of 12 children of Judge Alexander Park. His closest brother, Harry, fled across the border to Scotland after being arrested for homosexual offences and would later be imprisoned with hard labour. While Harry was handsome Freddie was the ugly duckling of the family. He was articled to a solicitors in Chelmsford but his heart lay in the theatre.

The two men subsequently formed a theatrical double act, touring as Stella Clinton (or Mrs Graham) and Fanny Winifred Park, and receiving favourable press reviews for their performances.

Tickets: First Week Price (May 13, 14, 16 and 17): £12; Press Night Price (May 15): £22 includes interval drink, programme, party; Prices (from May 19): £18. To book, visit For group bookings e-mail

Times: Tuesday to to Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday at 6pm.

Paul Emelion Daly’s Rise Like A Phoenix, which looks at what it means to be HIV in the 21st century, continues at Above the Stag Theatre until May 3, 2015.

Headlong's 1984 returns to the Playhouse Theatre

THIS SUMMER, Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s critically acclaimed adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, 1984, returns to the Playhouse Theatre for a 12 week run (June 12 to September 5, 2015) prior to international and UK tours.

April, 1984. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought and starts a diary. But Big Brother is always watching, and the door to Room 101 can swing open in the blink of an eye.

The definitive book of the 20th century is re-examined in a radical, award-winning adaptation exploring surveillance, identity and why Orwell’s vision of the future is as relevant now as ever.

A Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre production, 1984 is presented by Sonia Friedman Productions and Eleanor Lloyd Productions.

1984 has set and costume design by Chloe Lamford, with lighting design by Natasha Chivers, sound design by Tom Gibbons and video design by Tim Reid. Casting and full tour details will be announced shortly.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown continues at the Playhouse Theatre until Saturday, May 23, 2015.

In September, Jeremy Herrin, Artistic Director of Headlong, will direct Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things in a co-production with the National Theatre.

And in November, the Headlong, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie will tour to Richmond Theatre (November 2 to November 7 – exact dates to be conformed).

A frustrated mother, a daughter lost in her imagination, and a son intent on rebellion.

By night, Tom lives the life of an assassin, an outlaw, a czar of the underworld, via his trips to the movies. By day, he works in a factory. The air in the apartment he shares with his mother Amanda and his sister Laura is thick with the scent of sickly sweet flowers and Amanda’s nostalgia. Laura barely survives it, a shadow of herself. She clings desperately to her only solace, her beloved glass menagerie.

When Amanda insists Tom bring home a gentleman caller for Laura, the fragile dreams of all three are shattered with consequences they may never escape.

The Glass Menagerie will be directed by Ellen McDougall and designed by Fly Davis, with lighting by Richard Howell, sound by Gareth Fry and video design by Ian William Galloway. Casting will be announced shortly.

The tour will commence at West Yorkshire Playhouse (September 12 to October 3) before continuing to Liverpool Playhouse (October 7 to October 31), Richmond Theatre and Warwick Arts Centre (dates tbc).

Jeremy Herrin said: “I’m delighted that 2015 at Headlong will see us engaging with audiences all over the country and around the world. We continue to give regional audiences the best in contemporary work by a new generation of theatre-makers, with the brilliant Ellen McDougall’s The Glass Menagerie.

“Only a week since The Nether finished its award-winning run, it’s great to announce that 1984 will return to The Playhouse, continuing our mission to provide exhilarating and accessible work in the West End. Robert Icke & Duncan Macmillan’s show will then further Headlong’s progress as an international company by touring the world.

“I’m also particularly excited to be directing Duncan Macmillan’s playfully smart and deeply emotive new play People, Places and Things at the National at the end of the summer.

“I believe that in the face of uncertainty in the funding landscape (and on the eve of a possible new government) it’s up to national companies like us to push ourselves to greater creative heights, continually making the case for the vitality of our theatre culture; working with our partners to make that case on stages around the country, the capital and the world.”

Dusty - casting announced

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for Dusty, a unique new multi-media show celebrating the music of 60’s pop icon Dusty Springfield, which receives its world premiere at Charing Cross Theatre, where it runs for 13 weeks – from June 3 (previews from May 25) to August 22, 2015.

The line up comprises Ellie Ann-Lowe (as Mary O’Brien), Francesca Jackson (Nancy), Stewart McCheyne (DJ Dave Dean), Ben Tolley (Johnny Franz), Leo Elso (Dion O’Brien/Tom Springfield), Joe Vetch (Douggie Reece), Joan Walker (Kay O’Brien), Graham Kent (Gerard ‘OB’ O’Brien), Tristan Pate (Vic Billings), Allyson Ava Brown (Martha Reeves), Danielle Kassarata (Maddie) and Arabella Rodrigo (Norma).

Ensemble members are Bex Leung, Cleo Jaeger and Marianna Neofitou.

With original music by the legendary artist Dusty Springfield, audiences will see and hear Springfield on stage using the most up-to-date 3-D technology and digital media. Combined with a musical theatre format of live performance, music and dance, Dusty follows the highs and lows of Springfield’s rise from middle class suburban London to the recording of her seminal album Dusty in Memphis.

Including classic footage of Dusty performing her story as seen through the eyes of Nancy Jones, one of Dusty’s childhood friends, and other key figures who accompanied her on her journey, Dusty celebrates the life of one of Britain’s most influential recording artists.

Read more about Dusty.

Vote For Me - London Theatre Workshop

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE American musical Vote For Me: A Musical Debate receives its UK premiere at the London Theatre Workshop, where it runs from May 5 to May 23, 2015.

Vote For Me is a musicalized Presidential debate where audiences pick the winner. Candidates dance and sing their way through the three-ring circus of American politics, and audiences cast their votes to help determine the outcome of the show.

The musical was commissioned by Robyn Goodman, the producer of Avenue Q, and penned by Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen, who sought to create a heightened satire of American life that spoke to the state of their culture – in their case American political culture – at its best and its worst.

The cast includes Hans Rye as Republican candidate Senator Buddy Rounsaville; Emily Lynne (She Loves Me, Landor Theatre) as Democratic Candidate Governor Janet Tilghman; Arvid Larson (Closer Than Ever, Jermyn Street Theatre) as Janet’s long-suffering husband Roger Tilghman; and Jennie Jacobs as Buddy’s pushy wife Amy Rounsaville.

Attempting to control the proceedings will be Lucy Grainger (Fifty Shades of Grey – the Musical) as Robyn Fiedler, the moderator of the debate, and spinning each of the answers will be Joe Leather (Bathhouse the Musical) in the role of The Advisor.

The musical premièred at the 2010 New York Musical Theater Festival, and played a sold out run off-Broadway at Roy Arias Stages in the summer of 2014.

Produced by Olga Marie-Pratt on behalf of the London Theatre Workshop, Vote For Me is directed by Dom O’Hanlon, with musical direction by Chris Guard.

Tickets: £15, £12 concession, £10 Equity rate for Sunday matinees. To book, visit

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7:45, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm.

London Theatre Workshop, 65 New Kings Road, London, SW6 4SG

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (NT) Platforms

CARYL Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire has just opened in the National’s Lyttelton Theatre and there are three accompanying platforms:

Lyndsey Turner on Light Shining in Buckinghamshire – in the Lyttelton on Thursday, April 30 at 6pm (approximately 45 minutes).

The director talks to Libby Purves about the new production.

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions) – available online at

The Putney Debates – in the Temporary Theatre on Thursday, May 7 at 1pm and 6pm (1hour).

On Election Day, actors read from the historic 1647 debates about how this country should be run for the benefit of all. Cast includes Amanda Drew, Kate O’Flynn and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions) – available online at

Civil War: ancient and modern – in the Lyttelton on Thursday, May 21 at 6pm (approximately 45 minutes).

An examination of events in England in the 1640s and more recent parallels and resonances. Guests include historian Diane Purkiss (author of The English Civil War: A People’s History) and political activist John Rees (co-author of A People’s History of London).

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions) – available online at

Blind - Soho Theatre


Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING their 2014 tour, The Paper Birds are bringing Blind to Soho Theatre – from July 13 to July 25, 2015 – as part of Soho Theatre’s solo season.

Previously Posted: Devised and directed by The Paper Birds and performed by Grace Savage, UK Beatboxing Champion and star of the National Theatre’s Home, Blind will visit the New Diorama Theatre (October 19 and 20, 2014) as part of a UK tour.

An interrogation into the influences on young women today, Grace Savage acts as a mouthpiece for her generation, exploring the songs, sounds and statements our world is making and the impressions these gradually form on our lives.

Powered by one woman’s voice, Blind considers the things young women overhear, that they are told by their mothers, or learn in the school playground or from the pop charts and asks how this background (and foreground) noise affects the people we become.

Grace Savage said: “As a beatboxer and an actress, Blind is one of the most refreshing, unique and exciting projects that I have had the privilege to work on in my career so far. There are a few beatboxing shows floating around but I think we have created something truly unique and theatrical in a way that has never been seen before.

“I have admired The Paper Birds’ work for years and working with them has allowed me to integrate beatboxing with narrative in a way that feels meaningful and impactful. Not just the fun party trick or gimmick it can often become. Blind is about challenging perceptions, exploring identity and just opening our eyes that little bit more….coloured with some serious bass from my face along the way.”

Grace Savage is the UK’s official female Beatbox Champion (2012 and 2013) and recently played ‘Jade’ in a revival of Home at The National Theatre, following a sell-out run in August 2013. She has worked within such prestigious companies as The Vocal Orchestra (Headline act at E4 Udderbelly tent, Bristol Old Vic, QEH Southbank Centre), Lyrix Organix (Mayor of London Showtime festival tour and Glastonbury 2013) and The Demon Barbers tour of Lock In (Best Live Act Radio 2 Folk Awards 2009).

Savage is also working on her solo album with producer Dee Adam (Newton Faulkner/Andreya Triana/Loick Essien) having recently supported Newton Faulkner on his UK tour which included two nights at Shepherds Bush Empire, London.

The Paper Birds Artistic Director Jemma McDonnell said: “We know that young people are bombarded with images in the media of how they should look, what they should wear, the body shape they should aspire to have, but we became more interested, not in what young people are seeing in the world, but what they are hearing. Alongside this, we wanted to take beatboxing to a new level, as in the show it represents Grace’s identity; it is her voice, and she wants to speak.”

The tour follows Blind‘s sell out run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe.

Produced by Bonnie Mitchell, Blind has sound design by Darren Perry, lighting design by Kylie Walsh and set and costume design by Fiammetta Horvat.

Blind is suitable for ages 15+.

Tickets for Soho Theatre: July 13 and 14, £10; July 15 – 17, £14 (£12); July 21 – 25, £16 (£14). To book, call the box office on 020 7478 0100 or visit

Time: 7pm.

Running Time: 1 hour.