Interviews and more from the world of professional theatre right across the UK.
UK Theatres at Risk in 2021
At the beginning of each year, The Theatres Trust produces a document known as the Theatres At Risk Register, which lists the theatre buildings in the UK which are at the most risk of being lost forever.
Just after the 2021 Register was released, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan about this year’s list, the work of the Trust in general and the extra help it has been giving to theatres during the pandemic.
The latest Theatres At Risk Register can be downloaded from The Theatres Trust web site, which also contains plenty of information about theatres around the UK and advice and useful contacts for theatres and campaign groups who are trying to save a theatre building.
An adventurous 70th anniversary season at Pitlochry after a challenging 2020
In January 2020, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Elizabeth Newman, Artistic Director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland, about her plans for the coming year. Less than two months later, the country shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The season was cancelled and the future of this theatre, amongst many others around the country, looked bleak, but it continued to commission and produce new work, mostly online.
A year on, and Pitlochry has announced its 70th anniversary season including its first winter ensemble, this time geared to the conditions in which they will have to work for the forseeable future. Pitlochry has also collaborated with Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre and Naked Productions on a new digital audio theatre platform, Sound Stage. Elizabeth speaks, in this episode, about both of these, and also about how the events of last year unfolded.
The Sound Stage events so far announced will be available for just a few days at the end of each month from March to October 2021. The first, Angela by Mark Ravenhill directed by Polly Thomas, will run from 26 to 28 March and star Pam Ferris, Matti Houghton, Toby Jones, Jackson Laing and Joseph Millson.
For more information about any of the events mentioned in this episode, see the Pitlochry Festival Theatre web site.
Talawa tells verbatim tales from black frontline workers
Leading black British theatre company Talawa, which will celebrate its 35th birthday in 2021, is releasing a series of short online films titled Tales from the Frontline that examine the experiences of black frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic through monologues compiled from the words of real people through interviews.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Talawa’s Artistic Director, Michael Buffong, who also directed the first of the films, after two of the proposed six films had been released: one from the perspective of a schoolteacher and the other from the words of an NHS recovery worker.
They spoke about the reasons behind a project that Michael believes is essential to make sure that the contributions made by black workers to the essential services that keep the country functioning during the current crisis are documented so that they are not forgotten. They also spoke about plans for Talawa’s 35th birthday celebrations next year, and about the impressive list of productions that Michael has directed at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre over nearly two decades.
Tales from the Frontline can be watched for free on Talawa’s web site and YouTube channel, although donations are being requested for the charity Black Minds Matter UK.
(Photo of Michael Buffong, credit: The Masons)
Peter Polycarpou takes online audiences back to the music of the Roaring Twenties
Peter Polycarpou, an actor with a long and distinguished history in musical theatre, was about to revive a production that he had written called Falling Stars at London’s Union Theatre when the second coronavirus lockdown was announced. Rather than cancelling entirely, the production, performed by Peter with Sally Ann Triplett and directed by Michael Strassen, was recorded to be made available online.
Peter spoke to BTG Editor David Chadderton a few days before the recording was due to be released about the production, as well as about the effects of the lockdown on him and on theatre as a whole and a bit about some of his past and possible future work.
Falling Stars is a 60-minute online live-stream to be broadcast at 7:30PM from Sunday 22 to Sunday 29 November 2020, plus 2:30PM matinée performances on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29. Tickets are £15 plus booking fees available from www.stream.theatre.
(Photo of Peter Polycarpou and Sally Ann Triplett, credit Paul Nicholas Dyke)
Pursued by a Bear takes Nothing on Earth online
Pursued by a Bear, a theatre company based at Trestle Arts Base in St Albans, Hertfordshire, was preparing a tour of a new project, Nothing on Earth written by Anna Reynolds, before the coronavirus lockdown.
As the tour couldn’t go ahead as planned, it was used as the inspiration for a series of short web films called Nothing on Earth: Shorts.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Pursued by a Bear’s Artistic Director, Rosamunde Hutt, when half of the six films had been released about the project and the general aims of the company.
Photo of Rosamunde Hutt, credit Tunde Euba.
Theatre in a time of Pandemic
As some theatre performances are starting to open in the UK after more than five months of lockdown due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the people in charge of UK theatres have had to make some very difficult decisions in order to survive.
To get the perspective of theatre management on the current situation, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Roddy Gauld, Chief Executive of the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, just after the announcement that the theatre will reopen in December and Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director & Deputy Chief Executive of Home Manchester, where theatre performances are to recommence from October.