Interviews and more from the world of professional theatre right across the UK.
Nathaniel Parker returns as Henry VIII in RSC's Mantel trilogy
Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were brought to the stage in 2014 by the Royal Shakespeare Company, adapted by Mike Poulton and directed by Jeremy Herrin.
The third in the series, The Mirror and the Light, has opened at the Gielgud Theatre, again directed by Herrin but this time adapted by Mantel herself with Ben Miles, who has played the central character of Thomas Cromwell across all three plays.
Also returning is Nathaniel Parker as King Henry VIII. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to him on the morning of the press night performance about the production, as well as about playing real people (from King Henry to Gordon Brown and Albert Speer), lockdown, playing Bond (in a manner of speaking) and just a little bit of politics.
The Mirror and the Light began previews at London’s Gielgud Theatre on 23 September 2021, opened on 6 October and is booking until 23 January 2022.
For more information about the production, see the web sites of The Mirror and the Light or The RSC. To keep up-to-date with Nat’s work and blog posts, see his web site.
(Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII in The Mirror and the Light - Photo by Marc Brenner)
Ravenhill and Price jointly take over London's oldest pub theatre
Mark Ravenhill has been well known as a British playwright since the 1990s, when he was a leading figure in the group of writers labelled ‘In Yer Face’. Director Hannah Price was founder and Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Uncut and a Resident Artistic Director at the Donmar Warehouse.
From 1 October 2021, Mark and Hannah will take over as joint Artistic Directors of the King’s Head Theatre, London’s oldest pub theatre.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to them both about their ideas for helping people working in the industry as we come out of a global pandemic, their support for new writers and young LGBTQ+ people and how digital theatre will play an important part in their future plans.
Restarting the Edinburgh Festivals: Guy Masterson on his 27th Fringe
After the cancellation of the 2020 Edinburgh Festivals due to the coronavirus pandemic, apart from a small number of online shows, the 2021 festivals are going ahead, with some shows happening in front of live audiences and some online.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Fringe performer, writer, director and producer Guy Masterson, in Edinburgh to perform a cut-down version of his one-man Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas for his 27th year on the Fringe, about how different Edinburgh seems this year, as well as the damage caused to theatre by lockdown, even touching on the effects of Brexit on touring artists.
Guy Masterson’s shows tour regularly around the UK and internationally. The Shark is Broken will run at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London from 9 October 2021 to 15 January 2022. For more information, see Theatre Tours International.
Brighton Fringe returns both online and in live venues
After a record-breaking year in 2019, with more than 600,000 attendees, Brighton Fringe had to cancel its 2020 festival at fairly short notice due to the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic in England.
However, the Fringe is back for 2021, slightly later in the year than usual, with a hybrid live and online programme of events.
BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Brighton Fringe CEO Julian Caddy about the festival and what it will be offering attendees this year, as well as the difficulties they have faced over the last year or so.
Brighton Fringe runs from Friday 28 May to Sunday 27 June 2021 at various venues around the town and online. For more information about the festival and the events in this year’s programme and to obtain tickets, visit the festival's web site, call 01273 917 272 or download the Brighton Fringe app from the Google Play or Apple App Store.
Comedian Kevin Day joins appeal for support and recognition for the live events industry
#WeMakeEvents was launched in April 2020, soon after the first coronavirus lockdown, by PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, to highlight the plight of its membership, the majority of whom are freelance workers and therefore not eligible for government furlough payments.
The campaign has grown to include other industry bodies and has become a global movement, with major performance venues lighting their buildings in red to highlight the red alert status of the industry. It offers financial assistance, wellbeing support and advice as well as campaigning with governments and the public to raise awareness.
The campaign has attracted a great many celebrity endorsements, including from stand-up comedian, comedy writer and sports presenter Kevin Day, who took part in a promotional video for #WeMakeEvents with fellow comics Griff Rhys Jones, Lucy Porter and Stephen K Amos.
Kevin has been prominent on the UK comedy scene since the late ‘80s when he performed regularly at The Comedy Store. He has written for Dave Allen and Jo Brand and continues to write for the long-running BBC comedy show Have I Got News For You. He spoke to BTG editor David Chadderton about how essential production staff are to theatre, festivals, live comedy and many other events, how important the live performance industry is to the UK economy and to the wellbeing of the country and how lockdown has personally affected him and his family—his son is also a stand-up comedian and his wife works in theatre production and event management.
For more information on the campaign, to make a donation, to buy merchandise or to find assistance if you are affected by the crisis, see the #WeMakeEvents web site.
Through industry charity Backup, you can also make donations via a texting service: text “ONETWO” plus the donation amount in numbers to 70085 (for instance, text ONETWO12 to donate £12).
Staged star hears out leading theatre actors performing favourite speeches
Hear Me Out is a new theatre podcast produced and presented by Lucy Eaton, the both real and on-screen sister of Simon Evans, creator of BBC lockdown comedy Staged starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen.
Hear Me Out features interviews with leading theatre actors in which they discuss and then perform a speech from a play in which they have appeared which holds particularly strong memories for them. The first four episodes are now available, featuring Claire Skinner on Harold Pinter’s Moonlight, Adrian Lester on Cost of Living by Martyna Majok, Denise Gough on People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan and Mark Bonnar on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
In this episode, BTG Editor David Chadderton speaks to Lucy about these first few episodes, as well as about how Staged was basically an extension of games she played with her brother when they were kids, what lockdown has been like for her and other actors she knows, performing outside the house of one of the UK’s leading theatre critics and more.
Hear Me Out can be found now on all the usual podcast platforms. For more details, see the Hear Me Out web site or follow @PodHearMeOut on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.