The Globe on Tour: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Globe’s touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is coming to Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire, 16th-18th May.

Performed on an Elizabethan-inspired stage, a small troupe of travelling players breathe new life into Shakespeare’s greatest comedy. Dreamlike, funny and beautiful, eight talented actors reinvent renaissance touring theatre for the 21st century:

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Summer is all the sweeter for a Shakespeare road trip, Daily Telegraph

Book your tickets here.

Merseyside Community Theatre Launched

Yesterday evening I left the office, stepping out into the glorious sunshine with several of my colleagues, and headed up to Croxteth Fire Station for the launch event of Merseyside Community Theatre: Alt Valley 2010 – Romeo and Juliet at the fire station.

Now, I’ve been away from the coal face for a couple of weeks, so I had very little idea about what would be facing me when I got there but I was bowled over!  Not only were there about three times the number of people at the launch event than we expected (which was great to see but we were a little worried that we may not have had enough sandwiches…), and wine on arrival but the ten minute perfomance that Neil Caple (the Director) had put together for the event was spectacular: it was held in a huge hanger at the fire station, the set was a market place (complete with fresh fruit), with cars, music and flashing lights to recreate the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet. As a taste of things to come, this has got us hungry…

If you’d like to offer funding or support for MCT, or to find out how you can be a part of it, please contact Niamh Donohoe: mct@thereader.org.uk / 07807 106814

Merseyside Community Theatre: Alt Valley 2010

The Reader Organisation, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the Alt Valley community, invite you to the launch of Merseyside Community Theatre: Alt Valley 2010. The launch takes place between 5-6.30pm on Monday 26th April, at Croxteth Training and Development Academy (next door to the Fire Station, Storrington Avenue, L11 9AP).

Merseyside Community Theatre: Alt Valley 2010 follows the success of The Reader Organisation’s Wirral Community Shakespeare project of 2008, The Winter’s Tale in Birkenhead Park.

We invite you to join us for light refreshments from 5pm and to watch a short preview of MCT’s production of Romeo and Juliet directed by Neil Caple (Brookside, RSC).

Please demonstrate your support by attending this launch event!

Please contact Claire Speer for more information: clairespeer@thereader.org.uk / 0151 794 2830

A Christmas Carol and The Snow Queen at The Lantern Theatre

Looking for something to get you in the festive mood, with more than a touch of literary appeal? If you didn’t manage to snap up tickets for The Penny Readings, don’t be too sad as there’s plenty of time to catch two very special seasonal productions at The Lantern Theatre.

The Lantern Theatre is a newly opened fringe theatre located in Blundell Street, Liverpool City Centre which has its roots in educational and community-based theatre, and is planning to showcase a range of original and classic productions in the upcoming year. It has chosen to kick off proceedings with versions of two of the best loved Christmas literature classics, A Christmas Carol and The Snow Queen.

Perhaps the most famous Christmas story ever, A Christmas Carol promises to stay true to Dickens’ original text and characters while also injecting some originality onto the stage through work with masks and physical theatre. The production runs from 5th to 30th December 2009 (excluding 23rd-28th December), with tickets costing £10 and £8 for concessions.

The Snow Queen, one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most enchanting stories, is sure to transport both children and adults alike into a magical and mysterious fairytale world. It promises to capture “the power of friendship and the magic of Christmas”. It runs from 5th December 2009 to 6th February 2010, with tickets from £6.50 for adults and £5 concessions.

For more information, visit http://www.thelanterntheatre.co.uk/whats-on/ or telephone 0151 703 0000.

Feeding Body and Brain

Here I am, eating my lunch, at my desk, reading the news online (I know I should get outside but I will, later) and I come across a feature from the Guardian called, ‘Reclaim you lunch hour’. What’s it about? Seeing 45 minute theatre productions at London’s Bridewell Theatre in your lunch hour. Obviously, something will be lost in the shortening of the plays but what a backdrop to your sandwich munching. Click on the link above to watch a short video about the idea behind Lunchbox Theatre and the current production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s certainly food for thought about how we spend our lunch hour.

Free Event: Tom Priestley at the Liverpool Playhouse

Tom Priestley will be on stage at the Liverpool Playhouse at 4.45pm on Saturday 16 May for a free talk where he will be discussing and answering questions on his father J.B. Priestley’s life, work and plays; including When We Are Married, currently running at the theatre.

Tom Priestley and his father, J.D. Priestley

Tom will also be talking about English Journey, his father’s book celebrating a journey he made through England in 1933. The book is due to be re-published in July with a new introduction from Tom. He will discuss the book and read a short extract from it about his father’s time in Liverpool including his opinion of the Liverpool Playhouse at the time:

Its director, my friend William Armstrong, considers himself – probably with some truth – the busiest man in the city, for he is always watching one play, producing another, and making plans for the production of two more. His, I suppose, is the best repertory company in the kingdom; no other, except perhaps Birmingham in its heyday, has sent so many brilliant young actors and actresses to the West End

(Extract from J.B. Priestley’s English Journey.)

There will also be a chance to ask Tom questions about English Journey, his father’s life and career and also his opinion of the new critically acclaimed production of When We Are Married at the Liverpool Playhouse which Tom will be watching during his visit to the city.

Tom Priestley’s talk will commence at 4.45pm on Saturday 16 May in the Liverpool Playhouse auditorium. Tickets are free but must be reserved from the Liverpool Playhouse Box Office either in person or on the phone – 0151 709 4776.

The new edition of J.B. Priestley’s English Journey is due to be published by Great Northern Books on 13th July 2009, it is available to pre-order now on their website or by calling 01274 735056.

Several J.B. Priestley’s books and play collections are also available to buy from the theatre on the day of the talk.

Theatre in the Rough

Theatre in the Rough is a festival of new playwriting by 13-18 year-olds from across the Greater Merseyside region. Originating as a one-off production of twelve 10-minute plays in 2006, the festival is now one of the largest playwriting projects for this age group in the whole of the North West of England.

Since February, the festival has been working with 30 young writers from our partner-schools in both Sefton and Halton in a weekly programme of workshops designed to develop 15-minute plays for performance. From our workshop base in Formby, our writers have had the opportunity to meet industry professionals such as playwright Michael McLean and film-maker Paul Dawson, who have provided stimulating workshops and Q&A sessions; they have studied modern, aggressive works by writers such as Caryl Churchill and Duncan MacMillan; attended contemporary theatre productions in Liverpool for inspiration; and have worked weekly with the playwright Chris Fittock and actress Keri White on developing and honing their ideas into a finished script.

The sensitivity of the writing and the breadth and depth of subjects covered belies the age of the writers: from the idea of the redemption of ambition on a Merseyrail train halted by a suicide to a comedic tour of Sefton written entirely in Shakespearean rhyming couplets, the work has proven to be diverse, surprising and challenging. For young people of whom most have never before written for the theatre, neither age nor inexperience has been used as an excuse for playing it safe: these plays aim to provoke in their language, their theme and their form.

Theatre in the Rough ’09 takes place at the Southport Arts Centre on 19 & 20 May at 7.30pm, £5/£4, Box Office: 01704 540 011, and at The Brindley, Runcorn, on 26 May at 7pm, £5/£4, Box Office: 0151 907 8360.

Much more information, including galleries and videos for all the plays, can be found at www.theatreintherough.com

The Theatre in the Rough Festival is funded by Express Sefton and Awards for All.

Diverse Performs! Launch Event

Monday 27th April 6:00pm @ the unity theatre, Liverpool

A chance to meet, greet, share ideas and help launch…

Diverse Peforms!

With some suprise guest readers and performers… and YOU! Bring a favourite poem or reading or write a Haiku on the night! If you would like to perform at the launch… get in touch:

RSVP – ASAP to Col Farrell (07804 811886)

Diverse performs is a partnership between unity theatre, Clapperboard UK, The Reader Organisation and DiverseMagazine. With the use of unity’s new performance space ‘unity 3′ we need your talent for performance. Whether it be poetry, rap, short stories, comedy, acoustic, singing, drumming or even magic, if it fits the space we would like to show it. The performances can be any length up to 30 minutes and will take place prior to unity shows. Here are the dates:

Thursday 30 April 7:00pm
Friday 15 May 5:00pm
Friday 29 May 7:00pm
Thursday 11 June 7:00pm
Thursday 25 June 7:00pm
Thursday 16 July 7:00pm

Sefton Writing Competition 2009

This competition is part of Sefton Arts & Cultural Service’s extensive programme of writing-related events, performances, projects and workshops throughout 2009.

Any entries of poetry, stories, lyrics, essays, mini-dramas, plus any other forms of writing will be accepted, as long as they are on the theme of JOURNEYS.

Current Poet Laureate Andrew Motion writes that,

The Sefton Writing Competition is a very welcome event: it celebrates an exciting variety of new voices.

The Judging panel will consist of Brian Wake, Philip Wroe, and David Eddy.

Please click here for more information on terms and conditions, and how to submit your entry. The closing date for entries is 9th October 2009.

Great Expectations for the Theatre

A cold, snowy day in Manchester and twelve Get Into Reading members made the trip to The Library Theatre to see Roger Haines’ fabulously innovative production of Great Expectations. Neil Bartlett’s adaptation was clear and concise. Initially, I was intrigued as to how anyone could manage to adapt this lengthy novel into two and half hours and how in fact, it would be staged.

The play flowed easily, but not so fast as to leave the audience wondering what was going on. This play was in no way a pure narrative, this version unlocked Dickens’ imagery with a fabulously innovative set. Pip speaks of the pressure to contain the compromising aspects of his past behind “many hundreds of doors”, and the exceedingly clever set design included all of them, suggesting tombstones, prison cells and various locations in London. Where there are doors, there are also eavesdroppers: each point in Pip’s journey is witnessed by a whispering chorus peering through keyholes. The presence of these portals created a striking metaphor for the hero’s inability to unlock the truth about his own background.

Dickens’ weird and wonderful characters appeared from behind these doors and popped up from trap doors in the floor with props and furniture, in a series of choreographed movements.The hard-working cast appeared as several characters including Pip’s cruel sister and the lovable Joe Gargery. Richard Heap was a magnificent Magwitch, Claire Redcliffe provided the love interest as the fickle Estella, while Helen Ryan was a chillingly heartless Miss Havisham.

I went with no expectations and returned entranced.

Posted by Alison Walters