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British Theatre Guide podcast

News, features and interviews from the world of professional theatre throughout the UK.

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Twelfth Night in Regent's Park, London
The 2024 summer season at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London will open with a new production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night Or What You Will directed by Owen Horsley, an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company and an Associate Director for Cheek by Jowl. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Owen at a break during rehearsals about his approach to the play, his love of Shakespeare and the perhaps unusual way he was originally introduced to the Bard’s work. Twelfth Night Or What You Will directed by Owen Horsley runs at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 3 May to 8 June 2024.
31:10 4/18/24
Now, I See continues Malaolu's family trilogy at Stratford East
Actor, writer, choreographer and film-maker Lanre Malaolu’s play Samskara had a sell-out run at London’s Yard Theatre in 2022 and was subsequently published by Nick Hern Books. Now, I See is the second play of what has become a trilogy which, like the first part, examines family relationships through a modern black, British lens. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Lanre about the play, his writing process, how his work comes from his own experiences and observations and his introduction to creating theatre through Anna Scher drama classes and a transformational experience through Jonzi D’s Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells. Now, I See runs at Theatre Royal, Stratford East in London from 10 May to 1 June 2024.
42:14 4/13/24
Greg Hicks is Dostoyevsky's Ridiculous Man in London
Actor Greg Hicks has played many leading roles at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company over the last forty years, as well as starring on the West End and appearing on screen in films including The Mercy and Snow White and the Huntsman. He is about to perform a one-man show, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, based on a short story by Dostoyevsky, at the new Marylebone Theatre in London. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to him a few days before it opened about the play and how much more of himself he will be presenting to an audience than in other roles he has played. He also spoke about some of his past roles, including performing naked in Romans in Britain for a role that nearly ended him up in criminal court immediately followed by appearing in full costume and mask for Peter Hall’s famous Oresteia (he credits Hall as his mentor at the National in the 1970s). The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, adapted and directed by Laurence Boswell, is at Marylebone Theatre in London from 21 March to 20 April 2024. (Rehearsal image of Greg Hicks in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, credit Richard James Taylor)
33:07 3/19/24
fix+foxy brings alternative Wild West story to Manchester
Danish theatre company fix+foxy premièred Dark Noon at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe which “explores one of the great American myths—the Wild West” through seven South African actors. The production will be restaged at Manchester’s Aviva Studios this spring. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to co-directors Tue Biering and Nhlanhla Mahlangu about what and whose story the play is telling and about the process of creating it. Dark Noon will be performed in the South Warehouse of Aviva Studios in Manchester from 6 to 10 March 2024.
32:07 2/8/24
imitating the dog follows Dracula and Living Dead with Frankenstein
Following Night of the Living Dead—Remix and Dracula: The Untold Story, imitating the dog is again collaborating with Leeds Playhouse, this time on a new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein co-created by Pete Brooks, Andrew Quick and Simon Wainwright. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Andrew Quick during rehearsals at Leeds Playhouse about the technical challenges of this two-hander for creators and performers, the state of touring shows around the UK and Europe at the moment and the company’s style and creative process. Frankenstein, featuring design by Hayley Brindle, lighting by Andrew Crofts and original music by James Hamilton, will open at Leeds Playhouse from 15 February 2024, before touring to Oxford Playhouse, Watford Palace Theatre, The Lowry in Salford, Cast in Doncaster, Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Liverpool Playhouse, The Dukes Lancaster and Northern Stage in Newcastle. (Photo of Andrew Quick, credit Ed Waring)
33:28 1/28/24
New Roald Dahl family theatre; Witches and Croc are just the start
For Christmas 2023, there were two new stage adaptations of stories by Roald Dahl in the UK: The Witches at the National Theatre in London and The Enormous Crocodile at Leeds Playhouse, the first to be co-produced by the Roald Dahl Story Company. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to the company’s Artistic Director of Theatre, Jenny Worton, about what the Roald Dahl Story Company actually is, how it develops new shows based on Dahl’s books and some of the plans for the future. The National Theatre production of The Witches runs until 27 January 2024.
31:14 1/18/24
Almond's Ella Grey to open at home in Newcastle
Pilot Theatre, a York-based touring company that creates theatre for young people is to tour England in February and March 2024 with an adaptation of David Almond’s book A Song for Ella Grey, written by Zoe Cooper and directed by Pilot’s Artistic Director, Esther Richardson. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Esther while the production was still in rehearsal about the play, its North East setting, having a TikTok star in the title role, the process of adapting a challenging novel for the stage and the current state of theatre for young people in the UK. A Song for Ella Grey will open at Northern Stage in Newcastle 1–15 February 2024, before moving to York Theatre Royal 20–24 February, Theatre Peckham 27 February to 2 March, Hull Truck Theatre 5–9 March, Liverpool Playhouse 13–16 March and Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford 19–23 March.
28:12 1/11/24
Gecko's migration stories travel to the National
Physical theatre company Gecko, based in Ipswich, was founded in 2001 by Amit Lahav, who is still its Artistic Director. The company’s latest production, Kin, toured the UK in 2023 and will be at the National Theatre in London in January 2024. Amit spoke to BTG Editor David Chadderton about the origins of the production in the story of his grandmother Leah’s journey from Yemen to Palestine as a child in 1932 to escape persecution, how this developed to look at migration stories more widely, the politics of migration then and now and Gecko’s—and Amit’s—creative process in making theatre. Kin will run at the Lyttelton Theatre from 12 to 27 January 2024. (Photo of Amit Lahav in Kin by Gecko (c) Malachy Luckie)
37:39 12/20/23
Mark Thomas on England & Son
Mark Thomas is a stand-up comic whose work for stage and TV has frequently crossed over into theatre and into political activism, in some cases resulting in changes in the law. He is currently performing a show he hasn’t written himself for the first time, England & Son by award-winning playwright Ed Edwards. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Mark while the play was touring about the play, the importance of storytelling, football, class, what makes a ‘creative act’, Oliver Cromwell, Brecht, Shakespeare and a lot more. England & Son, directed by Cressida Brown, is at the Arcola Theatre in London until 25 November 2023 then moves to the Playhouse in Sheffield from 28 to 29 November and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh from 5 to 9 December. For more information about Mark, performance dates and tickets, see his web site. (Performance shot of Mark Thomas in England & Son, credit Alex Brenner)
42:10 11/17/23
Stephen Schwartz on bringing The Prince from screen to stage and back to screen
The Prince of Egypt, the DreamWorks animated film from 1998, was brought to the West End stage in 2020 at the Dominion Theatre but had to take a break due to the COVID lockdown. It completed its run the following year when it was filmed for a cinema release. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to the show’s composer and lyricist, multi-Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz, about the show’s West End run and how it originally came about, as well as some of his views on songwriting. The Prince of Egypt will be released in selected cinemas across the UK and internationally on 19 and 22 October 2023 by Trafalgar Releasing. Tickets are on sale at ThePrinceOfEgyptMusicalFilm.com. For information about Stephen and his work, see the Stephen Schwartz official web site. (Photo of Stephen Schwartz, credit: Nathan Johnson.)
19:30 10/17/23
Tamasha brings Indian partition to Manchester via Dickens
Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and Tamasha will present Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens set during the Indian partition in Bengal, directed by Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director of Tamasha BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Pooja during rehearsals about the production, the history and concept behind Tamasha and a recently announced programme to “diversify dramaturgy” funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Great Expectations will run at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from 8 September to 7 October 2023. Photo of Pooja Ghai in rehearsals for Great Expectations by Abey Lam
32:08 8/30/23
Willie White on the 2023 Dublin Theatre Festival
Dublin Theatre Festival in Ireland has been running since 1957, and Willie White has been its Artistic Director and Chief Executive since 2011. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Willie about the 2023 festival and the history and general focus of the festival. Dublin Theatre Festival runs from 28 September to 15 October 2023. After the Silence, image credit Juliana França Nurith Wagner-Strauss Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel, image credit Amy Gibson  Warrior - Karen Egan, photo Shane McCarthy Zona Franca, © Renato Mangolin
27:59 8/23/23
Edinburgh 2023: backhold wrestling at the Traverse
Glasgow-based writer Nat McCleary’s play Thrown for National Theatre Scotland is set in the world of backhold wrestling and is concluding its tour of Scotland with a run at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. It is directed by Johnny McKnight, who spoke to BTG Editor David Chadderton at the mid-point of the festival about the play, Scottish traditions, this year’s festivals and the influence panto has had on everything he does in theatre. Thrown continues at the Traverse until Sunday 27 August 2023, as does the musical No Love Songs, with a book co-written by Johnny with Laura Wilde.
33:59 8/16/23
Michie and Young in new Arnott Summer Portrait
Towards the end of its summer season, Pitlochry Festival Theatre will present the world première of a new play by Peter Arnott, Group Portrait in a Summer Landscape, set in a Perthshire country house during the Scottish Independence referendum of 2014, directed by David Greig in a co-production with Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. The main character Rennie is played by John Michie, best-known as DI Robbie Ross in TV’s Taggart, and his friend Moon is played by fellow Scottish actor Benny Young. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to John and Benny while the production was in rehearsal about the play and the continuing relevance of its subject matter, as well as about rehearsing and performing in Pitlochry. The play will be performed at Pitlochry Festival Theatre from 25 August to 28 September 2023. It will then transfer to the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh from 4 to 14 October.
32:43 7/28/23
Mei Mac: from 4-year-old to century-old prisoner of Western stereotypes
Kimber Lee’s provocatively titled winner of the first International Award from the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2019, untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, opened in June 2023 at the Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Manchester International Festival and will transfer to the Young Vic in London later in the year. In the lead role of Kim is Mei Mac, who was nominated for a Best Actress Olivier Award earlier this year for playing 4-year-old Mei Kusakabe in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican in London. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Mei in the middle of the Manchester run and asked her about performing in this often physical and funny production and the serious questions it raises, as well as her experiences in Totoro with the RSC and director Phelim McDermott. untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play is at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester until 22 July 2023, then at the Young Vic in London from 18 September to 4 November 2023. (Photo of Mei Mac as Kim by Other Richard - Richard Davenport)
30:14 7/19/23
As You Like It matured at the RSC
As You Like It is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. Omar Elerian, who is directing his first show for the Royal Shakespeare Company, was keen to explore it from a “fresh and new perspective”, so he has cast a company of actors who are mostly over 70.   BTG’s Midlands editor Steve Orme spoke to two of the actors, 73-year-old Malcolm Sinclair and Maureen Beattie who’s 69. He asked them what it’s like performing in a company of mature actors and whether there’s still age discrimination in the industry.   As You Like It continues in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford until Saturday 5 August. (Photo of Malcolm Sinclair and Maureen Beattie by Steve Orme)
22:05 7/14/23
Edfringe 2023: Graeae's Jenny Sealey returns to performing after three decades
Jenny Sealey has been artistic director of Graeae since 1997, a theatre company, which, according to its web site, “boldly places Deaf and disabled artists centre-stage in a diversity of new and existing plays”. In that time, she has directed many productions, including co-directing the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics in London with Bradley Hemmings. However, for her next production, Self Raising, for the Edinburgh Fringe, she will be performing herself for the first time in three decades in a solo piece co-written with Mike Kenny based on her own early life in a family in which she was the only Deaf person. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Jenny about her return to acting (“terrifying”), the play, what Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh the city is currently like for a Deaf or disabled person, the excitement and problems of creating the opening ceremony (coming up against the doubts of Jeremy Hunt) and more. Self Raising will be at the Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh from 2 to 27 August 2023 at 12:30PM.
38:56 7/8/23
Zero-waste theatre The Greenhouse tours Docklands
The Greenhouse is billed as the UK’s first zero-waste performance space, holding up to 50 audience members in its in-the-round venue made from found and recycled materials. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Oli Savage, Artistic Director of The Greenhouse about the challenges and joys of making theatre of all kinds in a zero-waste way. The summer 2023 programme opened at Royal Docks in East London on 11 May and runs until 4 June. The theatre will then move to Canary Wharf from 19 June to 14 July, then Battersea Power Station from 7 August to 3 September.
27:14 5/17/23
Gypsy opens Pitlochry rep season
Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland has announced a repertory season for 2023 featuring a 19-strong ensemble of actors performing in 8 different productions, starting with the musical Gypsy. While the show was still in rehearsal, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to the two lead actors: Blythe Jandoo who plays Louise, and Shona White, who plays Louise’s formidable mother, Rose. Gypsy runs at Pitlochry Festival Theatre from 19 May to 30 September 2023, while Elizabeth Newman’s adaptation of The Secret Garden will run from 7 July to 19 August and The Maggie Wall by Martin McCormick from 9 to 28 June. Other productions in the season include Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Emma Rice’s adaptation of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter, new plays from Peter Arnott and Isla Cowan—Group Portrait In A Summer Landscape and To The Bone—and Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Lipstick, Ketchup and Blood by Lesley Hart.
30:13 5/4/23
This is Kneehigh: online
Cornwall’s popular and highly acclaimed theatre company Kneehigh shut down in 2021, the year after its 40th anniversary. When the company closed, the Kneehigh Cookbook, an online educational resource, also closed, but it has become the basis for an ongoing archive of all of the company’s work, This is Kneehigh, hosted by Falmouth University and supported by digital arts platform The Space. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Kneehigh founder Mike Shepherd and lead archivist for the project Sarah Jane from Falmouth University about the archive, the process of archiving live performance, the closure of the company and Mike’s ongoing creative work at The Barns, the former home of Kneehigh in Cornwall which he continues to run as a creative arts facility. Contact details can be found on the This is Kneehigh web site—Sarah welcomes any feedback on the site.
54:53 4/26/23
Frank Exchanges with David Wood OBE
David Wood OBE, described by the late great Times theatre critic Irving Wardle as “the national children’s dramatist”, has written more than 70 plays, including adaptations of books by Judith Kerr, Michelle Magorian, Philippa Pearce and Roald Dahl, as well as original plays of his own. From 1959 until 2005, David kept up regular correspondence with Frank Whitbourn, whom he credits as his mentor, which is currently being edited into a book called Frank Exchanges. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to David when he was still working on the manuscript with editor Chris Abbott about the book and how Frank’s observations helped his career, as well as about writing for children, producing children’s theatre with his company Whirligig Theatre, the status of children’s theatre in the industry, cultural clashes in theatre-in-education in the 1980s and much more. Frank Exchanges is due to be published by The Book Guild on 28 June 2023. [Image of David Wood and Frank Whitbourn at Whitbourn's home in Winchester, 2001, credit: Mary Wright]
82:57 4/15/23
Factory launches Manchester International Festival 2023
Factory International announced the 2023 edition of the biannual Manchester International Festival at an event at New Century Hall in Manchester on 14 March. After the announcement, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Manchester International Festival’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive John McGrath, Adam Szabo from Manchester Collective about their co-production with Slung Low of Benjamin Britten’s community opera Noah’s Flood, Scottee about acting as dramaturg for a musical adaptation of Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta’s cult 1977 book The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions and MIF’s Creative Director, Low Kee Hong. Manchester International Festival 2023 runs from 29 June to 16 July at venues all around the city centre and beyond. (Images: John McGrath, credit Tarnish Vision; Low Kee Hong; Rakhi Singh and Adam Szabo, co-founders of Manchester Collective, photo by Robin Clewley.)
32:49 3/15/23
David Greig resurrects The Egyptians
David Greig is a leading Scottish playwright and Artistic Director of Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. In 2016, he adapted The Suppliant Women, the only fully extant play in a trilogy by Aeschylus, and is now adapting the other two plays in the trilogy, even though only fragments of the originals still exist, the first of which, The Egyptians, opens at Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury, Kent at the end of February 2023. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to David about the fascinating process or reconstructing these ancient works, staging them in a way that gives a modern audiences a similar experience to those who watched them 2,500 years ago rather than as museum pieces and his views on Scottish theatre. The Egyptians will have an initial run at Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury from 22 to 25 February 2023. Macbeth (an undoing) by Zinnie Harris, after Shakespeare, runs at Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, also until 25 February.
41:54 2/16/23
Ghost stories and gritty realism from Paradise Heights to Blaine Manor
Joe O’Byrne has been producing his own work for stage around the North West, often to great acclaim, for some years, but recently, he has been taking more work further afield than ever. This year, he will again tour his ghost story The Haunting of Blaine Manor and four of his Tales from Paradise Heights, a series of plays that share characters and a location with interlocking stories: The Bench, Diane’s Deli, Strawberry Jack and I’m Frank Morgan: Rewired. BTG Editor David Chadderton has been following Joe’s work for over a decade, and he spoke to him about his work and his newly increased energy and ambition for taking his work around the UK, and potentially onto TV. For more information on all of Joe’s work for stage, screen and canvas, see talesfromparadiseheights.com, and also check out his YouTube channel.
35:37 2/9/23
Stage Door Jonny, a love letter to the stage
Jonathan Cake is an actor who has worked extensively on stage, film and television in the UK and the US, but his first love has always been theatre, and many of his friends in the business feel the same. In order to investigate what it is about theatre that keeps drawing them back, he has started a podcast, Stage Door Jonny, where he talks to some of those friends including Sam Mendes, Damian Lewis, David Harewood, Jez Butterworth, Ethan Hawke, and, in the very first episode, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Jonathan about the podcast and the often quite personal revelations of his celebrity guests, as well as about his own career and why he keeps coming back to theatre. You can find Stage Door Jonny on all the usual podcast platforms.
48:17 2/5/23
Ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan takes panto online
During the pandemic, Peter Duncan kept the panto magic alive with his online pantomimes Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella. This year, he has created his third streamed pantomime: Pantoland.  BTG’s Panto Editor Simon Sladen spoke to Peter about his foray into film-making and turning a very live genre into one that can work equally well on screen. Simon and Peter also discuss Peter's first experience of pantomime, growing up in a theatrical household and writing, directing and starring in pantomimes across the country—and Blue Peter gets a mention, of course. For more information, see Panto Online. (photo credit Gordon Render)
33:21 12/23/22
Return to the VAULTS: London festival is back in 2023
London’s VAULT Festival was founded in 2012 by Andy George and Mat Burtcher in the tunnels under Waterloo Station. The lockdown due to the COVID pandemic came during the 2020 festival and resulted in the cancellation of the 2021 and 2022 festivals, but the programme has now been announced for a big return in January 2023. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to VAULT’s Director and co-founder Andy George about the principles and criteria for the festival programme, it’s humble beginnings ten years ago, survival over three years of COVID and highlights of the 2023 event, plus he comes up with an interesting metaphor for creating theatre taken from Wallace and Gromit. VAULT Festival 2023 takes place in various venues around Waterloo from 24 January to 19 March featuring more than 500 theatre, comedy, cabaret and late-night shows.
35:19 12/16/22
Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2022 winners
Since 2005, Manchester-based property company Bruntwood has worked with the Royal Exchange Theatre to present the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. The 2022 ceremony was held at the Royal Exchange on 14 November. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to the three of the winners—International Award winner Rochelle Fong, North West Original New Voice winner Patrick Hughes and Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner Nathan Queeley-Dennis—immediately after the ceremony about their work and how they felt about their awards.
28:22 11/15/22
Not Too Tame opening for Shakespeare North's Midsummer
The new Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, Merseyside is an Elizabethan-style theatre which opened in July 2022. However, its first production of a play by Shakespeare came later with A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced by Warrington-based associate company Not Too Tame. The production will transfer to Newcastle for a run in the Epic Space at Northern Stage. David Chadderton spoke to Not Too Tame’s Artistic Director Jimmy Fairhurst, who co-directed the production with Matthew Dunster, and a company co-director, Andrew Butler, who appears in the production, about their take on the play, how it fits with the company’s philosophy of accessible theatre for the working classes (“a good night out”) and how this new theatre sits within the community in Prescot, as well as about their introduction to and love for Shakespeare. Not Too Tame’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at Shakespeare North Playhouse from 22 September to 22 October and at Northern Stage from 29 October to 12 November 2022.
42:41 10/17/22
MIF announces Factory opening for October 2023
On 29 September 2022, Manchester International Festival officially announced its plans for the opening of its new permanent performance venue, to be called Factory International, in the St John’s area of Manchester city centre. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to John E McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of both Manchester International Festival and Factory International, about what the new building would provide for Manchester and the international arts scene, as well as about the opening production, Free Your Mind, a stage adaptation of the film The Matrix directed by Danny Boyle with a script by Sabrina Mahfouz, music by Mikey J Asante, choreography by Kenrick Sandy and design by Es Devlin. Following this, you can follow us on a tour of the building led by lead architect Ellen van Loon of OMA and Creative Director Low Kee Hong. Free Your Mind will run from 18 October to 5 November 2023, and tickets are now on sale. (Photo of John E McGrath at the Factory International Launch, credit: James Speakman / PA Wire)
52:50 10/6/22

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