Hosted by Julian Clary, with an introduction by Ian McKellen, the evening of song, speech and music was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Ian Charleson Day Centre at the Royal Free Hospital. It included performances by Michael Cashman, Rupert Everett, Anne Reid and Stefan Bednarczyk, the X Factor’s Anton Stephans, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, actor Jack Lowden and the London Gay Men’s Choir. Speakers included Nick Partridge, Laurence Isaacson and Sean Mathias.
SKY ARTS and WINGSPAN THEATRICALS PRESENT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF
Beyond the Fence
A NEW MUSICAL and A WORLD FIRST
22 February – 5 March 2016
2016. The computer revolution. In a world becoming ever more technologically advanced, and reliant upon computers, machine learning and artificial intelligence are rapidly and fundamentally changing every aspect of human experience. But how does technology affect art and the creative process?
In a world first, Sky Arts and Wingspan Theatricals will explore this question by presenting the premiere of the world’s first ‘computer musical’. Beyond the Fence will play at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End from 22 February – 5 March 2016, directed by Luke Sheppard, choreographed by Cressida Carre and produced by Neil Laidlaw. Press Night is Friday 26 February, 7pm.
Beyond the Fence is conceived by computer and substantially crafted by computer. It is modelled on a statistical study of the ‘recipe for success’ in hit musicals. This ground-breaking process is being filmed for a Sky Arts TV series titled ‘Computer Says Show’, chronicling this unique experiment (to be broadcast in spring 2016). In collaboration with leading experts in music, computation and the science of human creativity, composer Benjamin Till and his husband, writer and actor, Nathan Taylor, the award winning team behind ‘Our Gay Wedding: The Musical’ (Channel 4), will bring a whole range of computer-generated material to life, presiding over the creation of an emotionally powerful and exciting West End show which is at the same time the grandest of experiments. That experiment has been designed and co-ordinated by Dr Catherine Gale, who also produces and directs the series.
‘Computer Says Show’ affirms Sky Arts commitment to investing in ambitious new arts ventures. In April 2015, Sky Arts moved up the electronic programme guide (EPG), where it consolidated into a single ‘super channel,’ and increased its overall programming budget by 10%.
“This is a fascinating project that we’re extremely proud to be a part of. At Sky Arts, we’re always excited by innovation and this venture offers an intriguing glimpse into how technology is changing music evolution. Can an algorithm create music with all the humanity, emotion and drama that a person can bring? This question captivates us. We cannot wait to see the result.”
Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts
“The original idea for this project – could computers write a hit musical – came about as ‘an improbable mash-up between two of our recent award-winning shows, ‘Our Gay Wedding-The Musical’ (Channel 4) and ‘The Joy of Logic’ (BBC4).”
Archie Baron, Creative Director, Wingspan Productions
Beyond the Fence started as an experiment, with researchers delving into what makes a good musical, from production and story to music and lyrics. Scientists used their findings to fine-tune computational systems which would in turn create brand new musical material. The question is: can these computer algorithms create something collaboratively with humans that can entertain, touch or inspire them? We’ll only know once the show, designed to deliver the optimum elements for a success, opens as part of this challenging and magnificent new production.
September 1982. Mary and her daughter George are celebrating one year of living at the Greenham Common peace camp. The group of women they have joined are all committed to stopping the arrival of US cruise missiles through non-violent protest. When Mary is faced with losing her child to the authorities, an unlikely ally is found in US Airman Jim Meadow. How can she continue to do what is best for her daughter while staying true to her ideals? Beyond the Fence is a powerful new musical about hope, defiance, unity and love.
The process began with a predictive, big data analysis of success in musical theatre, conducted by Dr James Robert Lloyd, Dr Alex Davies and Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter (Cambridge University). They interrogated everything from cast size, to backdrop, emotional structure to the importance of someone falling love, dying (or both!) – in more and less successful shows – to create a set of constraints to which the musical had to conform, to theoretically optimise chances of success.
Next, the team visited what’s known as the What-If Machine at Goldsmiths, University of London. With Prof Simon Colton, Dr Maria Teresa Llano and Dr Rose Hepworth at the helm, the machine generated multiple central premises, featuring key characters, for the new show. The team selected this as the starting point and the original idea for the musical:
What if a wounded soldier had to learn how to understand a child in order to find true love?
A plot structure for the musical was also generated computationally, thanks to work led by Dr Pablo Gervás (Complutense University of Madrid). A brand new analysis of musical theatre narratives enabled him to adapt an existing story telling computer system, called PropperWryter, to turn its hand to musicals and build the core narrative arc of the new show.
Taken together, all of the above enabled the precinct for the emerging story to be identified: Greenham Common. The team then wrote a book and lyrics (with the assistance of some other computational tools) that fitted all these constraints.
Finally, the music material has been provided by Dr Nick Collins (Durham University), who has created a computer composition system he calls Android Lloyd Webber based on a machine listening analysis of musical theatre music, conducted by Dr Bob Sturm (QMUL) and Dr Tillman Weyde (City University). Additional computer music material will be generated using the FlowComposer system created by Dr Pierre Roy and Dr Francois Pachet (SonyCSL, Paris).
Nathan Taylor has appeared in many West End shows including ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Spamalot’, ‘Taboo’, ‘Miss Saigon’, ‘Martin Guerre’, ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ and ‘Les Misérables’. As a writer, Nathan supplied additional lyrics for the musical ‘Brass’, by Benjamin Till, he wrote the lyrics for Four Colours, an EP released to support the work of the Kaleidoscope Trust, and most recently was nominated for a BAFTA for co-writing music and lyrics for ‘Our Gay Wedding: The Musical’ (Channel 4), in which he also got married, to Benjamin Till.
Benjamin Till has had a twenty-year career focused on pioneering the genre of the through-sung musical film documentary. His TV films have been nominated for and won many major awards including Griersons, RTS and Broadcast Awards. Films include ‘A1: The Road Musical’ (Channel 4), ‘A Symphony for Yorkshire’ (BBC), ‘100 Faces’ (BBC), ‘Tyne and Wear Metro: The Musical’ (BBC) ‘Coventry Market: The Musical’ (BBC), ‘Songs from Hattersley’ (BBC). He is the composer of The London Requiem (a setting of inscriptions from gravestones found across London) and is his most recent stage musical, Brass, won the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production. CD recordings include The London Requiem and the forthcoming Pepys Motet (a 20-part acapella setting of Samuel Pepys’ Diary.) Benjamin and his husband Nathan Taylor were the grooms and writers of the BAFTA-nominated ‘Our Gay Wedding: The Musical’, which won a Grierson Award and the Prix Italia.
Luke Sheppard’s most recent credits include ‘In The Heights’ (Kings Cross Theatre); ‘Oliver!’ (Watermill); ‘Casa Valentina’ (Southwark Playhouse) and ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole: Aged 13 ¾’ (Curve Theatre).
Choreographer Cressida Carré’s most recent credits include ‘Titanic’ (Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto); Avenue Q (UK Tour); The Grand Tour (Finborough Theatre); The Jungle Book (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow).
Neil Laidlaw is one of the co-producers of ‘Gypsy’ (Savoy Theatre). His other recent productions include ‘A Doll’s House’ (Duke or York’s and BAM, New York), ‘Jigsy’ (UK Tour) and ‘The Steamie’ (Scottish Tour).
Dr Catherine Gale has credits in both academia (postdoctoral research fellowships in HIV genomics, bioinformatics and computational biomedicine) and television, working on science programmes for BBC2, 4, Channel 4 and PBS. Recent directing credits include the award-winning ‘The Joy of Logic’ (BBC) and ‘The Brain – What Makes Me’ (PBS).
Beyond the Fence was commissioned by Sky Arts as part of ‘Computer Says Show ’, a forthcoming television series by Wingspan Productions who devised this unique experiment.
Founded and headed by Archie Baron, factual indie Wingspan’s recent award-winning productions include ‘Our Gay Wedding-The Musical’ (C4), ‘The Joy of Stats’, ‘Don’t Panic-The Truth about Population’, ‘The Joy of Logic’ and ‘Ian Hislop: When Bankers Were Good’ (BBC). Musical productions range from ‘The Great American Love Song’ (ITV) to ‘Angelic Voices: The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral’ (BBC).
Cast to be announced.
Beyond The Fence
Venue: Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB
Dates: 22 February – 5 March 2016
Press Night: Friday 26 February, 7pm
Times: Mon – Sat, 7.30pm; plus Wed and Sat 2.30pm matinees (not Wed 24 February)
Tickets: £12.50 – £49.50
Booking: beyondthefencemusical.com / 020 7836 8463
Twitter: @BeyondTheFence_ #ComputerMusical
Dance For Life
Metro Radio Arena Saturday 6th February 2016
For the first time ever the award winning comedian Peter Kay will be hosting a series of ambitious fundraising ‘dance-a-thon parties’ with all of the profits going to Cancer Research UK.
The three-hour dance-a-thons will each take place across seven Saturday nights at seven different arenas across the UK. Each of the venues will be spectacularly transformed to accommodate enormous dance floors, which will feature state of the art sound and lights as DJ PK takes to the turntables for what promises to be a joyous and unforgettable fundraising experience.
Peter said of the events “I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to raise money for such an important charity than by people simply dancing to some of the best music of the last four decades and as a result changing lives. I do hope people will support it”
A spokesperson for the event organisers SJM Concerts said “We’ve never been part of anything like this before. It’s a unique, positive challenge that Peter is organising and will raise a lot of money for Cancer Research UK.”
Simon Ledsham, director of trading and volunteer fundraising at Cancer Research UK, said: “We are thrilled that Peter is holding these dance-a-thons for the charity. We rely on the donations of supporters to fund vital research to help us beat cancer sooner, so it’s brilliant to have his support and we hope the public all get their dancing shoes on and join him.”
Tickets are £25.00 each and can be bought individually or in groups of any number. Fancy dress is optional.
Participants are also welcome to dedicate their Dance For Life challenge in support or memory of family and friends by texting messages at the event, or by getting sponsorship for the challenge themselves by joining Peter’s ‘Dance for Life’ Team at , all the money raised will be going to Cancer Research UK.
Watch this space for more information.
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089464), Scotland (SC041666) and the Isle of Man (1103).
Tickets costing £25.00 will go on sale 10.00am Thursday 3rd December 2015 and are available online, from the booking hotline number 0844 493 6666 or in person from the Metro Radio Arena Box Office. Regrettably tickets are limited to over 18s.
Tickets are available from:-
- Credit Card Booking and Information Line 0844 493 6666
- The Metro Radio Arena Newcastle Box Office (Mon – Fri: 10.00am – 4.00pm, Sat: 11.00am – 2.30pm)
- Internet Site:- www.metroradioarena.co.uk
- Group Bookers should call (0191) 260 6006
- Accessible Bookings should call (0191) 260 6066 for further details
Thursday 3 – Saturday 5 December 2015
Turning Pages is an exhilarating selection of new short plays written by young playwrights which opens this week and runs at Live Theatre from Thursday 3 to Saturday 5 December 2015.
The six plays will be brought to life in Live Theatre’s Main Theatre by a professional cast that includes Chris Connel (The Pitmen Painters, Wet House), Natalie Jamieson (Michaela’s Mistake) and Donald McBride (The Pitmen Painters, Chalet Lines).
Written by talent young writers aged 13 to 15 year olds from Furrowfield School, Gateshead and Red House Academy, Sunderland, Turning Pages promises an eclectic mix of colourful characters and stories with plenty of laughs along the way. The plays include a futuristic warning against vanity, dares and doctors, dolls and diagnoses.
Over a number of weeks the young playwrights worked with established writers including Paddy Campbell (Wet House, Day of the Flymo), Laura Lindow (Your Aunt Fanny) and Lee Mattinson (Chalet Lines, Donna Disco) to help develop their plays throughWrite Stuff, Live Theatre’s acclaimed playwriting programme for young people.
Following a sold-out script-in-hand performance in Live Theatre’s Studio Theatre earlier this year, these six selected plays have been further developed and rehearsed with professional actors and directors for full productions in the Main Theatre.
The plays written by students from Furrowfield School in Gateshead are Doctor Death by Lee Harrison, Soulless and Goallessby Leonnie Lartey and Scary House by Reece Weightman. The plays written by students from Red House Academy in Sunderland are Could It Be A Tuna? by Nathan Beckett, Memories Of The Sea by Amy Connor, and Never Never Land by Lauren Dickson.
Zoë Whitby, English Co-ordinator at Furrowfield School said:
“Write Stuff is a project that mentally and physically engages young people in the writing process. Writing skills are being developed, confidence is growing and young writers have become totally engaged in a project that they are beginning to drive for themselves. I can’t wait for the end result.”
The Good Review, said about plays developed through the same process by Live Theatre with young writers from Excelsior Academy, Newcastle:
“This was a special evening, a sort of artistic epiphany… It shatters the illusion that theatre is inaccessible and offers live art to a brand new, young and exciting audience. What a fabulous initiative and what a marvellous, thrilling night at the theatre.” ★★★★★ The Good Review
Audiences at previous performances said:
“A fantastic evening. The writing and performances were breath-taking.”
“Very impressive and entertaining range of drama, comedy and action. Very talented writing on show. It is great to see new and exciting ideas brought to life by Live Theatre.”
“Well produced, very good acting, good timing and scripts – excellent opportunity for young writers.”
Turning Pages is at Live Theatre, Newcastle at 7.30pm from Thursday 3 to Saturday 5 December, with two morning performances at 10.30am on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 December. Tickets cost £8 with £6 concessions and are available from Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232 or online at www.live.org.uk
Thursday 4 December – Saturday 6 December
Turning Pages is an exhilarating selection of new short plays written by young playwrights from Furrowfield School in Gateshead and Redhouse Academy in Sunderland. Performed by professional actors Turning Pages promises an eclectic mix of colourful characters and stories with plenty of laughs along the way.
DATE: Thursday 4 December – Saturday 6 December
LOCATION: Main Theatre
DURATION: 1hr 45mins
TICKETS: £8, £6 concessions
About Live Theatre
Live Theatre is recognised as one of the great new writing theatres on the international stage. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne it is also deeply rooted in its local community.
Live Theatre produces work as varied and diverse as the audiences it engages with. As well as championing the art of writing for stage by producing and presenting new plays, Live Theatres uses theatre to unlock the potential of young people and finds, nurtures and trains creative talent. Through its creative enterprises it is also developing new models of business sustainability and growth.
Founded in 1973, the theatre was transformed in 2007. The result is a beautifully restored and refurbished complex of five Grade II listed buildings with state-of-the-art facilities in a unique historical setting, including a cabaret style theatre, a studio theatre, renovated rehearsal rooms, a series of dedicated writer’s rooms as well as a thriving café and bar.
Live Theatre is a national leader in developing new strategies for increasing income and assets for the charity. New developmentLive Works joins The Broad Chare pub, online playwriting course www.beaplaywright.com and The Schoolhouse (an office space for creative and digital businesses), as one of Live Theatre’s capital and digital creative enterprises, increasing its future income through additional new unrestricted funds.
For more information see www.live.org.uk
Live Theatre is grateful for the support of Arts Council England and the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund through the Community Foundation, and its many other friends and supporters.
Newcastle upon Tyne
I work Tuesday to Fridays at Live Theatre
Tel: (0191) 229 2378 (direct line)
Fax: (0191) 232 2224
Box Office: (0191) 232 1232
Turning Pages, the newest selection of short plays to emerge from Live Theatre’s acclaimed playwriting initiative Write Stuff is performed at Live Theatre from Thursday 3 – Saturday 5 December. Join us for an eclectic mix of colourful characters and stories with plenty of laughs along the way.
A Viability Study has been published which demonstrates that Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a performance venue.
Seven organisations came together in June this year to identify a use for Brighton Hippodrome following its purchase by Academy Music Group (AMG).
Led by The Theatres Trust, the Stakeholders Group included Brighton and Hove City Council, Historic England, Our Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton HippodromeCIC, the Frank Matcham Society, and Academy Music Group. The Theatres Trust funded the Viability Study with financial contributions from Historic England and Brighton Hippodrome CIC.
Brighton Hippodrome is an exceptionally important Grade II* listed building, designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, and has headlined The Theatres Trust’s Theatre Buildings at Risk Register since 2009.
Over a six month period the group worked on finding a use for the Hippodrome and commissioned Colliers International to produce a Viability Study. The report was adopted by the Stakeholders Group in November 2015.
The Viability Study concludes that the Hippodrome has a viable future as a live performance venue, if the challenge of raising funds to restore the building can be met. Three main options were proposed and other uses were explored. The preferred option, a Theatre of Varieties would enable the venue to be used flexibly with 900 seats and incorporate a range of performances and other uses for major events such as the Brighton Festival. This option would retain the existing fly tower, the full auditorium and delivery access to the theatre. The projected cost for this option is c.£13 million.
This is less than the cost of restoring it as a full Lyric Theatre (estimated at c.£30 million), but would give more time to raise funds to restore it as a larger Lyric Theatre at a later date. The Viability Study identified that there is a gap in the market in Brighton for a Lyric Theatre.
Brighton Hippodrome CIC, the community interest company set up by Our Brighton Hippodrome, is now leading the project. It is looking to make major grant applications and seek commercial partners to work with them on the acquisition and restoration of the building.
Gavin Henderson CBE, Chairman of Brighton Hippodrome CIC said, “The Viability Study has helped us find a way forward for the Hippodrome, but there is a long way to go from here before we can bring performances back to this wonderful building”.
Academy Music Group will continue to support Brighton Hippodrome CIC but, as agreed following the end of a six month exclusivity period supporting the Stakeholders Group through the Study, will be open to offers for the freehold.
Mhora Samuel, Director of The Theatres Trust said, “We have been very grateful for the six month window provided by AMG. It has allowed us to work closely together as a group of stakeholders and produce a Viability Report which gives us confidence that a revived Brighton Hippodrome has a future as a live performance venue. The challenges ahead are considerable however, and we will continue to campaign for its future and support the CIC with its fundraising.”
The following documents are available to download:
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7836 8591.
The Theatres Trust
Protecting theatres for everyone
T 020 7836 8591