Twenty years after the launch of Rosenblatt Recitals and three years after the final concert, the series has returned in digital form to present a season of eight themed programmes – Rosenblatt Recitals at Home, in aid of Target Ovarian Cancer.
Life for singers and musicians has been extremely challenging as most of the world’s opera houses have been silenced and stages left empty. To help raise the spirits, Rosenblatt Recitals has brought together 30 of the greatest voices in opera performing arias and duets under eight themed programmes. The singers, all former Rosenblatt Recitalists, perform the music that they love, from the intimate setting of their homes, many during the harshest of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Rosenblatt Recitals at Home is presented by Suzy Klein and Petroc Trelawny. The concept is simple – a series of eight themed programmes, each around 30 to 45 minutes long. Individual programmes or the whole season are available as video (On Theatre) or audio only (Exit Live). Proceeds will be donated directly to Target Ovarian Cancer. The eight programmes are (full details are set out in the Notes to Editors):
Programme 1: Verdi
Programme 2: Belcanto
Programme 3: From Purcell to Lerner and Loewe – Singing in English
Programme 4: Salon Music
Programme 5: Verismo
Programme 6: From Handel to Wagner – A Journey Through the Ages of Opera
Programme 7: The World in Music
Programme 8: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know – The Men of Opera
The singers are: Celso Albelo, Richard Berkeley Steele, Angel Blue, Susan Bullock, Eleonora Buratto, Joseph Calleja, Charles Castronovo, Stephen Costello, Tara Erraught, Rosa Feola, Serena Gamberoni, Bryan Hymel, Ben Johnson, Irini Kyriakidou, Ivan Magri, Matthew Rose, Serena Malfi, Ailyn Perez, Michele Pertusi, Simone Piazzola, Saimir Pirgu, Antonio Poli, Jessica Pratt, Artur Rucinski, Luca Salsi, Ekaterina Siurina, Antonino Siragusa, Vladimr Stoyanov, Gianluca Terranova, and Ailish Tynan. Full details are set out in the Notes to Editors.
Commenting, Ian Rosenblatt OBE, founder of Rosenblatt Recitals, said:
“Rosenblatt Recitals at Home aims to bring some much-needed sunshine from artists’ homes to those of music lovers around the world. The majority of singers had to film and record themselves and all were socially distanced; at the outset, we didn’t really know what to expect. The result is beyond anything I could have wished for
and a wonderful celebration of the voice on the 20th anniversary of Rosenblatt Recitals. I do hope that the eight programmes will raise everyone’s spirits as well as provide much needed funds for this amazing charity, Target Ovarian Cancer.”
Annwen Jones OBE, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, commented:
“Singers shouldn’t be silent and nor must we about this devastating disease. This special edition of Rosenblatt Recitals is a world-class initiative, and we are thrilled that the proceeds will benefit women with ovarian cancer, now and in the future. One in 50 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis – we desperately need funds to ensure that everyone knows the symptoms, receives an early diagnosis and the very best support and treatment, and that we fund research to help save lives. The pandemic has hit hard, and the work of Target Ovarian Cancer has never been more needed.”
Full details and links to buy/donate are available at: www.rrsah.com Video streaming at £5 per programme or £30 for the 8 programme season
Audio only streaming at £3.99 per programme or £24.99 for the 8 programme season
As the journey begins, our favourite Christmas elves Lari and Hari have a big problem! The cheeky duo were playing football with Prancer, Dancer and Vixen and have lost the North Star! With no North Star, how will Santa find his way to all the houses to deliver the presents this Christmas?
The Magic of Christmas will take audiences on a quest for the vital guiding North Star, which has been kicked out of its place in the heavens by Santa’s over-enthusiastic reindeer team.
Suitable for everyone, from babes-in-arms to the forever young-at-heart, the collaborative event will be brimming with story, music, and plenty of surprises.
To comply with the latest restrictions, The Magic of Christmas is being filmed as a live performance for all the family to enjoy in the warmth and safety of their homes during the Christmas season.
The Magic of Christmas is written and filmed by award-winning filmmaker Russell Beard and Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman. The film will feature music composed and arranged by Barbara Hockaday, lighting designed by Jeanine Byrne andsound designed by Ben Occhipinti.
The filmed production of The Magic of Christmas will be available from 9– 23 December and will be screened in the Cinema at the Macrobert Arts Centre from 11-21 December.
Due to the high demand for tickets forThe Magic of Christmas,Pitlochry Festival Theatre is currently working on increasing availability. Further details will be announced on the theatre’s website on Thursday 3rd December.
With a cast of 80 and a 17-piece orchestra, including stars from “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Only Fools and Horses”, “Wicked”, “Come From Away” as well as the West End Kids, “A West End Christmas” will also feature special guest performances from Tom Allen, Samantha Bond, Kerry Ellis, Clive Rowe, Oliver Tompsett, Marisha Wallace and Robin Winsor & Anya Garnis.
“A West End Christmas” will premiere online at 7.30pm on Thursday 10 December on www.stream.theatre The show will also be streamed on Friday 11th December at 7.30pm, Saturday 12 December at 2.30 and 7.30pm and Sunday 13th December 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
With the prospect of a very different family Christmas this year, the Make A Difference Trust have decided that their festive show must go on! For the last 17 years, A West End Christmas has been the highlight of the Christmas calendar for the theatre community and its loyal audiences. The one-night-only sold out show has heralded the start of Christmas in a way only the West End can.
And this year the show will indeed go on, with stars and companies of the West End joining together once more for a very special recorded show. St Paul’s Church in London’s Covent Garden will again be transformed into a world of magic and joy, the Christmas of all our dreams.
With all of their fundraising shows cancelled this year, this is an important chance for the Make a Difference Trust to be able to share something truly unique and spectacular with as many people as possible whilst raising funds and awareness. Everyone, whether on stage or backstage, has given their time for free.
The majority of the performers have been out of work since theatres closed in March and they have no idea when they will work again. But still they come together, supporting the Make A Difference Trust’s philosophy of community making a difference. Working together, the theatre community use their skills and talents to help both their own colleagues and others.
Normally, a West End Christmas would raise funds for those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. This year, the charity has revived and repurposed their hardship fund into the Covid-19 Emergency Fund, to help the theatre community directly, by providing Emergency Hardship Grants for those on stage and off who are struggling financially due to theatre closures and the monies raised will go to the Emergency fund as well as to fund HIV work.
Sage Gateshead celebrates The Magic of Music showcasing Musicians from the North East this winter and sharing in what makes music life-changing.
2020 has been a hard year for musicians all around the world, unable to perform and for the majority who are freelance unable to earn or access financial support. Musicians have always been at the heart of Sage Gateshead, the North East’s world-class music centre, and so this winter they are showcasing the many musicians from all genres of music, young and old, beginners and professionals that live or frequently perform in the North East and making them visible to many again.
Working with Newcastle company Sail Creative, Sage Gateshead is creating a wintery North East landscape which will glow with musicians sharing their passion for music, their favourite musical memories, their hopes for 2021 and their favourite Christmas song or carol. You can explore the scene at www.sagegateshead.com from 1 December with musicians being added throughout December. Sage Gateshead will also celebrate these musicians on its popular social channels.
So far musicians signed up to take part range from participants from In Harmony Newcastle Gateshead, our intensive long-term music programme with 600 primary pupils, in West Newcastle through orchestral music making, professional musicians from Royal Northern Sinfonia, local bands including The Futureheads and Lanterns by the Lake to the DJ Man Power, Jayne Dent, Joe McElderry and Kathryn Tickell.
Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead said: “Throughout 2020 so many people have told us how important music is to them and how much it has helped them deal with the year’s challenges. At the same time, so many musicians have been unable to work. We want to celebrate what music and musicians have done for us this year and through The Magic of Music we want to bring them to the front of people’s minds. And in proper Sage Gateshead spirit, we want to mark all kinds of music and all kinds of music making – from the international names we all know through to young people just starting out. The Magic of Music is part of our longer-term conversation with our audiences, A Future for Live Music in the North East, about what kind of future we should make together after the pandemic. We have been really struck by the hundreds of messages from our audiences in response to questions we have asked about music in their lives and how they would like to see music performed, listened to and created in the North East in the future.”
A Future for Live Music in The North East is a campaign created by Sage Gateshead in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign instigates a conversation with its audiences about how to shape the long-term future of music and the future of Sage Gateshead.
Audience responses to campaign questions include:
Future for Live Music in the North East is…
“…. Essential as it provides solace in times of grief, joy in times of celebration. It brings people together to relive memories and produce new ones – it feeds the soul.”
How has the absence of music affected you, and how you have filled the gap it left behind?
“It’s been one of the most upsetting aspects of the pandemic for me – it’s music that lifts my mood whenever I feel down – nothing can replace being in a hall for a live performance whether to hear familiar pieces or something new. I had so many events booked and each time I find them listed in my diary it’s a real blow.
There has to be live music again at Sage Gateshead as well as in all the other halls around the country.”
“A highly skilled piece of theatrical cabaret and – as the raucous reaction of this crowd attests – rip-roaring fun… a show that reclaims burlesque for the act of female empowerment it should be.” ★ ★★★ The Stage
“There are not enough stars to describe just how brilliant it is, so go see it for yourself”A Younger Theatre
“This is burlesque as it should be; bold, bawdy and absolutely beautiful”★★★★★ ThreeWeeks
“House of Burlesque is in my opinion by far the best show of its kind in London” ★★★★★ Everything Theatre
Initially dreamed up by international showgirl Tempest Rose, House of Burlesque first shot to critical acclaim in 2010 with ‘Circus Burlesque’, which sold out its Edinburgh fringe run at the Assembly Rooms and went on to tour throughout England. Since then the company has produced a succession of sell out hit shows, an eight year residency at The Underbelly on Southbank, 2 seasons at Christmas in Leicester Square, and are now in their 10th year of wowing crowds with their unique brand of dazzling, intelligent, comical, compelling and visually stunning burlesque.
House of Burlesque has had a significant impact on burlesque and cabaret as a live artform, consistently showcasing genre-defining new work, the company has an unwavering commitment to burlesque’s roots of cultural commentary, satire and political parody. On stage Tempest and the H.O.B performers have showcased acts that tackle propaganda, sexual and gender identity, body image, fashion, consent, mental health, and consumerism.
House of Burlesque is also thrilled to have been awarded a grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. To benefit the company had to prove that its work is of vital, and cultural significance. This fund will allow H.O.B to keep offering paid work and running shows, helping to safeguard the future of burlesque as a vibrant, important art-form.
House of Burlesque: Salon and House of Burlesque At The Bridge are the latest productions from the UK’s trail-blazing, critical acclaimed House of Burlesque led by Tempest Rose, featured on MTV, Channel 4, BBC1, ITV2, Stylist Magazine, The Metro; The Times; Time Out, The Stage and many more.
HOUSE OF BURLESQUE SALON – FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS AT CENTURY SOHO
House of Burlesque is delighted to present a socially distanced, scintillating, showgirl, supper club. Real talk – 2020 was not the year we had planned, expected and, let’s be honest, wanted. But Tempest Rose and her team refuse to let that stop them bringing glitz and glamour to the stage.
Join Tempest Rose and the stars of the House of Burlesque for ‘Salon’ – an intimate night of high-end glamour and the best of burlesque, as they take over the Green Room at exclusive Soho members club Century Club. Audiences are invited to forget their troubles with London’s top divas as we recover from the strangeness of life over the last few months in a (socially distanced) explosion of crystals, feathers and #fuckthatshit. It’s like therapy but with tassels.
HOUSE OF BURLESQUE – CHRISTMAS SHOWS AT THE BRIDGE
A two-night special at the prestigious Bridge Theatre in London Bridge – the UK’s top scintillating, satirical, showgirls are back to blow away the lockdown blues. Join House of Burlesque, led by Queen of provocateurs Tempest Rose for a night of high-end glamour, joyful satire and the best of burlesque. Ruffling feathers for over 10 years with their trademark twist on traditional burlesque… The revolution will be crystallised
Is The New Wolsey Theatre’s Rock ‘n’ Roll panto The Snow Queen the most accessible Panto ever? The New Wolsey Theatre is raising the bar for accessibility of Live-Streamed and Live shows.
All performances of The Snow Queen* will have captioning and audio description available as an option – live and Live Streamed. Our British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted show takes place on Weds 23 Dec at 7pm, accessible both from home and in the auditorium. We’re also developing a ground-breaking Relaxed Performance Experience of the show, which will be available to watch from home. We think this is the only Panto available this year in the UK with these accessibility credentials.
The Snow Queen will be much more than a show on stage with a camera pointed at it: this is an extremely ambitious blend of live action, animation, audience interaction, pre-recorded film and even a live ‘doorstep’ moment with a member of the audience watching from home. Captions and Audio Description will be available for those watching in the auditorium and as options for the Live Stream show.
The New Wolsey Theatre strives to make its work accessible to all. A positive outcome of the pandemic is that we’ve been able to build in these exceptional accessibility standards to The Snow Queen and demonstrate how we’re determined not to leave sections of our audience behind as we innovate in response to Covid-19.
Sarah Holmes, CEO of The New Wolsey Theatre says:
‘We’re not aware of any theatre, anywhere, with better access provision for a Panto this year. It’s so important that people with disabilities and differing access needs are not left behind as we strive to recover from the pandemic. If there is a more accessible panto out there, we’d love to know about it! The Live Streamed nature of The Snow Queen means our accessibility features are literally available to anyone who needs them – whether they live in Glasgow or Penzance, or indeed Budapest. Ultimately, we’d like every show in every theatre to be this accessible. Wouldn’t that be amazing?’
Peter Rowe, Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre says:
‘Over the years we’ve built a reputation for taking access seriously and this year we’ve taken it a step further. In a normal year our ‘relaxed’ shows are really popular. We couldn’t offer these in our auditorium for The Snow Queen because of Covid-19 safety, so we decided to approach it differently. The ‘Relaxed Experience’ recording will make the show more accessible to people who have, for example, autism or dementia, or who simply need to watch at a different pace or intensity than others. We’re not aware of any other Panto producers going this far to cater for as many people as possible. Covid-19 has actually pushed us to think more deeply about access and that’s not a bad thing at all.’
The New Wolsey Theatre is also giving away 400 free tickets for The Snow Queen for the Carers’ Big Night In. The Tuesday 22nd December 7pm performance is dedicated to all the wonderful Carers in our community. We have now allocated all the available auditorium seats for that show by way of a ballot. We still have some Live Stream tickets available for that show. To nominate a Carer or a Care Home to receive a free ticket please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Snow Queen has been re-imagined and written by New Wolsey Theatre
Artistic Director Peter Rowe
ICICLE/SIMON; GUITAR/BASS – JAMES HAGGIE
GERDA: SAX/KEYS – LUCY WELLS
DAME SIGRID SMORGASBORD – BASS/GUITAR – ROMFORD SIMMONDS SVEN
LUMPHAMMER/KAY: DRUMS – ADAM LANGSTAFF
PRIMROSE/ SNOW QUEEN – NATASHA LEWIS
* for technical reasons, one live stream show on 23rd Dec will have the British Sign Language Interpreted version of the show instead of captions ( Audio Description will still be available).
The Turbine Theatres reopens its doors with its first ever adult pantomime, Cinderella: The Socially Distanced Ball. This hilarious panto has been written by Jodie Prenger and Neil Hurst, and is being directed by Lizzy Connolly.
The cast are Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Rufus Hound, Debbie Kurup, Scott Paige, Sean Parkins and Daisy Wood Davis.
Prepare to have your Christmas socks blown off with this all-star cast, celebrating theatre at its naughtiest. Glittery anti-bac will be at hand, and we promise to get home before midnight.
Please note: This is not for the faint hearted or those easily offended by smut.
Paul Taylor-Mills presents
Cinderella: The Socially Distanced Pantomime
Dates: 03 – 23 December
Address: The Turbine Theatre, Arches Lane, Circus West Village, London, SW11 8AB
The Theatre Cafe: The Turbine Theatre ticketing will be powered by The Theatre Cafe, West End’s stagiest destination and social platform.
Bristol Old Vic, Kneehigh and Wise Children present
Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk Written by Daniel Jamieson
Directed by Emma Rice; music by Ian Ross; Set and Costume design: Sophia Clist
Lighting design: Malcolm Rippeth; Sound design: Simon Baker;Choreography: Etta Murfitt
Bristol will be going into Tier 3 when lockdown ends on Wednesday, which means there will be no live audience watching Wise Children broadcast Kneehigh’sThe Flying Lovers of Vitebsk from Bristol Old Vic at the end of this week. But, as a gift to audiences still locked down round the country, and due to incredible demand for tickets for the live streams, the three companies today announce an extension to the show’s run. From today, Monday 30 December, the production can purchased in advance and watched at any time from 11 – 18 December 2020.
The production reunites the original cast Marc Antolin (Marc Chagall) and Audrey Brisson (Bella Chagall) with musicians Ian Ross and James Gow, with performances broadcast live to audience’s homes nationally and globally. To buy tickets for the livestreamed digital tour, 3 – 5 December, or to access the show on demand, 11 – 18 December, please visit www.wisechildrendigital.com.
Emma Rice said today, “Tickets for the live broadcasts of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk have been selling like hot piroshki, so, with the news that Bristol will be placed in tier 3 after lockdown, we’ve decided to make the show available on-demand for one extra week. It won’t be live (like the broadcasts on 3rd, 4th and 5th Dec) but it does mean you can watch it at whatever time suits you. So, what you might lose in the jeopardy of the live event, you will gain in glorious flexibility and independence! The on-demand shows also deliciously coincide with Hanukkah, so why not take the opportunity to light the candles, snuggle up and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of one of the most famous (and romantic) Jewish artists? I carry this show in my heart and I want as many people as possible to enjoy the moving, healing and hopeful magic of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.”
Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, also commented, “These are mad times for theatre. But whatever tier they put us in, we are determined to entertain Bristol this Christmas. So we’re delighted to announce this new release of the on-demand edition of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. And don’t worry, live audiences will be back at Bristol Old Vic as soon as we can legally welcome you. We are fighting like cats for that, I can assure you! And in the meantime, what could be more delicious than running yourself a piping hot bath, pouring a Russian cocktail (alcohol free or heady), lighting a candle, and watching The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.”
Mike Shepherd and Carl Grose, Artistic Directors of Kneehigh, added “We’re delighted to be working with Wise Children and Bristol Old Vic to bring this glorious show back to life. We want as many of you as possible to share in this with us, especially at the moment where we’ve had too few opportunities to come together. What a thrill it is to work with Emma again, to help her tell this incredible story, and to offer the live-streamed production for a week (after the shows themselves). Come one, come all, no matter your time-zone, no matter what tier level you’re in! It’s waiting for you. The beautiful Flying Lovers of Vitebsk – a soaring, delicate love letter for our times.”
Perhaps you’ve seen them floating over a Russian village? Or perhaps you’ve seen her toppling forward, arms full of wild flowers, as he arches above her head and steals a kiss.
Meet Marc and Bella Chagall—the flying lovers of Vitebsk! Partners in life and on canvas, Marc and Bella are immortalised as the picture of romance. But whilst on canvas they flew, in life they walked through some of the most devastating times in history.
Implementing a COVID-secure procedure, the company will each have a Coronavirus test before forming a bubble in Bristol. These rigorous measures mean that they will be able to perform the show without social distancing.
Theatres across the UK and USA are selling tickets to their audiences, with partners including Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, York Theatre Royal, Oxford Playhouse, The Lowry, Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, Shoreditch Town Hall, Wilton’s Music Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Spoleto Festival USA, Wallis Annenberg Centre for the Performing Arts and NYU Skirball.
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk was originally produced by Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic.
Daniel Jamieson has worked for Exeter-based Theatre Alibi as an actor, joint artistic director (1995-2000) and writer. His writing credits for the company include Falling, Hammer and Tongs, Goucher’s War, Cobbo, Caught, One in a Million, The Freeze, Shelf Life, Little White Lies, The Swell, Sea of Faces and Birthday, as well as adapting novels by Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Michael Morpurgo and Dick King-Smith for the stage. Other theatre credits include A Box of Photographs, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Polka Theatre), Where’s the Bear, Wish Wash, Knitwits and Flathampton (Royal & Derngate).
Marc Antolin plays Marc Chagall. His previous credits for Wise Children include Romantics Anonymous (Shakespeare’s Globe/Bristol Old Vic/digital tour). Other theatre credits include Camelot (Watermill Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Sherman Theatre), Cry Havoc (Park Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors – for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, Into the Woods, Hello Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre),Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), , Peter Pan (National Theatre), The Trial (Young Vic), Taken at Midnight (Theatre Royal Haymarket/ Chichester Festival Theatre), Amadeus, Singin’ in the Rain, The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre), From Here to Eternity (Shaftsbury Theatre), Matilda (RSC/Cambridge Theatre), Billy Liar (UK tour) and Imagine This (New London Theatre). His television credits include Keeping Faith; and for film his credits include London Road and Love Actually.
Audrey Brisson plays Bella Chagall. Her previous theatre credits include Amelie (The Other Palace, Watermill Theatre – for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical), Pericles, Pinocchio, Elephantom (National Theatre), Dead Dog in a Suitcase & Other Love Songs, The Wild Bride, Midnight’s Pumpkin (Kneehigh), La Strada (The Other Palace, UK tour), The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic), and Romeo and Juliet (Rose Theatre Kingston). Her television credits include Money, and Outlander II; and for films her credits include Hereafter.
Emma Rice is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. She adapted and directed Angela Carter’s Wise Children (The Old Vic/UK tour), Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers (Bristol Passenger Shed/UK tour) and Romantics Anonymous (Bristol Old Vic/Digital tour). For the ENO she directed Orpheus in the Underworld. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages), and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey), The Empress (RSC), and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). She was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards.
THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSK
Livestreamed digital tour
3 – 5 December 2020
Performance times: 7.30pm (Saturday matinee at 2pm)
Available on demand
11 – 18 December 2020
Captioned and audio-described versions of the production available on demand from 11 – 18 December.
The Space re-opens with new work, Dickens and a Christmas revival
The Space is thrilled to announce its December season with three exciting shows, as we re-open the venue and continue to deliver digitally.
Our first show post-lockdown will be Myles and Me, a one woman play about the realities of living with multiple sclerosis. Written, by one of our sponsored playwrights, Lekha Desai Morrison, especially for disabled actress Ruth Curtis, the play explores how a person deals with being diagnosed with a lifelong, currently incurable medical condition, and the importance of living with rather than suffering from such a condition.
Would it really be a Christmas season without some Dickens? The Signalman is a brilliant, rarely-performed gem from Paragon Theatre. Following a successful run at the Old Red Lion in 2019, this ghost story adapted from Dickens’ classic novella is a masterpiece of darkness and suspense.
To celebrate our 25th year as a theatre, we are reviving some of our past in-house productions starting with our original Christmas production, The Saving of Santa by Lobelia Golightly. First performed by Space Productions in 2009, this heart-warming family tale is being re-worked as an online interactive adventure. Tickets are available from just £5 and opening night will have BSL interpretation.
Artistic Director, Adam Hemming, says, “We’ve strived to keep our audiences and theatre-makers positive and engaged during the toughest of times this year. These three pieces will all inspire in different ways, we’re thrilled to be hosting Ruth, Lekha and Paragon and we hope that The Saving of Santa will bring joy and warmth to people this Christmas. We’re in the process of programming our Spring Season and are looking forward to bringing more inventive and courageous work to audiences in 2021”
The performance details are:-
Myles and Me
9th and 10th December (livestreamed on 10th)
A touching and funny account of living with a monster. Vicky didn’t invite MyleS into her life. Can she surmount the monster? Without free choice? Can Vicky make it work?
16th-19th December (livestreamed on 17th)
A signalman is haunted by a mysterious figure standing by a train tunnel. But what is it warning against? An atmospheric adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens ghost story.
The Saving of Santa
20th-23rd December (all online)
Oh no! There’s something wrong with Santa. It’s up to chief elf ‘n’ safety officer Nordstrom, Aurora, the cleverest fairy and YOU, to save Christmas.
ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE CELEBRATES 200TH BIRTHDAY WITH 60 APPOINTMENTS AND FIVE-YEAR FESTIVAL
NEW INITIATIVES CHAIRED BY BERNARDINE EVARISTO AND DANIEL HAHN TO CHAMPION UNDER-REPRESENTED VOICES AND CELEBRATE THE POWER OF LITERATURE TO TRANSCEND BORDERS
ANITA DESAI; KAZUO ISHIGURO; HILARY MANTEL; EDNA O’BRIEN; PHILIP PULLMAN AND COLIN THUBRON ARE FIRST COMPANIONS OF LITERATURE TO BE ANNOUNCED SINCE 2012
ANDREA LEVY AND JEAN RHYS HONOURED AS THEIR PENS JOIN THE RSL’S PERMANENT COLLECTION
5 NEW CELEBRATORY VIDEOS RELEASED TODAY WITH ADJOA ANDOH, NATALIE SIMPSON, SIMON CALLOW, JULIET STEVENSON, RICHARD ARMITAGE AND SULE RIMI READING FROM THE PEN COLLECTION
DALJIT NAGRA APPOINTED NEW CHAIR
9 NEW VICE-PRESIDENTS INCLUDING SIMON ARMITAGE, MARY BEARD, BERNARDINE EVARISTO, JACKIE KAY, BLAKE MORRISON, GRACE NICHOLS, ELIF SHAFAK, KAMILA SHAMSIE AND COLM TÓIBÍN
29 NEW FELLOWS INCLUDING RAYMOND ANTROBUS, DAMIAN BARR, MICHAEL PALIN, KATE MOSSE, JACK THORNE, KERRY HUDSON, ROGER ROBINSON, PETER FRANKOPAN, MAX PORTER, DIANA EVANS AND WINSOME PINNOCK
15 HONORARY FELLOWS INCLUDING URSULA OWEN, MELANIEABRAHAMS, BARONESS LOLA YOUNG AND TOM SUTCLIFFE
BOYD TONKIN AWARDED NEWLY DESIGNED BENSON MEDAL
The Royal Society of Literature (RSL), the charity that represents the voice of literature in the UK, has today in celebration of its 200th birthday announced RSL 200, a five-year festival launched with a series of major new initiatives and 60 new appointments championing the great diversity of writing and writers in the UK. Two new pens have also been added to the RSL’s collection for Roll Book signing, one from Andrea Levy, the first pen from a writer of colour and the other from Jean Rhys. To mark the additions five videos have been released featuring Adjoa Andoh, Natalie Simpson, Simon Callow, Juliet Stevenson and Richard Armitage.
Founded in 1820, the RSL acts as a voice for the value of literature, honouring and supporting emerging and established writers whilst creating a bridge between authors and audiences to engage as many people as possible with the breadth of UK literature.
RSL 200 will look to explore, interrogate and reimagine the UK’s literary landscape as the RSL celebrates the best in British writing, past, present and future. Spanning a five-year period – encompassing defining bicentenary moments from the Society’s early years, between its founding in 1820 and receipt of its Royal Charter and Roll Book in 1825 – the festival will examine how writers are remembered, as they address voices lost to history, left unrecognised and uncelebrated in their own time or subsequently. Through the festival we will continue to find new ways to share literature with the greatest number of people across the UK and beyond.
Dame Marina Warner, President of the RSL said: ‘In the 200th year of the RSL, here and all over the world, literature – the attentive act of writing with imagination, with open eyes, with courage – is more crucial than ever. Exact, truthful expressiveness: this is a writer’s home territory. As Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘l am not concerned with the single life but with lives lived together.’ In our mutual need today, in times of turmoil and illness, as ‘ truth decay’ threatens and disinformation spreads, the writer’s principal task of caring for every word, phrase, and image plays a crucial part in nourishing those lives lived together. The RSL Fellowship joins together many very different writers in many different genres in a common endeavour, as the inheritors and stewards of a long practice and innovators and pathfinders, archivists, storytellers, entertainers and scourges. Literature forms cultural memory, communicates diverse communities’ experiences and heritage, counters loneliness and enables us to respond to suffering and survive. Writers have a paramount part to play in our collective and individual wellbeing. As we enter our third century, we at the RSL may be venerable but we are vigorous.’
RSL 200 INITIATIVES
In its 200th year, the Society has set out plans both to celebrate excellence in the great diversity of outstanding writers and writing in the UK, and to pay credit to the power of literature to bring us together with two new initiatives – RSL Open and RSL International Writers Programme.
Over the next two years RSL Open will elect an unprecedented 60 new Fellows from communities, backgrounds and experiences currently under-represented in UK literary culture, including writers of colour, LGBTQ+ writers, writers from lower socio-economic backgrounds, writers who identify as having a disability and writers outside of London, to ensure the diversity of the UK’s literary culture is reflected in their Fellowship. Readers and writers from across the UK will be asked to recommend writers for nomination who will then be considered by a panel made up of some of the UK’s most prolific writers. Bernardine Evaristo (also announced today as a new RSL Vice-President) will chair the panel, with Jay Bernard, Vahni Capildeo,Ian Duhig, Cynan Jones, Val McDermid, Daljit Nagra (also announced today as the new RSL Chair), Nikesh Shukla, Ali Smith, SinéadMorrissey, Jack Thorne (also announced today as a new Fellow), Colm Tóibín (also announced today as a Vice-President) and Eley Williams. The new Fellows will be involved in all that the RSL do including judging prizes, outreach programmes and leading initiatives.
RSLInternational Writers programme will recognise the contribution of writers across the globe to literature in English, and the power of literature to transcend borders and cultures to bring people together. As with RSL Open, readers and writers will be asked to recommend writers outside the UK for nomination. Daniel Hahn (new RSL Fellow) will chair a panel of Fellows and Honorary Fellows including Lisa Appignanesi,Syima Aslam,Max Porter, Sasha Dugdale (new Fellow), Philippe Sands (new Fellow), Sophie Collins and Elif Shafak (new Vice-President). The panel will nominate the RSL International Writers, who will then be elected by Council.
Professor Bernardine Evaristo OBE FRSL said: ‘It’s so important to create new initiatives designed to help make our culture more inclusive for writers from under-represented communities. There are so many stories waiting to be told and I’m looking forward to discovering and nurturing the next generation of talented writers through this mentoring Award.’
Daniel Hahn said: ‘As a translator, it’s hardly surprising that I should think of literature as operating on an international scale, as a vast and (ideally) borderless thing, a network in which the writers over here can be immeasurably enriched by the writers over there. So I’m proud to be working with the RSL on their new International Writers scheme, which each year will invite a distinguished panel of our UK Fellows to recognise and celebrate writers from around the world who have made an extraordinary contribution to the world’s literature and to ours.’
NEW PENS ADDED TO THE RSL COLLECTION
The RSL’s collection features pens from some of the most historically influential UK writers including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot and Lord Byron. This year two new pens have been added, one from Andrea Levy, the first pen from a writer of colour and the other from Jean Rhys. They are the second and third women to join the collection. To honour the writers featured, RSL have released five new videos featuring Adjoa Andoh reading Andrea Levy, Natalie Simpson reading Jean Rhys, Simon Callow reading CharlesDickens, Juliet Stevenson reading George Eliot, Richard Armitage reading Lord Byron and Sule Rimi reading T.S. Eliot. The videos can be viewed and downloaded here.
Bill Mayblin (Andrea’s husband) said: ‘Andrea always wrote her first drafts by hand and it would be nice to be able to say that she used this pen from that time onwards. But the truth is that to her mind it was too posh and valuable to be used for scribbling in her notebooks. She kept it neatly in its box on her work desk and took it out for certain tasks – signing books, writing special letters, birthday, Christmas and thank-you cards – for ‘ceremonial purposes’ you might say. Certainly as a gift from the world of literature it had a symbolic importance for her and she always used it with pride and treasured it as a possession. She would be thrilled to know that it will now continue its ceremonial role with the Royal Society of Literature.’
The RSL has today announced the election collectively of 60 new Fellows, Honorary Fellows, Benson Medallist, Vice-Presidents, Companions of Literature. It was also announced that award-winning poet Daljit Nagra, a Fellow of the Society since 2017, has been appointed new Chair of the Council, taking over from Lisa Appignanesi, who has held the position since 2016.
Daljit Nagra, FRSL said: ‘Becoming Chair of the RSL is the greatest professional honour of my life. I look forward to continuing our work in celebrating the diversity and wealth of classic and contemporary literature. As literature finds new readers and as authors from under-represented backgrounds continue to find a voice, the work of the RSL has never been more important in safeguarding literature’s broadening contribution to our lives.’
Lisa Appignanesi OBE FRSL said: ‘From Shakespeare to Shamsie, from Milton to Mantel, from Eliot to Evaristo, literature has shown its deep and restorative value through these difficult times.
To mark the bicentenary of Britain’s oldest literary institution, ever invigorated by its new and eminent Fellows, is to celebrate the many shaping ways in which ‘Literature Matters’.
I have been proud to guide the RSL as its Chair since January 2016 and I am now pleased to turn this adventure over to the fine poet, Daljit Nagra, on the cusp of what will certainly prove to be a remarkable third century of activity by writers in constant collaboration with their readers.’
Anita Desai; Kazuo Ishiguro; Hilary Mantel; Edna O’Brien; Philip Pullman; Colin Thubron have today been made Companions of Literature, receiving the highest award bestowed by the RSL. They are the first writers to be elected since 2012, and the greatest number appointed at any time in the RSL’s history. They will be announced later today. The Companions of Literature was inaugurated in 1961 and can only be held by up to 12 writers at any one time. The writers announced join: Sir Michael Holroyd; Sir Tom Stoppard; Michael Frayn; Margaret Atwood; Alice Munro.
Dame Hilary Mantel, FRSL, said: ‘Over many years as a Fellow of the RSL, I have been proud to see a venerable and learned body evolve into a forward-looking organisation, ready to play a full part in our national conversation. I am deeply honoured to be appointed a Companion of Literature. It puts a writer in the most distinguished company, living and dead, and it recognises and validates a lifetime’s work.’
Simon Armitage; Mary Beard; Bernardine Evaristo; Jackie Kay; Blake Morrison; Grace Nichols; Elif Shafak; Kamila Shamsie; Colm Tóibín have today been appointed Vice-Presidents of the RSL. Becoming a Vice-President is a lifetime honour bestowed on RSL Fellows by the RSL Council which provides them with lifetime voting rights in the Fellowship elections. They are elected for their service to both the advancement of literature and to the Society. Current Vice-Presidents include: Anne Chisholm OBE; Maureen Duffy, Benson Medallist; Maggie Gee OBE; The Hon Victoria Glendinning CBE; Dame Hilary Mantel; Sir Philip Pullman CBE; Claire Tomalin; Jenny Uglow OBE, Benson Medallist.
Elif Shafak said: ‘I feel a Fellowship of writers is so important and so necessary. At first glance it might appear a bit contradictory because writers are solitary creatures. We’re used to working on our own, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need solidarity, sisterhood, fellowship. We need to create open, democratic, egalitarian spaces, of diversity and inclusion, where every writer from every background, every race, culture and ethnicity and social class will be equally welcome, and will have an equal voice.’
29 new Fellows have been announced. To be nominated, a writer must have published two works of outstanding literary merit, and nominations must be seconded by an RSL Fellow or Honorary Fellow. The following are announced today: Raymond Antrobus (To Sweeten Bitter, The Perseverance); Chloe Aridjis (Book of Clouds, Sea Monsters); Damian Barr (You Will Be Safe Here,Maggie & Me); Cressida Connolly (After the Party, The Happiest Days); Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising, the Boggart trilogy); Jill Dawson (The Language of Birds, Fred & Edie); playwright April De Angelis (Jumpy,A Laughing Matter), poet and translator Jane Draycott (The Night Tree, Over), Sasha Dugdale (Deformations), Yvvette Edwards (A Cupboard Full of Coats, The Mother), Diana Evans (OrdinaryPeople, The Wonder, 26a), Peter Frankopan (The Silk Roads, The First Crusade), Salena Godden (Fishing in the Aftermath); Colin Grant (Bageye at the Wheel); Kirsty Gunn (Caroline’s Bikini); Daniel Hahn (The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature); Kerry Hudson (Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma); Andrew McMillan (Physical, Playtime); James Meek (Private Island); Kate Mosse (the Languedoc Trilogy, The Taxidermist’s Daughter); Michael Palin (Hemingway’s Chair, The Truth), Sandeep Parmar ( The Marble Orchard,Eidolon); Winsome Pinnock (The Winds of Change, Leave Taking); Max Porter (Grief Is the Thing with Feathers); Sigrid Rausing (Mayhem); Roger Robinson (A Portable Paradise); Katherine Rundell (Rooftoppers, The Explorer); Philippe Sands QC (East West Street, The Ratline); Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).
Sir Michael Palin said: ‘Books have been, and still are, such a potent force in my life, that to be elected to Fellowship of a Society which has been celebrating books and authors for the last 200 years is an ultimate accolade, and a great and unexpected honour.’
15 new Honorary Fellows, those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of literature as publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians or producers have been elected in 2020. The new Honorary Fellows include: MelanieAbrahams FRSA, Creative Director of Renaissance One and Tilt and curator of CaribbeanFest and Black Arts World; Linda Anderson, Professor of English and American Literature at Newcastle University; BBC radio producer Mair Bosworth; Tony Brown who has worked for Islington Libraries since 1981 and co-founded the annual Islington Word Festival; Kate Gavron Chair of Carcanet Press and The Folio Society; Literary agent David Godwin; Chair of Virago Press LennieGoodings; Andrew Holgate, literary editor of The Sunday Times; Poet and Director of Young Identity Shirley May; Ursula Owen Founder and Director of Virago and Free Word; Award winning BBC journalist and founder and director of Bocas Lit Fest – the writer and reader development organisation in Trinidad and Tobago Marina Salandy-Brown; SarahSanders, co-founder of Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions; broadcaster and writer Tom Sutcliffe; journalist, editor and critic Boyd Tonkin; Former actor, professor of Cultural Studies, and Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority, Baroness Lola Young.
Baroness Lola Young said: ‘As increased book sales indicate, many people finding themselves isolated and stuck indoors during this really difficult period, found comfort in a good read. The RSL is devoted to the celebration of great writing. To be elected an Honorary Fellow at any time is a huge honour: to be appointed in the year of RSL’s 200th anniversary feels extra special.’
In honour of its 200th anniversary the RSL has today unveiled a new iteration of the Benson Medal, designed by Linda Crook. Founded in 1916 by scholar, author and RSL Fellow A.C. Benson, the Benson Medal honours service to literature across a whole career. This year the Benson Medal has been awarded to journalist, editor and critic Boyd Tonkin, who re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2001 and acted as the Man Booker International Prize special advisor between 2016-2019. Previous recipients include Philip Larkin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Wole Soyinka, Diana Athill, Margaret Busby and Susheila Nasta.
Boyd Tonkin said: ‘I’m delighted to become an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature: a recognition that comes from writers themselves, and one I deeply appreciate. And I feel both thrilled and privileged to be named as this year’s Benson Medallist by the Society. When I look at the list of recent medallists, I see many of the distinguished figures who have done most to shape and guide my own understanding of literature in all its many forms and voices. To join this company of giants is an enormous honour.’