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95b3a5d238c96b2c_orgA WINNING CELEBRATION:



August is a time to celebrate the theatre; as the world’s largest festival of theatre kicks off in Edinburgh preparations are well and truly underway in Manchester to announce the winners of Europe’s largest playwriting competition, THE BRUNTWOOD PRIZE FOR PLAYWRITING. A partnership between Manchester family-owned business Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre, THE BRUNTWOOD PRIZE FOR PLAYWRITING will name its new winners on 17 November 2015 and also mark 10 exceptionally rewarding years of the competition.

With 1,938 entries this year an army of over 80 readers are currently reading each individual entry to create a long list of potential winners. In November a shortlist will be handed to this year’s panel of judges chaired by Nicholas Hytner and including journalist Miranda Sawyer, actor Meer Syal, and former Bruntwood Prize winner Vivienne Franzmann. Vivienne said of moving from entrant to judge…

‘Winning a Bruntwood prize completely changed my life. It gave me the chance to become a writer. I feel hugely honoured to be a judge for this year’s competition. It is a real privilege to read the work of other writers and be part of changing the life of someone else.’ Vivienne Franzmann

THE BRUNTWOOD PRIZE FOR PLAYWRITING has had a significant impact of the fabric of playwriting across the UK. Since launching in 2005 the prize has created 17 winners and awarded over £160,000 in prize money, we have developed 16 productions and partnered 30 UK theatres. Past winners includeDuncan Macmillan whose critically acclaimed adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 (Headlong/ Nottingham Playhouse/ Almeida) is currently playing in the West End before beginning an international tour, Alistair McDowall whose play POMONA was an instant hit and Anna Jordan, whose play YEN was a 2013 prize winner and gained exceptional reviews for its premiere earlier this year.

Suzanne Bell, The Royal Exchange’s Literary and New Writing Associate comments…

2015 has been an extraordinary year for entries and as our readers work though the scripts it is obvious that the quality is outstanding. Through this prize we have discovered some truly stunning and exceptionally talented writers who have gone on to make waves both here in the UK and internationally. I am sure that this year will be no exception. The longstanding  partnership between Bruntwood and the Exchange means we can support the winners both financially and with advice and mentoring allowing them to hone their craft and create brand new plays for British and international stages.

Michael Oglesby, Chairman of Bruntwood, adds “Since we founded the Bruntwood Prize ten years ago it has grown into a prize of major significance. The writers who have won previously have gone on to great things and I hope we find more great talent this year.”

The 2015 BRUNTWOOD PRIZE FOR PLAYWRITING winners will be announced on 17 November at a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre.


The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting
The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is Europe’s biggest national competition for playwriting. It is the search for great new plays and great writers. We look for scripts that are original and unperformed, by writers of any experience. The Bruntwood Prize is a partnership between Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre, for more information visit

The 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting judging panel
Nicholas Hytner (former Artistic Director, National Theatre)
Sarah Frankcom (Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre)
Vivienne Franzmann (playwright and former Bruntwood winner)
Ramin Gray (Artistic Director, Actors Touring Company)
Bryony Lavery (playwright)
Michael Oglesby CBE (Chairman, Bruntwood)
Miranda Sawyer (writer and broadcaster)
Meera Syal CBE (actor and writer).


Cast announced for Print Room’s Cocktail Party

98655Casting has been announced for the upcoming revival of TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party, which opens at the Print Room next month.

Abbey Wright’s production will inaugurate the main auditorium at the Print Room’s new home the Coronet; the historic space was until recently used as a cinema and hasn’t housed theatre productions for over a century.

Running from 14 September to 10 October 2015, the production will see Helen Bradbury (Versailles, Top Girls) and Richard Dempsey (Damsel in Distress, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) star as Lavinia and Edward, a recently estranged couple who hold a cocktail party.

The cast also features: Hilton McRae (Unidentified Guest / Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly),Chloe Pirrie (Celia), Christopher Ravenscroft (Alex), John Wark (Peter) and Marcia Warren (Julia).

The 1949 verse drama was Eliot’s most popular play in his lifetime, but has only been occasionally revived since.

Abbey Wright’s most recent production is the West End revival of Richard Bean’s The Mentalists starring Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri.

Russell Tovey joins Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge on Broadway

Russell Tovey will star alongside Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge when the Young Vic’s Olivier Award-winning production transfers to Broadway later this year.

Tovey will play Rodolpho alongside original cast members Nicola Walker (Beatrice),Pheobe Fox (Catherine), Emun Elliott (Marco), and Michael Gould (Alfieri) and Richard Hansell (Louis).

A View from the Bridge runs from 21 October 2015 to 21 February 2016 at the Lyceum Theatre.

Directed by Ivo van Hove, the production features scenic and lighting design by longtime van Hove collaborator Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys, and sound design by Tom Gibbons.

Russell Tovey last appeared on Broadway in the National Theatre production of The History Boys playing Rudge, the role he originated.



12 September 2015  – 26 September 2015,

TOMMY opens on Saturday September 12 and plays through to Saturday September 26. This multi award winning adaptation of the original chart topping album tells a powerful tale of a deaf, mute and blind pinball player who becomes an international messiah.
Starring Joe McElderry & Antony Costa
345_2_bigThis smash hit Broadway and West End show will be directed by stage and screen star PAUL NICHOLAS who starred alongside Elton John, Roger Daltrey and Tina Turner in the 1975 film release of the show. The new show coincides with the 40 year anniversary of the film.
This colourful, exciting, imaginative and thought provoking new production will be enhanced by exhilarating choreography and will feature first class rock musicians. TOMMY was first performed by The Who in 1968 and was conceived by Pete Townsend and Kit Lambert with contributions to its development by John Enstwhistle, Keith Moon and Roger Daltrey.345_3_big
It is not the first time that Blackpool audiences will be thrilled by The Who classics – the legendary rockers played the world famous Opera House twice in August 1964 and October 1961 to critical acclaim.

Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith breaks Menier box office record

The Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith has become the theatre’s fastest-selling show.

The production went on public sale at midnight and was sold out by 10:30am.

Directed by Michael Mayer, Funny Girl opens on 2 December 2015 (previews from 20 November), and runs until 5 March 2016.

Presented in association with Sonia Friedman Productions and Scott Landis, it is being hotly tipped for a West End transfer following its run at the Chocolate Factory.

The production sees Funny Girl return to the London stage for the first time since its 1966 UK premiere. With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Isobel Lennart, the show originally starred Barbra Streisand.

It centres on Fanny Brice, who rose from the Lower East Side of New York to become one of Broadway’s biggest stars under producer Florenz Ziegfield. While she was cheered onstage as a great comedienne, offstage she faced a doomed relationship with the man she loved.

The score features classics such as “People”, “You Are Woman, I Am Man” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade”.

Cast announced for Simon Armitage’s Odyssey play

Full casting has been announced for Simon Armitage’s The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead, which premieres at Liverpool Everyman next month.

The production reunites Armitage with director Nick Bagnall after their recent collaborations onThe Last Days of Troy and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The cast will feature Colin Tierney as Odysseus, alongside Lee Armstrong, Simon Dutton, Roger Evans, Polly Frame, David Hartley, Ranjit Krishnamma, Chris Reilly, Sule Rimi, Danusia Samal and Susie Trayling.

Armitage said: “The new gods sit in Whitehall and Downing Street, no less image-obsessed and power-hungry than their ancient counterparts, and a latter-day borderless Europe forms the backdrop to Odysseus’ travels, to a journey that begins at the confluence point of East and West, a place of conflict from the Siege of Troy to the present day.”

The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead opens at Liverpool Everyman on 30 September 2015 (previews from 25 September), and runs until 17 October.

The production, which is co-produced by English Touring Theatre, then tours to venues including Richmond Theatre (20-24 October), Brighton Theatre Royal (27-31 October), Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe (3 -14 November), Cambridge Arts Theatre (17-21 November) and Exeter Northcott Theatre (24-28 November).

Old Vic transforms Pit Bar into Penny cafe

The Old Vic is set to transform its Pit Bar into Penny, an all-day cafe and late night bar.

The new cafe is designed by Lauren Johns, who with her partner Jules Porter designed Milk in Balham and Fields in Clapham. Johns is also an occasional actress who appeared in new Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus’s  hit film Pride.

She told the Evening Standard she got the gig after a chance encounter with Warchus in Fields: “I recognised him and we got talking. He said how much he liked the place and it was his local. A little while later we got an email from him saying he wanted to think about changing the Pit Bar and could we come and see him.”

Penny is named after the Penny Lectures held at the Old Vic in 1882; they cost a penny and were designed to encourage new thinking and ideas.

According to press material: “The space will be inclusive and functional. During the day it will be a place to meet, have good coffee and/or brunch over a meeting, but will then seamlessly transition into a place to drink modern and engaging wines and grab something delicious to eat.”

The Old Vic’s front of house spaces are also being “refreshed”, marking the start of a five-year project to completely restore the historic Grade II listed theatre.

Penny opens in September. Its opening hours will be 8am-1am Monday to Wednesday, 8am-2am Thursday to Friday and 10am-2am on Saturdays.

Ocean Film Festival World Tour

logoOcean Film Festival World Tour

Friday 25th September


Ocean Film Festival World Tour is set to make a splash this autumn!

The PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay is delighted to inform that North East audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the wonders of the ocean, without getting their feet wet as the Ocean Film Festival World Tour returns the theatre this autumn, on September 25th. After a highly successful first Tour in 2014, the festival which originates in Australia, will feature a brand new selection of the world’s most captivating ocean-themed short films and will be shown in 24 towns and cities across the UK.

Designed to mesmerise and enthral, the Ocean Film Festival World Tour showcases more than two hours of sublime footage taken above and below the water’s surface. The films document the beauty and power of the ocean, and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray; who chase the crests of waves; and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue. Heart-stopping shots of big wave surfing and adrenalin-inducing scenes of divers swimming with white sharks will leave audiences on the edges of their seats. The films also encourage viewers to dive head first into ocean culture as the festival is filled with touching interviews and insightful narrations from the characters whose lives are inspired by the ocean.

All films convey a deep respect and appreciation for the world’s oceans and the creatures that call them home. A selection of 2015 highlights includes Devocean; South African born Bruno has spent the majority of his life in or on the water, but in 1998 a tragic event left him with severe disabilities. In an instant he plunged from carefree surf guide, sailor, scuba diver and traveller to the depths of despair. A chance wave and the restorative powers of the ocean showed Bruno a new path in life, one that would be rich, full, diverse and salty. Devocean is an inspirational story of life’s lessons as taught by the sea.

Oceanminded; the film, follows champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo along the coast of South Africa and Mozambique. Her underwater journey takes her into the realm of the ocean’s most feared predator – the shark. The often feared creatures are portrayed in a very different light, one of beauty and respect. It´s an adventure full of risks and passions all on one breath.

A Small Surfer; Known as the Flying Squirrel, Quincy Symonds may well be the best six-year-old surfer and skater on the planet.   The Queenslander only started surfing about 18 months ago and, in a very short time, has captured the attention of the surfing world, gained multiple sponsors and garnered a fanatical following on social media. Prepare to be gobsmacked!

The Ocean Film Festival World Tour should be missed by no sports fan, nature fan or adrenaline junkie. With a wealth of new talent to be seen 2015 is guaranteed to exhilarate. What’s more The 2015 UK Ocean Film Festival World Tour will donate 25p from every ticket sold to Project Aware and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). Project AWARE Foundation is a growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet one dive at a time. SAS is an environmental charity protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably. Ocean Film Festival are very pleased to be working in partnership with both charities and hope the Tour will raise awareness of the essential work undertaken by these organisations, while at the same time, raising valuable funds to continue their work.

Tickets are on sale now and are priced at £12.50, £11 conc.

Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am -2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588 or online at

F*CKING MEN extends its run into September 2015

fcking-men-castaThe King’s Head have announced that their production of F*cking Men, Joe DiPietro’s serio-comic contemporary adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde set within the gay subculture of a big city, will be extending its run at the King’s Head through into September.

The play is a moving portrayal of hunger and desire as it follows the erotic encounters of 10 men in their interconnected search for sexual satisfaction. Each scene in the play is a frank, candid and sometimes brutally honest depiction of the lustful transaction between two men. It is a loose adaptation of the 19th century play La Ronde in which pairings of characters are featured in scenes preceding and succeeding sexual encounters.

This extension proves the continued popularity of the show, after the original premiere run in 2009 began at the Finborough Theatre, from which it transferred to the King’s Head to play for 9 months (the longest ever Off West End run of a play). It then transferred into the West End to the Arts Theatre. This new production by director Geoffrey Hyland, who directed the South African premiere of The Blue Room, follows on from his hit success Between, which toured internationally before playing with us in August last year and extending with a further run in January this year as well.

Now in its 45th year, The King’s Head Theatre is celebrating this anniversary with an exciting new artistic policy after the departure of OperaUpClose, becoming a crucible for new writing and critical rediscoveries. Work from Irvine Welsh, Richard Cameron, Richard O’Brien and Arthur Miller, as well as Mike Bradwell directing for the first time since the 1970s, guarantees that if it’s on here, you won’t see it anywhere else. Led by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, second artistic director following Dan Crawford (who set up the King’s Head as the first pub theatre in 1970), the theatre is the first unfunded venue to have an Equity agreement to pay theatre-makers fair wages since 2011, and continues to do so despite receiving no public funding.

The Escort Chris Wills
The Soldier Harper James
The Graduate Student Ruben Jones
The Student Euan Brockie
The Married Guy Jonathan McGarrity
The Other Married Guy Richard De Lisle
The Porn Star Haydn Whiteside
The Playwright Darren Bransford
The Actor Johnathon Neal
The Journalist Richard Stemp

5th August – 30th August, 7pm (3pm matinees weekends)
5th September – 26th September, 7pm and 9.30pm
(weekend matinees, see online for details)