Derby Theatre: Friday 4 – Saturday 26 March
60th anniversary production of the play which changed the face of British theatre
Derby Theatre and Octagon Theatre Bolton celebrate the 60th anniversary of Osborne’s seminal play, the ground-breaking classic Look Back in Anger with a new revival directed by Derby Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sarah Brigham. The production will run at Derby Theatre from Fri 4 until Sat 26 March, and then transfer to the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Tue 7 – Sat 30 April.
Look Back in Anger smashed onto the scene and changed the face of British theatre in the mid-1950s, by placing on stage the voice of the ‘Angry Young Man’. The play has a huge local resonance in Derby, as it is a strongly autobiographical piece which suggests it is based on Osborne’s unhappy marriage to actress Pamela Lane, and their life living in a cramped flat in Derby during the 50s.
Osborne worked as as an actor and stage manager at Derby Playhouse (now Derby Theatre) during the 1950s. He pitched the play to the Playhouse before he offered it to the Royal Court, but the Theatre’s Board turned it down as they thought it may not show his ex-wife (Pamela Lane), who was a leading actress in the rep company at that time, in a good light.
In 2016, Derby Theatre looks forward to presenting this iconic play to the audiences of today in the city from where the play was born.
It’s 1956 and in a cramped flat in Derby, Jimmy Porter is angry. His upper-class wife Alison is the perfect target for his anger whilst his flatmate Cliff is the perfect sounding board. An unwanted pregnancy and the arrival of a glamorous actress take the couple into a love triangle which questions the very foundations of how they live.
Playing the central role of Jimmy Porter will be Patrick Knowles. Patrick’s recent credits include: Saturday Night Sunday Morning and The Grapes of Wrath, Mercury Theatre Colchester; and, most recently, as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Curve in Leicester.
Joining Patrick, in the role of Alison, is Augustina Seymour. Augustina’s recent credits include a UK tour of It’s a Wonderful Life; Playing for Time at Sheffield Crucible and Happiness for Theatre 503. Daisy Badger will play Helena. Daisy currently plays Pip Archer in the long-running BBC Radio 4 favourite The Archers and she also plays series regular, Claire Hillman in the ITV series Home Fires. Jimmy Fairhurst will play the role of Cliff.Jimmy recently played Phil in Derby Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of Brassed Off as well as Jud in the Theatre’s production of Kes in 2013. His other credits include ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore for Cheek by Jowl and Theatre 503.
The creative team for Look Back in Anger includes design by Neil Irish, lighting design by Arnim Friess and music composed by Ivan Stott, who will also feature in the play.
As the perfect companion piece to Look Back in Anger, Derby Theatre will also present a new play, Jinny written by Jane Wainwright, an exciting new voice in theatre who hails from Derbyshire. Jinny will look at the play afresh and offer a contemporary response to Look Back through the Theatre’s RETOLD series, which aims to crack open classics from the perspective of females characters. Built on research and development with the women living in Derby in 2015/16, this is a story of a young woman trying to cope with the world she finds herself told with humour and warmth. Jinny plays at Derby Theatre from Mon 7 until Wed 23 March (on selected days).
Sarah Brigham (Director of Look Back in Anger and Artistic Director & Chief Executive, Derby Theatre) said:
“I am incredibly excited to be directing Look Back in Anger for our spring 2016 season and for it to then continue its run at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. The play changed the face of British Theatre back in the 50s by putting working class voices centre stage and I am keen to get my teeth into this iconic and influential work to discover what impact our version may offer our audiences today.
We have assembled a truly magnificent cast, all exciting, young actors in their own right and I am confident that their combined performances will result in a compelling night out of searing drama in our theatres.
Look Back in Anger placed the working man’s voice centre stage, coining the term ‘angry young men” and I believe very strongly that some of the status quo the character Jimmy Porter was railing against then is still very relevant today – it will be exciting to bring this seminal text back to its home of Derby.
To complement the piece we have commissioned up-and-coming playwright Jane Wainwright to spend some time in Derby and discover what the female ‘Jimmy Porters’ of 2016 are angry about today and her short curtain raiser will offer a fresh look at the passion of politics for women in 2016.”
Following the run at Derby Theatre, Look Back in Anger will run at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton from Tue 7 until Sat 30 April.