News: I Dare You – Charity Single To Be Released on 16 March

The Make A Difference Trust today announce the release of the charity single I Dare You. The track featuring a host of stars of the West End stage will be released on Tuesday 16 March 2021, to mark the anniversary of the day UK Theatres went dark in 2020.

With an appeal by Vanessa Williams, raising funds for the MAD Covid-19 Emergency relief Fund, singing together for the first time are Aimie Atkinson, Samantha Barks, Sharon D Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Shaun Escoffery, Shanay Holmes, Francesca Jackson, Cassidy Janson, Aisha Jawando, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Jamie Muscato, Eva Noblezada, Natalie Paris, Jay Perry, Louise Redknapp, Oliver Tompsett, Faye Tozer, Sally Ann Triplett, Rachel Tucker, Marisha Wallace and Layton Williams. Continue reading “News: I Dare You – Charity Single To Be Released on 16 March”

Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 shows off UK Deaf and disabled artists firing brilliantly on all creative cylinders

“I think this could be the biggest challenge of my career”

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 feels like a great shot in the arm for those who might be tiring of the Zoom format that characterises so much of what new theatre we’re able to get at this moment in time. All five short plays in this collection have been written by alumni from Graeae’Write to Play programme and are directed by upcoming disabled directors. truly celebrating celebrating the best talent and creativity of UK Deaf and disabled artists.

What is particularly impressive is the way in which that talent matches up to the more established names taking part here. Just look at how Mandy Colleran squares up to Harriet Walter’s condescending actor in Kellan Frankland’s How Do You Make A Cup of Tea?, skewering the lie about who gets the opportunity to portray disability onstage or onscreen. Or the way Saida Ahmed’s incredible performance equals the magnificent Sharon D Clarke’s for emotional intensity in The Gift by Leanna Benjamin, as a mother and daughter attempt to deal with some hard-hitting truths. Continue reading “Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2”

2021 Offie & ONCOMM Award Winners

In this ‘special circumstances’ year, the Offies 2021 Awards Ceremony celebrated the creativity and resilience of artists in fringe, alternative and independent theatre in a time of crisis who have found new ways to produce fresh and inventive work for thousands of stay-at-home audiences.

The Offies are OffWestEnd’s main awards, for shows with at least 10 performances, and awards were given to the best of the shows presented before lockdown and the few who managed to go ahead in the summer
months.

The OnComm is the new award for online shows from across the UK (and beyond) and was introduced in May 2020. Additionally, the winner of the OffFest award for theatre shows in festivals was also announced, alongside extra OneOff awards for innovative work and initiatives in 2020, especially in the light of the Covid lockdown. Continue reading “2021 Offie & ONCOMM Award Winners”

News: Crips Without Constraints Part 2 further casting announced

Crips Without Constraints Part 2, which runs from January to February this year, comprises five brand new short plays celebrating the best talent and creativity of Deaf and disabled artists from across the UK. 

Having released the first two plays, How Do You Make a Cup of Tea starring Dame Harriet Walter and Mandy Colleran (comedy duo No Excuses) and Flowers For The Chateau starring Naomi Wirthner (The Doctor – Almeida & West End) and Julie Graham (Benidorm – ITV, Doctor Who – BBC), Graeae continues the series on February 2 with The Gift starring Sharon D Clarke (Death of a Salesman – Young Vic, Holby City – BBC) and Saida Ahmed (Notes to Forgotten She-Wolves – Shakespeare’s Globe). The company can also reveal today that Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Years and Years – BBC1, Sex Education – Netflix) will be joining the line-up which also includes Cherylee Houston(Coronation Street) and Alex James.

The new plays, all bold and brilliant duologues, are written by Leanna Benjamin, Rebekah BowsherKaren FeatherstoneKellan Frankland and Jessica Lovett, all alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme, covering topics from sibling rivalry to death by post stick notes.  Additionally this year, the pieces will all be directed by upcoming disabled  directors Stephen BaileyHana Pascal KeeganCheryl MartinAlex Whiteley and Lilac Yosiphon

The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2021

The OnComm is the new award for online shows from across the UK (and beyond) and was introduced in
May 2020. 

1. Recording pre-lockdown (direct)
(i.e. with little or no editing)
Going Viral / Daniel Bye
Hysteria / Spymonkey
Jane Clegg / Finborough Theatre
The House Of Bernarda Alba / Graeae

2. Recording pre-lockdown (edited)
(i.e. with significant editing)
Bubble / Theatre Uncut
Cyprus Avenue / Royal Court & Abbey Theatre
SeaWall / Simon Stephens
The Encounter / Complicité Continue reading “The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2021”

TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks

Teed up as the big farewell for two companions, Revolution of the Daleks was still a treat as Doctor Who returned to the festive schedule

“Sometimes we get a bit scared cos new can be a bit scary, right?”

Just a quickie for this perennial favourite. Doctor Who was quite lucky in that they got their Christmas episode in the can in good time pre-pandemic, it was actually filmed back in 2019 when Covid was but a Chinese whisper. And the way of these things as they are these days, we already knew that Revolution of the Daleks would mark the end of the TARDIS journeys for two of her current companions – would we get an Adric-style death to take us into 2021?

Spoiler alert, of course not. Ryan and Graham got to go back to Sheffield no problem, complete with psychic paper mementos, and even Sharon D Clarke’s Grace came back to welcome them home, well her ghost did at least. Dramatically it might not have been the punchiest way to go but in the end, it felt like the right thing to do , reflecting the relative normality of the ‘fam’ and their inter-relationships. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”

Review: The Place I Call Home Festival

Anything with Sharon D Clarke zumbaing to ‘Sissy That Walk’ has to be worth your time right?! The Place I Call Home Festival explores new writing through new technology in a fascinating way but book now!

“Another day and we’re sat here doing nothing again”

Paines Plough have always been a company to do theatre a bit differently so it is no surprise to see them responding innovatively to the restrictions imposed by coronavirus. The Place I Call Home is a two-week digital festival of new work, taking the opportunity to explore multiple mediums and international collaborations as three new bilingual plays take place across Zoom, email, WhatsApp and good old snail mail.

Pinging daily into WhatsApp, A Brief History of Struggle by Dipo Baruwa-Etti and Calle Fuhr presents 5 minute snapshots of conversations that might be overheard on park benches. Scenes switch between London and Dortmund and span 1928 to 2020 so the whole thing is necessarily quite fragmented. And as engaging some of the segments are, from burgeoning feminist rights to reactions to immense tragedy, there’s little sense of a cumulative dramatic effect to match the novel delivery. Continue reading “Review: The Place I Call Home Festival”

Review: What A Carve Up!

Jonathan Coe’s novel What A Carve Up! is adapted brilliantly into a gripping online play with an excellent lead performance from Alfred Enoch

“Who even reads novels at this point, they’re just an irrelevance”

As the shadow of another lockdown looms, What A Carve Up! shines as an example of what lemonade can be made from those particular kind of lemons. Produced collaboratively by The Barn Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre and written specifically by Henry Filloux-Bennett for online delivery, this is exciting hybrid thinking.

Based on the novel by Jonathan Coe, Filloux-Bennett and director Tamara Harvey have done a remarkable job here. Covid restrictions aside, it would never have been the most straightforward piece to adapt but reflecting the book’s postmodern structure, this play interleaves multiple layers to build up not just a murder mystery but a damning commentary on the state of the world. Continue reading “Review: What A Carve Up!”