Matt Smith and Claire Foy to perform Lungs (plus 5 plays that could have the same social distance treatment)

The Old Vic has announced that Matt Smith and Claire Foy will be doing a socially distanced version of the play Lungs which will be filmed at the theatre and live-streamed.

Old Vic We'll be back soon sign
Photo: Rev Stan

It will be ticketed and numbers limited to 1,000 per performance so there is an element of exclusivity to it.

Dates have yet to be announced but check out the Old Vic website for more details and how to sign up for email updates. I missed it the first time around so I'll certainly be trying to grab a ticket.  

Lungs will kick off what the Old Vic is calling In Camera, a series of rehearsed readings shot at the theatre against the empty auditorium and streamed online.

It is a fantastic way of bringing live performance to theatre lovers but also raising much-needed funds.

And while streaming archive productions has been brilliant - and will continue to be so, I'm sure this will just be the start of similar innovations to keep theatres going with fresh performances.

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10th Birthday list: My 10 (ok it's 11) favourite stage actresses plus who I'd really like to see on stage more

While there might not be quite as many meaty stage roles for actresses as there are actors (is that changing?) the plethora of acting talent I've seen over the past 10 years made this quite tricky to narrow down. Hence the list of 11 rather than a neat 10 (and presented in no particular order).

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Patsy Ferran in My Mum's a Twat, Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray.

I've also added a few names I've only seen once or twice but really want to see do more stage work.

Who would you add, let me know in the comments?

1. Imelda Staunton

Who can forget Margaret in Good People or Martha in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf? It's always a treat when she treads the boards.

2. Jade Anouka

She was the best Hotspur I've seen when Phyllida Law did her all-female Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse. She also did a fantastic one-woman show at the fringe (Chef) and I still remember the bit of subtlety she brought to Jamie Lloyd's lively production of Dr Faustus.

3. Patsy Ferran

Patsy, Patsy, Patsy. Have seen her in fringe productions, small studio theatres, one-women shows and taking lead roles in classics which have ended up in the West End (and winning her awards). So pleased to see her career taking off and can't wait to see what she does next.

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Theatre creatives respond to rise in Covid-related anti-Asian hate crime with We R Not Virus event

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, reports of anti-Asian hate crime have tripled, in response, a collective of UK creatives of East and South East Asian heritage have put together an online event We R Not Virus.

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Live-streamed on two days - 13 & 14 June - via Zoom the free event will feature 10 newly commissioned monologues delivered using a variety of art forms including film, poetry, dance and song.

The themes explore race, identity, representation, perspective and economics through the lens of East and South East Asian artists and their communities.

Directed by award-winning Young Vic New Genesis fellow and associate director Jennifer Tang (Young Vic, RSC, The Royal Exchange, Hampstead Theatre) and Anthony Lau (National Theatre, Royal Court, Nuffield Southampton, Ink - West End, Almeida), each day will conclude with a panel discussion.

The line-up of writers includes award-winning writer, actor and film-maker Daniel York Loh (The Good Immigrant, Royal Court, National Theatre, RSC), poet Will Harris (ES magazine’s 'new guard’ of London poets, poetry fellowship - Arts Foundation 2019) and Amber Hsu currently working with the RSC (BBC, Royal CourtOrange TreeNational Theatre Studio).

We R Not Virus is on 13 June at 7pm and 14 June at 3pm and the running time is 65 minutes (5 monologues each day) plus the panel discussion.

For more details and to book a place head to: www.omnibus-clapham.org

If you are looking for more theatre and performance to watch during lockdown check out my list of what is on.


Review: The treat that is Barber Shop Chronicles, streaming from the National Theatre archive

You can't beat the experience of sitting in a theatre watching a live performance but one of the lockdown-positives is a chance to watch stuff I sadly missed and Barber Shop Chronicles is one of those.

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It feels particularly fortuitous to see it because what is being streamed isn't an NT Live recording rather it was filmed for the archive* and these generally aren't for public consumption.

Despite watching Barber Shop Chronicles in isolation on my laptop you still get a sense of its vibrancy and its pulse.

Set in six different barber shops - London, Lagos, Johannesburg, Accra, Kampala and Harare - Inua Ellams' play showcases the similarities of human experience, desires and dreams across different cultures while simultaneously demonstrating what makes them unique and individual.

Over the course of a day, the barber shop-setting, combined with a big football match between Chelsea and Barcelona is a connecting thread on one level, the desire to belong and be seen is another.

The setting is clever, the barber shop functioning not merely as a place for haircuts and shaves but also a place of  (male) community where opinions are aired, arguments worked through and jokes swapped.

We hear differing opinions on parenting, masculinity, the post-colonialism landscape and immigration, which paints a vivid kaleidoscope of culture and thinking.

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Video: This Sunday's theatre question is about those special and spontaneous curtain call moments

Sometimes when the actors line up to take a bow at the end of a play it can be emotional, revealing or provoke some spontaneous fun or japes.

One of my favourite curtain call moments involved two of the actors doing a joke replay of a scene in the play.

Do you have a favourite curtain call moment? Tell me in the comments.

I've compiled a list of my favourite curtain call moments from the past 10 years which you can find here and if you've missed a Sunday theatre question, here are a few I've already posted:

What sparked your love of theatre?

The question about Shakespeare.

The question about unexpected audience experiences.

The question about directors.

The question about which theatre production you'd revive?

If you want to see more of my videos, including my 60-second reviews, follow my YouTube channel, like my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram, whichever is your favourite platform 🤓

 

10th Birthday list: My favourite theatre curtain call moments

I love curtain calls at the end of plays. It's a revealing time when characters are shaken off - or not - when faces perhaps show the person underneath the acting mask.

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View from the stage at the RSC Swan Theatre. Photo Rev Stan

They can also be a time of japes, fun and banter.

From time to time over the past 10 years of blogging I've mention curtain calls, they even have their own category in my end of year awards on occasions, so I decided to compile a list of  my favourites:

1. Only on the last night of the RSC's Richard II could the King (David Tennant) and his deposer Bolingbroke (Nigel Lindsay) have a final tussle for the crown. It was 2-0 to Bolingbroke in the end, David Tennant's curtain call lunge to take the golden circlet from Nigel Lindsay was not quite fast enough.

2. Another last night, this time the end of the run was all a bit too much for the cast of Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Daniel Mays looked like he'd been crying backstage and Ben Whishaw and Rupert Grint were fighting tears.

3. And another last night...Mark Strong couldn't hide his emotions at the end of A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic but instead of tears, he mouthed a satisfied 'yes' while making a fist.

4. At the curtain call of cold war drama Anna, National Theatre, there was a polite request from the cast who held up a series of cards which spelt out 'No Spoilers'.

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Theatre streaming: National Theatre announces four more brilliant plays to watch at home

When the National Theatre announced it was going to be streaming plays from its archive I had a wish list in my head of what I'd like to see or see again.

NT Live May June play streaming detailsAnd one of the ones that I really want to see again is Tom Hiddleston's Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse back in 2013.

It was a super hot ticket as the Donmar is such a small, intimate theatre - and TH was becoming a big-screen star then - and so I was chuffed to bits that I managed to get a pair of tickets.

The quality of the performances and the portrayal combined with the fact that I was sitting a few feet from the knee-level stage made this such a memorable production.

And then there is A Streetcar Named Desire starring the amazing Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster which was also on my 'love to see again' list.

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Review: Operation Elsewhere - Big Telly Theatre bring their live, virtual, interactive, family show to your living room

Operation Elsewhere is Big Telly Theatre's solo digital interactive theatre project having worked with Creation Theatre on The Tempest recently (review here).

Operation Elsewhere big telly theatre 1

It is similar in style, using Zoom to bring live performance and audience together virtually.

Based on Irish myths but with a contemporary twist, the world of the fairies - Elsewhere - collides with the human world as a fairy becomes a changeling for a bride-to-be.

With the help of various characters from the fairy world, the audience goes on a mission to help rescue the bride from Elsewhere before she forgets who she is.

The actors use green-screen to transport themselves and the audiences to various places including a particularly fun fly-over.

Elsewhere's magical and mythical landscape is cleverly brought to life with the use of other digital gizmos which turn actors hands and body into images as if you can 'see' through them to another world. 

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10th Birthday list: 10 plays that, in hindsight, feel strangely appropriate for lockdown during a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has thrown a whole new light on certain plays, the ones about isolation, loneliness and surreal landscapes. So I've compiled a list of plays that I think reflect the current weirdness and how we might be feeling.

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Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

These aren't plays that are for escapism but more seeing the human condition through a pandemic lense. They are also all plays I've actually seen.

Got a suggestion? Leave it in the comments.

1. Mr Burns, Almeida

This play is set in the future when for some reason there is no electricity so people spend their time trying to recall episodes from The Simpson. The more you remember the greater currency it gives. I didn't get on too well with it at the time but given how inventive we are having to become to entertain ourselves in lockdown it feels appropriate.

2.Pitchfork Disney, Shoreditch Town Hall

Quite a few Philip Ridley plays feel appropriate because of their dark, broken, near-future feel. But I chose Pitchfork Disney because it is about 'outsiders' arriving and disturbing the routine in a disconcerting and threatening way. Taken metaphorically it works for COVID-19.

3. You Stupid Darkness, Southwark Playhouse

Set in a decaying office, a group of volunteers man a helpline called Brightline for people looking for help in seeing the positives when the world outside is not in a very good state (think stormy weather and people having to wear gas masks outdoors).

4. Misterman National Theatre

Cillian Murphy plays a man living in isolation having a series of encounters that might be real or might be imagined.

 

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10th Birthday list: Best play I've seen for each of the last 10 years (or the agony to choose list)

So this month Rev Stan's Theatre blog is 10 years old. My first post was 18 April 2010, it took a couple of weeks before I was to post again but the marker was in the sand.

Various theatre tickets

I had lots of ideas for fun theatre nerdery to celebrate but the lockdown has clipped my wings a little bit as many of them involved actually be at the theatre.

But not to let a decade of theatre bloggery go by without marking the occasion I've got a few other things up my sleeve for the coming few weeks/months.

And to kick things off I've compiled a list of my favourite play for each year I've been blogging (I did my 10 best plays of the decade back in December).

It has been fun revisiting my best-of lists but absolutely agony narrowing each list down to just one, as you will see.

I'm still not 100% happy but here goes:

2010

I initially chose The Pride, Lucille Lortel Theater, New York which saw Ben Whishaw make his Broadway debut alongside Hugh Dancy and Andrea Riseborough but then I realised that technically I saw that in February 2010 before Rev Stan's Theatre blog was born. So I've reluctantly decided it doesn't count.

So my second choice is Clybourne Park, Royal Court Theatre. It's a play that set the benchmark for uncomfortable humour and one which I regularly reference when talking about superb dark comedies.

2011

Jeez, this was a tough one. This was the year I saw Jerusalem, Much Ado with Tennant and Tate and Collaborators, National Theatre to name just three. But with much soul-searching I'm going to choose Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket because it was so beautiful and warm and sad and I'll always remember Sheridan Smith's trembling bottom lip and a brilliant early performance by Matthew Tennyson. Saw it more than once too.

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