50th anniversary treats at theatre

Nottingham Playhouse artistic director Giles Croft has revealed the plays to be performed in the 50th anniversary year of the theatre’s iconic building.

The Playhouse’s current home was opened by Lord Snowdon on December 11, 1963, under the leadership of John Neville, Frank Dunlop and Peter Ustinov.

Giles Croft said: “I am delighted to introduce a season of work in our 50th anniversary year which exemplifies all that Nottingham Playhouse is, and has been, about.

“An international festival visit, and a national tour, for two works we have produced in Nottingham, a world premiere by a distinguished regionally-based writer, co-productions with exciting and innovative partners, the revival of works not seen anywhere since our early years, showcasing a great actor such as Ian Bartholomew in a new Shakespeare production, and the 30th pantomime by Kenneth Alan Taylor, one of the country’s legendary dames; all these are in the best traditions of the Playhouse, since the days John Neville proclaimed it would be a ‘theatre that belongs to everybody’.

Kicking it all off is the current, critically acclaimed world premiere of of Phillip Pullman’s I Was A Rat! (see page 27 for a review).

Immediately following this is the European premiere of Matthew Spangler’s stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international bestseller The Kite Runner. It opens on April 26 and runs to May 18.

This summer, another Playhouse production tours to the Spoleto Festival in the US. Following the acclaimed presentation of The Burial at Thebes at the 2008 Festival, Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company returns to Charleston with celebrated actor/director Steven Berkoff’s distinctive adaptation of Sophocles’s classic Greek tragedy Oedipus. Hot on the heels of this comes The Ashes by critically-acclaimed writer Michael Pinchbeck, returning by popular demand.

Autumn begins with George Orwell’s dark vision of the future, Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-production with Headlong, while October sees the world premiere of a new play by celebrated Nottingham writer, Michael Eaton. Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend tells the tale of the greatest celebrity villain of the Victorian age.

Shakespeare’s Richard III continues the year in a co-production with York Theatre Royal. Playing the role of the last Plantagenet king will be Ian Bartholomew, previously seen at Nottingham Playhouse in his critically acclaimed performance as Arturo Ui in autumn 2011.

Celebrations are topped off with a very special gala of the always anticipated pantomime. This year it’s Jack and The Beanstalk written and directed by king of pantos Kenneth Alan Taylor, who will don his frock, to play his legendary dame for the last time, from November 29 to January 18.