Watch Now: Transport Group’s musical BROADBEND, ARKANSAS

From America, Transport Group is offering you a free performance of their world-premiere musical from 2019, BROADBEND, ARKANSAS.

In a remarkably timely offering, the show explores how a Black family grapples with decades of inequality, violence, and suppression in the American South. Benny, an orderly at a nursing home, delicately balances his role as a caregiver to an ornery white resident who shares a contentious past with his white boss while at the same time caring for his own family as the fight for equality grips the nation in the midst of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Thirty years later, his daughter, Ruby, struggles to understand an incident of police brutality against her 15-year-old son. This unique musical, spanning nearly half a century and three generations, asks us to contemplate the cycle of violence in this country and how we will find hope and create change against the backdrop of hate that plagues America.

Starring Justin Cunningham and Danyel Fulton with a libretto by Ellen Fitzhugh and Harrison David Rivers and music and additional lyrics by Ted Shen, the show was highly-praised upon its debut and earned a number of high-profile recommendations, including from The New York Times.

The performance lasts 90 minutes and is available online until the end of August 16th (US time). The performance is offered free but you must register in order to gain access.

Transport Group ask that if you enjoy this streaming presentation, in lieu of a ticketing fee, please give what you are able, to financially support Black Theatre Network

HEADS- UP NOTES – You must register to receive a unique access code to view the recording. This access code will be valid for 48 hours from the time of registering. Just so you know!

To watch BROADBEND, ARKANSAS, register here via OvationTix


Watch Now: MY LIGHT SHINES ON embodies the spirit of the Edinburgh Festivals – and there’s more

For the first time in 73 years, Edinburgh – the Festival City- is quiet this August. This would have been the opening weekend of the 2020 Edinburgh International Festival season. But of course, it’s not a normal year. With the necessity for safety impacting the necessity for artistic expression, the creative forces behind the Festival have specially commissioned MY LIGHT SHINES ON, a film full of brand new work from artists across genres, featuring famous faces from festivals across the years and exclusive collaborations with other Edinburgh August festivals. The film is available, free to watch, on the Festival’s YouTube channel and Facebook Live from 9.30pm tonight and then throughout August.  You can also find the film at the foot of this blog entry (while it remains available to view).

This unique broadcast launches a series of new recorded activity, also available on the Festival’s YouTube channel from tonight, and then throughout August.

As a part of the MY LIGHT SHINES ON Online Festival, Scotland’s major national artistic companies have been commissioned to create extraordinary works that audiences can enjoy from their own homes. In celebration of our Festival City, they bring light and life to sites that must stay empty this year with unique filmed performances and insights from artists. New shows will be added daily so do check back at the festival’s YouTube channel regularly.

Enjoy these lovingly created lights that still shine despite our current circumstances, helping us to find our way back to performances everyone can enjoy – and which remind us of why the arts are such a beloved and vital part of our culture.


Watch Now: The Finborough’s BLUEPRINT MEDEA

Julia Pascal’s play BLUEPRINT MEDEA, seen in 2019, is now available to view online for free thanks to the Finborough Theatre’s streaming initiative.

Kurdish freedom fighter Medea escapes the Turkish military and arrives at UK Border Control on a forged passport. Slipping through immigration, Medea discovers how to exist on the margins of London life. Working illegally as a cleaner in a gym, she meets Jason-Mohammed, the son of Iraqi immigrants. Their attraction results in the birth of twin boys. Medea believes that she has finally found a new home, a new family and a new life.

But when Jason-Mohammed’s father decides that his son must marry Glauke, an Iraqi cousin, Medea realises that she will lose both her sons and her safe haven in the UK.

As her whole world falls apart, she is forced to accept that she has nothing to lose by revenging herself – destroying the lives who those who have betrayed her and keeping her sons’ spirits with her forever…

Based on interviews with Kurdish fighters living in the UK, and written and directed by the first woman ever to direct at the National Theatre, BLUEPRINT MEDEA is an award-winning new drama loosely inspired by Euripides’ MEDEA, which connects the classical to the contemporary to explore eternal questions of passion, war, cultural identity, women’s freedom, sex, family and love.

The play runs approximately 90 minutes and can be viewed online until September 2nd.

Although this production is free to watch, please strongly consider making a donation to Finborough Theatre to enable it to reopen after this crisis has passed.

Watch BLUEPRINT MEDEA here


The Finborough’s SCROUNGER

Available on a very short viewing window is Athena Stevens’ fascinating play SCROUNGER, available to view from 9am on Saturday, 1 August until midnight on Monday, 3 August, and again from 9am until midnight on Monday, 31 August.

The first production of the Finborough Theatre’s 40th anniversary year, the world premiere of Finborough Theatre Playwright in Residence and Olivier Award nominee Athena Stevens’s new play SCROUNGER.

On the streets of Elephant and Castle, everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. She needs help, she must not be aware of the complexities of the world, she is sent from the demons to torture her mum… at least according to her Nigerian Uber driver.

Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen.

That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair.

Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens herself, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

You can read my three and a half-star review of SCROUNGER here

Although this production is free to watch, please strongly consider making a donation to Finborough Theatre to enable it to reopen after this crisis has passed.

VIEWING PERIOD ENDED


Lyric Hammersmith at 125

The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, celebrates its 125th anniversary on 20th July.

The Lyric Theatre is a rare and truly remarkable survivor. It was originally built as a music hall in 1888 on Bradmore Grove, Hammersmith by a local businessman, Charles Cordingly . It was rebuilt and enlarged on the same site twice, firstly in 1890 and then in 1895 (with additional remodeling in 1899) by the master theatre architect Frank Matcham. The 1895 reopening, as The New Lyric Opera House, was graced by an opening address by the famous actress Lillie Langtry.

Lyric Opera House – drawing from the ERA, 4 Feb 1899
An early Lyric programme

After a chequered history of seventy years of successes and slumps, the theatre went up for auction in 1965 but was only finally sold in 1968. According to some sources, the auction was won by a “Mr Richards” who bought the theatre for £26,000. However, the Council believed that they had bought the theatre at the same auction, for the same price. As a result, the theatre went back to auction and the Council eventually bought it for £37,500.

1969 Awaiting demolition

Everything pointed towards the closure and demolition of the theatre. However, a local campaign started to save the Lyric- well, some of it. The campaign argued that the auditorium was of such a high standard that it should be dismantled and reconstructed within a new structure a short distance away in King Street, a much more central and visible location in Hammersmith’s centre. The campaign gathered momentum and eventually succeeded.

The epic work of reconstructing the original auditorium within a new structure is a very rare occurrence today – and even more so over 50 years ago. But with patience, planning and perseverance the work continued, and by 1979 the Lyric Theatre’s new building welcomed the original Lyric’s 550-seat auditorium, opened by HM the Queen.

Lyric auditorium as reconstructed
Lyric auditorium as reconstructed

In 2018 the auditorium’s glorious plasterwork was restored and refurbished to a high standard, as you can see in a detail photo below.

Lyric auditorium as reconstructed

Today, although closed due to COVID-19, the Lyric is thriving as a vital part of its community, and I hope that the theatre enjoys another 50 years of success ahead!

Anyone wishing to explore the removal of the original auditorium plasterwork can see a comprehensive range of fascinating photos at the arthurlloyd.com website here