Organisations collaborate to create new theatre research YouTube channel

Exciting news that several esteemed organisations including the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection have created a new channel – Theatre and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century – which you can find here.

This is part of a project examining theatre as a significant and integrated part of nineteenth century visual culture, between Warwick University Theatre and Performance Studies Department & University of Exeter Drama Department and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (which supports world-class research into human culture and creativity).

With a fascinating range of material, this will be something that anyone with a keen interest in theatre history will want to dip into time and time again. Good luck to the project and its continued success!

Levelling Up- or Levelling Down? Another view on the arts money moving outside London

Ardent Theatre’s co-Creative Director Mark Sands has written a very useful article about the redistribution of existing arts money outside London and why it isn’t the answer. Well worth three minutes of your time. Read it here

“London is being punished for the decades’ long underinvestment in regional arts and cuts in local funding. It’s not a solution; it’s a recipe for resentment.”

Mark Sands

MGCfutures announces new round of Bursary winners

These 20 talented people are the recipients of this year’s MGCfutures Bursaries.

The MGC Bursary team said of the award’s sixth round “This year we’re pleased to be working with London Performance Studios to support their new role of Cultural Entrepreneur as well as working with Dance Base in Edinburgh to support a Hip-Hop Dance Artist Traineeship.

We’ve also had the pleasure of working with South House to provide a Creative Development Residency at their studio in Faversham

And two recipients have been awarded the Stephanie Arditti bursary in memory of costume supervisor Stephanie Arditti, generously supported by designer Christopher Oram

We are grateful to the Theatre Community Fund for their generous support.”

Congratulations to each and every one of them!

Read more about the happy and talented Bursary recipients here

See Luke Rollason’s ode to The Great Indoors pre-Edinburgh show

Friday 8th July at 7.15pm is your last London chance to see Luke Rollason’s new show BOWERBIRD, at comedy’s favourite home, the Soho Theatre, presented here as part of the London Clown Festival.

Its pretty impressive Luke’s had time to write it, as he’s been so busy on Channel 4’s viral series The B@IT. He’s also the star of the upcoming Disney+ series EXTRAORDINARY.

BOWERBIRD is Luke’s absurd ode to the great indoors and the relationships we form with the objects we fill it with – the armchair singing the lost loves that left behind their bum imprints, abandoned utensils with uncertain parenthood, and the sordid spooning going on in your cutlery drawer.

Like visiting IKEA on acid, this is a psychedelic domestic breakdown that will make you totally rethink your domestic life.

The show will run approximately 60 minutes.

Find more information and book your tickets here

UPDATE: You can claim a discount on your tickets by quoting the code BigRedNose22

Ardent Theatre salutes an alternative platinum jubilee

Martin Daniels back in the day….

To celebrate an amazing 70-year acting career, Ardent Theatre have invited Martin Daniels to guest blog this month for them, to describe his experiences in weekly repertory theatre.

Weekly rep, as it was known, was a very popular form of live theatrical entertainment for most of the twentieth century. The first repertory company was founded in Manchester by Annie Horniman in 1908. Previously, theatres had relied heavily on touring shows coming up from London.

Loyal local audiences came week after week to support “their rep” , and see pretty much whatever was on, with a company of actors who stayed for the entire season, appearing twice nightly in the current week’s show while learning the script for the next week’s show during the day. Equity later put a stop to the twice nightlies, reducing to eight shows a week usually including a midweek and weekend matinee.

Almost disappeared now in the UK, traditional weekly repertory theatre can still just occasionally be seen in the summer at Frinton, Sidmouth, Sheringham and sometimes Windsor – although sadly, Covid may have affected their survival and profitability.

In Ardent’s engaging blog piece, Martin Daniels talks about his early start in 1950s Manchester at the tender age of fifteen, the agents specialising in rep, and the numerous rep companies he played with, which in those days spread far and wide across the UK.

Finally, Martin laments the changes in the profession – although he proudly sports his current Equity card!

Congratulations Martin – and may you have many more happy years as an Equity member!

You can read Martin’s whole blog piece here

You can also see and hear Martin talking in more detail (with some fun stories) about his rep experiences in this talk with Ardent’s Mark Sands in 2016. Find it here

Intrigued about weekly rep? A taste of the feeling of weekly rep can be gleaned from a gently amusing comedy from 1952, CURTAIN UP, starring Margaret Rutherford as the precious author of next week’s play and Robert Morley as the exasperated director trying to make something workable from her galumphing script. It is based on Philip King’s successful play ON MONDAY NEXT which ran at London’s Comedy Theatre for 444 performances between June 1949 and June 1951. You can watch the film of the play on Youtube (below) thanks to poster Classics. Enjoy!

“Philip King has simply taken the lid off a weekly repertory theatre during an early rehearsal of the play to be presented ‘on Monday next’ and let the various situations speak most amusingly for themselves … The author gains his effect by ridiculing the ridiculous.” – The Stage, 9th June 1949