After a period of rescheduled productions, postponed because of the pandemic, today Nottingham Playhouse reveals a rich array of new work for the latter part of 2022. The newly announced work for the autumn season includes some of the biggest names in UK theatre, world premieres, exciting collaborations and eagerly awaited family favourites.
Amongst this work is the premiere of an adaptation of a novella by Alan Bennett starring two major stars of stage and screen, two very different productions of Shakespeare comedies, a new production and regional premiere of a recent National Theatre hit and the always eagerly awaited Nottingham Playhouse Christmas pantomime.
It’s mid-July, it’s high-summer and Nottingham Playhouse moves outside for an open-air staging of one of Shakespeare’s most loved works. Following the huge success of last year’s outdoor production of The Tempest, this year from 13 to 16 July, the magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream conjures up forests, fairies and frenzies of confusion and resolution on a specially built stage in Wellington Circus, adjacent to the theatre. Shakespeare’s most chaotic of comedies is distilled to 80 minutes and performed by just four actors, in this enchanting celebration of love, magic and midsummer madness .
Back indoors and kicking off the season in earnest, from 9 September to 1 October, Nottingham Playhouse is delighted to present the dream team of Olivier winners Sophie Thompson and Adrian Scarborough in The Clothes They Stood Up In, the former’s adaptation of an Alan Bennett novella, packed full of his trademark wit and verbal dexterity.
A night at the opera ends with a shock for mild-mannered couple Maurice and Rosemary Ransome when they open their front door to discover their flat completely empty. From light bulbs to carpets to toilet paper, even their chicken casserole has been stolen. As they attempt to unravel what has happened and without their worldly posessions, they are forced to examine their lives and their relationship and are confronted with some uncomfortable truths. Should they rebuild their old life, or begin afresh? The Clothes They Stood Up In is a bittersweet exploration of marriage, dreams and lives unlived. Adrian Scarborough’s adaptation brings Bennett’s hilarious story to the stage for the first time.
Following this story of love reassessed comes one of unexpected love. Sheffield Theatres and Ramps on The Moon’s production of Much Ado About Nothing runs from 11 to 15 October.
Ramps On The Moon, of which Nottingham Playhouse is a founding member, is the pioneering initiative committed to putting deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work. Featuring the use of integrated creative sign language, audio description and captioning, this innovative production of Shakespeare’s raucous comedy tells the story of besotted young couple Claudio and Hero, who have fallen fast and are quickly engaged. But not everyone finds the path to true love quite so direct – Benedick balks at the very thought of it and Beatrice agrees with him, on that if nothing else. But somewhere in this world, there’s someone for everyone, even if they’re right under your nose.
As the days get shorter and the nights longer, there comes an explosive contemporary comedy with the regional premiere production of Olivier nominated and Critics Circle winner Nine Night by Natasha Gordon and co-produced with Leeds Playhouse, which runs from 19 October to 5 November.
When Gloria’s time comes, her family celebrate their revered mother with the traditional Jamaican Nine Night Wake – a touching yet testing multi-generational gathering packed with music, food, laughter and tears. Holding a mirror up to family life – and loss – reflecting the heartfelt comedy and deep sorrow that occurs when they gather together to share memories, good food and grievances older than Gloria’s well-loved dining table. Nine Night poses the question, how do we remember the people we love?
When it transferred to The Trafalgar Studios in 2018, the original National Theatre production made Natasha Gordon the first black, British, female playwright to have her work produced in the West End. Nine Night is an inherently funny and intensely moving, family celebration of life.
Rounding off the year comes the Nottingham Playhouse pantomime, Dick Whittington, running from 25 November to January 14. So pack up your hanky and join the plucky hero and his trusty cat on their quest for fame and fortune. Their magical rags to riches tale takes us to London, where the streets are paved with gold, on to the High Seas, into battle with the evil King Rat and falling head over heels in love with his boss’s daughter Alice. All the while the magical Bow Bells are whispering Dick Whittington’s destiny – to become Mayor of London! Packed with the trademark dazzling dance, brilliant live music and swashbuckling adventure, the show sees Nottingham’s favourite panto dame John Elkington serving up some comedy chaos as Sarah the Cook.
Prior to the dazzling autumn season comes a previously announced programme of work that runs throughout the spring and into summer.
Coming next at Nottingham Playhouse is Red Ellen by Caroline Bird, which runs from 13 to 30 April. This remarkable new play, from award winning poet and playwright Caroline Bird, tells the inspiring and epic story of Ellen Wilkinson, Labour MP, who was forever on the right side of history, forever on the wrong side of life. Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen fights with an unstoppable, reckless energy for a better world. Running (quite literally in some cases) into the likes of Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway, she battles to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany; campaigns for Britain to aid the fight against Franco’s Fascists in Spain; and leads 200 workers in the Jarrow Crusade, marching from Newcastle through Nottingham and the Midlands all the way to London, delivering a petition which aimed to end unemployment and poverty. She serves as a vital member of Churchill’s cabinet, and has affairs with communist spies and government ministers. But, despite all of this, she still finds herself – somehow – on the outside looking in.
Moving into early summer comes the world premiere of Nathaniel Price’s First Touch which runs from 7 to 21 May. Clayton James, a 17-year-old Nottingham lad, dreams of becoming the next Viv Anderson. With a prodigious talent, the offer of a professional contract at a First Division club and a growing romance with girlfriend Serena, he appears to have the world at his feet. But life at the beginning of the 1980s isn’t easy for Clayton and his family, trying to make it in an era of racism and hooliganism. And Clayton’s steelworker dad Patterson faces an uncertain future as the Thatcher government faces off against the unions. When his charismatic and powerful former coach, Lafferty, returns after four years away, Clayton is forced to confront painful memories of the past. Can he protect his loved ones from the truth of what he endured? Inspired by the recent football abuse scandals, First Touch is a gripping and heartfelt drama about what it takes to fulfil your dreams, by rising screenwriter Nathaniel Price (BBC’s Noughts and Crosses and Sky’s Tin Star).
Rounding off the summer comes the eagerly awaited new musical adaptation Erik Kästner’s novel The Parent Trap, Identical, which runs from 26 July to 14 August. This twin-sational world stage musical premiere tells the classic story of twin girls separated at birth, reunited by chance at a summer camp ten years later. In an attempt to get to know their parents and reconcile the two halves of their family, they decide to swap places and live each other’s lives.
Identical is directed by Olivier and Tony award-winning Trevor Nunn, who is responsible for some of the greatest hits in the world (Les Miserables, Starlight Express, Cats and Sunset Boulevard). Music and lyrics are by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the multi award-winning writers of the West End hit Honk!, who also created a new score for the international smash-hit Cameron Mackintosh/Disney production of Mary Poppins, and a book by Stuart Paterson.
Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse Adam Penford says –
The Clothes They Stood Up In has been a labour of love, developed over several years, and I’m delighted it’s finally hitting the stage. Alan’s story is a beautiful exploration of marriage and dreams unfulfilled – very funny, characteristically understated, combined with a gripping plot. Sophie Thompson and Adrian Scarborough are two of our nation’s finest actors.
The regional premiere of Natasha Gordon’s recent smash hit is also an event that audiences won’t want to miss. It made waves when it opened at the National Theatre, before securing a West End transfer, and this brand new production promises to be powerful and hilarious in equal measure.
When combined with our spring shows, we’re very proud that so many productions this year are new works, ensuring we are supporting living writers. We’re also glad to continue developing and providing employment opportunities for all the fantastic talent which exists locally.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who have supported us throughout the pandemic and returned in such remarkable numbers recently to watch A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast and Private Peaceful. It meant a huge amount to everyone working at the Playhouse, both our in-house team and freelance family.
Nottingham Playhouse can also reveal that this year its Christmas show for younger audiences is Goldilocks and The Three Bears. As in previous years, the family show aimed at children aged 3-8, offers up a unique opportunity for Midlands talent. Nottingham Playhouse is putting the call out for a writer and composer and an East Midlands or Midlands director to be commissioned to create a piece of theatre that provides a vital experience for younger children, many visiting a theatre for the first time. The show, which is staged in the Neville Studio and is followed by a tour of primary schools, libraries and other venues in the region, is a core part of the Christmas programme and has been building a reputation year on year.
Full details for aspiring and established talent to become involved in the creation of this key production may be obtained from nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/about-us/jobs/
In a quest to nurture, employ and engage with local talent, Nottingham Playhouse, along with Derby Theatre, Curve Leicester and New Perspectives are also holding in-person and online open auditions for performers (age 18+) who have trained or worked professionally and were either born, raised or are currently living in the East Midlands.
These auditions are not for a specific project; but are an opportunity for performers to meet four postential employers at the same time and for these theatres’ to expand their casting pools of local talent for future projects. They are seen as a way to build relationships. Previous open auditions have led to performers being auditioned for productions and workshops, and ultimately being cast.
This year the auditions are to be held on Tuesday May 24 from 2pm to 8pm. For more details please visit visit nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/get-involved/amplify/opportunities/. The deadline for applications is Friday 13 May at midday.
Wellington Circus, Nottingham NG1 5AF
0115 941 9419
Weds 13 – Sat 30 April 2022
Matinees – Thu 21 Apr 1.30pm, Sat 30 Apr 2.30pm
Audio Described performances – Thu 21 Apr 7.30pm, Sat 30 Apr 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Fri 29 Apr 7.30pm
Captioned performance – Sat 30 Apr 7.30pm
Reduced Capacity performance – Tue 20 Apr 7.30pm
Red Ellen On Demand – Tue 12 Apr to Sun 22 May
Press night Wed 13 April 7.30pm
Age Guidance 14+
Sat 7 – Sat 21 May 2022
Matinees – Thu 12 May 1.30pm, Sat 14 May 2.30pm, Thu 19 May 1.30pm, Sat 21 May 2.30pm
Audio Described performances – Thu 19 May 7.30 pm, Sat 21 May 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Fri 20 May 7.30pm
Captioned performance – Sat 21 May, 7.30pm
Press night Wed 11 May 7pm
Age Guidance 14+
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Wed 13 – Sat 16 July 2022
Age Guidance 7+
Tues 26 July – Sun 14 August 2022
Audio Described performances – Thu 4 Aug 7pm, Sat 6 Aug, 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Fri 5 Aug 7pm
Captioned performance – Sat 13 Aug 2.30pm
Press night Tue 2 Aug 7pm
THE CLOTHES THEY STOOD UP IN
Fri 9 – Sat 24 Sep
Matinees – Thu 15 Sep 1.30pm, Sat 17 Sep 2.30pm, Thu 22 Sep 1.30pm, Sat 24 Sep 2.30pm, Thu 29 Sep 1.30pm, Sat 1 Oct 2.30pm
Audio Described performances – Thu 29 Sep 7.30 pm, Sat 1 Oct 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Fri 30 Sep 7.30pm
Captioned performance – Sat 1 Oct, 7.30pm
Reduced Capacity performance – Tue 27 Sep 7.30pm
Press night Wed 14 Sep 7pm
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Tue 11 – Sat 15 Oct
Matinees – Thu 13 Oct 1.30pm, Sat 15 Oct 2.30pm
Reduced Capacity performance – Thu 13 Oct 7.30pm
Press night Tue 11 Oct 7pm
Wed 19 Oct – Sat 5 Nov
Matinees – Sat 22 Oct 2.30pm,Thu 3 Nov 1.30pm, Sat 5 Nov 2.30pm
Audio Described performances – Thu 3 Nov 7.30 pm, Sat 5 Nov 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Fri 4 Nov 7.30pm
Captioned performance – Sat 5 Nov 7.30pm
Reduced Capacity performance – Tue 1 Nov 7.30pm
Press night Thu 20 Oct 7pm
Fri 22 Nov 2022 to Sat 14 Jan 2023
Audio Described performances – Wed 7 Dec 7.30 pm, Sat 10 Dec 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performances – Thu 8 Dec 7.30pm, Sat 10 Dec 2.30pm, Mon 19 Dec 2.45pm
Captioned performances – Sat 3 Dec, 2.30pm, Sat 10 Dec 7.30pm
Relaxed performances – Tue 10 & Wed 11 Jan, 11am
Dementia Friendly performance – Thu 12 Jan 1pm
Reduced Capacity performances – Thu 15 Dec 7.30pm, Wed 28 Dec 7.30pm, Thu 5 Jan 7.30pm
Dick Whittington On Demand – Mon 12 Dec 2022 to Sat 14 Jan 2023
Dick Whittington Christmas Eve Special – Sat 24 Dec
Posted on 01 April 2022