Oh, look! It's my first feature for London Calling! Click the link and have a look at what life at the National Theatre will be like under its new artistic director Rufus Norris: http://londoncalling.com/features/life-after-nicks-at-the-national
Last month I finally got the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: visit Stratford-upon-Avon, or, as I like to call it, Shakespeare Disney. Although it was a great experience to see the RSC do a show in their ‘spiritual home’ and they have the best theatre restaurant in the history of ever, my main reason for visiting was that I wanted to walk around the place where William Shakespeare grew up and see what it’s like.
Written for Everything Theatre
Between BBC programming, poppies at the Tower and the Sainsbury’s Christmas ad it will not have escaped your notice that there was something going on last year. A centenary to be exact: a whole century passed since the outbreak of the First World War. In all honesty, I didn’t realise it would be quite this big. I’m from The Netherlands, a country that was neutral in WWI, so it’s the second one that’s the main event in our history books. The Dutch way of commemorating is different as well: a much quieter, more understated affair. So when 2014 rolled around I was taken aback by the sheer extent of the centennial activity. Suddenly it was everywhere: on TV, in the papers and in the place where I encountered it most, the theatres.
With all the theatre award ceremonies taking place left and right, I thought now would be a good time to have a look through my list (yes, I have a list) of shows I saw over the past year and decide my own personal favourites. Not because I’m under the impression that a lot of people will care about that, but because occasionally it’s nice to look back and remind yourself of all the awesome stuff that you saw. Inevitably, there are always a few shows, actors, sets, etcetera, that stand out so much you’ll easily recall them a year on. Note that this might be for good and bad reasons both. But there are also shows, actors and sets that you somehow lose track of, even though they were really good. They get caught up in five-show-days at Edinburgh, or you somehow misplace them in that dark corner of your memory where you also store the name of that film you know that one actor from or where you put that pen you just had in your hand. And they too deserve to be remembered, hence the list. So, I’ve done a bit of digging and come up with my five favourite shows this year.
A few days ago I went to see Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Stephen Sondheim’s 1990 musical about the nine men and women who, successfully or unsuccessfully, attempted to kill a president of the United States. It’s a fascinating show for many reasons: its vignette-style format with very little narrative, the way it’s staged on the long and narrow floor of the Chocolate Factory and, of course, its challenging subject.