Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre is offering discount tickets for two great productions this October. You can see Brave New World and A Winter’s Tale for only £10 per ticket. Check your University email for details and the special booking code you’ll need to use when you book online. We’re very grateful to our friends at the Everyman for this offer.
On Thursday 19th March, twenty two students from across Humanities enjoyed a brilliant staging of David Hare’s Absence of War at the Cheltenham Everyman. Chloe Phillips, a third year English Literature and English Language student, shares her thoughts on the production:
Headlong Theatre’s take on the text was powerful and enlightening, making me care about politics and politicans in ways that are not part of my normal day to day life. As an audience, we were offered an intimate look into the trouble and care politicians put into trying to make their visions part of Britain which was really refreshing. Although Hare wrote his play for the 1992 elections, we cannot deny that the issues raised have many similarities with those of the all important 2015 elections, with just as much scrutiny being put on our politicians today. Due to these electric parallels, Absence of War could not have been staged at a better time.
On March 19th English Literature students have the opportunity to go and see David Hare’s politcial play ‘Absence of War’ at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre. We study David Hare on the third year theatre module ‘Staging the Twentieth Century and Beyond’ so this is very fortuitous! However, everyone is welcome.
Tickets cost £12 (rather than £26) and numbers need to be confirmed by Friday 27th February. So please email Rebecca Bailey (email@example.com) if you would like to attend.
Theatre enthusiasts from across the English course enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Cheltenham Everyman last week when Northern Broadsides gave a sparkling performance of Oliver Goldsmith’s exuberant comedy, ‘She Stoops to Conquer’.
Tony Lumpkin, played by Jon Trenchard, stole the show with an irrepressible eighteenth-century zaniness – creating the outrageous ‘mistakes of the night’ before deftly offering resolution. The costumes were fabulous, embodied by Mrs Hardcastle’s wild orange wig and ludicrous leopard print Georgian gown, which perfectly matched Gilly Tomkin’s brilliant portrayal of an outlandish, overly-protective mother. Equally impressive were the musical interludes which deftly enhanced the performance and added to the jollity of the occasion.
I have reserved 30 seats to see Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre on October 9th 2014. This promises to be a great production!
As some of you will know we study this play on HM5305: Staging the Cultural Moment. However, even if you are not taking this marvellous module next semester you are welcome to come along to the performance.
Tickets are a snip at £12. I need to know numbers by Friday 26 September so please email me to let me know if you would like to attend.
Today was Project day. Creative Writing students took the low-key approach – excellent in its way – with an open-mic reading; English Literature opted for a long walk before lunch. About twenty-five students set out on a Magical Mystery Tour armed with town maps and a set of questions to answer, and luckily, the day was beautiful, sunny and warm. We walked to Pittville Park where Professor John Hughes and I heartlessly abandoned the students, but everyone made it back to town, and at one o’clock we joined Dr Charlotte Beyer and Dr Rebecca Bailey at the celebrated Everyman Theatre for our quiz. Things got a little noisy and I would like to apologise to patrons of Cafe Everyman who had hoped for a peaceful lunch.
Since the Quizmaster couldn’t hear the answers, we gave up on the competition and decided that everyone was a winner. The superb staff at Cafe Everyman made us so welcome; many thanks to them for treating us handsomely.
The cakes looked like this. We ate twenty-five pieces between us. Some of us had seconds.
Students will now produce a small research project on ‘Literary Cheltenham’ to present on Friday morning. It was great fun and we hope that they were inspired by our walk around the town. Students, do please send us your photos.
Regular readers of this blog know that we love Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre. Designed by the Victorian architect Frank Matcham, the Everyman has been at the centre of the town’s cultural life since 1891. Each autumn, we take our new students to the Everyman for a guided tour behind the scenes, and it remains a very special place for all students of English Literature at the University.
Last week, the Everyman hosted a performance of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey, in a new production by the celebrated Hull Truck Theatre company. Now with a permanent base in Hull, this touring company lived on the road for many years, travelling around Britian’s small theatres. Its founding director John Godber gave up teaching for a peripatetic life in theatre, writing and producing many of Hull Truck’s plays as well as developing an extended repertoire of new, modern and classic plays.
The Everyman, Hull Truck, and Delaney: I wasn’t going to miss the chance to experience three great names in British theatre. I was also curious to see how the play would be performed. The Everyman’s proscenium arch was designed for a particular type of nineteenth-century theatrical experience. John Barnes notes that to modernist writers ‘the proscenium appeared conservative and restrictive, encouraging a private response in each spectator rather than a shared audience experience.’* Yet far from separating the audience from the action, the arch invites us to step through the frame while reminding us that art is not life itself, but life represented, mediated, made more intense and universal.
Mark Babych’s excellent new production explores the claustrophobic physical and mental spaces of Delaney’s radical play. A buckled street lamp projects just beyond the edge of the arch, and between scenes the actors (who are also singers and musicians) step forward, stand under the dismal low-watt light to sing or play the washboard or ukelele. A grim iron walkway marks the entrance to the unheated one-room flat where the action takes place, its lattice standing in for the gasworks that the characters (but not the audience) see when they look out of the window. Like the stage set, the songs refer to a world beyond, and drew collective recognition and response from the audience; the actor playing Helen kept breaking the fourth wall, addressing the audience directly.
The best dramatic productions use material and spatial conditions to project a world, and to project us, the audience, into that world. Only our imaginations lay down the limits.
*Reference: The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance, ed. Dennis Kennedy (Oxford: OUP 2010), p. 481.
Images: Shelagh Delaney, early 1960s. Hull Truck Theatre. Decorated safety curtain at Cheltenham’s Everyman theatre.