Generally theatre goes a bit quiet over the summer.
Theatre companies head off to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe and audiences are either away on summer holidays, or just choosing to spend their time outdoors, soaking up the sun on warm days like today.
But it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to check out in the local area, and particularly now, before we hit peak holiday season, and while a lot of companies are doing their Edinburgh previews before heading off to the Fringe.
And that brings me nicely into the first of this month’s ones to watch…
Edinburgh Fringe-Fest – South Hill Park. Throughout May.
South Hill Park is pretty much the perfect place to go to get a taster of the Edinburgh Fringe. Whether you’re heading up to Scotland as an audience member in August and want to get in the spirit early, or you’d just like to catch a glimpse of exciting theatre a little closer to home, this is an ideal opportunity. Throughout May the theatre is showcasing some of the best talent which came out of last year’s Fringe. On the bill are some really intriguing and original sounding shows, like Going Viral by ARC Stockton on 11 May, James Seabright’s What Would Spock Do? on 17 May, and 1972: The Future of Sex by The Wardrobe Ensemble on 25 May.
Rebellious Acts – South Street Arts Centre. 14 May.
Female Arts magazine is celebrating its 5th birthday – and it’s doing so in style. The online magazine aims to promote gender equality in the arts, and celebrates the talented, inspiring, and downright brilliant women in the industry. Rebellious Acts will feature rehearsed readings of short plays by female playwrights followed by Kate Saffin’s Isobel’s War, which follows a young woman who defies expectations to manage a pair of boats and 50 tons of cargo in WW2. There will also be a post-show discussion about women in theatre and Female Arts is also running two writing workshops on 13 May and 14 May, which will look at reviewing and playwriting respectively. (The playwriting session is just for women). Both workshops are free but you do need to book. Visit www.femalearts.com for all the details.
Handle with Care by Dante or Die. Lock’n’Store on the A33 Relief Road in Reading. 19-22 May.
As a big fan of site-specific theatre, and Dante or Die theatre company, I cannot wait to see Handle with Care. Dante or Die is the company which produced the brilliant show I Do (which is returning to Reading in July too), and I’m so excited to see their latest venture. Handle with Care takes place in the corridors of Lock’n’Store in Reading, and follows a young woman, Zoe, as she gets older, looking at the objects she acquires during her life, and exploring the meanings we place on everyday items.
Shout! The Mod Musical – South Hill Park. 30th May.
Shout! The Mod Musical sounds like a really fun production. There are some real South Hill Park stalwarts involved including Lisa Renals who was in SHP’s fantastic production of Oliver!, Sophie Spencer who was in Blood Brothers, and Brad Clapson, who is choreographer, having played the most hilarious version of the Magic Mirror in Snow White a few years ago. The show follows four women in London in the 1960s and features a get-your-dancing-shoes-on soundtrack of 60s hits like Son of a Preacher Man and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
Suddenly Last Summer – Progress Theatre. 16-21 May.
Progress Theatre knows how to do hard-hitting theatre. Take Trainspotting or Killer Joe, and you’ll get an idea of how this is a company which is not afraid of tackling challenging themes. Suddenly Last Summer follows a girl called Catharine Holly who has been the only witness to her cousin’s shocking death. Catharine is taken into a New Orleans garden to speak to a family who is eager for her to deny the terrible tale she has told. This sounds like an intriguing show, and being a big fan of Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work.