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Lotte Wakeham, who took over as Artistic Director of Bolton's Octagon Theatre in February 2019, spoke to us after three months in the job about launching her first season in the post, her background as a director and an Associate Artistic Director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre and her plans for the future at the Octagon, which remains closed for refurbishment until spring 2020.

The autumn 2019 season starts with Beryl on 19 September, continuing with Seagulls starting on 24 October and I Wanna Be Yours from 11 November, all at Bolton’s Library Theatre, and then the Christmas production of Treasure Island will run from 8 December in the Premier Suite of University of Bolton Stadium.

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Jackie Kay is the current Makar, the Scottish national poet, whose 2010 memoir, Red Dust Road, is to be adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta for a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and HOME Manchester, which will open at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019.

BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Jackie at HOME Manchester about the subject of her book, her quest to find her birth parents (she was adopted as a baby and brought up in Glasgow), one in Scotland and the other in Nigeria, and what she is hoping for from the adaptation.

Red Dust Road is published by Picador. The production will open at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre from 14 to 18 August 2019 before touring to Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, Eden Court Theatre in Inverness and finishing at HOME Manchester from 11 to 21 September.

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Playwright Andrea Dunbar from Bradford in Yorkshire, most famous for Rita, Sue and Bob Too, died in 1990 at the age of 29. Her story was retold in Adelle Stripe’s award-winning debut novel Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, which is about to be brought to the stage by Bradford-based Freedom Studios.

The book will be adapted by Yorkshire writer Lisa Holdsworth, who has written extensively for prime time TV, including episodes of Fat Friends, New Tricks, Midsummer Murders and Call the Midwife. BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Lisa about her adaptation, about Dunbar and her struggles as a working class female writer and also about the current report by the Writers Guild of Great Britain, of which Lisa is Deputy Chair, into the diversity of writers for TV and film.

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile adapted by Lisa Holdsworth from the novel by Adelle Stripe opens at The Ambassador in Bradford on 30 May 2019 before touring until 30 June to venues in Farsley, Barnsley, Horbury, Bradford, Leeds Doncaster, Wakefield, Harrogate, Oldham and South Kirby.

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Braham Murray OBE arrived in Manchester in the 1960s as the youngest artistic director in the country, of the travelling Century Theatre, remaining in the city to co-found the 69 Theatre Company which went on to become the Royal Exchange Theatre, still one of the UK’s leading regional theatres.

Murray died in 2018 at the age of 75, but BTG editor David Chadderton spoke to him in 2011 when he had just announced that he would leave the theatre he co-founded 35 years earlier. He spoke about working with Century Theatre's travelling auditorium, forming the 69 Theatre Company at the University Theatre (now Contact) and the process of designing the unique Royal Exchange Theatre module, as well as the rebuilding of the theatre after the 1996 IRA bomb.

This interview was originally recorded for TheatreVoice in 2011, but we are reissuing it as a tribute to a man who was very influential in helping to turn Manchester into a major theatrical centre.

For more information about the Royal Exchange Theatre, see www.royalexchange.co.uk.

(Photo of Braham Murray, credit: Mia Rose)

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The 2019 Manchester International Festival will take place at various venues around the city in July. An edited version of the main presentation at the MIF launch on 7 March can be heard in a previous British Theatre Guide podcast episode, but we also spoke directly to some of the artists involved.

We asked MIF Artistic Director John McGrath for his highlights of the theatre programme and how Manchester has changed since he was head of the city's Contact Theatre.

We also spoke to Leo Warner of 59 Productions about his collaboration with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, writer Lolita Chakrabarti and Rambert Dance on an adaptation of Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities.

Finally, we asked director Phelim McDermott about Tao of Glass, his collaboration with composer Philip Glass on a new stage performance featuring ten brand new pieces of music composed by Glass.

Invisible Cities will be performed at Mayfield beside Piccadilly Station in Manchester from 4 to 14 July. Tao of Glass will be at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from 11 to 20 July.

The Manchester International Festival 2019 will take place at various venues from 4 to 21 July.

Photos:

  • John McGrath, MIF Artistic Director and Chief Executive introduces the MIF19 programme. Image credit Tarnish Vision.
  • Leo Warner, Lolita Chakrabarti, Benoit Swan Pouffer—Invisible Cities. Image credit Joel Chester Fildes.
  • Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott. Image credit Rod Morata.
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British Theatre Guide podcast by Steve Orme, Sarah Brigham, Ivan Sto.. - 2M ago

Derby Theatre is preparing for a new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, in an adaptation by Neil Duffield, which will be the theatre’s first ever production to full integrate BSL signing into the production.

BTG’s Midlands Editor Steve Orme speaks to director Sarah Brigham about the production, followed by Ivan Stott, who wrote the songs and will play Baloo, and Caroline Parker MBE, who will play Tabaqui and be signing for other characters in the play.

The Jungle Book runs from Friday 5 to Saturday 20 April 2019.

Photo: Caroline Parker (Tabaqui), Ivan Stott (Baloo and composer) and Sarah Brigham (director).

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British Theatre Guide podcast by John Mcgrath, Phelim Mcdermott, Kwa.. - 2M ago

Highlights of the launch event for the Manchester International Festival 2019, held in Manchester on 7 March 2019.

Introduced by MIF artistic director John McGrath, this episode also features announcements from festival participants including Phelim McDermott of Improbable Theatre, Kwame Kwei-Armah of Young Vic Theatre, actors Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson, Leo Warner of 59 Productions, writer Lolita Chakrabarti, choreographer Claire Cunningham, Mary Anne Hobbs of BBC 6 Music and grime artist Skepta.

Other artists appearing at the festival include Philip Glass, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson and David Lynch.

Image from MIF launch: Michael Symmons Roberts, Emily Howard, John McGrath, Maxine Peake, Grainne Flynn, Wesley Thistlewaite, Adam Ali, Kirsty Housley, Claire Cunningham, Leo Warner, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Isaiah Hull, Young identity poet, Reggie Gray, Animals of Manchester child-curators, Sibylle Peters, Karl Hyde, Lois Keidan, Adam Thirlwell, Danny Collins, Adania Shibli, Juliet Stevenson, Lolita Chakrabarti, Benoit Swan Pouffer, Christine Cort, Mark Ball

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BTG panto editor Simon Sladen speaks to pantomime company Imagine Theatre’s Managing Director Steve Boden and Robert Marsden, director of the Victoria Theatre, Halifax’s pantomime and associate professor at Staffordshire University.

2018 will see Imagine Theatre present 14 pantomimes in venues across the United Kingdom having grown from 8 productions in 2009.

In this episode, Steve and Robert discuss Imagine Theatre’s style of pantomime, the company and genre’s recent evolution and the state of the industry today. Steve and Robert also reveal where in Pantoland they’d like to travel to if they had their very own magic wand.

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The first in-house production in HOME Manchester’s autumn and winter season for 2018 is a new production of French writer Jean Genet’s 1947 play The Maids, in an English version by Martin Crimp.

The play will be directed in-the-round at HOME by Lily Sykes, an English-born director who has lived and worked in Germany for the last ten years and has recently become a German citizen.

In a break during rehearsals, BTG Editor David Chadderton spoke to Lily about the play, existentialism, polarisation of society, the differences between directing for British and German theatres and a great deal more.

The Maids will run at HOME Manchester from 16 November to 1 December 2018. For more information, see homemcr.org.

(Photo of Lily Sykes by Magnus Reed)

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Red Ladder, which bills itself as “Britain’s leading radical theatre company”, this year celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, tracing its roots back to the left-wing agitprop theatre of the 1960s.

To celebrate, instead of its usual fare of new political writing, it has turned to Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children, which artistic director Rod Dixon has staged as a promenade production in a warehouse in Leeds featuring Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle in classic sitcom Father Ted) in the title role.

BTG editor David Chadderton spoke to Rod when the production had been running for nearly a week about the production, the company's other work and philosophy and fifty years of creating political theatre.

Mother Courage and her Children by Bertolt Brecht, adapted by Lee Hall, opened at the Albion Electric Warehouse in Leeds on 28 September 2018 and runs until 20 October.

(Production photo of Pauline McLynn as Mother Courage by Anthony Robling)

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