January 2014: Noticeboard  

Welcome to 2014, the year when two great playwrights battle it out for the public’s attention (twas ever thus). Programmes and events are being planned for both Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe to mark the 450 anniversaries of their birth. Marlowe doesn’t get nearly half as much attention as he deserves.
Top of my list of must-see events in the Marlowe450 programme is The Fourth Monkey Theatre Company’s rep season of three of Marlowe’s plays, in the city of his birth in a theatre named after him. (That’s the Marlowe, Canterbury.) The season starts with Faustus, continues with The Massacre At Paris, performed in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, and ends with The Jew of Malta, credited with being the play that inspired Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Each show’s opening night will be preceded by a Q&A to discuss Marlowe’s works, life and mysterious death. Steven Green, the Artistic Director of Fourth Monkey, told Ink Pellet: ‘I am genuinely excited to be delivering a season of Marlowe’s work in repertory with the Marlowe Theatre and Society. We hope this new season of Marlowe re-imagined, enables us to reach the young theatregoers of today and thus hopefully the Marlowe society members and appreciators of tomorrow. Too often in Shakespeare’s shadow, the man and the work deserve a stage of his own and in our own little way we are delighted to be offering him one.’ For more information, head to www.fourthmonkey.co.uk.

Okay; in the interests of balance, in the Shakespeare450 corner we have the ALCS (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) and National Schools Partnership’s The Young Writer’s Guide to Shakespeare. This new free resource (www.shakespeareyoungwriters.co.uk) aims to highlight the importance of intellectual property rights. Devised by teachers for Upper KS2 & KS3, this stimulating new programme introduces students to the concepts of copyright and plagiarism, via lively creative writing and group activities. That’s for starters. One thing that caught my eye was the Soap Opera Shakespeare playwriting competition, which invites students to put quill to parchment – or fingers to keyboard – to create their own Shakespearean style plays. (Great prizes include a Kindle Fire HD, class trips or books).

Noticeboard is like a rollercoaster, swaying from the sublime to the … terrifying. I am sure you know about it but it’s your last chance to see Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds. I still cannot listen without shuddering but then I am a sensitive sort…. Brian McFadden (ex-Westlife) and Jason Donovan (ex-Joseph) make the cast lists, as does Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Miserables). Liam Neeson returns as The Journalist in super-enhanced 3D. If you’d like something more measured, re-read the book. Tickets from thewaroftheworlds.com/tickets or at www.livenation.co.uk

Ahh! The wonderful team at Icarus Theatre Collective continue their national tour of Othello. The small cast took a welcome break in December, stepping aside for the madness of panto season. But the team sets sail again (this Othello has a breath-taking nautical set, geddit?!) at the end of the month and will be dropping its in anchor in towns across the isle until May 1. Catch it while you can. Check out www.icarustheatre.co.uk

Our friends at Globe Education are constantly coming up with brilliant ways to work with Shakespeare and now the experience of its education practitioners is collected into a neat tome by Fiona Banks, the senior adviser for Creative Programmes at Globe Education. Called Creative Shakespeare: The Globe Education Guide to Practical Shakespeare, the former teacher articulates the ways in which practical techniques, developed by the department, can easily be adapted and used by teachers.
Fiona, who created the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank programme, says: ‘At Globe Education we endeavour to capture the spirit of creative exploration found in the rehearsal room and bring it into our daily work with young people. I’m interested in this journey from the rehearsal room to the classroom. How a technique used to create performance can equally become a catalyst for learning.’
She likens the book to a series of creative recipes, ‘adjusting quantities and cooking times until I find what produces the best results for me.’ Delicious!
Watch out for a review in an upcoming edition of Ink Pellet, but if you’re sold already, Creative Shakespeare: The Globe Education Guide to Practical Shakespeare (published by Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare) costs £18.99 and is available from the Globe Shop or online at shakespearesglobe.com/shop

And finally one to look forward to: Blackeyed Theatre Company has commissioned Stephen Sharkey to write a brand new stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby due for production in 2015.