June 2014: Noticeboard  

After a decade of hugely successful national and international touring, Poonamallee Productions take Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful home to Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol after it was first performed there in 2004. The play tells the story of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young First World War soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. During the night he looks back at his short but joyful past growing up in rural Devon. The play runs from June 25 until July 12. Don’t miss. Good group deals plus the chance to see the film – find out more at www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com

Talking of classics, Puffin is bringing a series of timeless stories to life for a new generation of readers called errr… A Puffin Book. Novels including Goodnight Mister Tom, Charlotte’s Web, Watership Down and Tarka the Otter feature striking covers, additional content, activities, background information, as well as quizzes, author profiles, fun facts and much more. All good! Check out bookshops from July.

Lenny Henry’s transformation into a serious actor is surely complete. The Dudley-born comedian and actor will star in the stage premiere of Rudy’s Rare Records from September 4, his first role at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Based on the successful BBC Radio 4 series, the play is a funny and touching comedy set in an old reggae record shop at risk of re-development in Birmingham. While we’re on the subject, the Rep has a lively programme for its autumn and winter season including Solomon and Marion to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid starring Dame Janet Suzman. In a treasure chest of gems, don’t miss artistic director Roxana Silbert’s Of Mice and Men. For details visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk.

Ooh I love summer because it means open air theatre. Often a bit chilly but it’s nothing a squashed, pre-warmed bite-sized samosa washed down with a plastic flute of Prosecco won’t cure. I draw your attention to Chapterhouse Theatre Company which is touring six new productions across the land from June until September 2014. It’s a season full of romance, suspense and enchantment that will take in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Sense & Sensibility, Wuthering Heights, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Jungle Book. See if they’re coming to a grassy knoll near you by looking at www.chapterhouse.org.

Talking of the great outdoors, tell your primary colleagues about Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s Twelfth Night re-imagined for everyone aged six and over. Directed by Max Webster, this production uses only Shakespeare’s original text to create a condensed version of this madcap tale – it’s great for Year 7s and 8s too. The theatre is offering in-school workshops for Primary School years 3-6 devised by Sarah Gordon of the Young Shakespeare Company. The Open Air Theatre programme also includes Hobson’s Choice, Porgy and Bess and To Kill a Mockingbird. Great deals on group bookings can be found at: openairtheatre.com

Young go-getters today (thanks to their committed and imaginative teachers) have the most amazing opportunities – the project OperaQuest being a case in point. It’s another brainchild from The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts (Children & the Arts); the aim is to introduce primary school age children to opera for the first time in order to dispel some of the misunderstandings around the art form. Children from London, Belfast, Nottingham and Birmingham have all seen a live performance of an opera (those in Birmingham saw La Traviata), worked with professionals and taken part in workshops. Can’t beat it!

Check out Vertical Echoes by American artist Bill Fontana, a new sound installation which gives a contemporary twist to the canon of work being produced to mark the centenary of the Great War. Entry is free. The installation runs until 21 September 2015 at Imperial War Museum North. For more information, visit: www.iwm.org.uk

The deadlines are looming for new schools to partner up with the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Since September 2013 the theatre has been working with nine Schools Partners who have taken part in workshops, tours and events which are designed to introduce creativity into all aspects of teaching. More information and application forms can be obtained from fran.king@theatreroyal.com

The wonderful people from Theatre Centre have launched Skylines, a new online resource for writers interested in writing plays for children and young people. Current content includes interviews with playwrights and practitioners including Deborah Gearing, David Greig and Mike Kenny, and video extracts from A Feeling in My Bones by Lin Coghlan, The Mother Ship by Douglas Maxwell and How High is Up by Brendan Murray. More details at: www.theatre-centre.co.uk/skylines

And finally, must, must mention the John Moores Painting Prize which opens at the Walker Gallery from July 5 to November 30, as part of the Liverpool Biennial. The work from 52 artists is eclectic and past winners include Mary Martin (1969) and David Hockney (1967). More here: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk.