April 2018

25 April 2018

Northcott launches Pay What You Decide ticket offer


Theatregoers are being offered the chance to watch a play but only pay what they decide it is worth afterwards.

The pay what you decide offer has been designed to appeal to people who may have been to see theatre shows but don’t tend to watch traditional drama.

The audience development initiative, which has been pioneered by Stockton’s ARC theatre, is being introduced for a critically-acclaimed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream next month.

The joyfully irreverent show, by the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith and Filter Theatre, is billed as a “brilliant show for people who think they hate Shakespeare”.

The Northcott has decided that the radical staging makes the production perfect and is setting aside 500 tickets for the first two performances for people new to the Bard’s work.

A scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare @ Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith©Tristram Kenton

Phil Goodwin, press and media officer at the theatre, said the move would hopefully give those new to classical drama the chance to experience Shakespeare without any risk of disappointment.

“I went to see the show when it opened in London and despite not being a big fan of Shakespeare I was blown away,” he added.

“It is noisy, raucous, packed with laugh-out loud moments, crazy stunts, slapstick, bursts of heavy metal and even Barry White-style ‘lurve’ (love) songs from the band on stage.

“There is not a hint of pretension – it feels more like a comedy night or a gig.

“This play was designed to be accessible to any audience, so we want people who would not normally consider coming along to see it.”

The theatre has emailed around 1,000 of its database who have previously booked to see light entertainment and comedy shows but not Shakespeare.

Now the offer is being rolled out to the general public in a bid to attract people with little or no experience of classical drama.

For the opening two nights, May 8 and 9, 250 tickets are available on a pay what you decide (PWYD) basis.

People must book in advance (up to two tickets per person) by calling the box office on 01392 726 363 or visiting www.exeternorthcott.co.uk and following the booking process.

A special promotional code PWYD must be used to obtain the tickets, which are not available to customers who have booked for Shakespeare previously.

On the night of the show, box office staff will hand out tickets in person along with an envelope containing a brief questionnaire about the experience.

After the performance, people simply complete the form, add whatever sum of money they think is appropriate into the envelope as a donation and place it in a special post box located at the door

The theatre will take details on booking to manage ticket allocation and so they can contact people in future with other offers or details of shows.

But there is no need to leave any details with the donation – so what people pay will be anonymous.

Enjoy the show and please tell us what you thought.

23 April 2018

Even Shakespeare haters will love the new A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Do you love entertaining stage shows but can’t stand cod-pieces and incomprehensible soliloquies by men in tights?

If so, I have the perfect show for even the most hardened Shakespeare hater: a joyfully irreverent and astonishing version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Outside of the box office hits of Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet I tend to avoid the bard’s work – if not like the plague, then certainly like an unwelcome dose of the flu.

I don’t dispute the towering glory of his drama or the long-lasting effect his words have had on our language.

But to be honest, I just find many of the plays hard to follow and a bit dull – the language is tough and I can usually find better things to do with my time than sit through them.

But after watching opening night of the latest version of Dream in London, I can almost guarantee that anyone who gives it a go when it comes to Exeter next month will not be disappointed.

A scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare @ Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
(opened 13-04-18) ©Tristram Kenton 

Apart from maybe a handful of hard-core traditionalists mumbling that the sacred temple of English literature has been desecrated.

I only wish I could tell you half the reasons why you must see this hilarious play, by the unique Filter theatre company.

But I am no spoilsport – revealing in any detail the ideas and gags which make it such an enjoyable romp would lessen the impact.

I can say that it starts with ten-minutes of brilliantly dead-pan stand-up comedy by George Fouracres, who plays Peter Quince.

The routine, delivered in a Black Country accent, presents an endearing idiots’ guide to the mixed up love story and sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

He apologies for the play we are about to see – or plays as those familiar with the text will know – and assures us that we will definitely have a good time: maybe not tonight but probably, at some time in the not too distant future.

From then on – as the loopy tale of lovers falling for the wrong person unravels – we are hooked.

This, according to the director Sean Holmes, is a performance true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s time, not the letter of his scripts: an energetic, unashamedly modern and unruly show where the actors do the very opposite of ignoring the audience.

This is a noisy, raucous affair with laugh-out loud moments, crazy stunts, slapstick, bursts of heavy metal and Barry White love songs from the band on stage.

Large parts of the set are demolished; there is plenty of surprising trap-door action. Stuffy purists are well advised to give it a miss.

A scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare @ Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith ©Tristram Kenton

Anyone who saw Filter’s earlier madcap production of Twelfth Night, where the cast ordered pizza for the audience, will have some idea of what this group can do.

But this show is even wilder, pushing the envelope with even more invention.

You often forget you are in a Shakespeare play, though the cast are true to the text, save for a few choice edits.

It is billed as a brilliant show for people who think they hate Shakespeare. Like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin.

Phil Goodwin, media officer.

The show runs from May 8 – 12.

Details here

09 April 2018

Summer theatre project for imaginative children aged 7 to 11

Imaginative young people aged 7 to 11 are invited to create stage play with professionals during the summer holiday.

PaddleBoat Theatre Company are offering children the chance to put together a piece of original drama and perform on the Northcott stage.

The inventive Exeter company, which is known for its distinctive and playful approach to theatre, will guide youngsters through a week of storytelling, puppetry, music, design, acting and directing.

Professional practitioners – the company is an associate of the Northcott – will focus on the intrepid journalist, Clare Hollingworth, who was credited with the scoop of the century when she broke news of World War II from the Polish border in 1939.

At the end of the week, friends and family will be invited to the Exeter Northcott Theatre to watch the children perform the work on stage.

Katy Dash, Artistic Director of PaddleBoat, said: “We can’t wait to work with imaginative and creative children in Exeter to explore the life of an incredible woman – Clare Hollingworth.

“Whether you have loads of experience performing or you want to try drama for the first time, this week will be such a lot of fun.”

When:  Tues 28th August to Sat 1st September, 10:30-3:30 (10-12:30 on Saturday)

Who:     Aged 7-11 years old on course start date – no previous theatre experience required.

Where: Roborough Studios, Exeter University Campus – with a performance at Exeter Northcott Theatre on Saturday

What:   We will spend a week exploring storytelling, puppetry, music, design, acting and directing – everything you could possibly need to create a brand new piece of theatre. We will be looking at the Second World War, and in particular looking at the story of Clare Hollingworth – the intrepid journalist on the frontline as the war began. At the end of the week, friends and family will be invited to the Exeter Northcott Theatre to see what we have created.

How to apply: send an email to Lisa at education@exeternorthcott.co.uk

How much: £150 per child

05 April 2018

Associate companies programme – the story so far

The Exeter Northcott Theatre returned to producing its own work in 2015.

The following year, a new programme to stage exciting new plays was launched, making Le Navet Bête, Metta Theatre and PaddleBoat Theatre associate companies .

This year sees the addition of the latest partner when Ara, the newly formed company led by stage and TV star Tom Burke, premieres Don Carlos which is hoped to be the first of many classical dramas.

The associate programme, which was designed to support young companies with a strong local connection into the midscale, provides artistic mentorship, production management support, tour booking, education support, marketing and sales planning and support with bid writing.

It has already led to a string of unique productions since its launch in 2016 and more are in the pipeline.

The award-winning Le Navet Bête are an Exeter-based troupe of clowns whose high energy, spectacular and hilarious shows have wowed audiences globally.

Photography by Mark Dawson

They have staged Dick Tracey at the Northtcott and opened Dracula: The Bloody Truth, a riotous show which went on a national tour and is now licensed worldwide.

A new adaptation of the Three Musketeers is currently being commissioned as a coproduction with the theatre and is set to open in 2019.

The inventive and ground-breaking Metta have also made an impact, fusing street-dance, skateboards and rap to bring an acclaimed version of Kipling’s Jungle Book to the Northcott in 2016.

The innovative company then added a 21st century twist to another children’s classic in April 2018 with a circus version of Little Mermaid, which casts a strong female lead and a handsome prince in touch with his feminine side.

Little Mermaid, Metta Theatre. Photo by Robert Day
Little Mermaid, Metta Theatre. Photo by Robert Day

A forthcoming adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows takes the riverbank to the ‘hood in 2019 with the radical In the Willows – The Hip-Hop Musical, a co-production with the Northcott.

The imaginative children’s theatre company, PaddleBoat – a key player in the theatre’s education and outreach programme – stage its delightful tale of imaginary friendship, Margo & Mr Whatsit, in May 2018.

A new and immersive co-production of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, for young children and those with additional needs, is in the early stages and will hopefully be performed around the Christmas pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Paul Jepson, the theatre’s artistic and executive director, said: “We launched this scheme as an investment in the future and it is already paying dividends.

“These bright young companies are committed to the South West and we’re helping them to flourish in the midscale.

“The partnership with Ara is quite a coup for the theatre and makes us the focus point for Tom Burke’s stage work.”

Poppy Burton-Morgan, of Metta Theatre, which will leave the programme next year, said: “Our time as Associates at the Northcott has been instrumental in cementing our reputation across the sector as a midscale touring company making exceptional and original work.

“As we ‘graduate’ from the scheme in 2019 to make space for other companies to benefit from the incredible support the Northcott offers you can be sure Metta will still return to the theatre for many more years to come.

“We remain indebted to Paul and the organisation for everything they’ve helped us to achieve and create together, over these three years.”