I would like to welcome you to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, whether it’s your first visit (and if you’ve come with your mum or dad maybe), or whether you are someone who regularly enjoys the plays and musicals we offer the rest of the year.
The enchanting and celebrated adventures of wartime evacuees Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy have captivated children and adults alike for over fifty years. This year, Ian Brown recreates the magic of Narnia on stage.
It’s been a wonderful experience for me to go back to a book I first encountered at school and attempt to bring its vivid characters to life. It’s a book that makes a deep impression on those who read it – I think this is something to do with the fact that C.S. Lewis demands great things from Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy if the forces of evil are to be defeated. When we read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ as children the themes of the book help prepare us for adulthood, with the realisation that our sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice and growing up to be a fully rounded human being is not going to be without difficulties. There are many joys to be found in the book and I hope these are evident in the production. I look forward to seeing you all back at the theatre for other family shows throughout the year.
During the Second World War Clive Staples (he always preferred the initials) Lewis became nationally known as an Oxford Don who broadcast with the BBC, his talks being later published under the title Mere Christianity. His purpose in writing The Chronicles of Narnia was, it is generally thought, to entertain his readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith, but he did not set out to write a fictional book which succeeded in using apologetics. The element of Christianity, he told his biographer, “as with Aslan,” entered “of its own accord”. Non-Christian readers (and members of the audience) can be moved as well - by the exciting adventures and by the archetypal meanings, without finding that the Christian meanings offend them or get in the way of the enjoyment. This is why the Narnian stories have proved to be so successful in the secular world. In fact an interesting variety of alternative meanings have been drawn from the The Chronicles of Narnia. The critic David Holbrook, for example, used a psychonalytical approach. He “put the Christianity in brackets” and began with the symbolism of the objects listed in the title. Travelling through the wardrobe is symbolic of “going through the mother’s body”, the White Witch is Digory Kirke’s mother who has passed away and Aslan is a substitute for a lost relative.
Families crowded into the Playhouse on the opening night. So why wait for the press critics to give their opinions? We asked members of the audience to sound off about what was special and surprising about what they had experienced. Here’s what they said: “I think Santa Claus was a big surprise when he came on to sing. He was the best bit for me.” Dominic M. (6) “Oh, I could have cuddled that lion!” Annie M. (Dominic’s mum) Less bizarre readings might be found by looking at the history of the time and the struggle against Nazi cruelty and tyranny. A chief of the secret police is just what the label suggests - a proper villain who should be opposed by all right-thinking people, an opinion shared heartily by Adrian Mitchell. And Mitchell also shares with Lewis a sincere love of children. Many young readers had a long correspondence with Lewis, in some cases lasting for years. He talked to them as if they were his friends, discussing his next book and asking for their comments on his writing techniques. A rare author!
“It wasn’t just the people on the stage, but all the stuff with them like those incredible long coats which came down which you could push through.” Jack T. (10) “They said Christmas would never come but it did.” Charlotte (5) “The Beavers spoke just like people round here. That was reassuring.” Ayisha (10)
Tel: 0113 213 7700 Fax: 0113 213 7210 Minicom: 0113 213 7299 Group Bookings: 0113 213 7212 Book Online: www.wyp.org.uk FOR MORE INFORMATION ARTS DEVELOPMENT AND BEAUTIFUL OCTOPUS CLUB Please contact Victoria Allen on 0113 213 7296 Email firstname.lastname@example.org AUDIO DESCRIPTION/ACCESS-ASSISTED PERFORMANCES Please contact Simon Bedford on 0113 213 7291 Email email@example.com CONFERENCES Please contact our conference department on 0113 213 7276 Email firstname.lastname@example.org NEW WRITING Please contact Alex Chisholm on 0113 213 7800 Email email@example.com
For the past four decades and more Adrian Mitchell has been either gripping audiences inside and outside theatres on his own as the daddy of all performance poets, or providing others with the means to do the same. When circumstances demand, he can provoke outrage or tears: he is an artist devoted to the causes of justice and freedom, a people’s knight in the war against cold indifference. A long list of his plays, poems, translations and adaptations shows wide-ranging interests and concerns, many of them political - he is an active opponent of the current war in Iraq - and many of them related to myths of the struggle between good and evil, fairness and unfairness. His next play is entitled Robin Hood and Marian. Much of his work is for children. He is well versed in the methods needed to delight young audiences, and can be relied upon to have done justice to C S Lewis’s enchanting story. 'Adrian Mitchell's poetry for children is as marvellous as his work for adults. Humorous, thoughtful, provocative, bang-on for kids entering the 21st century.'BRIAN PATTEN.
“I liked Mr Tumnus, but for me the scariest thing was when the White Witch came on in her sleigh. She did it well.” Nika G (8)
“I jumped when I saw the people turned into rock. I was a bit frightened.” Alf H. (6)
“It was funny when they were talking about what they had been doing in Narnia. They said they had had a good time, except for Edmund, who said at the end that he had been stupid. It was the way he said it.” Theo W. (7)
“I was impressed when the white reindeer started to dance, but I definitely think that the wolf - the secret police chief - is my favourite character. I quite like mean and nasty characters because they are so exciting.” Maud H. (8) “When Lucy first meets Mr Tumnus, that was most interesting. There was a real tension in it when she was in his house and he suddenly told her he had to kidnap her after she had eaten the food. A nice moment.” Anthony H. (Maud’s Dad) “I am really satisfied that my daughter loved this play, just like me in fact. She’s already fascinated by the Narnia books. It must have been difficult to adapt such a long story and to put it on stage, but it’s succeeded so much.” Sarah W. (Mum)
“I jumped when Aslan the lion roared.” Luca M. (7) “The wardrobe bit was so, so magical. I liked Lucy specially because she is so honest. I liked the ribbons in her hair as well. Old fashioned. I don’t think I was frightened by anything
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at all, not anything.” Emily A. (8 3/4 )
“When the stage revolved was the best thing. I also liked the bits where characters were frozen into statues and the actors had to keep still.” Jasraj S. (9)
“The singing was terrific, especially after half time. It gradually got louder, and they waved flags.” Harry (8) “The fighting was good, like between the White Witch and Aslan because they were evenly matched. I would have liked more of that.” Holly (9) “I like stories where the baddies lose and the goodies win, and I wish I had a wardrobe like that.” Joy K. (9)
Three suffering chanteuses, representing three stages of a woman’s life, sit dejected in a Chicago hotel, all waiting for the call of a cheating snake of a man....but you don’t need an elaborate plot in Sheldon Epps’s compilation of some of the finest jazz and blues numbers ever written.
Cast in Rehearsal
Blue, blue, I got a tale to tell you, I’m blue. Somethin’comes over me Baby and I’m blue about you. Bessie Smith Wild women never worry, Wild women don’t have no blues. Ida Cox If I had saved my money when I was young and doin’ well, I wouldn’t be here singin’ in this cheap hotel. I got the four walls and one dirty window blues. Willard Robinson
ORIGINS The blues were born in the southern parts of the United States of America, sung and played by working-class African Americans. The term first came into use to describe a musical style at the end of the nineteenth century, about three hundred years after the beginning of the slave trade, which involved the taking of large numbers of people from West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to become slave labourers in the New World.
Rachel Forber from Newton-le-Willows on Merseyside died from nvCJD - new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - in 2001. Her death at the age of 21 was devastating for her family. This production of The Lemon Princess comes from an idea by director Ruth Carney, following conversations with Rachel’s father Stephen Forber. It is written by Rachael McGill and is supported by the Wellcome Trust. Ruth Carney spoke to Richard Wilcocks: “The play is about a sufferer from what is commonly known as the human form of Mad Cow disease who in the play is called Becky. It’s fictional of course but very much based on real facts and events which took place recently. “Becky works in a Pizza Hut and her father Mike is a Leeds pub comic, the sort you’d find in northern clubs. Becky sings in pubs as well, in a double act with him. So you see there are great voice possibilities for the production. She pretends not to laugh at his jokes and he pretends not to encourage her singing career. “Her mother - his wife - is already dead from cancer. Mike, Becky and her younger sister Charlotte are tight-knit, the three of them very close. The sister-in-law lives next door. “Then Becky’s behaviour starts to change, and her condition deteriorates. We get to where she takes this wonder drug from America, Quinacrine. This gets to the liver and affects the colouring of the skin, which is what happens to Becky. “Stephen Forber called his daughter Rachel a Lemon Princess because of the yellowing in her skin. A few people have criticised the title of this play, partly because it is too nonfictional and partly because it sounds as if it’s a play for children. “Well I think it’s a beautiful reference, and there’s no way I’m changing it. And no, it’s not a children’s play. Ruth hints at dark dealings in government circles, talking about what came out of the BSE enquiry into the government’s handling of the link between nvCJD and the consumption of beef. She has been involved in research and has been taking advice from experts for some time now, since before a work in progress version of the play was performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2003 as part of the Northern Exposure festival of new writing. “Dr Steven Dealler has been a big help. He was working at the Medical School at Leeds University but left in controversial circumstances. He is now based in Canterbury. There is a lot still to uncover I am sure.
“This play is very political - and it’s all true! Some of the government stuff has actually had to be toned down just a little, because people might think that we’re making it all up!”
RESEARCH THE BACKGROUND ON THE WEB Here is a short extract from the digest of relevant news from 1998 to be found on http://bse.airtime.co.uk/newsind.htm Yorkshire Evening Press 2.4.98 BSE expert reveals 'lonely quest'. This and an editorial explain how Dr. Dealler had felt he was almost on his own when warning the Government about BSE and the risks that it contained in the early 1990s Guardian 2.4.98 BSE clue in plants Dr. Dealler explained how, when he found that no research work was being carried out to look into treatments for CJD that might be derived in epidemic proportions from BSE, he decided that he must look for treatments himself. He looked into a series of chemicals in bovine diet plants that would potentially act as a treatment and spent 23,000 pounds doing it from his own money. See also www.priondata.org Panel Discussion Saturday 19 February 12pm Talk with Steven Dealler Saturday 26 February 12pm The Art of Science - performance by Young Ambassadors Wednesday 2 March 3pm Caird Company, which is co-producing The Lemon Princess with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, supports the development and production of work by new writers and directors both British and international. Most recently, it produced The ArabIsraeli Cookbook with London’s Gate Theatre. Rachael McGill’s work includes Storey’s (Finborough) and Ten Fingers and Ten Toes (Battersea Arts Centre. Ruth Carney has recently finished working on Measure for Measure at the National Theatre Studio. In 2001 she was Artistic Director of London’s Latchmere Theatre.
The singing of “sorrowful songs” was recorded well before the American Civil War, and music was to some extent encouraged by the owners: black slaves often played at white dances, equipped with banjos (instruments originating in West Africa) and fiddles. The blues were created from field hollers and spirituals by the slaves who worked in rice, sugar and cotton plantations, influenced especially by the first black churches, which were established at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By 1890, the most popular one of these was the Church of God in Christ, with roots in the state of Mississippi. Many blues-influenced gospel singers were members, including Bessie Smith. A minstrel tradition of travelling medicine shows, circuses and tent shows, in which many performers got their start, began in the 1820s and really came into its own in the years after the Civil War when the new railroads were used as a means of transportation. The first classic blues stars to become stars were almost entirely women. The first blues recording was made by a little known vaudeville singer called Mamie Smith in 1920. Her song Crazy Blues was still selling 8000 copies a week months after its release. In 1923 Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith made their first recordings. Before the 1940s, when rhythm and blues emerged as a musical genre, just about all types of African-American music were categorised as “race music” with “race records” being marketed to black consumers. “Race” was actually preferred by many African-Americans as a term, being preferred to “colored” or “negro”. It was seen as symbolic of black pride, militancy and solidarity at a time of widespread prejudice and segregation many years after the abolition of slavery, when African-American music hardly ever featured on the radio and when live performances were usually in segregated venues. The production of race records was very profitable for companies which were mainly white-owned and controlled, simply because the artists could be payed less for recording
Geraldine Connor is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds School of Music. She was previously Associate Director (Music) at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where her artistic successes included the Trinidadian spectacle Carnival Messiah (1999 and 2002)and Yaa Asantewaa (2001). She also co-directed Vodou Nation earlier this year. She is currently planning to take Carnival Messiah to Broadway in 2006. Nearer to home, she has recently been auditioning for Moses the Mighty Musical, a community production taking place in Huddersfield in 2007. Also currently in development is Street Opera, a contemporary music based project.
RUMBLEBUFFIN’S RICH ROTINI Pasta twists coated in a tangy tomato and herb sauce MR TUMNUS’S TASTY TEA A delicious blend of roasted aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and onions topped with grated cheese
“The full original version has a kaleidoscope of characters in it and not all of those are in this. The ones we have are all within the children’s obvious reference points, for example a showman who is threatening but has a soft heart.
“Families and kids out together get some really raw deals,” Playhouse chef Charles Smith told Little Extra,”but not here, I think. Most parents know that there’s too much junk available, too much stuff around that’s poor quality. “Last year we produced a children’s menu which turned out to be very popular, and we are building on the experience. We provided a healthy meal and a drink at an all-inclusive price, so that the cost didn’t mount up, and this year we’re going with the same idea. We’re keeping to the same reasonable price, too.
“The actors - Richard Kay, Simon Kerrigan and Sara RiceOxley - were all chosen because of their range of specific skills. Our workshops have been making something about the production particular to them. All of them can play instruments and sing
“It really feels good that so much is going on at the Playhouse at this time!”
He is currently Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse, which he joined in 1997, where in addition to Blues in the Night he has directed shows as diverse as Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Importance of Being Earnest.
MRS MACREADY’S WINTER SPECIAL Succulent Yorkshire sausage baked with winter vegetables in rich gravy
“It’s about a child’s natural inquisitiveness - which leads to trouble sometimes. The focus is on the process of growing up.
“I’m really excited about the music, which Richard Taylor has based on the sounds which wood makes. This naturally links with the magic of life being taken out of a log. He put out an SOS in the newspaper for people to bring in wood which could be played, and got a big response, especially from a school in Wetherby. People have been phoning up saying they’ve found old instruments. We even received a carved table leg that can be played by blowing! We’ll use as much as possible. Andy Spearpoint will create the soundscapes.
He has directed plays and musicals at many of America’s leading theatres, including the Guthrie, the Old Globe Theatre, the Manhattan Theatre Club, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Cleveland Playhouse and the Coconut Grove Playhouse. For television he has directed episodes of Frasier, Friends and many others.
Before you see the play why not sample some of the characters’ favourite meals? We are offering a tempting range of fun yet healthy meals just for children throughout the run of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Each day, a selection of two of these dishes will be available – one vegetarian option and one non-vegetarian option. Just look at the board in the restaurant to see the day’s choices.
“At the heart of the play is the relationship between a fatherfigure and a cheeky and naughty child. I am interested in the way the child learns about other people, finding out that they have needs as well as himself.
“I checked the original by Collodi of course, and looked at an antique book, but of course you have to be selective. We have certainly not overdone the homile side: Mike has created a nice piece of storytelling - endearing, sad and funny - giving actors many opportunities to use their skills.
Sheldon Epps’s musical about Duke Ellington Play On! was produced in Chicago, where it received four Jefferson Awards including Best Musical. His Broadway production of Blues in the Night was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Musical of the Year, and the London production, which he also directed, ran in the West End for over a year. It was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards before being broadcast by Thames Television.
Carved from a log, Pinocchio can’t wait to start being naughty. As soon as his mouth is made, he sticks his tongue out at his father. No sooner has he been given his legs than he gives his father a playful kick. Once he has all four limbs, he can’t wait to see what the big exciting world has in store for him. Gail McIntyre, the director of this playful and inventive production, told Little Extra about how it came into being. “It’s a great piece for this time of year because Gepetto is lonely, all alone in his carpenter ’s shop with no money around. He creates a puppet to keep him company, and Pinocchio comes to him like a kind of Christmas present.
sessions and could be more easily exploited. Bessie Smith recorded over 160 songs for Columbia and never received royalty payments in the ten years she was with the company.
Pinocchio could have ended his days dangling from the branch of an oak tree, which was how Carlo Collodi left him in the pages of “The Children’s Magazine” in Italy in 1881. It was an abrupt ending for what could have been the final weekly instalment of The Story of a Puppet. The readers would not stand for it, and the story resumed in February 1882, continuing right up to a better ending in the issue of January 1883, under the new general title of Pinocchio’s Adventures. The same title was used for the complete book a month later, illustrated by Enrico Mazzanti. By 1890, the year of Collodi’s death, this had reached its fifth edition. It was not long before it became a world classic.
“There are tray-liners with dot-to-dot pictures to colour and word searches, and we’ve got more high chairs this year. “We do a lot of Fairtrade products and have a selection of organic drinks and snacks available all the year round, not just at the year’s end. We never buy anything frozen or prepackaged. The trick, of course, is to be healthy and appealing at the same time. “You know, the kids are not that bothered about the lack of burgers, hot dogs and chips. To me, it sometimes seems the parents are more worried about it. “The food contributes so much to making the visit to the theatre a proper big family experience.”
CAIR PARAVEL CORONATION PIE White fish in cheese sauce, topped with piped creamed potatoes and melted cheese PETER’S PRINCELY PASTA Pasta tubes coated in a creamy cheese sauce with broccoli florets ASLAN’S ROYAL PIE Winter vegetables and beef mince cooked in rich gravy and topped with mashed potatoes. All pasta dishes are served with garlic bread. All other dishes are served with mini potato wedges and baked beans. PUDDING Vanilla Ice Cream Tub DRINKS Fruit Shoot Water CHILDREN’S MEAL DEAL Any main course, ice cream plus your choice of drink for just £3.50