Theatre News

BBC Arts to broadcast West End shows and RSC productions as part of "Lights Up" initiative

Almost twenty productions will be presented!

Andrew French, Kemi-Bo Jacobs and Joseph Kloska
Andrew French, Kemi-Bo Jacobs and Joseph Kloska
© RSC, photo by Hugo Glendinning

The BBC has unveiled shows that will be part of its "Lights Up" plans in March and April.

Featuring a total of 18 broadcasts on television, radio and iPlayer, the series of productions will support companies and artists affected by the pandemic.

The RSC's production of The Winter's Tale, which was weeks away from its run before halted in March, will be filmed and broadcast by the company under the direction of deputy artistic director Erica Whyman to coincide with Shakespeare's birthday. Whyman's production moves Shakespeare's classic to the 1950s against a backdrop of the Cold War. The venue has also revealed plans for an outdoor season – opening this summer. The cast includes Ben Caplan as Camillo, Andrew French as Polixenes, Amanda Hadingue as Paulina, Kemi-Bo Jacobs as Hermione and Joseph Kloska as Leontes, with set design by Tom Piper, costumes by Madeleine Girling, and music by Isobel Waller-Bridge.

Yasmin Joseph's J'Ouvert, which won the James Tait Black Drama Prize, will be captured during its West End run at the Harold Pinter Theatre as part of Sonia Friedman Production's "RE:EMERGE" season (more on that will be revealed later today). The piece is directed by Rebekah Murrell (Nine Night) as part of a season of new work curated by Ian Rickson. J'Ouvert was originally produced by Theatre503, in a co-production with Bad Breed and Tobi Kyeremateng.

Orpheus in the Record Shop, a collaboration between Opera North and Leeds Playhouse, will be adapted for the screen, having been created by acclaimed rapper and playwright Testament.

Other productions being broadcast on radio include the previously announced The Meaning Of Zong, the debut play written by Giles Terera, as well as Stripe By Stripe And Other Stories from National Theatre Wales (starring Rakie Ayola), Braids from Live Theatre, Newcastle, Dedication from Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, Nadia Fall's hit Welcome To Iran from Theatre Royal Stratford East and Folk from Hampstead Theatre.

Nell Leyshon's Folk will star award-winning performer Simon Russell Beale as musician Cecil Sharp.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts said: "A few months ago, we asked theatres and producers across the UK to come up with ideas for a virtual theatre festival to be staged in lockdown. The result is BBC Lights Up: eighteen new productions for television, radio and online. They bring together household names with groundbreaking new talent. They are joyful, moving, funny, poetic and, in many cases, probing and provocative plays. Most of all, they are astonishingly innovative. Each theatre and producer responded to the challenge in their own way, pushing the boundaries of what theatre can be when there is no audience in the room. Audiences will, hopefully, be able to return to theatres again in a few months, but in the meantime BBC Lights Up celebrates the creativity and resilience of UK theatre in a time of adversity."

The newly revealed shows will join the TV adaptation of Katharine Parkinson's Sitting, as well as David Ireland's Sadie. Other works include Colm Tóibín's Pale Sister, directed by Trevor Nunn starring Lisa Dwan, Natasha Marshall's Half Breed, Dorcas Sebuyange's Buttercup and Phoebe Eclair-Powell's Harm. Finally, National Theatre Scotland's award-winning Adam is being broadcast online.

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