Theatre News

Nottingham Playhouse reveals details for autumn 2023 season

Artwork for The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man
Artwork for The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man

Nottingham Playhouse’s artistic director Adam Penford has revealed his forthcoming slate for autumn 2023.

Concluding the summer season will be an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Martin Berry and designed by Ella Barraclough, in Wellington Circus. Suitable for ages eight and above, the Bard’s comedy of twins and mistaken identities will run from 19 to 29 July.

From 16 September to 17 October, Zak Ford-Williams (Better) will star in the European premiere of The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man. This new staging of the story of Joseph Merrick is written by Tom Wright and directed by Stephen Bailey.

The production’s creative team also includes set and costume designer Simon Kenny, lighting designer Jai Morjaria, composer and sound designer Nicola T Chang, movement director Cathy Waller, and casting director Christopher Worrall.

Ford-Williams, who previously played Tiny Tim in Mark Gatiss’ acclaimed adaptation of A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story in Nottingham, said: “I cannot wait to return to Nottingham Playhouse and allow audiences into the incredible, haunting world of the play. I was transfixed by The Real and Imagined History of The Elephant Man from the moment I read it. Then as soon as I experienced Stephen’s vision, precision and warmth for the play, I was desperate to be on board. It’s a challenge and a gift of a role.”

Gatiss’ A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story will also return to the Playhouse from 27 October to 18 November. Under the direction of Penford, the production will feature designs by Paul Wills, lighting by Philip Gladwell, sound by Ella Wahlström, video design by Nina Dunn, movement direction by Georgina Lamb and composition by Tingying Dong.

Gatiss commented: “I’m delighted that my adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is returning to Nottingham Playhouse and Alexandra Palace this year after such a successful outing last time. I’m sad to say, that having fulfilled my lifetime ambition of Jacob Marley, I shall be hanging up my chains, but I am extremely delighted and excited at the prospect of a new Scrooge and Marley to take up the reins for this festive season. I can’t wait to be part of it again and see it from the other side of the veil.”

This will be followed by the Playhouse pantomime Cinderella (1 December to 13 January), with Penford serving as both writer and director, alongside Cleo Pettitt as designer. Nottingham’s “favourite panto dame”, John Elkington will be part of the cast.

From 7 to 31 December, a new version of Hansel and Gretel will also be presented, specially created for children aged three to eight as a 60-minute introduction to live theatre.

In early 2024, Kirsty Patrick Ward will also direct Lucy Kirkwood’s post-apocalyptic three-hander The Children, with exact dates to be announced in due course.

Penford said: “I’m thrilled with our 2023 autumn season. Stephen Bailey is a bold early-career director and his submission for the RTST award was powerful and ambitious, exciting the judging panel. Zak delighted our audiences in A Christmas Carol last year and now takes on this marathon leading role. Audiences have been asking us to revive Mark Gatiss’ beautiful adaptation of the Dickens classic since it premiered here in 2021, and the tale of humanity is more relevant than ever. We have been making a pantomime in-house at the Playhouse for decades now and it is firmly part of Nottingham’s Christmas celebrations. Cinderella is my favourite – full of great laughs, terrific baddies and magical transformation.”

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