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Wertenbaker Translates Racine's Britannicus for Wilton's

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One of London’s last remaining music halls, Wilton’s, is presenting a new production of Racine’s Britannicus in October, using a brand new translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker.

Part political thriller, part family drama, Britannicus depicts 24 hours in the life of Emperor Nero that were to change the course of Roman history.

Agrippina, widow of the Emperor Claudius, has paved the way for her son Nero to succeed to the throne ahead of his step-brother Britannicus. But as Nero's taste for power grows stronger, Agrippina struggles to keep control of her son as he edges Rome ever closer to catastrophe.

Irina Brown will direct a cast featuring Sian Thomas (Agrippina), Alex Vlahos (Britannicus) and Matthew Needham (Nero), alongside Zoe Aldrich, Christopher Colqhoun, Jude Akuwudike and Hara Yannas. The production runs from 21 October to 19 November 2011 (previews from 13 October).

Timberlake Wertenbaker was commissioned by Wilton’s and Natural Perspective (supported by Arts Council England), to write a new translation from the French original for this production. Wertenbaker is a multi award-winning playwright whose best known works include The Grace of Mary Traverse, Our Country’s Good, Three Birds Alighting on a Field and Credible Witness. She has also translated work by Sophocles, Euripides, Jean Anouilh, Marivaux and Racine.

Now owned by the Wilton’s Music Hall Trust, Wilton’s is the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world. It belongs to the first generation of public house music halls that appeared in London during the 1850s and which, only 50 years later, had all but disappeared.

According to press material, “Recent years have seen Wilton’s fighting an ongoing battle to stay open as it searches for the funds to restore the building to safety and make its future safe. Most recently an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was rejected, placing the building in real danger of closure.

“However, the astonishing public response to our urgent need for funds following the rejection from the HLF has helped Wilton’s to raise enough funds (£500k) to secure the structure of two parts of the building and stave off imminent closure. The building is still decaying and still semi-derelict, it is unable to reach its potential as a performance company and as a heritage building. The Trust is still fundraising for a further £2million to secure Wilton's forever.”

The venue recently featured on the BBC’s National Treasures series, which you can view here


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