Director Asghar Farhadi Acting on Principle

Film director Asghar Farhadi returns to Teheran with another riveting moral tale and new inquiries into human behaviour. Aside from The Past (2013) which is set in France, his dramas all unfold in Iran and mostly in and around Teheran. And if the context for his fictions may be specific, the themes they explore have universal appeal. A Separation (2011), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, played a huge acclaim internationally, which audiences relating to the pain caused by the disintegration of a family. To Farhadi, the human condition transcends all borders.

Farhadi's The Salesman, for which he was awarded Best Director prize at Cannes last year (Shahab Hosseini deservedly picked up Best Actor award), is a typically tense and supremely crafted study in mistaken identity, hypocrisy and the power of art to shine a light on our foibles and indiscretions. The main protagonists are a couple forced to move home as the result of a fissure in their residential block. They are both about to appear on stage in an as-yet-uncensored production of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'. The play's director offers them an empty apartment while they look for something more permanent. What he doesn't tell them is who used to live there and why a stranger should appear at the door when the husband is teaching literature to a class of mostly disinterested boys. What happens during the unexpected visit threatens the couple's peaceful existence and reverberates both on and off the theatre stage.

Farhadi's skilful melding of Miller's play and his own tale recalls Pedro Almodovar's deploying of Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' within the narrative of All About my Mother (1999). Both tease out the complex fabric of the play to examine the predicament the film's characters find themselves in. The role of censorship adds another layer in The Salesman. The play cannot be performed publicly without approval from the state censor, which taps into a wider malaise in Iranian society regarding openness that the film explores.

Oberon Books Theatre, Drama and Performing Arts

Oberon Books is the UK's most exciting independent publisher specialising in theatre, drama and performing arts. Oberon has many of the most original new playwrights working today, and a backlist of 1500 books including some of the best of British Theatre since the 1940s, European and world theatre in translation and classics from the world's leading dramatists, as well as a wide range of handsomely produced publications covering the theatre, opera, dance, biography, performance studies, monologues, practical guides and fiction.

A prolific publisher with a reputation for publishing some of the most challenging, exciting drama happening right now. Oberon goes from strength to strength, bringing into print plays from the stages of the National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court, the Tricycle, Traverse, Soho and fringe theatres, not forgetting broadway.

Oberon's catalogue includes the Actors's Tool Kit, a selection of publications for drama students and professionals performers: The Improv Book, Improvisation for Theatre, Comedy, Education and Life (Alison Goldie), The Principles of Movement (Keith Bain), The Clown Manifesto (P. Nalle Laanela, Stacey Sacks), In-Depth Acting (Dee Cannon), Acting Shakespeare's Language (Andy Hinds)...

Christmas Pantomimes in London

The Pantomime or Panto is a kind of musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, generally during the Christmas and New Year season. 

Modern pantomimes include songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employ gender-crossing actors, and combine topical humour and a story loosely based on a well-known fairy-tale, fable or folk-tale. it is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain part of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

Pantomime has a long theatrical history in the Western culture dating back to classical theatre, and it developed partly from the 16th-century Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte, as well as others European and British stage traditions such as 17th-century masques and music hall.

A contemporary pantomime stage tradition is the celebrity guest star. Many modern pantomime use popular artists to promote the show, and the play is often adapted to allow the star to showcase their well-known act, even when such a spot has little relation to the main plot!

Little Angel Angel in London

Little Angel Theatre is one of the only three building-based puppet theatres in England. Established in 1961, the Islington-based theatre is the centre of artistic creation. The 100 seat theatre stands side by side with the workshop where all new productions and puppets are developed, carved and constructed. They are dedicated to the celebration and development of puppetry and live animation in all its diverse forms.

For over fifty years Little Angel Theatre have provided high quality puppet theatre aimed at family audiences and is continuing to extend their work for adults and young children. Not only do they produce they own shows which play in-house and tour nationally and internationally, but they also welcome puppetry companies from around the UK and overseas to perform on their stage.

Little Angel Theatre has a lively and imaginative educational program working with schools, youth and community groups, particularly in islington and the neighbouring  boroughs. They also run participation activities, such as the Saturday Puppet Club, Crafty Kid Club and Youth Theatre, and regular kids fun days and Holiday clubs.

Finally, through various courses throughout the year they provide training opportunities for puppeteers and puppet makers, maintaining this rare art form in the UK. They continually seek founding for this work and have recently received support for Esme Fairbaim Foundation towards a program of training activities.


Discover London Theatres: The Finborough, Jewel of the London Fringe

Probably the most influential fringe theatre in the world, artistic director Neil McPherson has guided the tiny Finborough to success via very specific artistic criteria: revivals much have been written after 1800, but not seen in London for 25 years; new work must avoid numerous cliches, including 'paedophilia', 'Oscar Wilde', and plays about urban, middle-class 'twenty/thirtysomethings' preoccupied with relationships or emotional problems.

The programme takes in three-week-runs, with a main play running Tuesday to Saturday nights, and a secondary play running Sunday and Monday. Inevitably there are as many misses as hits, but the calibre of actors and creatives is way beyond what you'd normally expect from the fringe.

You won't get much change out of £20 for a ticket, though that's kind of par for course across the fringe these days. Though an archetypal pub theatre, the Finborough have outlasted any number of businesses in its downstairs, from pubs to a wine bar. Currently it's the Finborough Arms, a welcoming pub with a wide range of beers.

Amateur Theatre Company in London

The Tower Theatre Company is a performing non-professional acting group in the city of London. They present about 18 productions each year in London, either at their base theatre, or at other small venues in the London area. During the summer months, they also perform touring productions, with regular appearances at the outdoor Théâtre de Verdure in Paris.

The Tower Theatre Company has been entertaining audiences for over 80 years. All their actors, directors and technical crews get involved for the sheer love of drama. The only full-time, non-professional company in central London, the Tower produces shows that compete with the best of the professional London fringe. 

They stage productions from Beckett to Butterworth, from Shakespeare to Sondheim. They seek to tackle new theatrical territory as well as to recreate stage classics, but most of all they aim to inspire audiences with their unique combination of creativity, passion and collaboration.

To get involve, please check their website http://www.towertheatre.org.uk/index.htm

Soho Theatre Young Company London

Soho Theatre Young Company offers courses for young people aged from 11 to 30: New writing, comedy and theatre. The classes run from October to June. Soho Theatre Young Company is for young people from all backgrounds and experience and offers genuine pathways from the rehearsal rooms to the stage.

Comedy Lab - Ages 16-30
Want to develop your sketch or stand-up routine? Work with professional comedians and build towards a public sharing. Join the Comedy Lab every Saturday for 10 weeks.

Writer's Lab - Ages 16-26
Thinking about writing a play? This workshop with industry professionals are masterclasses offering tips, feedback and support to write a new play for the Soho Young Writer's Award. 

Theatre Makers - Ages 11-16
Interested in creating work for the stage? Collaborate with professional theatre makers and other young artists to develop a new show.


A Visit to Angels Costumes in Hendon

Angels costumes main business is making the clothes on the television and the silver screen look picture-perfect and historically accurate. But this world-famous costumiers also runs a fancy-dress shop on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Its purpose-built premises in Hendon has eight miles of clothing rails, all packed with garments in every shape, size, color, style and era. As well as a near-infinite number of coat hangers, the building houses design studios, a tailoring department, offices and a fridge full of fur.

Why not going for a visit? You'll see dresses that were made in the nineteenth century, epaulette designed especially for 'Dad's Army', pretend chainmail, real chainmail, royal wedding replicas and hundred of Santa suits. Try to spot the outfits that appeared in the 35 films that have won the company Best Costume Oscar - among them 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', 'Gladiator' and 'Titanic' - or just enjoy the fact that Leonardo di Caprio wore something that's now hanging in your vicinity.

Its fantastic tours run several times a month on selected weekdays and cost £20. Email tours@angels.uk.com for upcoming dates and to book your place.
Angels Costumes, 1 Garrick Road, NW9 6AA, Hendon, London.

Performance, Politics, Pop Culture: LIFT Festival 2016

In June opens the new edition of the LIFT Festival - Performance, Politics, Pop Culture. Led by artistic director Marc Ball, LIFT 2016 runs from June 2nd until July 2nd, 4 weeks of events exploding across the city.

This new edition is their most ambitious festival yet, with work taking place everywhere, from the Barbican and Saddlers Wells to East End graveyards and Historic Music halls.

"We've travelled the world to curate a very special playlist of performances, politics, and pop-culture for London, so go on - Press Play" Marc Ball.

Created in 1981, LIFT has been pioneering new forms of theatre, offering spectacular performances and moments of magic in every corner of London. A year-round program culminates in the world-known biennal festival that transforms the capital into a stage.

This year program includes works by Neil Bartlett,  Krzysztof Warlikowski, Fernando Rubio, Andrew Schneider, Clare Patey, Toco Nikaido, Lola Arias, Inne Goris, Dominique Pauwels, Rosemary Lee, Simon Whitehead, Anthony Hamilton, Alisdair Macindoe and Taylor Mac.

The full programme is available online https://www.liftfestival.com and tickets are selling fast!


350 Actors To Showcase Regional Theatre In BAC Festival

More than 350 performers who have tirelessly taken acting classes in London to hone their skills will take part in a festival pioneered by Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) to showcase the talents of regional theatre.

A Nation’s Theatre will launch on March 29th and continue for two months, with production companies across the capital joining forces to reveal their most gifted stars and celebrate the skills and ideas of smaller theatre companies around the country.

Some 17 venues will be involved in the event, including Leicester’s Curve, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Camden People’s Theatre, and the Young Vic.

Speaking to The Stage, Curve associate director Suba Das said there is still suspicion when it comes to regional theatre, with many people thinking it means ”amateur, ‘on the cheap’, ‘half-done’”.

However, artistic director for BAC David Jubb told the news provider the “best” theatre is frequently created outside of London, despite what people think.

“As a group of theatres and artists, we thought it would be fun to reverse the stream: to encourage more partnerships between those based in London and those around the UK, as well as shine a light on where this already happens,” Mr Jubb was reported as saying.

More than 60 shows will take place during the two-month festival to encourage more celebration and enthusiasm about regional acting.

 Theatre companies in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the East Midlands, the north-west, the south-west, the north-east, East Anglia, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and London are taking part in A Nation’s Theatre.

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