Easter themed pieces across the UK on show this holy weekend to help you discover your religion or at least ponder it.
The Bible: An eagerly awaited recital of the King James Bible in its entirety. In celebration of the renowned publication’s 400th anniversary, the Globe Theatre is presenting a reading across 12 sessions in celebration of the oral tradition. A group of actors is to present the text, which was originally commissioned my King James I, in full; taking in total nearly 70 hours of recitation. One is not expected to sit throughout each session as late and readmission is allowed. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this Easter than experiencing this epic text come to life. A review will soon follow.
Barbican Centre, London
Italian theatre practitioner Romeo Castellucci will be presenting this religious themed, if controversial, piece over the Easter weekend. Before the backdrop of a renaissance image of Christ, Castelluci is to explore the concept of Jesus as icon. Castelluci is well-known for his perfectionism, in fact just a few weeks ago he cancelled the planned show at the Barbican, an adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Minister’s Black Veil, because he did not think it was yet ready for an audience. A follower of the Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, it will be interesting to see how this emerges in Castellucci’s discussion of Jesus Christ. Should you be more interested in the theological, self-flagellation side of this holiday, than this is the piece for you.
Part of the London Word Festival and Co-curated by the Henningham Family Press, are throwing their own celebration for the 400th birthday of the King James Bible. The book is to be explored through various artistic mediums including literature, art, film, and music in an evening of performance. From the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark, expect a lively theological debate to take place.
Port Talbon, Wales,
What better place than a non-stop three-day theatrical event to have a religious experience! Michael Sheen in association with National Theatre Wales is to produce this play across his home town, involving hundreds of volunteers as well as a dozen or so professional actors. Sheen recalls: “I first saw the Passion Play at Port Talbot when I was about 12. It was a story I knew coming to life in front of me. A ritual taking place before me. A town remembering itself through a story.”
The new theatre season is among us and what an exciting time it could prove to be.
The RSC has announced a season of plays that hark back to its illustrious history as it is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. An interesting article in the Financial Times enlightened me to some of the RSC’s triumphs over the years which are clearly myriad if I am to be honest. I was pleasantly surprised and excited in equal measure in the new-found knowledge that, in the past, they have premiered 5 of Harold Pinter’s plays that include one of my favourite in the deeply unsettling, The Homecoming which is the subject of a revival in the summer. The season also sees the RSC reviving two other successes over the annals of theatrical time; Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade and Dunsinane by David Greig.
The seemingly imperialist RSC are also premiering a play at the Hampstead theatre about a spacecraft designer and very much the man behind-the-scenes of Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit around the earth, Sergei Korolyov. The play is entitled Little Eagles and runs from the 16th April to the 7th May.
With the theme of revivals firmly in mind, The Royal Court are bringing back a play that they last staged more than 50 years ago. Arnold Wesker’s Chicken Soup with Barley deals with the effect the rapidly changing world is having on a Jewish family and is set over a period of 20 years. The play will be directed by Dominic Cooke who is currently enjoying success with Clybourne Park. Cooke remarked at his excitement of directing this play, “Bringing Arnold Wesker’s play back to the Royal Court after 50 years is an exciting prospect. Chicken Soup with Barley is an epic play that spans twenty years in the life of an East End Jewish family. It vividly captures a loss of political idealism, a feeling which chimes with our own confused times.”
And finally, two Chekhov plays are set for a revival within the coming weeks. Arcola Theatre are playing host in what promises to be a new imagining of Chekhov’s classic, Uncle Vanya. This interpretation has already received critical acclaim from both The Times and The Guardian and runs from the 27th April to the 4th June.
I have to admit, owing to a little snobbery on my part, I am more excited at the prospect of seeing another of Chekhov’s plays, The Cherry Orchard, which is showing at the National this Spring. Fresh from her acclaimed performance in the brilliant All My Sons last year, Zoe Wanamaker will be playing Madame Ranevskaya and Howard Davies will be directing. It is part of the National Theatre’s excellent Travelex season so some tickets will cost only a mere £12. The Cherry Orchard runs from 10th May- 28th July
For those that don’t already know, the brilliant John Malkovich will be gracing the London stage for a 2 night only event at the Barbican. In the Infernal Comedy, Malkovich will be the sole actor on stage and will be portraying the notorious serial killer Jack Unterweger to a score that includes pieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. It promises to be a must-see and, as yet, it has seemed to have slipped under the perennial theatrical radar.
In another event at the Barbican, the theatre group, Duckie, who have said they like to mix the ‘arthouse with the dosshouse’, are putting together a piece that will take its audience through the night and in to their dreams. They are going to transform the Pit into a sleepy commune and have encouraged audience members to attend, clad in their nightwear. And what’s more, they provide breakfast first thing in the morning. It will certainly be a soporific experience and even at the hefty £40 price tag, will undoubtedly be a performance that will remain with you for a very long time, even if those memories will be swimming largely in your unconscious.