Wanted – ‘80s Style Fashions for Updated Shakespeare!

November 17, 2015

A local theatre company is on the hunt for 1980s fashion items that people may have tucked away in the wardrobe. Anyone who can help Newport Playgoers kit out their actors for an updated version of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ will receive a credit in the show’s programme.

Desperate for ‘80s clothes: director Emma Brunnock and the cast of ‘As You Like It’ need your help. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Desperate for ‘80s clothes: director Emma Brunnock and the cast of ‘As You Like It’ need your help. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“We’re looking for shell suits, flared skirts, dresses with shoulder pads and stretch pants – anything that says 1980s,” said the play’s director Emma Brunnock.

“If anyone has big hair wigs or ‘Miami Vice’ style suits that would be great too. Our aim is to give all the characters a genuine ‘80s look. We promise to take excellent care of any items lent to us, and we’ll give people an acknowledgment in the programme to thank them.”

The cast of ‘As You Like It’ enjoying rehearsals for Shakespeare’s classic pastoral comedy. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast of ‘As You Like It’ enjoying rehearsals for Shakespeare’s classic pastoral comedy. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘As You Like It’ is one of Shakespeare’s early playsa comic take on pastoral romance that begins with a flurry of banishments and ends with true love conquering all after the heroes and heroines are forced to leave the city and retreat to the forest, where they learn the simple values of rustic life.

It was made into a highly successful, award-winning film by Kenneth Branagh in 2006. Packed with comedy and fast-paced action, Playgoers’ version promises to be totally accessible to modern audiences of all ages.

‘As You Like It’ can be seen at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th January 2016. You can book tickets now by phoning 01633 263670 or visiting www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

 

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Playgoers Set to Raise Curtain on New Season

July 28, 2015

Never let it be said that Newport Playgoers rest on their laurels. After a highly successful season that saw them win several awards, the local amateur dramatic society is preparing to unveil a new programme of plays.

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Rehearsals are already well under way for September’s offering, ‘Up Pompeii’, the stage version of the show that Frankie Howerd made such a hit on TV. Like Playgoers’ last venture to ancient Rome, ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’, this romp is packed with nubile slave girls and saucy double meanings that are sure to raise lots of belly laughs.

In contrast, October’s play is Charles Dickens’ spooky classic ‘The Haunting’. It’s followed by ‘The Ladykillers’ based on the much-loved Ealing comedy about a gang of crooks in a boarding house and their clumsy attempts to murder their little old landlady.

The new year brings ‘As You Like It’ which is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies with its heroine, Rosalind praised as one of his most inspiring characters. There’s plenty of black humour as well as drama in ‘The Anniversary’ in which a domineering mother keeps a tight hold on all three of her sons with gifts, threats and ruthless exploitation of their weaknesses – but as the family is brought together to celebrate Mum’s wedding anniversary (regardless of deceased Dad) revolt is in the air.

One of the highlights of last season - ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

One of the highlights of last season – ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League with several cast members nominated for best actor awards. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers New Generation take to the stage in March with a play about the swashbuckling adventures of ‘Robin Hood’, and this is followed Ibsen’s classic story of repressed Scandinavian sexuality, ‘Ghosts’.

On a lighter note, May sees the stage version of the 1960s film classic ‘The Graduate’ in which young Benjamin Braddock, who is worried about his future, is seduced by the infamous Mrs Robinson. The season ends with ‘Maurice’s Jubilee’, a play set in the royal celebrations of 1977. This play by award-winning actress and writer Nichola McAuliffe. is a funny and poignant exploration of one man’s enduring commitment to his dream of meeting the Queen – and an eternal love triangle fallen on hard times.

Another winning play  from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Another winning play from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It all adds up to a season of plays with something for everyone. A new innovation will be the introduction of signing for the deaf on the Thursday evening performance of every play.

Playgoers who own and run the city’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre are always looking for new members and have a special introductory offer of a first year’s membership for £70 for adults (a saving of £42.50) or £35 for students (a saving of £41.50). They are always looking for volunteers keen to help out with the staging of each production. This includes everything from doing front of house, box office or serving refreshments and sweets and programmes. Or maybe you have the urge to tread the boards or work backstage. Everyone is welcome – you’ll find it’s a great way to make new friends – and have fun! For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Newport Actors All Set for Gwent Drama Festival

April 21, 2012

Stand-up comedy, spooks and suspicion are all part of the madcap mix when three of Newport’s leading amateur theatre groups take part in the Gwent Festival of One Act Plays at Blackwood Little Theatre on Friday 27th  and Saturday 28th  April.

'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Chris Powell (Hamlet) and Will Smith-Haddon (Yorick) in 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

First on the bill is ‘Poor Yorick’ by local writer Phil Mansell. One of the plays featured in the recent highly successful No Holds Bard festival, this innovative comedy tells how Hamlet’s jester attempts to pioneer stand-up comedy but instead becomes embroiled in plans for revenge.

'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Will Smith-Haddon in the title role of 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“It’s really great being able to take my play to another theatre and to compete in this prestigious drama competition,” said Phil.

“My play opens the festival on the Friday night and we’re hoping for as good a response as when we performed it at the Dolman Theatre last month.

“The festival features six great plays, and with tickets priced at two for just £7 it offers a great night out for anyone who loves fresh and exciting new theatre.”

Following Phil’s play is another Newport drama group, Playgoers New Generation (PNG) who present ‘In the Spirit of Things’ by Steven Quantick.

'In The Spirit of Things' by Steve Quantick

PNG’s three witches: Charlotte Webb, Sian Elizabeth Pope and Clare Davies in ‘In The Spirit of Things’ (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This is another comedy about “business unusual” at Incorporeal Incorporated, where the witches from Macbeth provide supernatural guidance to the mortal realm.

'Bottoms Dream' by Alan Poole

‘Bottom’s Dream’ features James Thomas, Emma Radmilovic, Ellie Tappin and Dana Symonds who are members of Dolman Youth Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

On Saturday Dolman Youth Theatre present ‘Bottom’s Dream’ by Alan Poole, which explores who really dreamt the Midsummer Night’s Dream – and what were the reactions of the mechanicals’ wives and mothers to their play-acting?

Other plays are being presented by Ad Hoc Theatre from Cwmbran and  Blackwood Little Theatre. All the plays will be adjudicated with the chance of going through to the Welsh finals in June.

The Gwent Festival of One Act Plays is at Blackwood Little Theatre from 27th – 28thth April.  To book tickets – which are just £7 with a special buy one get one free offer – phone  07930 599317  or online at  http://www.blackwoodlt.org.uk/


Argus Sponsors Festival of New Plays at the Dolman Theatre

March 2, 2012

The South Wales Argus is sponsoring a festival of new one act plays that combine stand-up comedy, bloody sword fights and romantic mix-ups to give a modern take on Shakespeare. The ‘No Holds Bard’ festival at the Dolman Theatre from 15th – 17th March, promises to be an evening of lively entertainment that makes Shakespeare totally accessible for today’s audiences and turns his plots into plays for today.

A scene from 'Roman and Julia' by gary Dooley

A tender moment between two people (Rose Bissex and Daniel Penfold) who meet in 'Roman and Julia' by Gary Dooley

The festival showcases four plays that won a competition run by Newport Playgoers as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project. One play will go on to be staged at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre – and possibly to Stratford as part of the World Shakespeare Year celebrations.

Two of the plays – ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell from Newport, and ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers of Cardiff– are by writers who are no strangers to having plays staged at the Dolman. Kevin’s play ‘Surviving the Century’ and Phil’s play ‘Bunkered’ were two of the four winners of a highly successful golf-themed writing competition organised to tie in with the Ryder Cup coming to Newport.

A scene from 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Yorick (Will Smith-Haddon) and Hamlet (Chris Powell) plot revenge and job opportunities while Queen Gertrude (Sue Morgan) looks on in ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell.

The other two winning plays to be performed as part of the festival are ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker and ‘Roman and Julia’ by Gary Dooley.

“The aim of the competition was to give a new twist on Shakespeare and create plays that today’s audiences will enjoy and connect with,” said Playgoers’ President Richard Dymond, “I hope the people of south Wales will come along and enjoy an evening that looks set to be full of fun and surprises.

A scene from 'Only Words remain' by Kevin Myers

A mysterious elderly man (Chris Bissex) meets a woman from his past (Lillian Hynes) in ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers.

”We are particularly pleased and proud that our local newspaper, the Argus, has kindly sponsored the three night festival of one act plays,” he added.

A scene from 'To Sleep Perchance to Die' by Russell Walker

The Dreamer (Luke Bowkett) faces another scary moment as he lives the actor’s nightmare over and over again in ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker.

Tickets for the ‘No Holds Bard’ festival, which is at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 17 March, can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting dolmantheatre.co.uk.

 


Welsh Writers’ Plays Selected for Royal Shakespeare Company Project

January 12, 2012

Plays by two writers from Wales have won a competition to be staged at Newport’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre – with the possibility of going on to be performed at Stratford as part of the World Shakespeare Year celebrations.

Winning Playwrights

Winning playwrights Russell Walker, Phil Mansell and Kevin Myers

‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell, who lives in Newport, and ‘Only Words Remain by Kevin Myers of Cardiff, are two of four one act plays that won a competition organised by Playgoers as their contribution to the nationwide Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project which has over 260 amateur dramatic companies from all over the UK taking part. Both plays will feature in the ‘No Holds Bard’ festival which will be staged at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 17 March.

Phil Mansell’s play ‘Poor Yorick’ tells how Hamlet’s jester tries to pioneer stand-up comedy but fails and is forced to return to Elsinore to get his old job back, only to become embroiled in Hamlet’s plans for revenge. Complete with busty tavern wenches, domineering mothers, ghosts and the invention of the exploding whoopee cushion, it promises to be a laughter-packed production.

“I was really pleased that my play was chosen for this prestigious event,” said Phil. “The aim of the competition, which had entries from as far away as America, was to give a modern take on Shakespeare and create something that today’s audiences will enjoy and find totally accessible. I hope the people of southWaleswill come along and enjoy an evening that looks set to be full of fun and surprises.”

No Holds Bard One Act Play FestivalKevin Myer’s play ‘Only Words Remain’ is a story about love, loss and the persistence of language, exploring what happens when staff at a nursing home are faced with the puzzle of an elderly man with no name who is placed in their care.

He said, “I am thrilled to have had my play selected for the No Holds Bard festival. There are so few opportunities around for new playwrights, so all credit to Newport Playgoers for having the vision and courage to promote new work.”

Neither are strangers to having work performed at the 400-seat Dolman Theatre – Kevin’s play ‘Surviving the Century’ and Phil’s play ‘Bunkered’ were two of the four winners of a golf-themed writing competition organised to tie in with the Ryder Cup coming to Newport last October.

The other two winning plays to be performed as part of the festival are To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker, who lives in Bristol but works at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, and ‘Roman and Julia’ by Gary Dooley from Northants. Tickets for the ‘No Holds Bard festival, which is at Dolman Theatre from 15 – 17 March, can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Actors wanted for RSC Open Stages!

November 24, 2011

CALLING all actors! Here’s your chance to be in one of the four plays selected for the No Holds Bard festival of one act plays, which is Playgoers’ contribution to the UK-wide RSC Open Stages event.  The plays will be performed 15 -17 March 2012 on the main stage.  Each play is about 20 to 30 minutes with no more than 6 cast members. Sets will be simple, with the build starting on 12 March. 

This is your chance to be part of an exciting project co-ordinated by the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  Its aim is to embrace, develop and celebrate amateur theatre to re-forge the bond with the world of professional theatre.  Newport Playgoers is proud to be part of this scheme which will culminate in a national showcase of amateur performances at the RSC’s home inStratford-upon-Avon, to coincide with the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012.

 The Winning Plays and Playwrights

Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers

Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers

 Staff at a nursing home are faced with a puzzle when an elderly man with no name is placed in their care. But who is the mysterious Mr Smith? A story about love, loss and the power and persistence of language.

 

 

 

Russell Walker

Russell Walker

To Dream Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker

A play exploring everty actor’s nightmare as it happens over and over and over again.

 

 

 

Phil Mansell

Phil Mansell

Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell

Yorick the jester is not dead – he’s on the road dying a death as he pioneers a new kind of comedy called stand-up. When this fails he is persuaded by his tavern wench girlfriend Bess to return to Elsinore and get his old job back – but when he arrives he finds there have been many changes, and he becomes embroiled in Hamlet’s plans for revenge.

 

 

Gary Dooley

Gary Dooley

Roman and Julia’ by Gary Dooley

The course of true love for an elderly couple in a nursing home runs far from smooth – until a friend lends a hand.


Calling all budding playwrights!

May 31, 2011

No Holds Bard Play-Writing CompetitionWrite a One Act play with a Shakespeare-related theme

  • Prizes of £25 for the Writers of the Best Plays
  • Best Plays performed at the 400-seat Dolman Theatre
  • Entry into RSC Open Stages Regional Showcase – with a chance of being selected for performance inStratford-upon-Avonas part of World Shakespeare Festival 2012
  • Click here to download an entry form

RSC Open Stages

RSC Open Stages is an exciting national project co-ordinated by the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Its aim is to embrace, develop and celebrate amateur theatre and re-forge the bond with the world of professional theatre.

Newport Playgoers Society is proud to be part of this scheme which will culminate in a national showcase of amateur performances at the RSC’s home inStratford-upon-Avon, to coincide with the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012. Visit the RSC website for more information: http://www.rsc.org.uk.