The Actors Centre to Offer Free Space + More U.K. Acting News

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Hello and welcome back to the Backstage weekly roundup of the most important news from across the industry. Covering stage and screen, it’s everything you need to know and all you can’t afford to miss!

The Old Vic has received 20 complaints about Kevin Spacey.
In the findings of an investigation with an external law firm, the theatre found that Spacey’s “star status” and uncertainty that allegations would be taken seriously contributed to the lack of action whilst the Hollywood actor was the theater’s artistic director. Read more here.

The Evening Standard published its Theatre Awards shortlist.
Yes, it really is that time of year again! Andrew Scott’s Danish prince was heralded by the paper as the likely contender for Best Actor along with Bertie Carvell for James Graham’s newspaper drama “Ink”, and Andrew Garfield for the National Theatre’s epic revival of “Angels in America”.

“The Ferryman” by Jez Butterworth looks most likely to win Best Play, although it has competition from “Ink” as well as “The Children” by Lucy Kirkwood, and “Oslo” by JT Rogers. “The Ferryman” director Sam Mendes and actors Laura Donnelly and Tom Glynn-Carney are also up for awards. Donnelly competes for Best Actress with Victoria Hamilton for “Albion” and Glenda Jackson’s triumphant return to the stage in The Old Vic’s gender-swapped “King Lear”. See the full list here.

TV star creates a new theatre company.
Actor Tom Burke, who starred in the BBC series “The Musketeers” and their gilded adaptation of “War and Peace”, has set up a new theatre company that’s set to debut at three major regional venues. Most recently seen hobbling about as the Soho detective Cormoran Strike, Burke will be playing Rodrigo in “Don Carlos” by German dramatist Friedrich Schiller. The production will open at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter before moving to the Nuffield Southampton and Rose Theatre Kingston.

After the announcement, Whatsonstage blogged about how the industry needs more Tom Burkes to fly the flag for regional theatre, especially as critical public funding has been cut. Burke himself said that regional stage opportunities were vital to him and that he had always enjoyed “getting out of London as much as being in London”. He added what might be a veiled reference to Brexit, saying: “I feel a particular need to do that in light of all the recent things that have happened that have almost pitched London against the rest of the country, and I feel a need to touch base with other places”.

“Don Carlos” opens at The Northcott in Exeter on Oct. 11 of 2018. Look out for casting opportunities.

The Actors Centre offers free space.
London’s most active space for actors is getting even better. The Actors Centre is opening up their studio space in the heart of the West End for members to use for free. Under the “John Thaw Initiative”, the 50-seat studio theatre that also bears his name is to become a free platform for performances, allowing new work to be showcased and receive critical feedback.

The Actors Centre says that anything from “plays to musicals, comedy to poetry” can be performed there and that they’re on the lookout for innovative, genre-pushing, risky new work. Successful applicants will get more than space, though—they can use equipment like lighting and sound from the venue as well as making use of everything from technical staff to ticket tearers at performances.

The initiative is the first from new creative producer Joel Fisher, who said to The Stage that “in an environment where actors are having to work harder than ever to take control of their own careers and create their own productions, it is all the more important that there is a regular and financially accessible opportunity to showcase this new work”.

Submissions are being accepted until the end of November, so get your skates on! Read more here.

And now, theatre news.
Will Young is leading the West End cast of “Strictly Ballroom the Musical” by Drew McOnie. Alongside him are Jonny Labey, making his West End debut as character Scott Hastings, and Zizi Strallen. The show opens at the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2018.

The lead roles have been confirmed for the West End transfer of Bartlett Sher’s production on “The King and I”. Opening at the London Palladium in 2018, the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical stars Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe as Anna and the King, respectively. O’Hara, Watanabe, and Sher are all reprising their respective roles from the 2015 Broadway run.

Production and casting details have been released for the West End run of Kneehigh’s “Brief Encounter” adapted and directed by Emma Rice. The outgoing artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe is bringing Kneehigh’s acclaimed stage version of the classic David Lean film back to London after successful runs around the world. The Noel Coward tale of a chance meeting at a train station between married mother Laura and stranger Alec is a classic romance. Jim Sturgeon and Isabel Pollen are cast as Alec and Laura, joined by Lucy Thackeray as Myrtle, Beverly Rudd as Beryl, Jos Slovick as Stanley, and Dean Nolan as Fred/Albert, with ensemble members Katrina Kleve and Peter Dukes.

After short runs in Birmingham and Salford, “Brief Encounter” will come to the Empire Cinema in the West End from March to Sept. 2018.

That’s it, you’re all caught up with the news from TV, theatre, and film.

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