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JUNE

thestage.co.uk/news

Erica Whyman reveals her final RSC season

Mackintosh given London honour

Cameron Mackintosh has received the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his contribution to musical theatre. Mackintosh, who owns eight West End theatres and has produced shows including The Phantom of the Opera and Cats, said he would “treasure” the honour.

He was nominated by William Russell, who served as Lord Mayor of the City of London from 2019 to 2021, and former City of London Corporation chief commoner, John Bennett.

Mackintosh said: “I am delighted to receive the [honour], which I shall treasure, along with my much-used Freedom Pass. Grateful thanks to the millions of Londoners who have continued to come to see my shows over the past 56 years.”

Russell said Mackintosh’s name was “synonymous with excellence”.

The honour is awarded to recognise recipients’ “outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement”.

FERGUS MORGAN

A new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an adaptation from Isobel McArthur, and the stage premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s Ben and Imo all feature in outgoing acting artistic director Erica Whyman’s last season at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Whyman, who leaves the organisation and her role as acting artistic director this week to be succeeded by Tamara Harvey and Daniel Evans, said she was “properly proud” of the season, which runs from October until March 2024.

She continued: “To lead this organisation out of the pandemic has been a privilege and I am enormously proud of the strong foundations I leave for its next chapter.”

Her final season begins with The Box of Delights, an expanded version of Justin Audibert and Piers Torday’s adaptation of John Masefield’s 1935 children’s novel, which originally ran at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2017. It will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from October 31 until January 7.

A new adaptation of Thomas Heywood’s comedy The Fair Maid of the West will run in the Swan Theatre from December 2 until January 14. It will be adapted and directed by McArthur, creator of Pride And Prejudice* (*Sort Of) and Kidnapped.

In 2024, Eleanor Rhode will direct a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from January 30 until March 30.

Whyman will also return to the RSC to direct Ravenhill’s Ben and Imo. First written as a radio drama for BBC Radio 3 in 2023, the play will follow the relationship between composers Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst. It will run in the Swan Theatre from February 21 until April 6.

The season also includes the Stratford transfer of Tracy-Ann Oberman and Brigid Larmour’s The Merchant Of Venice 1936, which premiered at Watford Palace Theatre in March and will run in the Swan Theatre from January 24 until February 10, and a new touring production of Romeo and Juliet for audiences aged 8 to 13, directed by Philip J Morris.

Whyman said: “I am grateful to all the artists and staff who have walked these last wild and rewarding years with me.”

Gatiss and West among actors exhibiting art works in Brixton display

MATTHEW HEMLEY

Actors including Mark Gatiss, Samuel West and Keala Settle are part of a group of performers who will display art they have created next month for the first time.

The ‘many actors make art’ movement was started by actors Nancy Carroll and Christopher Villiers in 2022 while filming Magic Mike’s Last Dance. During this, the pair discovered their shared love of painting and wanted to connect with other actors who are also artists. The group has more than 20 members and its work will be displayed at the Department Store in Brixton from July 11 to 13.

Villiers said: “Lockdown caused total chaos in our industry and mental health became a priority. I ended up painting pictures of lighthouses, in an unconscious hope that they’d come to our rescue. Painting helped me get through  – that and friends and cups of tea.”

Carroll added: “This coming together is a celebration of creativity and the need to make art on its own terms. We are making our private work public in support of each other and for our community.”

The group also includes Fehinti Balogun, James Corrigan, Edward de Souza, Nicholas Farrell, James Fleet, Clive Francis, John Lithgow, Amanda Root, Lydia Wilson and Fenella Woolgar.

Work being displayed includes paintings, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and sculptures. Every purchase will include a donation to the Theatre Artists Fund, created during the pandemic to provide financial support for British theatre industry workers.

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