Bennett pens piece for Nottingham season

Published: 26 March 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse Credit: Manuel Harlan
Mark Gatiss and Adrian Scarborough telling Ghost Stories as part of Nottingham Playhouse’s Unlocked Festival Credit: Marc Brenner
Pearl Mackie and Jessica Raine in Bubble Credit: Pamela Raith

A specially written vignette by Alan Bennett and newly commissioned writing from across the East Midlands are among 20 events that Nottingham Playhouse is making available online in a new season of live and digital programming called Spring Loaded.

The shows and events range from drama, dance, music and Bollywood to horror, comedy and romance. Most the productions will be available to rent for viewing over five days, with others live-streamed.

The theatre’s artistic director Adam Penford said, “the pandemic has changed the way we live and a new project, Still Life: Untold Stories from Nottingham, will capture this moment in time, revealing some of the lesser-known stories of the people of Nottingham in 2021.

“They’re part of our ongoing commitment to nurture the immense talent in the region and provide some much-needed employment to freelancers including writers and actors, many of whom have had little government support since last March.

“I’m delighted that Alan Bennett has also penned a short ‘bonus track’, as our audiences loved his The Madness of George III in 2018.”

Still Life is a new collection of short films telling tales of Nottingham “through the eyes of residents who sometimes pass unnoticed”. The films were shot around the city.

Writers include Olu Alakija from Northampton, Nathan Ellis from Oakham in Rutland, Amy Guyler from Nottingham and Emteaz Hussain, also from Nottingham. Penford and Matthew Xia direct.

Spring Loaded will also feature Nottingham writer Sophie Ellerby’s drama LIT, reimagined for a film in a co-production between Nottingham Playhouse and HighTide Theatre.

Productions from Nottingham Playhouse’s 2020 Unlocked Festival will be available on demand, including former Nottinghamshire writer James Graham’s play Bubble featuring Jessica Raine and Pearl Mackie, Ghost Stories with Mark Gatiss and Adrian Scarborough and a musical performance from Rosalie Craig, Sandra Marvin, Jodie Prenger and Sara Poyzer.

Other events that should appeal to theatre fans and industry creatives alike including An Evening with James Graham, hosted by Penford, which will give viewers an insight into the career of the Mansfield-born playwright and screenwriter; an artistic leadership panel chaired by the Playhouse’s Craig Gilbert and featuring Penford, Sarah Brigham (Derby Theatre), James Dacre (Royal and Derngate, Northampton), Nikolai Foster (Curve, Leicester) and Natalie Ibu (Northern Stage). They will speak on topics such as pathways to becoming an artistic leader, recruitment of artistic directors, the day-to-day running of an organisation and the challenges facing the sector.

The full programme is available at the Nottingham Playhouse web site. On-demand productions will become available for rental through to June 2021. Prices start from a small donation to the theatre’s Curtain Up appeal to £20 per household.