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Classic tales for new stage season

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 31, 2014

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BOLD new versions of classic tales will be the hallmark of the spring season at Derby Theatre.

The season highlight is undoubtedly the homegrown production of Homer’s The Odyssey but there’s also an opportunity to see this classic re-imagined through the eyes of Penelope, the wife of heroic soldier Odysseus.

Running alongside The Odyssey (February 14-March 1) will be a Studio production Penelope Retold (February 20-March 1).

Derby Theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham said: “As a regional producing house we want to to do classics and our audiences want to see them. But as a female artistic director, I’m also aware that when you do classics, the female voice isn’t always heard as these stories come from a time when it wasn’t generally the case (to give women a voice). So the idea is to help our audience see those classics through different eyes.”

Penelope Retold is being created by Caroline Horton for Derby Theatre, someone Sarah describes as an ‘exciting young theatremaker’.

“I have been looking for a vehcle to help develop and support her,” Sarah says.

Another classic on offer at Derby Theatre this spring season is the 1959-set A Taste of Honey – the story of a 17-year-old girl who is deseperate to break free from a man-hunting mother.

It’s a Derby Theatre co-production with the Hull Truck company directed by Mark Babych (April 29-May 10)

Sarah says: “Mark is someone I have an enormous respect for as a director and he made a great show here at Derby for us with Cooking With Elvis. He got the job of artistic director at Hull Truck while he was working here at Derby and we immediately started making plans.

“A Taste of Honey is a modern classic that isn’t done enough, although, saying that, as soon as we announced our version I learnt The National are doing it. When we heard that we thought ‘oh no’ but then we thought that maybe it will put it in people’s heads a little bit and they might not have the resources and time to travel down to London.”

Sarah is also delighted with the programme of touring work from outside companies coming to the theatre over the course of the spring season.

That includes Les Dennis leading an all-star cast in The Perfect Murder (March 3-7), Birmingham Stage’s adaptation of the classic children’s tale Tom’s Midnight Garden (March 11-15), Warwick Davis’s Reduced Height Theatre Company with See How They Run (April 7-12) and Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which is touring for the first time (April 21-26). There’s also physical dance from Gecko, who return to Derby Theatre from April 2-5 with Institute.

Sarah says: “I’m very excited about Warwick Davis coming to Derby as he makes me laugh and we have Gecko coming back and they are quite extraodinary. Their production of Missing was really well received so it’s great to have them back.”

To book go to www.derbytheatre.co.uk.

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