mon 10/08/2020

Theatre Unlocked 1: George Floyd remembered, a classic transformed, and a call to action re climate change | reviews, news & interviews

Theatre Unlocked 1: George Floyd remembered, a classic transformed, and a call to action re climate change

Theatre Unlocked 1: George Floyd remembered, a classic transformed, and a call to action re climate change

A Broadway legend in concert lends musical buoyancy to this week's ever wide-ranging theatrical array

A genius performance: Lucian Msamati in 'Amadeus''Amadeus' and 'Lady Day' images c. Marc Brenner

We're easing out of lockdown, haircuts are being had, and the theatre continually shape-shifts to accommodate these changing times. All credit to the 14 writers who have conjoined forces in urgency and haste to create 846, a collection of audio plays responding to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. National Theatre at Home goes out on a real high with its transformative production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, with Lucian Msamati inheriting a role previously played by Ian McKellen on Broadway and F Murray Abraham onscreen. And the time is always right to hear Audra McDonald raise her voice in song. For more on that and various other enticements amidst our gradually unlocked climate, read on. 

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in London in 2017Audra McDonald Live in Concert, streaming on demand 

With a record-breaking six Tony Awards to her name, Broadway’s Audra McDonald needs scant introduction, not least to those who saw her electrifying performance as Billie Holiday on the West End in 2017 in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. (McDonald as Holiday pictured right

Viewers can be reminded of the clarion power and purity of her voice through Saturday, which represents the last opportunity to see a concert of McDonald as her glorious self that was in fact taped last weekend. The event is hosted by the invaluable Seth Rudetsky, whose Stars in the House streamed series of theatre events from New York has done an incalculable amount to keep culture vital and alive during lockdown.

Amadeus, National Theatre at Home

National Theatre at Home has been an indispensable cultural fixture during lockdown. The sequence comes to a thrilling end with their 2016 revival of Amadeus, directed by Michael Longhurst and featuring live orchestral accompaniment from the South Bank Sinfonia. The late Peter Shaffer’s play was a landmark title at this address when it premiered there in 1979, before storming Broadway (Ian McKellen and Tim Curry led that cast) and becoming an Oscar-winning film.

Lucian Msamati here makes an impassioned Antonio Salieri, the fiercely jealous court composer in murderous thrall to the music of his rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. That role, in turn, is glisteningly played by Adam Gillen, who suggests the fragile line between genius and madness.

Streams for a week starting 7 pm on July 16. 

Shifting Tides, Almeida Theatre digital platforms

It’s inevitable that we think of coronavirus as a defining issue of the moment, but the Almeida Theatre is launching a three-day digital festival, July 16-18, so as to shine much-needed attention on the environment and the ongoing climate emergency.

Entitled Shifting Tides, the programme of work is intended for those aged 14-25. The sequence of events includes a three-episode audio drama, As Waters Rise by Ben Weatherill, author of the Bush’s highly acclaimed Jellyfish; various panel discussions; and two films, one of which, Extinction, numbers Gary Beadle, The Ferryman's Tom Glynn-Carney, and Dame Emma Thompson amongst its cast.

846 audio plays from 20 July846, Stratford East online 

George Floyd’s murder this past May has been a catalytic event culturally as well as politically. That accounts for the swift and vital appearance of 846, a collection of short pieces responding to that event and to Black Lives Matter that has been curated by Roy Williams under the auspices of, amongst others,Theatre Royal, Stratford East. The lineup (14 writers in all) includes Nat Martello White, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, and Clint Dyer, with whom Williams wrote the recent National Theatre sellout, Death of England.

Ola Ince, whose recent credits include Appropriate and The Convert, is the director, and the work will be adapted for a live performance Sept 12 as part of the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, further details to be confirmed nearer the time. Streaming from July 20. 

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