Whispers from the Wings

Whispers from the Duchess

May 4, 2012

Written on the Heart billboard in the West EndI want to now move forward and write about the move from the Swan to the Duchess.

On the 16th February 2012 before a performance of Written we were called to a meeting in the Swan with Greg Doran and West End producer Thelma Holt.

We are going to London. Given the subject matter of the play, the large cast of sixteen, the costs, etc. Greg introduces Thelma as 'a certifably insane woman'.

Thelma, with her great cheekbones and red hair wrapped in a turban, then spoke fervently about the play. We are, if we all agree and no large obstacle appears, going to the Duchess Theatre which has a 482 seater auditorium for a twelve week run, with an option for a further two weeks.

Unlike the subsidised theatre, if we do poor business the management has the right to close the show giving us two weeks notice.

The Duchess has a different configuration to the Swan. It is a small proscenium arch theatre, therefore the production will retain the same intimacy as at Stratford. Nica Burns 'our generous landlady' has given us a very good deal.

Bill Kenwright, former Coronation Street actor, current Chairman of Everton Football Club and a very successful West End producer is Thelma's co-producer.

She says 'We can't make any money on this project and will be very lucky to get back what we put in'.

We will rehearse on Monday 16th April and do our first preview on the Thursday. We are all extremely pleased with the news. I thank Thelma for making the transfer happen. Without her passion, drive and commitment the play would finish at Stratford in three weeks.

Afterwards one of the actors takes the mickey out of me for my 'arselicking' comment. But I think what Thelma has brought about for our play, given the current state of West End theatre, is astonishing and should be celebrated.

by James Hayes  |  1 comment

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May 11, 1:24am
David Reed

I saw the play at the Duchess last week and thought it was absolutely terrific, and have recommended it to a number of people who I am sure would really enjoy it. I'm therefore very disappointed to see the play is closing early and no doubt it has indeed lost money. I suppose the subject matter is just too difficult for the average theatregoer and I did wonder if all the tourists around me were getting it. But as a piece of theatre I thought it worked really well on lots of levels and it tackled a pivotal moment in English religious history in a really interesting way.
So I would like to thank those who made the decision to transfer the production to London without which I would have missed it. No one involved should be ashamed of the early closure, we all know artistically it was very strong it just wasn't commercial enough.

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Teaching Shakespeare