A Mad World My Masters

29 May 2014

English Touring Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company announce National tour and London transfer of 'A Mad World My Masters' for 2015

Today English Touring Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company are delighted to announce their first collaboration, a national tour of Thomas Middleton's Jacobean 'city comedy' A Mad World My Masters which will culminate in the production coming to the Barbican in April 2015.

Sean Foley's critically acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, for the 2013 season in the Swan theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, will be revived and premieres at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on 26 February 2015.

The production, a National Touring Group initiative, will then tour to Blackpool, Brighton, Malvern, Truro, Darlington and Cambridge before opening for a two week run at the Barbican in London on 27 April 2015. This version of the play is edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter, with design by Alice Power and sound and music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Further creatives and full casting to be announced.

London, Soho, 1956. Where glamour rubs up against filth, and likes it; where the posh mix with musicians, whores and racketeers; where 'virginity is no city trade', and where a dashingly impecunious bachelor in need of quick cash and a good time has to live on his wits.

Turning con-man to fool his rich uncle, he variously becomes a lord, a high class call girl, and – God forbid – a poor actor. But a beautiful Soho tart is also on the scam: a whore to some, a religious instructor to others, and a debutante in need of an eligible bachelor to yet more...

Sean Foley and Phil Porter's edited version of Middleton's play is faithful to the original text but adapts it to fit the seedy world of 1950s Soho, updating character names and including songs of the time to enhance the biting satire of lust and deception in the life of Bohemian London.

Sean Foley said, 'After working on A Mad World My Masters at the RSC studio, and then in production at The Swan, we came to one simple conclusion: though pretty unknown, this is one of the most hilariously wicked plays ever written.

If new, it might be hailed as the bastard offspring of Richard Sheridan and Joe Orton. Love and Fortune are it's themes, but we're never left in any doubt that what we're really talking about is Sex and Money - and how if you have the one, you can use it to get the other... It is an anarchic, extremely funny satirical comedy that manages to be both outrageous but sweetly daft.

In creating the show, we wanted to make sure that nothing got in the way of communicating Middleton's seething delight in exposing how hypocritical we can all be, so we set it at a time which is still within touching distance of us now. London is timeless, and 1950s Soho seemed to offer a stylish and recognisable stand in for London 1605: a post war world, where everyone is worried about sliding morals, the position of women, a changing class system, immigrants - and where on earth to get the next drink.

With our 50's-style club band and fantastic R and B soul singer framing the action we could have live music too - which we know that the original had - which seemed perfect for what Middleton intended: the play itself is a vibrant celebration of live theatrical entertainment. A Mad World My Masters knows it's having fun poking fun at the audience, and it still makes us laugh like they must have done in 1605: uproariously, and at ourselves.'

English Touring Theatre Director Rachel Tackley said, 'We are incredibly excited to be working with the RSC on such a magnificent project. This is the first time English Touring Theatre have collaborated with the RSC and, thanks to this, audiences across the country will have the opportunity to experience this hilariously entertaining production at their local theatre.'

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said, 'It is great news that after its successful run last year in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon we have the chance to share Sean Foley's wonderfully fresh production of A Mad World My Masters with audiences around the country, thanks to a new collaboration with English Touring Theatre. We are always keen to share work from Stratford- upon- Avon with as many people as possible - as our current live screenings to cinemas prove. English Touring Theatre are masters in taking shows, large and small, around the UK, and this production will be expanded from its original format but will retain the incredible skill and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of RSC work. I hope it enjoys a fantastic journey around the country.'

Sean Foley's riotously funny rendition of Thomas Middleton's Jacobean romp 
Daily Mail
The RSC has a whopping success on its hands The 
Sunday Times
A glorious, uproarious, boisterous laugh-fest 
It's fun with a capital Financial Times
A disgracefully entertaining evening…many moments when one finds oneself physically shaking with laughter 
Daily Telegraph

For more PRESS information please contact: Borkowski Arts & Ents
Giles Cooper: 07850 769 189 / giles@borkowski.do  
Dee McCourt: 07803 726 543 / dee@borkowski.do


Wolverhampton Grand 
Performances: 26 – 28 Feb 2015
Box Office: 01902 42 92 12 – Tickets onsale now 

Blackpool Grand 
Performances: 3 – 7 March 2015
Box Office: 01253 290 190 

Theatre Royal, Brighton 
Performances: 10 – 14 March 2015
Box Office: 0844 871 7650 

Malvern Theatres 
Performances: 24 - 28 March 2015
Box Office: 01684 892 277 

Hall for Cornwall 
Performances: 31 March - 4 April 2015
Box Office: 01872 262 466 

Darlington Civic Theatre 
Performances: 14 - 18 April 2015
Box Office: 01325 486 555   

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Performances: 21- 25 April 2015. On-sale dates to be confirmed.
Box Office: 01223 503 333

Barbican Theatre, London
Performances start w/c 27 April 2015. Exact dates to be announced.
Box Office: 0207 638 8891 – Tickets onsale Sept 2014

Notes to Editors

English Touring Theatre is one of the UK's most successful and exciting production companies, widely regarded as England's National Theatre of Touring.

Led by Director Rachel Tackley, the company works with leading artists to stage an eclectic mix of new and classic work for audiences throughout the UK and overseas; theatre that is thrilling, popular and, above all, entertaining.

Royal Shakespeare Company
Everyone at the Royal Shakespeare Company, from actors to technicians, milliners to musicians, plays a part in creating the world you see on stage. Our work begins its life at our Stratford workshops, rehearsal rooms and theatres and we share it with audiences across the world through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So, wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work that began life in Shakespeare's home town.

Shakespeare has been performed and celebrated in Stratford for centuries and the RSC has trained generations of the very best theatre makers since the Company was founded. We pioneer contemporary approaches to Shakespeare's plays, as well as staging the work of other writers and artists.

About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.5 million people pass through the Barbican's doors annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, the Pit, Cinemas One, Two and Three, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, and Associate Producer Serious. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue Entertainment, Cheek by Jowl, Michael Clark Company and Deborah Warner. International Associates are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

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The National Touring Group (NTG), a consortium of major regional theatres and a producer, working together to produce and tour ambitious high quality, large scale drama to audiences across England, particularly to some geographic areas of low cultural participation. By developing audiences it is making touring more sustainable for the future.

The NTG is a network of eight presenting venues and one producing company; none of these venues is funded to produce theatre and they came together as the NTG to take ownership of the work presented to their audiences, and to give their audiences access to work that they would otherwise not have the chance to see. The NTG is taking this opportunity to bring large scale, bold work to these audiences.

All NTG productions are remounts of existing work which has received an exceptional response from audiences and critics but which has not yet toured. The NTG is bringing this work to a wider audience, giving audiences nationwide the opportunity to see drama of this quality, stature and scale. The further exploitation of this successful work will ensure that it reaches the maximum number of people, providing a financially efficient collaboration between producers, promoters and presenting venues.

NTG successfully applied for an Arts Council England (ACE) grant of £1,140,587, awarded as part of ACE's sixth funding round of its Strategic Touring Programme of 2012-13.The NTG members are:

Blackpool Grand – The Blackpool Grand seats 1053 and presents comedy, musicals, dance and variety performances throughout the year. The theatre welcomes this opportunity to be able to provide audiences with fantastic productions through the NTG.

Darlington Civic Theatre – Darlington Civic Theatre is an 893 seat receiving house, equipped to take mid and mid-large scale touring productions. It is the only theatre of its size in the Tees Valley and a very significant proportion of its audience is drawn from Teesside, identified by ACE as an area of lesser engagement.

Hall for Cornwall - Hall for Cornwall (HfC) is Cornwall's only large scale (969 capacity), purpose built theatre. Opened in 1997 using National Lottery funding, HfC brings high quality touring performances west of Plymouth and into Cornwall, enriching the culture of the region and giving Cornish residents and visitors access to a spectrum of local, national and international artistry

Cambridge Arts Theatre is a venue which presents a variety of drama. It is the only presenting venue in the region and therefore is the sole drama provider for audiences living within its catchment area.

Theatre Royal Brighton - The 976 seat Theatre Royal Brighton is the South Coast's most prestigious theatre and is widely recognised as one of the country's leading venues. Through NTG productions it is reaching new audiences, building on the momentum started with Anne Boleyn and Eternal Love.

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury - The (new) Marlowe Theatre's policy aims to broaden the programme, include high quality innovative work, and develop and increase audiences with an emphasis on younger people and the disadvantaged. With an auditorium of 1200 seats, excellent acoustics, and a sense of intimacy and close engagement throughout, there is considerable opportunity to expand and develop The Marlowe's drama programme. Working with the NTG will help achieve this through the accessible style of the company's work and its innovative approach to play choice, as illustrated by this project. There is a lack of high quality touring plays to help venues develop audiences so being part of the NTG would be a welcome addition to The Marlowe's programme.

Malvern Theatres is an unsubsidised venue which provides a programme of dance, cinema, theatre, comedy and music for its community, housed in one large scale theatre and one flexible space. The venue's experience of presenting Anne Boleyn and Eternal Love suggests there is a huge appetite for this kind of work within the local audience.

Wolverhampton Grand is a 1200 seat venue which presents a range of professional touring productions, including major musicals, theatre, variety and a much loved annual pantomime. Membership of the NTG further adds to those initiatives the Theatre is already undertaking to develop and broaden its approach to large scale, quality drama, to excite existing audiences and to build and sustain audiences for the future.

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