What's Hot in London: Oct. 2: The Curse of the Cellphone Addressed, and Harry Potter as a Two-Parter Theatre Event

News   What's Hot in London: Oct. 2: The Curse of the Cellphone Addressed, and Harry Potter as a Two-Parter Theatre Event
 
The curse of cellphone usage and disruption in the theatre — whether deliberate or inadvertent — is being addressed in the U.K. with the launch of the "Cumberphone" Campaign. As reported here, it has been named in honor of Benedict Cumberbatch, who is currently appearing in London in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre through Oct. 31, and made a direct appeal to his fans to not disrespect the work that he and his fellow actors were doing by filming the show on their cellphones.

Citing my own editorial appeal that "we need a big public awareness campaign," the organizers are also establishing the 2015 inaugural Cumberphone Campaign Annual Award, which they are dubbing "The Cumbies," with categories that will include best pre-show short film. They are inviting cast members of shows to perform a line, portion, scene or song from their show (or a rival show perhaps), with words suitably adjusted for the phone-addicted audience and to post it online with the hashtag #cumberphone. The campaign goes beyond London and stretches all over the world: They have already cited Off-Broadway's Avenue Q as an early contender for the award thanks to its video reply to AT&T.

World Premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be a Two-Parter and All-White Three-Parter War of the Roses Opens
Booking is yet to open for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new original play being written by playwright Jack Thorne based on an original new story by "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling with Thorne and John Tiffany (the latter of whom will direct), which is already expected to be the hit show of 2016. Now it turns out it will be hit shows of 2016: It will be presented in two parts, which as reported here, are intended to be seen in order on the same day (matinee and evening) or on two consecutive evenings. No announcement has yet been made about whether this will involve buying two sets of tickets, or whether the tickets will simply be twice the normal price, as a result.



Ahead of that, veteran director Trevor Nunn's controversial three-parter production of Shakespeare's The War of the Roses opens at Kingston's Rose Theatre Oct. 3. It has already provoked protest from both Equity U.K. and the Arts Council, as reported here. As Malcolm Sinclair, president of Equity U.K., asked, "Can it be acceptable best practice in 2015 to cast a project such as this with 22 actors but not one actor of color or who apparently identifies themselves as having a disability?" Nunn argued in response that he was striving to present the play with "historical verisimilitude."

<i>The War of the Roses</i> company
The War of the Roses company

But, as has been noted, Norwegian actor Kare Conradi plays Edward IV, and two British actors, Joely Richardson and Imogen Daines, play the French characters Margaret of Anjou and Joan of Arc. Now it is the turn for the critics to decide whether the decision is justified.

Opening this Week
Amongst the highlights in the week ahead are:

  • American playwright Christopher Shinn reunites with British director Dominic Cooke, who previously worked together on productions of Shinn's plays Other People and Now or Later when Cooke was artistic director at the Royal Court. Cooke will now stage the U.K. premiere of Teddy Ferrera, previously seen in a different production at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2013, opening officially at London's Donmar Warehouse Oct. 7.
  • Florian Zeller's Paris hit The Father, which is also due to receive a Broadway production this season with Frank Langella (as reported here, beginning performances March 22 at the Samuel Friedman Theatre under the auspices of Manhattan Theatre Club), is receiving a West End run in a separate producttion, opening at Wyndham's Theatre Oct. 5, after previous runs at Bath's Ustinov Theatre and London's Tricycle.
  • Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton may be the biggest hit on Broadway right now, but his first Broadway show In the Heights is about to become a London sensation when last year's Southwark Playhouse production transfers to the King's Cross Theatre, beginning performances Oct. 3 prior to an official opening Oct. 13.

For more updates
Follow me on Twitter here, @shentonstage, for rolling news updates as they happen! And, keep checking the international section of Playbill.com for major stories.

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