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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Preview: The Birthday Party

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London Classic Theatre presents
The Birthday Party By Harold Pinter

12th March 2016         Middlesbrough Theatre     
7th April 2016               Queen's Hall, Hexham                          
8th - 9thApril 2016       Gala Theatre, Durham       

Following successful tours of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in 2015, today London Classic Theatre Artistic Director Michael Cabot announces a new production of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party for spring 2016. Cabot directs a cast including Jonathan Ashley (Goldberg), Gareth Bennett-Ryan (Stanley), Cheryl Kennedy (Meg), Ged McKenna (Petey), Declan Rodgers (McCann) and Imogen Wilde (Lulu). The production tours to 37 venues around the UK this spring/summer, starting at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham on 17 February.

“There’s a gentleman living here. He’s got a birthday today, and he’s forgotten all about it. So we’re going to remind him. We’re going to give him a party.

Photo: Sheila Burnett
A shabby boarding house in a small English seaside town.  An elderly couple take care of a solitary guest, who rarely ventures out.  The arrival of two enigmatic strangers seems to offer a welcome distraction from their mundane existence.  But when an impromptu, seemingly innocent birthday party abruptly turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse, there are horrifying repercussions.

Photo: Sheila Burnett
By turns, cryptic thriller and macabre comedy, The Birthday Party was Harold Pinter’s first major work and is among the most unusual and absorbing of his plays.  London Classic Theatre presents the first significant touring revival of the twenty-first century, promising to bring this ground-breaking classic to fresh and exhilarating life.

Photo: Sheila Burnett
Playwright, director, actor, poet and political activist, Harold Pinter was born on 10 October 1930in East London.  He wrote twenty-nine plays including Betrayal, Old Times, The Homecoming and The Caretaker.  In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Photo: Sheila Burnett
Jonathan Ashley plays Goldberg. For the company, he has appeared in Waiting for Godot, Entertaining Mr Sloane, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Double Inconstancy. His other theatre credits include The Tempest and Hansel and Gretel (Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds), Abigail’s Party, Arsenic and Old Lace, Dick Barton and the Secret of the Pharoah’s Tomb, One for the Pot, Ladies in Retirement, Hay Fever and Salad Days (Southwold Summer Theatre), The Hooligan Clown (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith), Scapin’s Tricks and The Winter’s Tale (Wimbledon Studio Theatre), Waiting for Godot and The Dumb Waiter (Albany Empire) and Landscape (Finborough Theatre).

Photo: Sheila Burnett
Gareth Bennett-Ryan plays Stanley. His theatre credits include The History Boys, Macbeth (Mercury Colchester), Farm Boy (New Perspectives), As You Like It, Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), Generation of Z Apocalypse(Royale Productions), Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival), Dick Whittington, Mother Goose (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds), The Mermaids Curse (SKiP), The Shoemakers Holiday(The Rose) and NewsRevue (2008 Season tour). For television, he has appeared in Shakespeare Uncovered, Word on the Street, Arthur & Merlin, Woodfalls , Mercenaries, 7th Soldier, From This Day, Wounded , Dead Unicorns.

Cheryl Kennedy plays Meg. Her theatre credits include The Boy Friend (Comedy Theatre), 1776 (New Theatre), Time and Time Again (West End), Absent Friends (Garrick Theatre), Flowers for Algerson (Queen’s Theatre), The Mousetrap (St Martins Theatre), My Fair Lady (US tour), First Impressions, You Never Can Tell, Brand,  Teeth N’ Smiles, Time and the Conways, Mrs Warren’s Profession, Moll Flanders, Great Expectations, How the Other Half Loves, Man of the Moment, Heartbreak House and Season’s Greetings(all UK tours). Cheryl’s TV credits include The Sweeney, The Professionals, What Every Woman Knows and Brookside.

Ged McKenna plays Petey. His theatre work includes A Skull in Connemara (Nottingham Playhouse), Inherit The Wind, Kes, Toad of Toad Hall, Big Maggie, Second From Last in The Sack Race, Translations, Cleo Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Much Ado About Nothing, Hercules (Chester), Hysteria (English Theatre of Frankfurt), Faith Healer (Library Theatre, Manchester), To Kill A Mockingbird,Wuthering Heights (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Katherine De Souza, Forward (Birmingham Rep), The Lonesome West (Hull Truck), Strangers On A Train, Ghosts, Sailor Beware! (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick), Iron (Traverse, Edinburgh/Royal Court, London), The Farmer’s Bride by Ged McKenna (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough/Tour), The Tempest, Desire Under The Elms (Shared Experience), Macbeth (Cheek By Jowl) and Yard (Bush). His film credits include Shirley Valentine and Awaydays.

Photo: Sheila Burnett
Declan Rodgers plays McCann. His theatre credits include I'm With The Band(Traverse Theatre & UK Tour), Can't Forget About You (Lyric Theatre),Shoot The Crow (Trafalgar Studios), Carousel(Bush), Service (Nilon Productions/Theatre 503), Hope Dies Last(Arcola Theatre) and City (Encounter Productions). Television credits include Six Degrees and In Cold Blood. His film credits include Shooting For Socrates, You Looking At Me? and The Minnits of Annabeg.

Photo: Sheila Burnett
Imogen Wilde plays Lulu. She finished her training at Drama Studio in 2015. Since then she acted in Scrooge (Bill Kenwright Productions), Punk Rock (D&M Productions), Puss In Boots and White Feathers (Bread & Roses).

Michael Cabot is the founder and Artistic Director of London Classic Theatre. He has directed all thirty-four LCT productions since their debut in 1993. These have included Waiting for Godot, Absent Friends, Entertaining Mr Sloane, Betrayal, The Importance of Being Earnest, Equus, Ghosts, After Miss Julie and The Caretaker. He has overseen the company’s transition from one of the success stories of the London Fringe in the late nineties to its current position as one of the UK’s most prolific touring companies. As a director, his other work includes Pera Palas (Arcola), The Power of Love (Southwark Playhouse), Marat/Sade(Arcola), Tattoo (New Grove), and most recently Henry Naylor’s The Collector at the Arcola, which previously won a Fringe First at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival.

London Classic Theatre
Photo: Sheila Burnett
In April 2000, London Classic Theatre was launched as a touring theatre company with David Mamet’s Oleanna.  This inaugural tour lost a small fortune but doors had opened and, crucially, the work was being seen.  Sixteen years and thirty-four tours later, London Classic Theatre is now a successful, established part of the commercial UK touring theatre scene.  The company has never received any funding or sponsorship for its work.  As Artistic Director, Michael Cabot has programmed a repertoire of classic and modern classic plays, a mixture of the challenging and the commercial, big titles and less well-known, including two UK premières - Hugh Leonard’s Love in the Title and Joanna Murray- Smith’s Nightfall.  As venues and audiences have become more familiar with the work, he has been able to push the boundaries of what LCT offers, both in ambition, scale and complexity. 

London Classic Theatre – in numbers… 
·        34 tours since 2000
·        27 productions
·        245 venues visited
·        412 weeks of touring 
·        290,000 miles covered
·        Over 2200 performances
·        Over 450,000 tickets sold
·        146 actors
·        16 designers
·        2 UK premières
·        4 Harold Pinter plays
·        2 Patrick Marber plays
·        2 Marivaux plays in new translation
·        Longest tour Equus - 35 weeks and 198 performances 
·        Shortest tour The Game of Love and Chance - 5 weeks and 22 performances  
·        £0 public subsidy


17-20 February                      Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham  
01242 572573             https://www.everymantheatre.org.uk

23-24 February          Norwich Playhouse            
01603 598598             www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

25-27 February          Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds                
01284 755127             www.theatreroyal.org

1-2 March                  Key Theatre, Peterborough
01733 207239             www.vivacity-peterborough.com/venues/key-theatre

3 March                     Theatr Hafren, Newtown                  
01686 614555            www.thehafren.co.uk

4-5 March                 Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton                     
01902 321321             www.wlv.ac.uk/arena-theatre

8-9 March                  Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
01245 606505             www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres

10 March                   The Theatre, Chipping Norton                       
01608 642350            www.chippingnortontheatre.co.uk

12 March            Middlesbrough Theatre              
01642 815181             www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

22-26 March              New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme           
01782 717962            www.newvictheatre.org.uk

7 April                           Queen's Hall, Hexham                          
01434 652477             www.queenshall.co.uk

8-9 April              Gala Theatre, Durham                
03000 266600             www.galadurham.co.uk

11-13 April                              Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne                
01323 415500            www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk

14 April                                   Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells                             
01892 678678             www.trinitytheatre.net

15 April                       The Castle, Wellingborough                                  
01933 270 007            www.thecastle.org.uk

16 April                       Coliseum, Aberdare                       
01685 882380             www.coliseum.rct-arts.org

19-20 April                  Theatre Royal, Winchester
01962 840440             www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk

21 April                       Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl                       
01656 815995             www.grandpavilion.co.uk

22 April                       Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon                      
01874 611622             www.brycheiniog.co.uk/

23 April                                   Aberystwyth Arts Centre   
01970 623232             www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk

25-27 April                              HarlowPlayhouse               
01279 431945             www.playhouseharlow.com

28 April                       Gulbenkian, Canterbury                           
01227 769075             www.thegulbenkian.co.uk

29 April                                   New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
                                    02392 649000             www.newtheatreroyal.com

30 April                                   Cornerstone, Didcot
                                    01235 515144             www.cornerstone-arts.org

3-7 May                      Oldham Coliseum
                                    01616 242829             www.coliseum.org.uk

10-14 May                  New Wolsey, Ipswich
01473 295900                         www.wolseytheatre.co.uk

16-21 May                  Everyman, Cork
+353 21 450 1673       www.everymancork.com

24, 25 May                 Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
                                    028 7012 3123                        www.riversidetheatre.org.uk

26 May                                   An Grianan, Letterkenny
+353 74 91 20777       www.angrianan.com

27 May                                   Market Place, Armagh
028 3752 1821                        www.marketplacearmagh.com

28 May                                   Garage Theatre, Monaghan
                                    +353 47 81597                        www.garagetheatre.com

30 May - 4 June                    Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
                                    +353 818 719 388       www.gaietytheatre.ie

7 June                                    Palace Theatre, Mansfield
                                    01623 633133                         www.mansfield.gov.uk/palacetheatre

8 June                                    Cast, Doncaster
                                    01302 303959             https://castindoncaster.com

9 June                                    Alban Arena, St Albans
                                    01727 844488             https://www.alban-arena.co.uk

10 June                                  Theatre Royal, Margate
                                    01843 292795             http://theatreroyalmargate.com/

14-18 June                 Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
                                    024 7655 3055                        www.belgrade.co.uk

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