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Sir Tim Rice Reveals Secrets from His Lifelong Career in Musical Theatre

James Rampton chats to Sir Tim Rice about his life, career and forthcoming UK theatre tour My Life In Musicals – I Know Him So Well.

Q: What great news that you are touring the country with your terrific new show, My Life In Musicals – I Know Him So Well. What made you want to go on the road?

A: I’ve done quite a few shows like this, mainly for charities. And then I was offered a fairly regular gig on a cruise liner, and I really enjoyed doing that. The show would be me chatting, introducing the songs, most of which I’m very happy to say are quite well known, and telling what are, I hope, amusing entertaining stories about how each song happened. I had a live band and two female singers and two male singers who between them would bash out the vocals. It was tremendous fun.

Q: What happened next?

A: We did a trial run of four dates in England in February last year, and they went pretty well. So, the producers recklessly said, “We’d like to put together a longer tour,” which is what’s happening in April. I’m really looking forward to it!

Q: Do you get nervous before going on stage?

A: If I’m honest, I don’t really get nervous. Obviously, if something begins to go slightly wrong, which hasn’t really happened, then you suddenly start panicking. But it’s not as if I have to remember any lines. It’s meant to be a sort of fireside chat with songs that most people will know. If you’re straightforward and not trying to be too clever, and you’ve got great singers and a great band, which I have, then it works.

Q: Are there any occasions where you get nervous?

A: The only time I got quite nervous was last February when I was worried about falling over because I had just had a new hip put in. The doctors had said, “Don’t do anything for six weeks,” and I was doing the shows just under four weeks after the operation. Some of the theatres on that brief tour were on a rake, so I had to be careful there. I found this quite smart stick – I was able to brandish it at times. I even did some conducting with it. As I wielded my stick like a conductor, I’d say, “Right, lads, let’s go with this one.”

Q: I understand that you sing during My Life in Musicals – I Know Him So Well

A: That’s right. I sing when I talk about I Don’t Know How to Love Him, which is a romantic song from Jesus Christ Superstar. Its original title was Kansas Morning. The tune existed way before the show. Andrew and I wrote it hoping to get a hit record with it. Music publishers quite liked the song, and they said, “We’ll send this out to various artists,” but it never got recorded. And the reason it never got recorded, I now realise, is that the words were not really good. They were a bit stupid. But the tune was fantastic. It’s quite encouraging – and I talk about this in the show.

Q: Tell us more

A: So, I perform this song Kansas Morning, which is the same tune as I Don’t Know How to Love Him, just to give an example of a really bad lyric I’ve written. I make the point that a bad lyric can kill a good tune. But if you have a good lyric and a good tune, then both can shine. Equally, if you have a great lyric and a tunesmith doesn’t come up with a great tune, that could also kill the song. But the key thing is that both halves have got to be good. For example, The Beatles’ song Yesterday was originally called Scrambled Eggs. That would not have been very commercial!

Q: Do you enjoy interacting with your fans at the shows?

A: Yes. It’s really nice to meet people. I wouldn’t say I’m like the Rolling Stones would be after a show! But you always get a very nice group of people coming round backstage. They always seem to dig up photographs and record sleeves either that I’ve never seen, or that are from early 1970s. Some of it is really interesting. At the shows we did in February, we got everyone standing at the end and singing along to Any Dream Will Do. It’s lovely that stuff I wrote half a century ago is still hitting home.

Q: Is it a very gratifying experience to hear an entire audience singing along to your songs?

A: I’m glad they know the words as that’s the only bit I’ve done! Although funnily enough, almost the most popular bit of Any Dream Will Do is when everybody goes, “Ah, ah, ah, ah” – that’s the one bit I didn’t write! But yes, it’s a very nice feeling. I tend to think I’m very lucky. I’ve had very good tunes, but also most of the stuff that’s gone well has come from a very good initial idea, which in turn usually means a great story. And if you have a great story, like Jesus or Joseph or Eva Peron or Hamlet for The Lion King, it inspires you to write something better than if you were just writing a random, out-of-context song. I’m not very good at that because I keep thinking, “Why am I doing this, other than in the hope of getting a hit, which is not really the best reason to write something?” I like to have a character in a certain situation.

Q: Can you give us an example?

A: A song that’s become very popular is Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina. If I’d sat down to write a lyric for that wonderful tune and the idea of Eva Peron had never existed, for a start I would not have come up with Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina, which is an interesting title. Also, I would not have come up with a song which is really a kind of political statement doubling as a love song. It’s a very dishonest, cynical speech. One critic at the time said, “Well, that song is just a string of cliches.” And I thought, “That’s exactly what it’s meant to be”. It was written not as a pop song, but as an insincere political speech. It was an interesting song for me in that it’s a combination of rather corny emotions – “Please love me” – and manipulation of the audience at the same time. And I would never have come up with that without a story to start with.

Q: When you’re working on a musical, is the story always paramount, then?

A: Yes. When we were creating Evita, for example, both the composer and the lyricist had to say, “Right, in this scene Evita is trying to seduce Peron. Therefore, we don’t want an oom-pah-pah song. We want a sinuous tune.” I think Evita is Andrew’s best score, and time and again he would come up with a melody and ideas for orchestration which would suit the storyline at that point. So, story is always king.

Q: Is that the secret to writing successful musicals?

A: Yes. I think with any great musical, you’ve got to have a great story. That’s the key. Look at Oliver! It’s such a great story, and Lionel Bart wrote wonderful songs. He wrote the words and the music – quite an achievement! All the great musicals – My Fair Lady, West Side Story – have terrific stories. Even Mamma Mia which, of course, has such wonderful songs, has a very good story. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but it really works. You set out your stall of what the story is and what the characters are going to grapple with at the beginning. If you can get that settled in the first five or 10 minutes of the show, then it absolutely works.

Q: You have still had some success with pop songs, haven’t you?

A: Yes. I’ve written quite a few individual songs and some of them, even if I say so myself, are nice songs. The best ones have something to hang the song on, like The Winter’s Tale, which I wrote with Mike Batt for Christmas. In that case, you’re writing a song about Christmas, so wasn’t just, “I love you, darling” or “I miss you.” It was rather a sad song with a Christmas setting. It got a lot of airplay and was a very big hit for David Essex, who interpreted it brilliantly.

Q: Can you put into words what it is like working with a great composer like Sir Elton John?

A: It’s amazing because I gave him the lyrics and he composed the music from them on the spot. Sometimes when I have written a lyric without a tune, I have got to be very careful not to get too long-winded. But if you’ve got a tune ready, it keeps you precise. You’ve got to say something in nine syllables, and it’s nearly always better to say something in nine syllables, rather than in nine words, or nine sentences. But Elton just took the lyrics, and it worked. On Circle of Life, he made it even better. He just got it immediately. He instantly understood that the lyrics needed a fairly dramatic musical interpretation.

Q: Did he request any additions to your original lyrics?

A: Yes. He did ask at one point for an extra line. He was building up this wonderful crescendo, which eventually ends up in, “Circle, circle of life.” I wasn’t normally present when he wrote the tune, but on this occasion, he said, “Come along to the studio.” Had I not been there, I don’t think the song would have been quite as good. So, when Elton asked for one more bar to get to the climax in the best way possible, off the top of my head, I suggested, “On the path unwinding”, which is a nice phrase and probably a subconscious lift from The Beatles’ Long and Winding Road. But it worked so well. It was extraordinary. It was perhaps a stroke of luck, but it completed the song perfectly.

Q: Is it quite a moving experience for you to see your wonderful words taken into another dimension by the music?

A: Yes, it’s very exciting. When you finish a lyric at home at 2am, you don’t know if the words are wonderful or just trite or wrong or unoriginal. You don’t really know because you’ve had no other opinion. But if a great composer like Elton approves of them, wants to work with them and comes up with a great melody – be it a light-hearted thing like I Just Can’t Wait to Be King or something more serious like – you think, “Well, it must have something because Elton is brilliant at what he does, and he’s been around quite a long time.” So that’s really the clue.

Q: Of all of the marvellous songs you’ve written, do you have a favourite?

A: That’s very difficult. It is like being asked who your favourite child is! It sounds very arrogant to say so, but there are quite a lot I like. I would not say any one of them is the best, though. I like High Flying, Adored from Evita, and Heaven on Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar works well, too. Anthem from Chess is good as well. That song was sung in English at the Nobel Prize annual dinner in Stockholm some years ago. It was great to see it sung by a very large choir and orchestra in front of all those Nobel people. Nobody invited us to the show, mind!

Q: Do you have a favourite song by someone else, perhaps that you wish you’d written yourself?

A: Oh, there are lots, but The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel is pretty high on my list. I love a lot of rock and roll songs like Summertime Blues. I think Gee, Officer Krupke from West Side Story is brilliant, and most of My Fair Lady is wonderful, too. Great artists like Elton have so many fabulous tunes. My favourite Elton song is Sacrifice. I love that.

Q: What did you do before you became a writer?

A: I did a couple of summers working at a petrol station. At the end of one stretch, the forecourt manager asked if I would fancy becoming a car salesman because he thought I had some potential. But I thought, “No, I don’t think this is the career for me. I don’t think I’m ever going to have a life in cars.”

Q: How did you first meet Andrew Lloyd Webber?

A: I’d had one pop song recorded by a group called The Nightshift – Jeff Beck was in their lineup for a while. I wrote the music as well as the lyrics. But the song was not a hit. So, I was looking at other opportunities. Then this publisher I knew said he was working with a young man who was very talented and wanted to write for the theatre and maybe I would be interested in working with him. And so, I went round to see Andrew, and that was it really. We immediately hit it off. It was pretty clear to me that he was really rather good. I didn’t know much about theatre, which was perhaps a plus because I wasn’t completely tied down by a feeling that I had to do a show in a certain way. I didn’t know enough about it. But I think the combination of my ignorance and his expertise in the area worked quite well. I’d always wanted to write. I enjoyed writing songs and poems and things. Mainly I was just an amateur, though. But Andrew already had a show in mind. The idea didn’t work out in the end, but it was enough to show us that we could work together. We were very lucky. We found each other, and it just worked. You can’t really audition for it. All you can do is actually write a show.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

A: It’s probably my collection of Wisden cricketers’ almanacs. I’ve got a complete set, which I’m quite pleased with. I bought them for 750 quid quite a long time ago, and they’ve turned out to be very good investment, although I’d never dream of selling them.

Q: You have an abiding passion for cricket. What is it that you love about the game?

A: A lot of theatre people love it. It is quite theatrical. It usually features one or two stars, who change throughout the game. The batsman is the star for a while, and then it’s the bowler’s turn. Sometimes a big player will leap unexpectedly into the action. But it’s a bit like a play where you have one or two leads, and everybody else is involved, but you’re not quite sure how the new player will feature.

Q: What other aspects of the game do you relish?

A: I love the fact that after five days it can end in a draw – Americans in particular can’t understand that. A Test match is like a soap opera happening for real in the background. Sometimes you go to the ground to watch it. Sometimes it’s on the radio or telly in the background. It doesn’t matter if it’s 25 minutes of not much happening or even two hours of not much happening because that’s what life is about. It’s nothing happening and then suddenly, it’s, “Wow, what was that?”

Q: What else is appealing about a draw in cricket?

A: When most of us are on our deathbeds, we probably wouldn’t think, “My life has been a fantastic triumph from start to finish.” Nor would most of us think, “My life has been an absolute disaster, everything’s gone wrong.” Most people at the end of their life would think, “Well, I had a few ups and downs, but I’ve come out even-Stevens, a draw.” Cricket is the only game where after a long period of play, you end up with a draw as the result – and I always maintain a draw is a result. In so many really exciting games of cricket, the batsman is holding out the end, even though his or her team is on paper coming a distant second. But after all that, it’s a draw, and that’s great. By contrast, if Arsenal are playing some totally unknown team, and they’re eight-nil up with three minutes to go, you know who’s going to win. It won’t be a draw! Cricket is unique in that.

Q: What other hobbies do you have?

A: I read a lot. I swim a bit. I enjoy watching Pointless, but I don’t stay in every day to watch it. Funnily enough, I’ve just recorded five Countdown programmes, which go out in February. They say, “Welcome to our Valentine’s Day programme,” and you think, “Hang on, it’s only December!”

Q: What are you working on now?

A: We had a show some time ago in the West End called From Here to Eternity. We got quite good reviews, but it only ran for six months. But an American director did it a couple of times in upstate New York, just because he loved it, and it went rather well. So, we have done a little bit of rewriting on it, and it’s opening in Milwaukee in February. So that’ll show if it has any potential in America. If it works, great. Also, Michael Eisner, my old friend from Disney, and I are trying to produce a series on King William IV, who is an unknown king who has not been covered before.

Q: What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t been such a wonderful and successful lyricist?

A: I probably would have ended up as a record company executive. But by now, I would be out of a job because records don’t really exist anymore!

Q: Is there one phrase you would use to sum up your career?

A: An accident!

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OUR HFC YOUTH DANCERS VISIT LONDON!

By Helen Tiplady, Deputy Creative Director of Hall for Cornwall – and Get Creative leader

Half term was no break or rest time for our HfC Youth Dancers! On Sunday the 11th Feb we jumped on a stylish coach (Thanks Truronain) who whisked us away to the bright lights of London.

Once there our dancers set to work, doing  Pop up performances at iconic London sites, creative and technique workshops at the world famous Rambert Dance studios, and tours and workshops at Trinity Laban and The Place before jumping back on the bus to head home.

Day One: Travelling in style and a visit to The Place…

A dance and performance centre in Camden!

Us on the bus!

After our epic journey we arrived at The Place. We love showing our dancers training establishments and facilities as its a great way to open their eyes to what might be possible for their future paths. We were delighted to be met by two HFC Alumni dancers Jacy and Lilia who are in their 1st and 2nd years training there. They gave us a full tour and explained about the courses and how they were finding it in London with the demands on them as trainee dancers, and info about living away from Cornwall. Talia Sealey (who also trained at The Place and is Youth Dance alumni from a few years ago) led a contemporary class to kick start our 3 days of dance. The current team were inspired to ask questions and get all the info they wanted, whilst also relishing the opportunity to dance in such gorgeous studio spaces – especially welcome and stretchy after such a long journey.

Personally it made me really happy as it felt a bit like a ‘full circle’ moment where students I have taken on this trip a few years before, were now leading the sessions. It made me proud of how we’ve nurtured them!

We then travelled to our YHA for the night and got settled before our big day 2.

Talia with the dancers at The Place

Day 2: Rambert Studios on the Southbank and Trinity Laban! 

Us outside the studios ready to venture in!

We spent the whole day at the resplendent Rambert studios on the Southbank. Bathed in glorious sunshine ☀️ we worked with the fantastic Liam Francis who led a gorgeous class and creative session sharing insight into the creative process at Rambert and his career pathway as to how he came to be dancing at Rambert.

Its so great for us, as after welcoming this world renowned dance company to our Cornwall Playhouse stage, it was a brilliant behind the scenes glimpse to see into the world where the magic happens. I was so proud of our students as they asked insightful questions and threw themselves into the sessions with energy and enthusiasm. With the Rambert outreach team commented on our students focus and professionalism.

Liam with the dancers.

After a quick dinner break, we hot footed it over to the legendary Trinity Laban, where we had a tour of the fabulous facilities and a proper good stretchy class with Sally Knight (Laban alumni as well original Youth Dance performer from a few years ago. Sally and I used to dance together when we were 14 in the company so it was a really lovely moment as the 40 something us versions of ourselves got to reminisce!)

Sally with the dancers

The Trinity Laban building at night!

The trip reminded me that Cornwall is full of talent and creativity, and one of my favourite parts of my role with the Get Creative team is nurturing these young performers in their early years before they spread their wings and show the world how wonderful they are. You can’t underestimate how powerful it is and how these experiences inspire the dancers to imagine themselves in these places.

After a comfy nights rest they got ready for Day 3: (we treated them to to a Premier Inn no less!)

Day 3: Pop up performances around London!

On Day 3, our Youth Dancers took to the streets of London to showcase their work. The slightly damp weather was no match for our Cornish enthusiasm as we began with the first performance outside The National Theatre. After a quick stop and impromptu pop up show on the Southbank side (There was a huge crowd so we thought why not?!) then headed to the grounds of Victoria Tower Gardens behind the House of Lords.

Our dancers were beaming with pride as the crowds erupted into applause! Particularly epic on the southbank where the street was bustling with people exploring. We were so happy that friends and family who live in London came to support, as well as the Chair of our Board, Lord John Hutton came to watch us.

As our trip drew to a close, we piled (not plied!) onto the coach to begin the long journey back to Cornwall, full of stories – and a new found confidence.

Experiences like this are vital for the growth young performers, and we’re so chuffed that we’re able to offer them. Whether it be workshops with industry professionals, pop up performances or main stage debuts on the Cornwall Playhouse stage, we’re always on the lookout for new students to develop their skills with us.

If you’re interested in joining our Get Creative programme, have a read of our webpage, or email  [email protected].

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THINGS TO DO WITH THE FAMILY IN CORNWALL 2024

There’s something magical about taking your little ones to the theatre… A place where switching off devices and living in the moment is part of the experience! And trust us when we say there’s no better feeling than watching your child’s face light up when their favourite characters come to life on stage.

So if you’re still searching for something fun and different to do with the family this year in Cornwall, we have just the thing…


Meet your favourite characters!

TUE 27 – THU 29 AUG, VARIOUS TIMES

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

MON 21 – TUE 22 OCT, VARIOUS TIMES

Photography by Russ Rowland


Go on an adventure…

From the makers of Gangsta Granny comes another David Walliams classic!

DAVID WALLIAMS’ AWFUL AUNTIE

THU 27 – SUN 30 JUN, VARIOUS TIMES

David Walliams Awful Auntie Live on Stage by The Birmingham Stage Company

Join our Youth Programmes…

Our popular Youth Theatre and Youth Dance groups are the cornerstone of HfC’s Get Creative outreach work, which engages more than 10,000 young Cornish people each year!

Do you have a passion for performance? Want to sing or dance on stage? Then Hall for Cornwall’s Get Creative scheme and our Young Companies may be for you.

Find out more here.

While most of our youth dance and theatre terms are well underway, it’s not too late to join and we’re always happy to chat to late joiners. Email [email protected] to register your interest.


Want to be first in the know? Sign up to our newsletter and we’ll tell you when new shows are coming – before everyone else!

Sign up here!

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FROM THE EDGE WHERE AMBITION THRIVES

By JULIEN BOAST Chief Executive & Creative Director

Photography by Hugh Hastings

Our CEO and Creative Director Julien Boast lifts the lid on the story around the birth of the Cornwall Playhouse in 2021, and the challenges of delivering the UK’s most westerly largescale theatre…

It wasn’t only the building that craved a reset, the whole organisation needed a rethink to realise its true potential.

My aspirations to turn Hall for Cornwall from a venue with its roots as a city hall into one of the most respected UK regional theatres were forged early on. Whilst regional theatre has been the mainstay of my career, the challenges of reinventing a much-loved one to create a new, sustainable organisation in a small city on the furthest edge of the UK, were significant.

Carleen Anderson performs ‘Melior Opus Griot’, photography by Hugh Hastings

My commercial and subsidised theatre expertise gained in Southampton, then Coventry and latterly Brighton, certainly came to the fore. Each has a sense of place, none more so than Coventry, which navigated its way out of the pandemic to deliver a tenacious year as City of Culture. After it was bombed in the war Basil Spence, the Modernist architect, built Coventry’s new cathedral and he designed the universities in Brighton and Southampton too. His buildings are integral to placemaking in these cities – he created spaces for people with exquisite attention to detail enhanced by art and furniture designed to complete
the experience.

What drew me to Cornwall was its rich cultural history in performance, which began in the late 14th century with Medieval mystery plays written in Middle Cornish with Latin stage directions.

Photography by French and Tye Architects

The region instantly radiated a distinct sense of place elevated by its history and strong cultural legacy

I was keenly aware of how Alan Ayckbourn and Philip Hedley, esteemed regional theatre stalwarts had embraced placemaking and cultivated long-standing relationships with the venues they are most famously associated with – the Stephen Joseph and Stratford East. In the 70s, 80s and 90s they regenerated their theatres for longevity and with a national gaze.

At Hall for Cornwall it was difficult to turbo charge change within the confines of its existing business model further compounded by the lack of fundraising prowess and low levels of revenue funding available. Evolving from a city hall into a theatre without any dedicated industry expertise meant the place was in and out of funding stabilisation programmes for years.

 

Young dancers perform in our ‘Youth Celebration’ Showcase, photography by Hugh Hastings

As we drove to Cornwall I remember promising my husband that it would be for five years. Looking back, I must have had an inkling that creating meaningful change would take far longer. In those early days of repositioning the Hall we achieved a much-needed commercial fix by selling more tickets which quickly gained people’s confidence. It was in my first year that we added a £1 million of box office sales and improved the quality of visiting productions. We were moving in the right direction.

Forging strong creative alliances is vital and we enticed various national companies to visit and/ or become partners with Birmingham Royal Ballet the first to show faith in coming to Cornwall. We also took on an ailing arts charity, and despite the early unpopularity of this, Cornwall’s arts sector is now very supportive – and Husa, our arts development arm, thrives.

Art students from Falmouth University in the HUSA work space, photography by Hugh Hastings

To ignite a major capital redevelopment project far from London our 10 year business plan was twofold; to forge a coalition of significant partners who wanted to come on the journey with us, and of course, build a fully equipped theatre with a skilled workforce operating in agile ways.

Along the way every partner encouraged us at every stage

Eventually nine core funding partners and ten trusts and foundations joined us, and we garnered support from a bounty of people, including three Council Leaders and three Chief Executives, our two local MPs and a dynamic bunch of experts – everyone saw the benefits of having such an extraordinary cultural venue for Cornwall.

To get this level of buy-in we built our business model from the ground up to maximise on everything a Grade II* listed building could offer – and there’s more to do on the latter.

An important partner was Burrell Foley Fischer, our architects whose design concepts were both brave and deeply rooted in Cornwall’s theatrical traditions. Even from their initial sketches I could see the auditorium creating a dynamic relationship between those on stage and those enjoying the performance.

Earlier I wrote of Basil Spence, and I’ve realised how much I miss his buildings given they’d been a constant presence in my life. When you walk into Coventry Cathedral there’s something very elemental about the space with its fine mix of glass, exposed stone and woodwork. This attention to detail is further enhanced with purposely placed artwork by Elizabeth Frink and Graham Sutherland and together they create a wonderfully ethereal atmosphere.

Grayson Perry performs on our stage, photography by Hugh Hastings

It’s perhaps clear to see in our new building that Spence is still present after all. Of course, you’re not entering a place of worship, but my brief to the architects was to give our visitors pause for thought, create a moment for them to take stock and gather their thoughts – they totally understood what I was getting at, but at the time I’m sure I had all the hallmarks of being a demanding client. When we closed the doors for construction in 2018, we set about imaging what our future could be. Little did we know we’d be rebuilding during a global pandemic.

Cornwall deserves access to the best performances and cultural opportunities and that’s exactly what we deliver

Although first and foremost a theatre I wanted us to be entrepreneurial in how we utilised the building, to open it up to activities and industries that could animate it in different ways. I wanted us to create a bold space where people (our visitors, the performers and the team) are the stars of the building. I’m excited about them being able to go on a voyage of discovery, connecting with and experiencing the variety and breadth of our programming.

Whilst nurturing local artists and companies and creating head room for new work and ideas, I’ve kept in touch with the national companies I’ve worked with over the years. Strong relations with and the quality of work from the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rambert and Wise Children have elevated what appears on our main stage. In the poorest county in England with low cultural provision ambition matters – and as a catalyst for new generations of artists, creators and theatre-goers giving young people the chance to shine on and off stage is central to this.

A local dancer performs on our stage, photography by Hugh Hastings

One of the unique things about the new Hall is that everyone who works here is on the shop floor. Open and visible whether they’re in the box office, a technician or rehearsing on stage – our visitors get to see the working life of a theatre. The visitor is what binds us as a team with customer loyalty as a driver. With more than half of Cornwall’s households on our database already hardly anyone in the county hasn’t met us, and with this, there’s a deep-rooted trust in what we’re about. We go out of our way to attract and appeal to the widest possible audience, engaging people of all ages from Launceston to Land’s End and beyond.

Our ambitions don’t stop at reopening

Hall for Cornwall is a great proposition and we’re looking ahead for new funders and partners who share our vision. Investing in us gets a great return as everything is channelled into creating impactful work – and our work goes beyond what’s on the main stage. We have plans afoot to foster new ideas around heritage, increase our outreach potential to engage people from the most disadvantaged communities, and we’re looking at the potential to create qualification-led programmes inspired by our local university.

Photography by Hugh Hastings

We invest in people and culture and are focused on creating the best possible place for them to thrive. With a restless curiosity, and like those early theatre-making pioneers, we want to creatively disrupt what a regional theatre can be. If you’ve not had the chance to visit and see what we’re doing for yourself, do join us on the edge and be part of Hall for Cornwall’s next chapter.

I look forward to welcoming you,

Julien

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Cornwall Playhouse celebrates 500,000th visitor!

As Peter Pan enters it’s final week of magical performances, we’re delighted to welcome a very special guest.

Since our grand re-opening in October 2021 after a major £26m transformation, we welcomed our 500,000th visitor Kathy and her family. The milestone is a big one for us, as it’s the same number as the entire population of Cornwall!

During a matinee of Peter Pan, Kathy and her family were surprised by an exclusive meet-and-greet with the cast, and the presentation of a special prize which included a 500-day VIP membership, and a family ticket to Jack and the Beanstalk, our 2024 Christmas show.

Kathy Kirby and her family with the cast of Peter Pan – Photography by Hugh Hastings

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the loyalty and enthusiasm of our audiences since reopening, and this milestone marks a monumental moment for us. Thanks to the snowballing success of Peter Pan, that moment has come a month earlier than anticipated. And it feels fitting that it should have happened during our Christmas show, which is proudly made in Cornwall every year.”

– Julien Boast, our Chief Executive

Peter Pan – Photography by Hugh Hastings

Over the past two years, we’ve attracted visitors from far and wide to experience the best of the West End, world-class productions, and a showcase of breathtaking Cornish talent. Specialist funding allowed us to increase capacity of our Grade II listed building so that we could capacity for larger touring shows, including the sellout production of Mamma Mia, the riotous Rocky Horror Show, and next year’s productions of Life of Pi, Bluey’s Big Play and Jesus Christ Superstar, to name a few. You can read more about What’s On here.

Life of Pi – Photography by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Our reopening also marked the birth of Cornwall Playhouse Productions, a brand-new in-house production company showcasing an array of ‘Made in Cornwall’ shows. Since 2021, the team behind Cornwall Playhouse Productions have dedicated themselves to producing and supporting new Cornish work. So far, we’ve produced proper Cornish renderings of Cinderella and Treasure Island, co-produced the smash-hit Fisherman’s Friends The Musical, and worked with world-class musician Carleen Anderson on Melior Opus Griot.

Fisherman’s Friends the Musical – Photography by Hugh Hastings

Our 2023 production of Peter Pan is the third Christmas show from Cornwall Playhouse Productions, which earned a glowing 4-star review from respected industry newspaper The Stage.

“When we reopened, we pledged to be a theatre for all, by improving our accessibility and reaching out to communities who have never visited the theatre before. With tickets starting at £15, a quietly revolutionary ‘Ticket’ Bank, donations from members, and support from our funders, we’ve been able to welcome visitors from all backgrounds to enjoy the magic of theatre.”

– Julien Boast, our Chief Executive

As we head into a brand new year, we continue to work with the community in a variety of ways. As well as improving access to our shows, our Get Creative practitioners, supported by DHL, are working hard to introduce new audiences to the world of theatre. Through school partnerships, youth performance programmes and work with community groups, our team have enthused over 20,000 young people since 2021.

Our Youth Celebration Weekend Showcase – Photography by Hugh Hastings

“The passion, grit and creativity of local performers has captivated us. It’s so important that we continue to show the world the talent thriving in Cornwall. Since 2021, we’ve worked with thousands of young people from nursery to further education, enthusing them to take to the stage and show the world what Cornwall has to offer.”

– Helen Tiplady, our Deputy Creative Director

One of our Youth Dance groups – Photography by Hugh Hastings

You can discover more about Get Creative’s work, and how to join their workshops, here.

As 2024 dawns on the horizon, we’re excited for the future (and the next half-million customers!) as we continue to work with Cornwall to provide the biggest shows, and a space for all.

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Uncategorised

‘CRACKING PANTO’ – PETER PAN FLIES HIGH WITH CRITICS

Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning! ✨

Last Christmas, Peter Pan flew into Truro with a bang as press from far and wide piled into their seats and braced for a magical adventure. As Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys (played by local young actors) took flight to Neverland, the audience gasped with joy – and for older members, childhood memories flooded back.

This year, we were pleased to welcome back our youth ensemble to take part in Peter Pan. To add a special Cornish twist to the show, we cast children from local schools as the Lost Boys and Wendy’s siblings John and Michael. We received over 200 applications for these roles, and we were blown away – as usual! – by the talent of young performers in Cornwall. Thank you to each and every one of you for applying, here’s our ensemble…

There’s been flying sweeties, Super Soakers, and more glitter than you can shake a wand at! So let’s take a look at some of our favourite reviews so far…

Complete with dancing Lost Boys, singing mermaids, a creepy crocodile and live music, Truro came alive with another ‘Made in Cornwall’ Christmas show from Cornwall Playhouse Productions.

Even our Green Room Café and Playhouse Bar had a magical makeover, with plenty of places to ‘snap’ a photo. Tinker Bell’s garden, the Lost Boys’ hideaway and the mermaid’s grotto were some of our favourites! And those who felt brave enough found out where that tail lead to…

If you loved Peter Pan last Christmas, join us this December for a GIANT festival tale…

Jack and the Beanstalk plants his magic beans on our stage this Christmas! Book your tickets now for the best prices.

Photos by Hugh Hastings.

Categories
Theatre Truro Uncategorised

THINGS TO DO THIS OCTOBER HALF TERM

Looking for something to do this October Half Term? ??

From children’s workshops to shows for the whole family, there’s something for all ages happening in and around Hall for Cornwall…

For the little ones…

This October Half Term, you can find us hiding in your local Cornwall Council Library! Join us for some Peter Pan themed fun in one of these locations from MON 23 – FRI 27 OCT!?

? MON 23 OCT – Falmouth Library (10am – 12pm) and Camborne Library (1.30pm – 3.30pm)

? TUE 24 OCT – Wadebridge Library (10am – 12pm) and St Columb Library (1.30pm – 3.30pm)

? WED 25 OCT – Torpoint Library (10am – 12pm) and Bodmin Library (1.30pm – 3.30pm)

? THU 26 OCT – Newquay Library (10am – 12pm) and Hayle Library (1.30pm – 3.30pm)

? FRI 27 OCT – St Agnes Library (10am – 12pm) and Penzance Library (1.30pm – 3.30pm)


And don’t forget Toddler Time! ??

Join us for a Halloween themed Toddler Time in our Green Room Cafe! ? There will be arts, crafts, games, stories and even some spooky dancing!

? TUE 24 OCT / 10AM

Find out more here.


Fans of McFly and Monsters Will Love…

Tom Fletcher’s much-loved book series comes to life in There’s a Monster In Your Show!

 

This high-energy 50-minute adventure is packed full of beautiful, colourful puppets and live instruments! You can expect plenty of playful fun for your littlest ones as their favourite characters come to life in a show that is packed with interactive moments to enjoy together. Complete with brand-new original music composed by Tom Fletcher himself, this is the perfect introduction to live theatre.

? MON 23 | 1PM / 3.30PM

? TUE 24 | 11AM / 2PM


Come and feel the fire!

The Waterboys take the to Cornwall Playhouse stage for one evening of live music!

Sadly, this show is now completely sold out, but we hope everyone who managed to get tickets has a memorable time!

? WED 25 OCT | 7.30PM


Things are hotting up in the kitchen…

James Martin is turning up the heat with his brand new live show!

The proud Yorkshire-born chef is planning to make the new tour even hotter with fun, laughter, food and even some live music in this exclusive gastronomic experience.

? THU 26 OCT | 7.30PM


Sha La La, Ha Ha!

Join legendary pioneers of UK Rhythm and Blues, The Manfreds as they celebrate a remarkable 60 years in the business.

Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the band that defined a decade with their unique sound and hits.

? FRI 27 OCT | 7.30PM


Finally, close half-term with a bang…

Britain’s most-successful dance group DIVERSITY are set to raise the roof with their explosive new production SUPERNOVA!

Expect a thrilling night out with Ashley and Jordan Banjo and the whole team. This production is almost completely sold out so grab your tickets while you can!

? SAT 28 OCT | 2.30pm / 7.45pm

? SUN 29 OCT | 2.30pm / 7.45pm


Other things happening at Hall for Cornwall this October…

Our Green Room Café will be open as usual throughout the October Half Term, serving up delicious sandwiches, hot drinks and sweet treats.

Relax in a cosy atmosphere, surrounded by tropical plants and the warm scent of coffee in the air. Dig into a wholesome pie from Peck and Strong followed by a tasty treat from BB’s Gluten Free Bakery (pictured) and many more…

And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a wander through our Ope Way and explore the auditorium?

If you’re spending an evening in Truro, pop into our Playhouse Bar for cocktails and chilled vibes. Open most evenings and around showtimes, this is the perfect place to unwind in the bustling city.

However you choose to spend your October Half Term in Cornwall, we hope to see you here at Hall for Cornwall.

Categories
Theatre Uncategorised

THE QUEEN OF CRIME RETURNS TO HALL FOR CORNWALL…

On 15th September 1890, the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, was born. Author of at least 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, including And Then There Were None, The Mousetrap, and The Murder on the Orient Express. Christie is celebrated around the world for her genre-defining work. The Guinness Book of World Records names Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, as her novels have sold more than two billion copies!

As a creator of mysteries, it’s no surprise that this sensational writer was an enigma herself…

“Very few of us are what we seem.” – Agatha Christie

Image © The Christie Archive Trust

Surfing in Hawaii, an obsession with fast cars – her life was filled with one surprise after another. Born into a wealthy upper-middle classic family in Torquay, Devon, Christie was mostly home-schooled. At age 5, she taught herself to read, and found a love of storytelling – it was around this time she began writing her own tales. As she grew up and found her voice, her early stories received a total of 6 rejections, but finally, in 1920, her talent was recognised when The Mysterious Affair at Styles – featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot – was published.

As her fame began to take off, she longed for a way to explore other writing styles, inventing the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Under this name, which she wrote 6 semi-autobiographical novels exploring human psychology in greater depth. Her daughter Rosalind Hicks described them as “bitter-sweet stories about love”, and nobody made the connection between Christie and ‘Mary’ for over 20 years.

She married her first husband in 1914 – and had one child – before divorcing in 1928 when he met somebody else. Following the breakdown of her marriage and her mother’s death in 1926, Christie’s mysteries became a reality when she made international headlines by going missing for eleven days. Her car was discovered in a quarry, and after an anonymous tip, police discovered her in a hotel in Harrogate, where she is alleged to have been staying under the name of her husband’s mistress. She claims to have had amnesia, and cannot remember the period of disappearance – to this day, historians argue about where she went and what happened to her.

Articles from the Surrey Advertiser and Surrey Times at the time of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926 (Image: Surrey Advertiser)

In 1930, she re-married an archeologist, and spent several months each year visiting him in the Middle East. Her time here further fueled her first-hand knowledge of this profession which makes an appearance in her stories. During both World Wars, she worked in hospital dispensaries, discovering the uses of poisons that featured in many of her novels, short stories, and plays.

In 1955, Christie became the first person to win the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award – and in the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award for best play. Then in 2013, 600 professional novelists from the Crime Writers’ Association voted her as the best crime writer of all time, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as the best crime novel ever.

Her novel And Then There Were None is one of the best-selling books of all time (approximately 100 million copies have been sold!) and has been adapted for TV, Film and theatre. In 2024, we welcomed a new adaptation to the Cornwall Playhouse, directed by Lucy Bailey (Witness for the Prosecution, now in its 6th year in London).

Continuing along the Hall of Fame, her stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest theatre run. It opened in the West End on 25 November 1952 and ran until September 2018 with more than 27,500 performances! In 2023, we were thrilled to welcome the production to Hall for Cornwall in it’s 70th year of touring.

We’re delighted to welcome yet another Christie classic to the Cornwall Playhouse this year.

Her beloved thriller The Murder on the Orient Express, one of Agatha Christie’s greatest literary achievements – and starring the one and only Hercule Poirot – storms on our stage from TUE 19 – SAT 23 NOV 2024!

Agatha Christie has inspired generations of crime writers, and countless adaptations of her work, for television, radio, video games, graphic novels, and more than 30 feature films.

Whether you’re new to Christie or love a good mystery, we’re delighted to welcome her greatest works – and a special appearance from her lovable Belgian detective – to the Cornwall Playhouse in 2023 and 2024.

Check out And Then There Were None, The Mousetrap, and David Suchet: Poirot and More, a Restrospective to discover more about this sensational female writer.

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Get Involved Opportunities Royal Shakespeare Company Uncategorised

Call-out for Actors and Directors to work with Hall for Cornwall on the RSC’s 37 plays programme

37 Plays – Actor and Director Call Out for October 2023

We’re looking for 10 Actors and 5 Directors to work together this October to perform 3 Rehearsed Readings across Cornwall of 5 new scripts.

Hall for Cornwall are proud to be one of 12 Regional Theatre Partners of the Royal Shakespeare Company. We work collaboratively with the Royal Shakespeare Company across a number of programmes including The Associate Schools Programme and Shakespeare Nation.  Following on from their successful 37 Plays programme launched last year (you can read more about the project here: 37plays.co.uk), we are delighted to be producing 3 Rehearsed Readings of the new 37 Plays scripts this October.

Working with our colleagues at The Writers Block, we’re seeking 10 professional actors to read 2 Full Length scripts that have been selected by the panel from the Royal Shakespeare Company. You can read more about the panel and the plays here: 37plays.co.uk. We are also adding 3 extracts of 3 new scripts, written and submitted as part of the programme to the Writers Block and Hall for Cornwall. The evening will consist of sharing these 5 new plays and a facilitated post show Q&A with some of the writers and directors.

What are we looking for?

We’re looking for ‘teams’ to read the 5 plays (2 full length and 3 extracts).

The pay is £120 per day, plus travel to be arranged at the start of the contract. As per our environmental policy, we will be aiming to car share and use public transport where possible.

Actors 

If you’re interested in applying please email the following information to [email protected]

  • Your CV, Spotlight or Showreel (whatever you have, don’t make one especially)
  • An email, voice note or film (from your phone is fine – it’s applying in a way that suits you) to tell us the following:
  1. Why you’d like to do this and your experience of delivering script/text.
  2. Your playing age and your accent range.
  3. Tell us if you’d like to be in team A,B or C (see dates below)

(Please note that films / voice notes need not be longer than 2 mins)

You’ll need to be free on the following dates:

7th, 11th,13th October (these are the 3 rehearsed reading dates in Truro, Redruth and Liskeard)

  • Team A: 1st , 6th October (10am-5pm) and 7th, 11th,13th October (3pm – 10pm approx.) – There is a fee of £600
  • Team B – 1st, 2nd, 6th October (10am-5pm) and 7th, 11th, 13th October (3pm-10pm approx.) – There is a fee of £720
  • Team C – 1st,2nd, 4th, 5th,6th October (10am-5pm) and 7th, 11th, 13th October (3pm-10pm approx.) – There is a fee of £960

Directors

If you’re interested in applying please email the following information to [email protected]

  • Your CV or Showreel (whatever you have, don’t make one especially)
  • An email, voice note or film (from your phone is fine –it’s applying in a way that suits you) to tell us
  1. Why you’d like to do this and your experience of directing so far.
  2. Your suitability for directing a Rehearsed Reading (there will be no physical staging of the work, the sharings are to focus on the text and delivery. There will be no lighting or props or costumes)
  3. Tell us if you’d like to be in team A,B,C or D (see dates below)

Please note that films / voice notes need not be longer than 2 mins. The one day rehearsals are to work up a 10-12 minute extract. The 2 days are the full length pieces.

Rehearsal days are with the actors being called from 10am-5pm, and Rehearsed Reading days are approximately 3pm-10pm.

  • A  – 1st,2nd October– plus a pre planning meeting with the writer and attending 1 Rehearsed Reading (7th, 11th or 13th October) to take part in the post show Q and A – There is a fee of £670
  • B – 1st October  – plus planning meeting with the writer and attending 1 Rehearsed Reading (7th, 11th or 13th October) to take part in the post show Q and A – There is a fee of £470
  • C- 6th October  – plus planning meeting with the writer and attending 1 Rehearsed Reading (7th, 11th or 13th October) to take part in the post show Q and A – There is a fee of £470 (there are 2 Director positions available for these dates)
  • D – 4th, 5th October plus a pre planning meeting with the writer and attending 1 Rehearsed Reading (7th, 11th or 13th October) to take part in the post show Q and A – There is a fee of £670

 

The closing date for both applications is the 7th September at 12 noon.  We will let you know by the 9th September at 5pm .

 

How to Apply

Please send your application to [email protected]

If you’d like to ask any questions or talk to anyone ahead of submitting an application please email [email protected]

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Uncategorised

Join the Cast of Peter Pan!

Were looking for young people who love performing to be an important part of our Peter Pan company this Christmas at Hall for Cornwall!

Working alongside Cornwall Playhouse Productions and our professional company is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience of the theatre industry.

We’re casting two teams of young people to play the roles of John Darling, Michael Darling and the Lost Boys. Each role is open to applicants of any gender.

To apply, your child should be in school Years 5 or 6 in Primary school, or Years 7, 8 or 9 in Secondary school.

>  Applicants must be available for rehearsals and performances from MON 30 OCT – SUN 31 DEC 2023.

>  Rehearsals will generally be after school until week beginning MON 27 NOV 2023.

>  Auditions will be held at Falmouth University on SAT 16 SEP.

To apply on your child’s behalf, please fill out the following form:

APPLY HERE

The closing date for applications is FRI 01 SEP 2023. No applications will be accepted after this date. You will receive details about the auditions within a week of the closing date.