Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collaboration All Set to Take Centre Stage; NEWCASTLE and Sheffield Are Joining Forces to Stage a Famous American Play, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collaboration All Set to Take Centre Stage; NEWCASTLE and Sheffield Are Joining Forces to Stage a Famous American Play, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

MAJOR producing theatres in Newcastle and Sheffield are collaborating for the first time to stage a 20th Century American classic.

Erica Whyman, chief executive and artistic director of Newcastle-based Northern Stage, is to direct Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by three-times Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee.

It will open at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on March 16, running until April 7, and then run at Northern Stage from April 12-30.

The play, which spawned an Oscar-winnis ng film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is set in the home of a middle-aged couple, George and Martha, who appear to be permanently at each other's throats.

He's a professor at a small college and she's the daughter of the principal. The two other characters are a younger couple, Nick and Honey, who are recently married and newcomers to the campus.

George and Martha invite them round for late drinks one night and proceed to behave as badly as possible, taunting each other and also turning on their guests.

The play has inspired much debate over the years, with the title alone puzzling many theatre-goers.

Starring in the Newcastle/Sheffield DIRECTOR Erica Whyman, who is on her way to Sheffield co-production will be Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas, as George and Martha, and John Hopkins and newcomer Lorna Beckett, as Nick and Honey. Thomas, known to fans of the Harry Potter films for playing Amelia Bones, is the partner of Newcastle-based poet Tony Harrison.

Yesterday Erica Whyman said she had built up a relationship with Sheffield Theatres, which runs the Crucible, since directing a production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party there in 2002.

"I love the city and I love the theatres which are brilliantly run. When Daniel Evans was appointed (as chief executive of Sheffield Theatres) a year and a half ago we hit it off immediately. "We have the same ambitions for widening audiences and similar ideas about the kind of work to stage. …

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