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Stories and announcements

17Jan. 2020.

Actor musicianship in Macbeth



'I’ll charm th' air to give a sound, While you perform your antic round…'


The Watermill Ensemble was formed in 2017 and its ensemble of multi-talented actor musicians have developed an approach to Shakespeare that incorporates live music into their bold productions.

The actors in Macbeth sing and play instruments live throughout the production. Violin, piano, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar and percussion are all used. Incorporating music into the play adds excitement, individual qualities to each character and a sense of liveness that supports the atmosphere intended for each scene. Having music to accompany the storyline or create an atmosphere with an instrumental underscore can give more clues to the plot or how a character is feeling.  



For example, in Macbeth, Bloodflood by alt-J is used during the crowning scenes of Macbeth and then Malcolm. The lyrics of the song connote two messages: the bloodline of a family possessing the throne and the bloodshed that has been caused for Macbeth to get the crown. Whilst L-O-V-E is sung by Lady Macbeth to show her adoration and love for her husband. Other songs that are used are Intro by The XX, The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals and In Dreams by Roy Orbison. 

If you’d like to hear more of the music that inspires this production you can access the Spotify playlist that Director, Paul Hart, created at the start of rehearsals.

Book now for Macbeth (22nd January – 8th February)!

Macbeth is performed in repertory with the Watermill Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream (29th January – 15th February). 

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14Jan. 2020.

Designing A Midsummer Night's Dream for Wilton's

'We will meet, and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains. Be perfect. Adieu.'

Paul Hart’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for The Watermill Ensemble is set in the Victorian era with the backdrop of a run down and crumbling theatre, owned by “Actor Manager” Theseus, so its staging here at Wilton’s Music Hall is particularly well matched.



Designer Katie Lias created a deliberately historic setting for the production, staged originally at the Watermill Theatre, and used many reference photos from the Wilton’s archive when thinking about how to create the required authenticity and atmosphere for the production design. From the set with the fly system’s ropes and unfinished flooring, to the costume rail, prop box and paint tower these significant elements all combine to constantly remind the audience that they are watching a play, not real life, and that then widens the boundaries for magic to ensue.


Wilton's Music Hall in 1978

As part of her design process Katie created a scrap book of images, materials and textures that may inspire the design, and these initial ideas were discussed with the director to make sure they fit with the director’s overall vision. This then led to the creation of the model box of the set to show the production department, director and actors, and which could then be used as reference by the production team during the building.



You can spot similarities to Wilton’s auditorium in these photos of the original model box!

Book now for the Watermill Ensemble's A Midsummer Night's Dream (29th January – 15th February)

A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed in repertory with Macbeth (22nd January – 8th February).

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6Jan. 2020.

Music 4all Festival Winners now announced!



Last year we invited applications from all over the UK for young, emerging musical artists who wanted to take part in our Music 4all Festival (11th – 16th May).   The winners are now being mentored by a professional individual or organisation and rehearsing at Wilton’s, ready to perform live as part of the Festival in May.

We are thrilled to announce that the winners in each category are as follows:
 

Opera: 11th May



Lucy Elston
Thomas Isherwood

Edward Kim
Theodor Uggla

With thanks to Nicholas Roberts and English National Opera for mentoring the Opera category.

Contemporary & Jazz: 12th May



Chisara Agor
Gabrielle Chudi
Julian James  

With thanks to Bengi Ünsal for mentoring the Contemporary & Jazz category.

Rock, Pop & Indie: 14th May



Foxes & Hedgehogs
Saachi Sen
Sam Wilkinson

With thanks to Dan Gillespie Sells for mentoring the Rock, Pop & Indie category.

Cabaret & Alternative: 15th May



Ruth Connick – Selector Le Pooch
Ena Fay
Freddie Love


With thanks to Tim Whitehead for mentoring the Cabaret & Alternative category.

Urban, Electronic & DJ: 16th May



Jess Fisher
Zkeletonz
Eliza Willmott
 

With thanks to DJ Yoda for mentoring the Urban, Electronic & DJ category.  

We are also thrilled to announce that the eight groups taking part in Songs for the Hall, a day of music making on 13th May are: St Edmund's Catholic Primary School, London Fields Primary School, Lansbury Lawrence, St Paul's Whitechapel, Hermitage Primary School, St Peter's London Docks CE Primary School, Mayflower Primary School and the Isle of Dogs Children's Choir.
 

Songs for the Hall will be presented in association with Snape Maltings’ Friday Afternoons, with free vocal leadership training for all teachers involved.    
 

There's still time to get involved! Apply by 6pm on Friday 10th January to be part of our Technical Training Scheme.   

Stay tuned for more information about booking tickets for the full festival!
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11Dec. 2019.

Christmas Opening Hours


Come and spend your Christmas at Wilton's. Whether you're seeing the magical retelling of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale or not, we're open to everyone. So, come and join us for something to eat and drink throughout the festive season. 

Christmas Opening Hours - Building
Monday 23rd December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Tuesday 24th December: 10am-6pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Wednesday 25th December: CLOSED 
Thursday 26th December: CLOSED 
Friday 27th December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Saturday 28th December: 1-11pm (Phone lines closed)
Sunday 29th December: CLOSED
Monday 30th December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Tuesday 31st December: 10am-6pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Wednesday 1st January: CLOSED
Thursday 2nd January: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Friday 3rd January: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Saturday 4th January:  1-11pm (Phone lines closed)

Christmas Opening Hours - Bars
Monday 23rd December: 1-11pm
Tuesday 24th December: 1-6pm
Wednesday 25th December: CLOSED 
Thursday 26th December: CLOSED 
Friday 27th December: 1-11pm 
Saturday 28th December: 1-11pm 
Sunday 29th December: CLOSED
Monday 30th December: 1-11pm 
Tuesday 31st December: 1-6pm
Wednesday 1st January: CLOSED
Thursday 2nd January: 1-11pm
Friday 3rd January: 5-11pm
Saturday 4th January:  1-11pm

Eating + Drinking Information
Our caterers, Gatherers, serve a special festive menu from 5pm to 9pm on show days only and a lunch menu is available before matinee performances.

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Wilton's Music Hall. We'll see you in the New Year for our Spring season.


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25Nov. 2019.

Piers Torday on retelling Christmas Carol – a fairy tale




My earliest and first memory of A Christmas Carol is Albert Finney in his night cap being beckoned to his gravestone by a ghost that this young child viewer found unseasonably terrifying. But at the time, I had little idea that this memorable 1970’s incarnation was just one staging post on a long and glorious path that began in 1843 when Charles Dickens first published his “little Christmas book”.



Original First Edition Inside Cover, 1843

It took just six weeks for the first theatre adaptation to reach the stage, which played in London for more than 40 nights before transferring to New York. In the year of publication alone, there were nine separate theatrical adaptations, including the first ever musical version. Dickens himself was famous for his own public readings of the story, giving over 127 such recitals in England and America. And the process of retelling has continued for 176 years.  From stage to the many film adaptations, cartoon to musical, from the RSC to the Muppets, there are nearly thirty published adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and dozens more are written every Christmas. There was even a mime version by Marcel Marceau in 1973.


So when, following my recent adaptation of John Masefield’s The Box of Delights in the same space, Wilton’s asked me to retell this very popular Christmas classic, my first response was - why? What can we possibly say about this story and these characters, that hasn’t already been said?

It turns out, quite a lot. For, whilst the tale has been retold for puppets and toys, and Scrooge performed by men young and old, the central role has remained resolutely masculine. We wondered what would happen when we re-examined this classic fairy tale from a woman’s perspective and re-imagined the complex central character?   



A Christmas Carol
is set in an intensely patriarchal society. When a woman married in the 1840’s, the rights of a woman were legally given to her husband. He took control of her property, earnings and money. If he wished to spend her money on his business or his debts, he did not require her consent. In exchange for this, she took his name. And until the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, divorce was only possible by the passage of a private act through the Houses of Parliament.
 

Early Victorian daughters, like the Fan Scrooge that Dickens imagines, were meant to get in line behind their brothers, like Ebenezer. In Dickens’ version, Fan dies early, leaving Ebenezer distraught.  But what if it had been the other way around? What if Fan Scrooge had tried to make her way in a man’s world of power and profit, marrying moneylender Jacob Marley and then inheriting his business as his widow?
 

You’ll have to come and see the show to find out, but one thing has not changed. Dickens wrote this enduring and uplifting story to heal the divisions of his own age, and create “a better common understanding among those whose interests are identical and who depend upon each other”. He wanted, in other words, to bring all people together, at a precious time of year, united in a love of the common good. And, at a time of great division across the country and the world, so do we. 
Piers Torday, writer of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale

Book now for Christmas Carol – a fairy tale (29th November 2019 – 4th January 2020) and experience spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets in the truly Dickensian atmosphere of our Hall!



Piers Torday's latest book The Frozen Sea is out now and will be available to buy at Wilton's Music Hall this Christmas!




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14Nov. 2019.

Christmas Carol – a fairy tale trailer just released!

Scrooge. As you've never seen her before... 

Christmas Carol – a fairy tale by Piers Torday based on the story by Charles Dickens

29th November 2019 – 4th January 2020

Expect spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets in this triumphant retelling. 

Book now



1838, London. Jacob Marley is dead. And so is Ebenezer Scrooge…

In our story, Ebenezer died young, but his sister Fan married Marley and, as his widow, has now inherited his moneylending business. She rapidly becomes notorious as the most monstrous miser ever known, a legendary misanthrope, lonely, and despised by all who cross her path.

Seven years later, on Christmas Eve, Fan Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits. They want her to change. But will she?

This Christmas, rediscover a classic British fairy tale. Refreshed and relevant for the 21st century, this traditional story inspired by the politics of nineteenth century London comes to life in the true Dickensian atmosphere of the world’s oldest surviving music hall.

Written especially for Wilton’s by renowned author Piers Torday, directed by Stephanie Street, with design by Tom Piper and starring Sally Dexter as our Scrooge.

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29Oct. 2019.

Schools' Drawing Competition: Christmas Carol – a fairy tale

Christmas Carol – a fairy tale by Piers Torday based on the story by Charles Dickens.

To celebrate Wilton’s production of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale we are running a drawing competition for Key Stage 2 (Years 3 - 6). We would like you to draw or paint a picture of what you imagine one of the ghosts look like who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

Closing date: 15th November 2019 at 12.00 (midday).


ABOUT THE PRODUCTION 

Scrooge. As you’ve never seen her before…

1838, London. Jacob Marley is dead. And so is Ebenezer Scrooge…

In our story, Ebenezer died young, but his sister Fan married Marley and as his widow, has now inherited his moneylending business. She rapidly becomes notorious as the most monstrous miser ever known, a legendary misanthrope, lonely, and despised by all who cross her path.

Seven years later, on Christmas Eve, Fan Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits.

They want her to change. But will she?

This Christmas, rediscover a classic British fairy tale. Refreshed and relevant for the 21st century, this traditional story inspired by the politics of nineteenth century London comes to life in the true Dickensian atmosphere of the world’s oldest surviving music hall, Wilton’s Music Hall. Brought to you by the team that gave you the sellout The Box of Delights, expect spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets in this triumphant retelling.

Sally Dexter stars as the first ever female Scrooge on a London stage. 

Things are going to be different. Very different...

The Creative Team includes Writer Piers Torday (winner of The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2014 for the bestselling The Wild Trilogy) Director Stephanie Street (Chichester Festival Theatre, National Theatre) and Olivier awarding-winning Designer Tom Piper, best-known recently as the designer of the poppy installation at the Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION

The winning entry will be printed on the front cover of the Christmas Carol – a fairy tale programme for the duration of the production’s run at Wilton’s, 29th November 2019 - 4th January 2020.

The winner will also receive four tickets to see a performance of their choice of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale, subject to availability.

Closing date Friday 15th November at 12.00 (midday). We will not be able to return submitted work.

How to enter
- Make a picture of what you think one of the ghosts look like who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.
- Use any materials, techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer aided design, collage, montage) to make your piece, as long as the entry is two dimensional.
- The entry must be no bigger than A4 and should include your name.
- Entries will be judged on originality and creativity, boldness and impact.
- Judges will include: Piers Torday and members of the Christmas Carol – a fairy tale company.
- Submit entries with entry form to: Christmas Carol – a fairy tale Competition, Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB. Or you can scan your entries and send to info@wiltons.org.uk.

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10Oct. 2019.

Announcing our Spring season - now on sale!


For everyone with a curious imagination...

We are thrilled to announce the return of some of our favourite companies and the exciting premieres of extraordinary new work in our Spring 2020 season, on sale now!



Some highlights include:

London International Mime Festival
comes to Wilton’s with The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel (14th – 18th January), a Told by an Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth production, with Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

The Watermill Theatre
return to Wilton’s following their magical Twelfth Night here in 2018 with two bold new productions performed in repertory – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (29th January – 15th February) and Macbeth (22nd January – 8th February).

Return to Heaven
(28th February – 14th March) is a brand new dance theatre show by Mark Bruce Company that sees two explorers (Dane Hurst, Eleanor Duval) search the dark mysteries of the ancient world to enter a perilous land beyond time and death.


After their incredible inaugural production of The Rake’s Progress at Wilton’s in 2017, OperaGlass Works are back with Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (25th March – 4th April). Conducted by John Wilson, this 'curious story' quickly becomes a haunting tale of innocence and corruption.


Following the storming success of The Pirates of Penzance earlier this year, Sasha Regan's All-Male Company are taking to the seas once again with H.M.S. Pinafore (15th April – 9th May). Set in the hold of a WWII ship, Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera provides the perfect distraction from the goings on above board.


Book online by clicking the links below or ring our Box Office on 020 7702 2789 (Lines are open 11am - 6pm, Monday - Friday).



The full season:

JANUARY
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, presented by London International Mime Festival. A Told by an Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth production, with Royal & Derngate Northampton and Unity Theatre, Liverpool.  (14th – 18th January)
Macbeth, presented by the Watermill Theatre (22nd January – 8th February)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by the Watermill Theatre (29th January – 15th February)

FEBRUARY

Samuel Beckett: Fail Better, presented by Poet in the City (17th February)
Return to Heaven, presented by Mark Bruce Company (28th February – 14th March)

MARCH

The Little Green Notebook of Che Guevara, presented by Poet in the City (16th March)  
James Baldwin: Nobody Knows my Name, presented by Poet in the City (17th March)
Walking to Jerusalem, presented by Passion Pit Theatre in association with Amos Trust and Hodder and Stoughton (18th – 19th March)
Artists Unknown, presented by TNT Productions Ltd (20th – 21st March)
The Turn of the Screw, presented by OperaGlass Works (25th March – 4th April)
Ida Barr: Granarchist, presented by Christopher Green (31st March)
OneTrackMinds, presented by VERYFINE (27th March, 2nd April)  

APRIL & MAY
Unbelievable Science, presented by Morgan & West with Makin Productions (7th – 9th April)
Sasha Regan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, presented by Regan De Wynter Williams Productions (15th April – 9th May)



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7Oct. 2019.

Did you know that you can follow Wilton’s Music Hall on the Stagedoor app?


Stagedoor is London’s most comprehensive and innovative theatre guide. You can use it to follow your favourite theatres, like Wilton’s!



As well as helping you stay up to date with the theatres you know you like, Stagedoor is designed to help you discover new things you might like through personalised recommendations. And if you enjoy reading reviews before you book tickets for a show then you can find thousands of critic & audience reviews on the app, collected from dozens of newspapers and websites.


Once you’ve found something you’d like to see, you can add it to your Save List where you can keep track of all the shows that you think look interesting. When you watch a show, you can record your experience in your personal Theatre Journal – and share it with friends.

We’re big fans of Stagedoor here at Wilton’s. It’s a totally new way to find things to see and we’d love you to follow us on there.


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19Sep. 2019.

Sally Dexter stars as Scrooge in Christmas Carol – a fairy tale. Full cast now announced!

This Christmas, rediscover a classic British fairy tale in the true Dickensian atmosphere of the world's oldest surviving music hall.


Sally Dexter photo: Nobby Clark

Today we're pleased to announce that Sally Dexter will star as the first female Scrooge on a London stage at Wilton's.  

She will be joined by Chisara Agor, Joseph Hardy, Edward Harrison, Brendan Hooper, Ruth Ollman and Yana Penrose.



This magical adaptation has been written especially for Wilton’s by renowned children’s author Piers Torday (The Frozen Sea, The Last Wild), with design by Tom Piper and directed by Stephanie Street.
 

Sally Dexter is known for her appearances in some of our most loved West End productions, including Oliver! and Billy Elliot The Musical. She won an Olivier Award for her performance in Dalliance at the National Theatre and currently plays Faith Dingle in Emmerdale.


Photograph by © Nobby Clark

She will be joined by Chisara Agor (The Wizard of Oz at Birmingham Rep), Joseph Hardy (The Cherry Orchard at Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Royal Exchange) and Edward Harrison (Wolf Hall, Broadway).  

Completing the cast are Brendan Hooper (The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre), Ruth Ollman (Still Alice, UK tour) and Yana Penrose (How Love is Spelt at Southwark Playhouse).
 

Come and join in the magic in this triumphant retelling of Dickens' festive tale, as spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets are brought to life on our unique stage.  

Opens 29th Nov, book your tickets now!  


Creative Team:
Writer – Piers Torday
Director – Stephanie Street
Designer – Tom Piper
Lighting Designer – Katharine Williams
Composer and Sound Designer – Ed Lewis
Movement and Puppetry Director – Emma Brunton
Puppetry Designer – Jo Lakin
Casting Director – Gabrielle Dawes
Assistant Director – Josie Lena Davies

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