The event is part of the BBC Shakespeare Festival which will take place in April to mark 400 years since the writer’s death.
The live television event will be hosted by David Tennant and directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, and will feature Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Joseph Fiennes, the English National Opera and more.
Also announced to perform as part of the event are Rufus Wainwright, Tim Minchin, Al Murray, Meera Syal, Alison Moyet, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Nixon, Alexandra Galbraith, Noma Dumezweni, The Royal Ballet and The Orchestra of the Swan.
The BBC Shakespeare Festival takes place throughout April 2016 across TV, radio, online and the world.
On BBC One, Russell T Davis is adapting on of Shakespeare’s best loved plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream which will star Maxine Peake as Titania, Matt Lucas as Bottom and John Hannah as Theseus. Elaine Paige, Javone Prince, Nonso Anozie, Hiran Abeysekera, Richard Wilson and Bernard Cribbins complete the cast.
The cream of UK talent, Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Michael Gambon, will star in The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses on BBC Two, a series of three new Shakespeare adaptations, Henry VI (in two parts) and Richard III.
SHE calls the Royal Exchange Theatre her second home, but Bolton actress Maxine Peake is usually treading the boards there, not selling the Big Issue outside it.
Maxine was selling the magazine as part of a campaign to support its sellers who are homeless.
The star, who won rave reviews for her performances in Hamlet and The Skriker at the theatre in Manchester was one of a number of celebrities to take part in the magazine’s Vendor Week campaign.
It also featured poet Lemm Sissay, who crew up in care in Leigh and Atherton and is now the chancellor of the University of Manchester, radio DJ and Inspiral Carpets keyboardist Clint Boon and Tony Lloyd, the interim Greater Manchester Mayor.
They all spent an hour selling the Big Issue in Manchester city centre to find out what it is like for the magazine’s regular sellers.
Maxine said it was “really hard” but an enjoyable experience to spend time with seller Monica, who she has met before while performing at the theatre.
She said: “It was fun, it was great to spend time with Monica, who is a Big Issue seller outside the stage door at the Royal Exchange, who I’ve known for a few years.
“People ignoring you and blanking you or looking at you quite disgruntled is quite a difficult thing. I did it for about an hour and I know Monica does four or five hour shifts. It’s destroying in some ways.
“People were lovely as well, so you’ve got that mix, somebody being a bit grumpy and then somebody being absolutely, so its quite difficult.”
Actor Maxine Peake said she was “surprised how people just ignore you” while taking a real-life role as a Big Issue seller in Manchester.
The stage and TV star joined regular seller Monica outside the Royal Exchange Theatre to sell the magazine as part of Vendor Week, an international event which will see people around the world take a turn at street-selling for an hour.
Peake, who appeared in Silk and The Village, said she found it hard to deal with the number of people who walk past without speaking, adding that she did not know how Monica coped with it “without losing [her] temper”.
The Manchester event will also see poet Lemn Sissay, DJ Clint Boon and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd sell the magazine.
Watch the video here!
Maxine Peake has claimed women are better at running theatres than men because they are more adept at multitasking and often have smaller egos.
Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake at The Stage Awards 2016. Photo: Eliza Power
Peake was speaking at The Stage Awards about the work of Sarah Frankcom at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, a theatre she has worked with on a number of occasions. The actor said women were instinctively better at “keeping all the balls in the air”.
She told The Stage: “I just think actually women are probably better for running buildings, because they can multitask. And I think – without sounding terribly sexist, and I’m not saying across the board – they generally have a smaller ego.”
She continued: “There are female theatre directors out there with huge egos, I know. But I think they can deal with a building [better], because they’ve got that instinct of keeping all the balls in the air, and I think that suits women’s strengths.”
Peake was attending The Stage Awards with Frankcom, where the Royal Exchange was named regional theatre of the year.
The Bolton-born actor is an associate artist at the Manchester venue, and has repeatedly performed there over the course of her career – most recently in a staging of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker.
Peake also voiced frustration that theatres in Manchester are not recognised at the Olivier Awards, and said the awards should be expanded to include theatres nationwide.
She explained: “I get so annoyed because theatre is so London centric. People say to me: ‘Oooh, you’re not doing another play in Manchester?’. Well, why not? It’s a great place to be doing it, and there’s a regular audience there.
“But I think awards like the Oliviers – why should they just be London? It’s shocking. They’re televised. It should be nationwide. It’s like: let’s all just celebrate theatre that’s in London – well, it’s not always the best to be honest.”
She went on to suggest that critics of regional theatre failed to recognise that theatres outside of London have fewer resources.
“What people don’t take into account is in the regions we have less money, we have less time,” Peake said.
She added: “For a big show like Hamlet, we had five weeks. If you do it at the National, you get nine weeks. And then people review it on the same basis. And you think: we had two previews and then press night, they had two weeks and then press night. So let’s just put things into perspective.”
Now the hustle and bustle of the festive period has settled down and the January sales are coming to an end our towns and cities become quiet and, for our vendors, can be lonely places. Although the sales and crowds are gone, they are still working hard to earn an income – selling Big Issue North magazine.
Each year, well-known people from around the world take part in #VendorWeek – taking an hour out of their day to stand alongside our vendors and try their hand at selling Big Issue North. Not only do they help drive sales for our vendors and get a really valuable experience, they also help raise funds for the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), which supports more than 100 street papers worldwide.
This #VendorWeek, February 1st – 7th 2016, we have the support of some wonderful guest sellers. Here’s the full list:
Monday, 1.30pm: Matthew Gardiner, CEO of Trafford Housing Trust, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 9.30am: Ian Munro, CEO of New Charter Group, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 11am: Maxine Peake, actress, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, noon: Dave Power, CEO of One Manchester, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 1.30: Prose, band, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 3pm: Clint Boon, (Radio) DJ, musician (The Inspiral Carpets), Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Friday, 10am: Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester Police Police and Crime Commissioner, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Friday, noon: Lemn Sissay MBE, author/broadcaster/Chancellor of University of Manchester, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Friday, 4pm: Kate Green MP, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, Stretford Shopping Mall
Monday, 5.30pm: Bishop of Liverpool The Rt Revd Paul Bayes – Liverpool ONE
Thursday, 9.30am: Gary Millar, Councillor for Old Swan, Liverpool, former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)
Thursday, 11am: Keith Mullin, lead guitarist in The Farm/lecturer at LIPA, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)
Thursday, 1pm: Ian Prowse, front man of Amsterdam, musician, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)
Friday, 10am: Bill Addy, CoE Priest, CEO of Liverpool BID Company – Marks & Spencer
Friday, 10am: Mik Artistik, poet, musician & artist, outside House of Fraser on Briggate
Tuesday, 1pm: Jon McClure, front man of Reverend and the Makers, outside Town Hall
Last year’s Big Sell raised funds for INSP and generated fantastic media coverage for Big Issue North – 29 stories in the press; two BBC radio broadcasts and four broadcasts on TV, including ITV Calendar and Granada. It was also popular on social media, with our messages on Twitter and Facebook reaching more than a million people last year!
You can help raise funds for INSP by donating here: www.vendorweek.insp.ngo!
Here’s what our Big Sell participants are asked to do:
• Spare an hour of their time to join a vendor on their pitch and ‘sell’ Big Issue North in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Sheffield
• Promote that they’re involved with #VendorWeek
• Raise funds for INSP
• Give us a quote
The money earned while selling Big Issue North will go to vendors in the city where the magazine was sold. All other money raised through #VendorWeek goes to the International Network of Street Papers which supports street papers around the world to start up, grow and develop so that they can provide homeless and unemployed people with a way to earn an income and improve their lives.
What last year’s guest sellers found:
Last year’s Big Sell saw 23 people spend an hour of their day selling Big Issue North across our region. Here are some impressions of their experiences:
“Most of the time when I’m doing my job, people look at me, they show an interest. This afternoon, it’s been fascinating watching people averting their eyes, trying not to notice what I’m doing … I have a little more appreciation of how demanding it really is.” Dr. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
“It’s hard work to get people to buy the magazine. And there are far, far too many people in this rich country of ours who still don’t have a proper home to go to at night.” Kate Green MP
“Even in a hi-vis jacket I became invisible. People walk past me. They might have smiled sympathetically. One or two nodded at me. But only three people put their hands in their pocket. I admit I wasn’t very good at it. I think you’ve got to become hardened to being ignored … It’s been a fantastic learning experience for me. And it just shows you what Big Issue vendors go through every day.” Ian McMillan, poet & broadcaster
“It’s been bloody hard work. People ignore you. People blank you. Some people are really nice. Next time I walk past a Big Issue seller I’ll be buying one.” Ian Munro – Chief Executive of New Charter
“Selling the Big Issue – probably the hardest job I’ve ever done in my life to be honest … It reminds you of the driving force vendors must have to do this. It takes some neck. It’s alright for me but for them it’s their daily grind. This is their everyday on these streets. It’s also bloody cold.” Allan Beswick – BBC Radio Manchester
“It’s almost like you’re a ghost in the middle of the road … I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to do this every day of your life without knowing where you going to sleep tonight either. My heart really goes out to the people actually doing it ‘cause what they’re trying to do is work their way out of the predicament they find themselves in. And homelessness is something that as a society we should not accept.” Keith Mullin, LIPA/The Farm
“I’m taking part in the Big Sell [because] I thought it would be a really good idea to get involved and just experience what the vendors have to do day in and day out. And it’s a difficult sell!” Mark Burns-Willamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
“Spare a thought for those who spend all day and in far more inclement weather than this in order to sell this excellent magazine. Everybody knows the Big Issue but not everybody buys the Big Issue. And that includes me. Please think of the homeless. Think of the Big Issue. Buy the Big Issue.” George Galloway, former MP
You can watch all last year’s participants’ full feedback in our Big Sell 2015 playlist here:
Manchester’s Royal Exchange has been named regional theatre of the year at The Stage Awards.
The venue beat the Chichester Festival Theatre and Northampton’s Royal and Derngate to the honour.
Actress Maxine Peake, who won rave reviews for her role in The Skriker at the theatre last year, collected the award at the London ceremony along with artistic director Sarah Frankcom.
In The Skriker, Peake was described as “a cross between Vivienne Westwood and the Virgin Queen”
The Almeida Theatre was also named London theatre of the year.
It beat Shakespeare’s Globe and the Barbican for its hit Greeks season, which achieved both critical and box office success as well as a West End transfer of the Oresteia.
The Stage’s editor, Alistair Smith, said the quality of work over the past year had made it “really tricky” for the judges.
The Other Room – Cardiff’s first pub theatre – won fringe theatre of the year – the first venue outside London to win the prize.
Opened in February 2015, the judges described the 44-person capacity venue’s first year as a “meteoric arrival” on the theatre scene.
Sonia Friedman was named producer of the year for the second year. In 2015 she was behind nine UK shows, including the new West End musical Bend It Like Beckham and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbican.
The National Theatre won two awards – the international award for its collaboration with the National Theatre of China on a Chinese production of War Horse; and the theatre building of the year prize for its NT Future regeneration project.
Arts Educational Schools London collected the school of the year award and stage manager Roger Miller was named unsung hero for his work in saving the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion Theatre.
Here are this year’s winners in full:
London theatre of the year – Almeida Theatre
Fringe theatre of the year – The Other Room, Cardiff
Regional theatre of the year – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Producer of the year – Sonia Friedman
International award – War Horse China
School of the year – Arts Educational Schools London
Theatre building of the year – NT Future
Unsung Hero – Roger Miller
What is change? Is it the passing of time of the jingling in your pocket? Pre-order this issue to find out what changed us.
Plus: the Oh Comely team try and change their habits, a day out at the Butterfly Farm and we natter with Maxine Peake.
Maxine Peake’s Hamlet and Women in the Creative Industries
The British Council celebrates the role of women in the creative industries and explores how Shakespeare’s work can influence them with a screening of Sarah Frankcom’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s iconic play, Hamlet. Starring Maxine Peake, this ultimate play is about loyalty, betrayal, love, murder and madness. A lively and thought-provoking panel discussion follows on the role of women in the creative industries. The panel encourages those present to critically explore gender roles and challenge the barriers that still exist. The British Council are asking for your help to stimulate some early discussion in return for a free ticket. Suggest a question for the panel or telling them why you think Hamlet is so relevant to the lives of women today. Please send email questions and comments to Amy Rogers. HOME, 9 March, time and tickets TBC.
Maxine Peake stars as Titania in Russel T Davies’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream coming to BBC ONE in Spring.
The BBC has today announced its plans to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death including the line-up for BBC Two’s Shakespeare Live! From the RSC.
The programme, hosted by David Tennant, will be broadcast during the weekend of Shakespeare’s birthday in April. Directed by RSC artistic director Gregory Doran, the cast will include Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Joseph Fiennes.
Tennant appeared at the launch of the festival at the BBC Broadcasting House in London and explained how his first experience of Shakespeare was in his school gym. ‘I thought Touchstone was the coolest man alive.” He added: “These characters in [Shakespeare’s] stories are catnip for actors… Shakespeare Live! is a kind of variety bill. We’ve got some of the greatest classical actors around. Judi Dench will be there, Ian McKellen will be there. Live performance is what Shakespeare is all about.”
Further highlights of the celebration include BBC Two’s The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses featuring a wealth of talent including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keeley Hawes, Sophie Okonedo, Sir Michael Gambon and Judi Dench. As previously announced, Matt Lucas, Maxine Peake and Elaine Paige will star in A Midsummer Night’s Dream on BBC One.
Sam Mendes, who is executive producer on Hollow Crown, took to the stage at BBC Broadcasting house to explain how “unbelievably proud” he was of the series. “When I was doing Bond, I was stuck in Mexico and getting daily updates from Hollow Crown… Benedict Cumberbatch gives a great performance of Richard III. It’s been made unbelievably well by Dominic Cooke ”
The festival will also feature new Radio 3 dramas inspired by the life and work of Shakespeare. Naomi Alderman’s The Wolf in the Water will imagine what became of Shylock’s daughter Jessica from The Merchant of Venice, and Ian McDiarmid will take on the title role in a new version of King Lear. Radio 4 listeners will hear Tim Piggott-Smith play Julius Caesar in a new three-part production.
Back on BBC Two, David Mitchell will play the bard opposite Liza Tarbuck as his wife and Harry Enfield as his father in Ben Elton’s comedy Upstart Crow. Horrible Histories returns to CBBC with a special episode about the life and times of Shakespeare.
Best Bottoms in the Land will broadcast on BBC One English Regions and follows the RSC’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation as it tours the UK, with professionals joined by local amateur theatre companies.
Shakespeare fans around the world will be able to join in the celebrations with Shakespeare Day Live on April 23. Hosted in Birmingham and co-curated by the BBC and British Council, the initiative will bring together interpretations of Shakespeare’s work in one digital space for audiences around the world to experience.
Talking at the launch, Gregory Doran said: “Shakespeare is for everyone so we want as many people as possible to have a chance to experience his work this year.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the BBC in a fantastic initiative to bring Shakespeare’s legacy to audiences all over the UK.”
In some of the more ‘quirky’ offerings, daytime soap opera Doctors will offer storylines ‘inspired by a Shakespearean Sonnet’, and a new online guide ‘ShakespeareMe iWonder’ will ‘let the user find a perfect Shakespeare emoji quote to fit their mood’.
Actors including Maxine Peake, David Morrissey and Rufus Hound will come together to perform in a benefit show for the UN Refugee Agency at the National Theatre.
The event will feature both new and existing work by writers including Richard Bean, Michelle Terry and David Edgar, and will be curated by actor Emma Manton in response to the refugee crisis in Europe.
Peake said: “I am supporting this event as everything that can be done to help and support the refugee crisis must be done. I hope events like this will encourage the powers that be to allow more refugees a home and sanctuary in our country.”
Andy Nyman, Noma Dumezweni, Ray Fearon, Adjoa Andoh and Zubin Varla will also perform at the event, which will take place on February 14 in the Lyttelton Theatre.
UN Refugee Agency representative Gonzalo Vargas Llosa said the organisation was “deeply grateful” that the event would be taking place.
“With your support, we will be able to continue our life-saving work to protect and meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable refugee families,” he said.
Further cast and creatives are yet to be announced.