An Honourable Man Q&A video and photos: Has there ever been a more poisonous time in UK politics? (Insiders’ views)

Populism, patriotism, political theatre, predictions for Brexit and the fast-paced nature of life-imitating-art-imitating-life were amongst the topics covered in an incredibly good-natured discussion across a wide partisan spectrum at the post-show debate I chaired on Wednesday night at the premiere of An Honourable Man.
Michael McManus’ play had a sell-out, try-out week in June, which attracted […]

  • I chaired a post-show Q&A with Stand & Be Counted Theatre at their performance of Where We Began at HighTide Festival in Walthamstow on 23 Sep 2018. © Peter Jones
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    Where We Began Q&A video and photos: Should where we’re born define where we end up?

Where We Began Q&A video and photos: Should where we’re born define where we end up?

Should country of birth define your identity or determine where you end up? 
Set in the near-future, Stand and Be Counted Theatre’s highly political new play Where We Began imagines a world where a new universal law mandates that everyone must return to where they were born and stay there. Borders are built everywhere and strictly enforced: […]

  • The London cast of Hamilton is led by Jamael Westman and Giles Terera as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
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    History has its eyes on us all: My joy and sorrow at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton

History has its eyes on us all: My joy and sorrow at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton

I feel incredibly privileged to have been “in the room where it happens” to see the European premiere of HAMILTON last night at the West End’s Victoria Palace Theatre.

There is so much to love about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster hip-hop musical about one of my homeland’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, not least a glorious British cast, under the assured stewardship of […]

  • Joanne Pearce, Ameet Chana & Ian McDiarmid at What Shadows Q&A at London's Park Theatre
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    Podcast and photos: Ian McDiarmid and What Shadows cast on Enoch Powell and THAT speech

Podcast and photos: Ian McDiarmid and What Shadows cast on Enoch Powell and THAT speech

How do we talk to those that we hate? How do we speak across the anger that divides us? Those are the opening lines in Chris Hannan’s provocative new play, What Shadows – and they were also amongst the questions raised in the  Q&A I chaired with the cast after last night’s packed performance at London’s Park […]

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    Plays diary: What Shadows, Ink, The Unknown Island, Lucy Light, The Swallow

Plays diary: What Shadows, Ink, The Unknown Island, Lucy Light, The Swallow

I’ve had a rich few weeks for playgoing. In addition to productions I’ve already written about elsewhere – including, of those still running, Arrows and Traps’ Frankenstein at Brockley Jack and Stephen Clark’s Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios 2 – here’s a quick round-up of some other smart plays I’ve seen recently and […]

  • Peter Hamilton Dyer (George Orwell), Jimmy Walters (director) & Tony Cox (writer) at the Mrs Orwell Q&A. © Peter Jones
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    Mrs Orwell Q&A podcast and photos: What might George Orwell have written after 1984?

Mrs Orwell Q&A podcast and photos: What might George Orwell have written after 1984?

Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged by a staggering 9,500% after the election of Donald Trump to become Amazon’s biggest seller. Orwell himself died, at the age of 46, in January 1950, just seven months after 1984 was published. What might he have written after 1984, and his earlier hit novel Animal Farm (published in 1945), if he’d lived […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: What does Marlowe’s Edward II tell us about identity and gay rights?

Q&A podcast and photos: What does Marlowe’s Edward II tell us about identity and gay rights?

The plays may have been written 420-odd years apart, but I was really struck  by how many parallels there were between the discussion I hosted last week, to the European premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company at Trafalgar Studios, and the one I hosted last night, to Christopher Marlowe’s 16th-century classic Edward II.

Late Company, set […]

  • Clockwise from top left: Mrs Orwell, Salad Days, Boom and King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe
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    My (non-Edinburgh) theatre diary: Salad Days, Mrs Orwell, Boom and Cowboy Rufus

My (non-Edinburgh) theatre diary: Salad Days, Mrs Orwell, Boom and Cowboy Rufus

It’s not just umbrella festival programmes, as I blogged earlier, that keep myself and other London theatregoers busy in August. Here’s a round-up of some of the other plays and musicals I’ve seen recently that are worth a look. Get booking if any tickle your fancy – all are limited seasons finishing in the […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: Is Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic?

Q&A podcast and photos: Is Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic?

Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic? Particularly with its treatment of spirited Kate, the Shrew of the title, who is starved and mentally tormented (gaslighting long before Patrick Hamilton, Ingrid Bergman or Donald Trump: “I say it is the moon [not the sun] that shines so bright”) into the role of […]

  • David Baddiel uses Twitter to guide his storytelling in My Family: Not the Sitcom at the Playhouse
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    Inspired by David Baddiel: My top ten most highly trolled tweets

Inspired by David Baddiel: My top ten most highly trolled tweets

As a Twitter geek, one of the things I enjoyed most about David Baddiel’s latest one-man show My Family: Not the Sitcom, which is now enjoying its second West End run at the Playhouse Theatre after premiering last year at the Menier Chocolate Factory, is how he so successfully employs social media in his […]

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    Q&A photos and podcast: A return to Brechtian politics via The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Q&A photos and podcast: A return to Brechtian politics via The Caucasian Chalk Circle

What would Bertolt Brecht have made of Donald Trump? Brecht’s “epic theatre” was sparked by the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Many pundits have likened the political period we’ve now entered – with Trump in the Oval Office, Brexit under way and hard-right populism on the rise across Europe – with that dark […]

  • Paul Chahidi, Roger Allam, Shirley Williams and Tom Goodman-Hill play the "Gang of Four" in Limehouse. © Jack Sain
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    Limehouse asks both ‘what if?’ and ‘why not now?’ Urgent questions

Limehouse asks both ‘what if?’ and ‘why not now?’ Urgent questions

Steve Waters’ Limehouse is as much a rallying call as a play: a rallying call for those of us left politically homeless by Jeremy Corbyn’s failed Labour Party.

It takes its name from the east London district where the “Gang of Four” – then-Labour politicians Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and David Owen (played respectively […]

  • My Country; a work in progress
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    The ‘will of the people’? London has no place in My Country

The ‘will of the people’? London has no place in My Country

I’ve never voted Conserative. Indeed, the morning after the 2015 General Election, I was so horrified that, after five years of austerity, the Tories had not only got back in but had done so with a majority, that I immediately joined the Labour Party and vowed to get the Tories out at the next election. […]

  • Women's March London, 21 January 2017. © Peter Jones
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    Tanya Moodie on Trump: ‘We need to keep marching together, every day’

Tanya Moodie on Trump: ‘We need to keep marching together, every day’

This week the president of the United States Donald Trump said (or rather tweeted) that those who participated in protests against his administration fell into one of three categories: “professional anarchists, thugs or paid protestors”.

His White House Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated the last in a television interview, insisting that protestors are definitely paid, that protest has […]

  • Me and Mark Shenton in the middle with some of our amazing Awards volunteers: James Lawrence, Claire Ackling, Tina Foote and critic Kate Maltby
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    Behind-the-scenes: My Critics’ Circle Awards experience and Glenda Jackson crush

Behind-the-scenes: My Critics’ Circle Awards experience and Glenda Jackson crush

A year ago when blogging about the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, my headline was “Critics’ Circle Award winners: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?”

I didn’t know then that Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chair Mark Shenton would go on to ask me to produce these awards, nor that, in a moment […]

Top Trumps podcast: What can we do next as progressives?

The best antidote to hopelessness has got to be action. That’s what I have kept reminding myself over the past few months, and what I recited almost mantra-like on Friday afternoon as I watched Donald J Trump be sworn in as the 45th US president and then deliver a dystopian, divisive inaugural speech that painted the rest of […]

  • Ed Harris, Jeremy Irvine, Charlotte Hope & Barnaby Kay Ed Harris & Jeremy Irvine in Buried Child at London's Trafalgar Studios
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    6 Quotes: What can Buried Child tell us about Trump’s America?

6 Quotes: What can Buried Child tell us about Trump’s America?

What does Sam Shepard’s 1978 play Buried Child have to tell us about America after the presidential election of Donald Trump? The West End transfer of the New Group’s production, first seen in New York this past February, was announced in September, when the likelihood of a Trump presidency was still being dismissed by […]

  • David Fynn and the West End cast of School of Rock. © Tristram Kenton
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about School of Rock The Musical

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about School of Rock The Musical

Here’s everything you need to know about last night’s West End premiere of School of Rock: The Musical in a nutshell: Andrew Lloyd Webber has a monster hit on his hands; the show is both a return to hit factory form for the Lord and also not at all what you’d expect from a Lord; […]

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    What fair-minded people need to know about… Trump’s America

What fair-minded people need to know about… Trump’s America

In the days before this year’s US presidential election, Donald Trump predicted that the result would be “Brexit-plus-plus-plus”.  For me personally, “Brexit-plus-plus-plus” is a fair description of my personal reaction to the news: as an American who has lived in London most of her adult life, someone who has dual nationality, someone who campaigned hard in […]

  • The Trial of Jane Fonda post-show Q&A on 19 July 2016. All event photos © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Jane Fonda and war on trial with Anne Archer and co

Photos and podcast: Jane Fonda and war on trial with Anne Archer and co

What does The Trial of Jane Fonda, concerning the actor-activist’s controversial protests during the Vietnam War (in which the UK did not support our US allies), have to tell us about more recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq (in which we did)? Particularly in the wake of the Chilcot Report? (And was the timing of […]

  • Claudio Macor and Peter Tatchell at Savage post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Peter Tatchell and the real-life Nazi war crimes behind Savage

Photos and podcast: Peter Tatchell and the real-life Nazi war crimes behind Savage

Most theatregoers will have only learned about Carl Peter Værnet from watching Claudio Macor’s new play Savage, now running upstairs at the Arts Theatre. But the Nazi doctor from Denmark has played a large role in the life of LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell for decades.

It was in the late 1980s that Tatchell first learned of Værnet, […]

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    Plays for my #Brexit & #Chilcot mood: The Truth & Faith Healer

Plays for my #Brexit & #Chilcot mood: The Truth & Faith Healer

Has anyone else had difficulty getting back into their theatregoing after the results of the EU Referendum? The two – excellent – plays I have managed to see since the UK voted to leave on 23 June, have both, in a strange way, deepened my Brexit despair too.

Neither Florian Zeller’s The Truth nor Faith Healer by […]

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    My personal #EURef round-up: If you’re not sure how to vote yet, please read & watch

My personal #EURef round-up: If you’re not sure how to vote yet, please read & watch

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two months campaigning on behalf of Britain Stronger in Europe and Labour In for Britain. In these final days leading up to the EU Referendum next Thursday, 23 June, I’m actually IN Europe, on a long-planned holiday to my favourite European escape, Mallorca. And I’m feeling […]

A View from Islington North: “It’s not all about deselection”

Having never met him before, in less than a week, I’ve crossed paths with Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, twice. Last Thursday, he attended the monthly meeting of my constituency Labour party (CLP), in which one of his colleagues threatened the deselection (or to be precise, the “mandatory reselection”) of my MP. Tonight, I […]

Monster Raving Loony: Where is the party now? Tooting…

When Monster Raving Loony was announced a few months ago, I got a bashing on Twitter when I cheekily asked dramatist James Graham if he’d considered writing his next political play about the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn – “or if that was too close to his current subject”.

I don’t want to attract more […]

  • Stephen Unwin. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: The politics of theatre at The Caucasian Chalk Circle Q&A

Photos and podcast: The politics of theatre at The Caucasian Chalk Circle Q&A

What’s the difference between political theatre and theatre about politics? Can theatre be a catalyst for real change? Do right-wing political perspectives get a fair hearing onstage or is theatre the preserve of the left-wing? And how much does modern political theatre owe to Bertolt Brecht?

These were just some of the questions that arose in a lively […]

  • Alan Rickman (1946-2016)
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    Putting Alan Rickman’s theatre work (and activism) centre stage

Putting Alan Rickman’s theatre work (and activism) centre stage

You don’t need me to tell you that Alan Rickman passed away last week, or how shocking and unexpected his death from cancer was at the age of 69, just days after his contemporary David Bowie shuffled off this mortal coil in similar circumstances.

I had just sat down at my laptop mid-day last Thursday after returning […]

Year in Review: My top Twitter activity in 2015

If you know me at all well, you’ll know that I’m a Twitter addict – which includes a love for all sorts of nerdy things to do with Twitter management and monitoring. And that includes Twitter Analytics, which has been coming on leaps and bounds over the past year.

And so, after an engrossing few […]

Please do Stop the War in the Labour Party

I have tried as much as possible to ignore the press around Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance of the Stop the War organisation’s Christmas do this week. Frankly, I just didn’t want to get myself wound up so close to the holidays over some (in my opinion, ill-judged) engagement in Corbyn’s social diary.

Labour Party leader endorses […]

Jeremy Corbyn consulted me on Syria: Here’s my response

On Friday night, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn emailed me (and other grassroots members of the Party) asking what I think Britain should do about the civil war in Syria, our national security, the threat of ISIS and, specifically, “Should Parliament vote to authorise the bombing of Syria?” He wanted to know my thoughts by the […]

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    Happy Thanksgiving: 10 things even Brits can give thanks for (including theatre, of course)

Happy Thanksgiving: 10 things even Brits can give thanks for (including theatre, of course)

A year ago I was gorging myself on turkey and pumpkin pie and basking in family love in Huntsville, Alabama. It was my first time back to the States for Thanksgiving in over 20 years and it reminded me what a top-drawer holiday it is. You get a Christmas meal with all the family […]

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    13 thoughts On Freedom: Belarus Free Theatre marks ten years by Staging a Revolution

13 thoughts On Freedom: Belarus Free Theatre marks ten years by Staging a Revolution

Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), the underground theatre group routinely censored and persecuted in its state-controlled homeland, is celebrating its tenth birthday this month.

Founded by human rights activist husband-and-wife Nikolai Khalezin and Natalie Koliada, joined by director Vladimir Shcherban, BFT’s inaugural production in May 2005 was Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, which tackles Belarusian taboo subjects […]

This is England: Barbarians tap into anti-austerity rage

I’m not the only theatre person who was focused on the Conservative Party Conference last week.

Though she may not have anticipated quite the extent of the spitting, pig mask wearing protests outside the gates of the “Tory scum” meetings, Tooting Arts Club producer did intentionally time the opening of her Tooting Arts Club revival […]

  • A brief moment's political respite: on the beach in Brighton
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    My Conference diary: A striking similarity to the Edinburgh Fringe

My Conference diary: A striking similarity to the Edinburgh Fringe

I wish I could have been in Manchester last week for the Conservative Party annual conference. Not because I’ve suddenly gone “true Blue” and definitely not because I wanted to spit at those who are.

I joined the Labour Party the day after this year’s General Election and, despite (not because of) Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership […]

  • Bryan Vernel and Joshua McGuire are hilarious as food-fighting political combatants in Future Conditional at the Old Vic, September 2015
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    What do the Old Vic and Labour Party regime changes have in common?

What do the Old Vic and Labour Party regime changes have in common?

I’ve witnessed at first-hand two regime changes over the past few days and curiously they have a man in common: Ed Miliband.

The political regime change, the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn as Miliband’s Labour Party leadership successor, has of course dominated the news this weekend. As a Labour Party member myself – and one who […]

What would Jeremy Corbyn do for the arts?

I was pleased to be invited to an event at the Arcola Theatre last night, to hear Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn launch his new Arts Policy document. This is the latest in more than a dozen Policy documents that Corbyn has released during the party leadership race since June.

Nine days before the deadline […]

Is UK justice for sale to the highest bidders? (VIDEO)

If you have never been unlucky enough to find yourself in the middle of a legal dispute, I can almost guarantee you – or, at least, 99% of you – that you can’t afford it. Certainly not if it drags on for months or years, as such matters tend to; certainly not if it […]

  • "By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone": meeting others who believe this was life-changing for me
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    I’ve just been accepted into a club I’ve been looking for all my life: The Labour Party

I’ve just been accepted into a club I’ve been looking for all my life: The Labour Party

I had a life-changing moment on Thursday night. I showed up to an event where I didn’t know anyone and discovered it was exactly where I belonged.

Relationships aside, I’ve had this powerful an epiphany of self-realisation only twice before in my life. The first was when I came to the UK as a student […]

Benn, Bevan, Michael Sheen and the NHS: Who Cares?

My newfound Tony Benn obsession has also got me thinking anew about the “most dangerous” Labour man in Parliament before him: the Welsh politician and founder of the National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960).

And thinking of Bevan reminded me that I still hadn’t got round to blogging about actor Michael Sheen’s brilliant speech at […]

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    Articles, quotes, radio and film documentaries feeding my new Tony Benn obsession

Articles, quotes, radio and film documentaries feeding my new Tony Benn obsession

I knew embarrassingly little of Tony Benn before seeing Andy Barrett’s new play Tony’s Last Tape this past Sunday. (Read my separate blog on the production and interview with its star Philip Bretherton here.)

But since Sunday, boy have I been making up for lost time. After leaving the Bridgehouse, I’ve devoured obituaries and other articles […]

Tony Benn’s message for this Thursday: ‘Vote!’

After success at Nottingham Playhouse, Tony’s Last Tape has transferred to south London’s new fringe theatre, the Bridgehouse in Penge SE20, for a three-week run in election month.

I imagine that Labour Party faithful and others of a particular political persuasion have more pressing matters on their mind just at the moment. But I do […]