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News, Auditions and Shout Outs from The Bear Pit


Some friendly faces at The Bear Pit Theatre.


There’s lots going on at The Bear Pit Theatre in Rother Street, Stratford, with exciting new shows taking place throughout the year. They are delighted to announce four of the plays which they will be producing in 2024: In February, actor and playwright, Paul Greenwood will direct his new play, Head & Heart; March will see Jacquie Campbell directing Laura Wade’s short play, Colder Than Here, a play that will make audiences both laugh and cry; April will see a welcome return of postponed production Art, written by Yasmin Reza and directed by Lynda Lewis; in June, seasoned director, Phil Beeson will be directing Glorious, the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, the worst singer in the world.


Auditions and read throughs are due to start this month, and the theatre welcomes new people. So, if you’ve always wanted to get into theatre this is a great opportunity to give it a try. For more details of the plays, the character roles, rehearsal and performance dates etc., please visit the website.


Head & Heart. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit


Head & Heart is a dramatization of the process of creative writing. Eve is a writer who is struggling with ideas. She begins by bringing characters on to the stage/page and attempting to make them interact in some way so that she can create a story. She tries various ideas, but nothing works. The characters talk back to her making suggestions and this leads to conflict.


Evelyn, who is Eve’s nemesis, alter ego, conscience and teacher, appears later in the play and she attempts to explain to Eve where she is going wrong. She makes suggestions and the characters sometimes side with her and sometimes with Eve. Eventually, the characters begin to take over the writing of the story. Early on in the play a gun is introduced. One of the rules of drama is that if a gun is brought on stage, it must be used.



Colder Than Here. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.


Colder Than Here, is a funny, tender, uplifting play about….dying. Yes, it’s something that happens to us all eventually. And it’s happening to Myra sooner, rather than later. So, she’s determined to spend her remaining days in the most productive way – planning the perfect funeral and forcing her reluctant family to start talking to each other!


First performed in 2005, Laura Wade’s beautifully observed family drama, set in Leamington Spa, was described by the Sunday Times as ‘a 90-minute masterpiece, a jewel.’ And The Stage as ‘deliciously delicate black humour’.


Glorious. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.


Glorious by Peter Quilter, directed by Phil Beeson. The play has been described by critics as “a hilarious and heart-warming comedy”, a lunatically funny comedy”, and “an affectionate tribute to a 22-carat eccentric”. Glorious is set in 1940s New York, and follows the extraordinary performing career of Florence Foster Jenkins, “the worst singer in the world”, an enthusiastic soprano whose pitch was far from perfect, but who was the performed that everyone wanted to see live.


This delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics as she warbled and screeched her way through the evening to an audience who mostly fell about with laughter.


At the start of the play, “Madame” Jenkins is interviewing her new pianist Cosme. As the play progresses, we follow her through a recording studio session, an annual charity ball and finally to her sell-out concert at Carnegie Hall.


The show premiered at Birmingham Repertory Theatre followed by a UK tour and into the West End. The inimitable Maureen Lipman created the central role.


The auditions and read throughs aren’t just to find actors, if you’re interested more in ‘behind the scenes’ work such as making scenery, lighting, props, costumes etc, you will be more than welcome. Even if you don’t want to audition, you can go along to the ‘read throughs’ to find out more about these fascinating plays. Simply register your interest first on the form on the Bear Pit's website and go along on the relevant date. There’s lots of casting details and character descriptions on the website under ‘News’.


Other news! Artistic Director, David Mears says that when people visit the theatre in September, they will see they have taken the decision to revert their auditorium from the current in-the-round configuration back to its original proscenium configuration.


He says, “The in-the-round configuration has served us extremely well in terms of ensuring adequate movement for our audiences, in particular during social distancing, improving audience sightlines, creating more of an intimate performance space – essentially a pit for our players, whilst challenging all of our actors and directors to work in different ways to what they were used to when performing in a traditional proscenium layout. The work to return the auditorium back to its original configuration will begin in late July, with a view to completing the project by the end of August.”


To find out more and to register your interest in being a part of The Bear Pit’s team, please go to: https://www.thebearpit.org.uk/


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