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Arts of the UK 2020: Talking Heads at Watford Palace Theatre [CANCELLED]

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Talking Heads has been cancelled in light of the worsening COVID-19 situation, in a statement from Watford Palace:


Following careful consideration, and in light of the Prime Minister’s and Public Health England advice Watford Palace Theatre has taken the difficult decision to cancel our current successful run of Talking Heads, with immediate effect. We are also postponing our forthcoming April run of Abigail’s Party until 2021. 

These are not decisions that we, as a Theatre, have made lightly, but that we do feel are necessary during these uncertain times; the welfare of our patrons, performers and staff is paramount.

COVID-19 will have significant financial implications for the Watford Palace Theatre, a charity which has been at the heart of the Watford community since 1908.

Much of our income is dependent upon donations, and the generosity of our wonderful audiences who purchase tickets to our productions.

We will continue to honour all contracts previously agreed with freelance actors, artists and creatives, who are facing great uncertainty in this challenging period. This is in line with guidance from Arts Council England.

Furthermore, we will continue to work with our freelance colleagues to create a new digital project which will be available online and for everyone over the coming weeks when many of us will be self-isolating.

Watford Palace Theatre is determined, with the support of our loyal patrons and fans, to emerge from these difficult times more resilient than ever before, with a unique and engaging programme of work.

So we are asking those of you who have purchased tickets to any of our cancelled shows to consider donating the cost, if you are able to, to help assure our future. For those unable to do so, credit notes will of course be available allowing you to return at another time. If this is unsuitable, we will offer a full refund.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and support whilst we continue to serve the community we love.

If you would like to make a general donation during this time, we will be forever grateful.  

From the team at Watford Palace Theatre.

Original article continues here:

WATFORD – Jan Ravens and Julia Watson have been cast in Talking Heads, three of the much-loved classic monologues from British playwriting royalty, Alan Bennett, directed by Watford Palace Theatre’s own artistic director Brigid Larmour.  Poignant, comic and full of humanity, Talking Heads invites us into the hearts and minds of three peculiarly English ladies – Muriel in her tweed skirt and pearls in Soldiering On, the public-spirited Miss Ruddock in A Lady of Letters, and Susan, the long-suffering Vicar’s wife in Bed Among The Lentils.

Talking Heads was a series of 12 dramatic monologues written for BBC television. The two series were first broadcast in 1988 and 1998, and have since been broadcast on BBC Radio and included on the A-level and GCSE English Literature syllabus.

Jan Ravens is one of the UK’s most successful impressionists. She is a long running star of BBC’s Dead Ringers and her Theresa May impression has achieved cult status, going viral on social media and with over 1 million views on YouTube. She is a regular contributor across BBC Radio 4, on programmes such as Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, alongside current affairs programmes such as Broadcasting HouseThe Week in Westminster and Today. On stage, she achieved rave reviews and broke box office records with her solo show Difficult Woman and she recently completed a sell-out tour with Rory Bremner. At Cambridge she was the first woman president of the Footlights and directed the revue, The Cellar Tapes, with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery, which won the first Perrier comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival. Her stage work includes shows at Chichester Festival Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Manchester Royal Exchange, RSC and Watford Palace Theatre. Recent television includes The Royal Variety Performance, Richard Osman’s House Of Games, The Imitation Game (ITV).

Director, and artistic director of Watford Palace Theatre Brigid Larmour said, “This project was made for Jan.  Even as a student at Cambridge she combined a virtuosic skill with accents and comedy, with an ability to get under the skin of a character and break your heart. She will make Alan Bennett’s brilliant writing sing.”

This will be Julia Watson’s third play at Watford Palace Theatre.  In 2018 she played Leonato in the all-female Much Ado About Nothing and nearly 20 years ago she appeared as Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea. Her stage work is extensive, including several plays at the National Theatre and the West End. Recent roles include Margaret Thatcher in Handbagged (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick), Arkadina in The Seagull and Mrs Durrell in My Family and Other Animals (Theatre Royal, York), Esme in Amy’s View (Nottingham Playhouse) and last year a Scottish tour of JM Barrie’s The Twelve Pound Look in which she played Kate. On television she is best known, perhaps, for playing Casualty‘s Dr Baz on and off for 18 years. She was Lyn Smallbridge in the long-running situation comedy Never the Twain and the mum in the ITV children’s show Welcome to Orty-fou. Films include the Bollywood Baar Baar Dekho and the BAFTA nominated short The Karman Line. She was the reciter in the world premiere of The Woman and the Hare (Sir Harrison Birtwistle/ David Harsent) with the Nash Ensemble.  The CD recording received a Grammy nomination for best performance.

Brigid Larmour, an experienced director, producer, and dramaturg, is Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Watford Palace Theatre. WPT credits include Absurd Person SingularMuch Ado About NothingComing UpJefferson’s GardenLove Me Do, Von Ribbentrop’s WatchFourteenPerfect MatchWe That Are Left, Mrs Reynolds and the RuffianEqually DividedOur FatherMy Mother Said I Never ShouldTime of My LifeAbsent FriendsAs You Like It, and four pantomimes.  She has a record of supporting diverse talent, since directing Charlotte Keatley’s ground-breaking My Mother Said I Never Should, and the first ‘all-Black’ British regional theatre production, Mustapha Matura’s Playboy of the West Indies, at Contact Theatre, Manchester in the 80s. From 1998- 2006 she was Artistic Director of West End company Act Productions, and adviser to BBC4 Plays.

Alan Bennett has been one of the UK’s leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for the stage, including Forty Years OnThe Lady In The VanA Question of AttributionThe Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George) and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, The History Boys won Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Olivier awards, and the South Bank Award.

Talking Heads has been cancelled in light of the upcoming COVID-19 situation.

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