Monday, 1 September 2008

September 1st

September 1st always seems a symbolic date, the start of the new year proper. I have to admit to always looking forward to it coming round, it's a day filled with the sense of everything being possible.

Our students are still three weeks away from induction, but the recruitment figures have held up really well and for the fourth year running we didn't activate clearing. This is a positive sign as we interviewed everybody who came across well in their application and simultaneously put the entry requirements up and, so we're attracting stronger students. It's a slow process of raising the bar, but we believe that the more curious and motivated the students, the more pleasure there is to the work and the more effective our focus on practical training will be.

There is a great sense of anticipation at this time of year and the next three weeks will be filled with lesson planning, updating courses and imagining the most stimulating semester we can for the students.

Being in London is a huge advantage for us and, post-Edinburgh and the Olympics, Autumn is a bumper time for great theatre here. It's very exciting to look ahead and see which shows are coming into town between now and Christmas.

The National Theatre open the booking for their new season on Wednesday. Amongst the highlights are Gethsemane, a new play by David Hare. The new DV8 piece To Be Straight With You and a visit from the excellent Chicago based Steppenwolf bringing August:Osage County - a new play by Tracy Letts.

Elsewhere, The Royal Court, are producing Now or Later (see image) by Christopher Shinn, timed to topically coincide with the US election in November, the play is set on the eve of a Democratic victory and explores the limits of stage managed control in creating our future leaders.

Closer to Uni, The Orange Tree are presenting a season of Vaclav Havel plays, kicking off with Leaving - which explores the political dynamics of power and time.

Other work I'm looking forward to trying to catch includes Peter Brook's production of Beckett's Fragments at the Young Vic, the Robert LePage nine hour epic Lipsynch, at the Barbican, Filter's Twelfth Night at the Tricycle, the new Neil LaBute play In a Dark, Dark House, at the Almeida, Spectacular by Forced Entertainment at the Riverside, the British premiere of Brecht's Turandot at Hampstead, Frantic Assembly's Othello at the Lyric and a reclaiming of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic.

...What a City!

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