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The Play What I Read

You may recall, from a previous article, how I read many different versions of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, all in aid of staging a production in London later this year with New Dreams Theatre. Well, some people have requested an update.

After numerous meetings (in a variety of drinking establishments) the director, Kevin Russell, honed in on one particular version. He applied for the performing rights and to our surprise received a positive response - but with a request that we first supply a pack consisting of our CVs, reviews from previous shows and a reference from the manager of the Barons Court Theatre, the venue we had pre-booked. There followed a dramatic pause of Pinteresque proportion before we secured the rights to perform Bryony Lavery’s version.

A bit of a coup for us, as this will be the London première of her script. She is a very popular and multi-award-winning playwright, with plays such as Frozen, Stockholm and last year’s National Theatre production of Treasure Island to her name.

[Bryony Lavery]

While twiddling our thumbs, we chose the cover image for the posters and flyers. When one is creating an image there are a few options available: design it yourself; get a designer to do it; choose an existing picture and pay for the rights; or, as we did, trawl through hundreds of pictures on photo library websites.

‘It has to reflect,’ Kevin said, sipping his lager, ‘what I want to bring to the production and be something that grabs the attention from across a crowded room.’

He tore open the sea salt and balsamic vinegar crisps and placed them in-between us as we agreed to focus on Nora’s dilemma.

‘As the protagonist of the story,’ he continued, ‘Nora is trapped both by her physical and psychological barriers. Her panic and self-doubt builds throughout the play.’

Could this be captured in one image?

‘She fears losing everything she knows and is trapped by a note lying in the locked letterbox by the door.’ He smiled and crunched another crisp.

We chose this dramatic picture - what do you think?

The technical crew have also been assembled. Ben Cowan, whose credits include BBC TV Dramas, is composing the original music score - the production designer is one of Cameron Mackintosh’s newest: the superbly imaginative Katie Murray-Unsworth - and Roman Berry is choreographer.

Attention has since turned to the actors. Kevin posted up an advert on trade websites and arranged a free day with the theatre to hold auditions – firstly for the part of Nora.

‘The whole play rests on her shoulders, so it is important to get this casting right.’

I receive daily texts from him as he declares how many applications he has received; now he has the mind-boggling task of whittling the (at time of writing 180 actresses) down to a manageable dozen or so.

These ladies will be invited to audition for us at the end of August. I will write more about this process and the audition day itself in a few weeks.

Tickets are already selling, too! Reservations can be made by phone (020 8932 4747) or by email ( should you be interested.

Facebook: NewDreamsTheatre

Twitter @KevinNewdreams

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