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Criterion Theatre

From the Artistic Director
8th June

A warm hello to you all,

As I write, social media is filled with reports, posts and videos relating to the long-awaited official start of the City of Culture 2021, with the ‘Coventry Moves’ procession on Saturday kicking off the year-long festivities. At the Criterion, we are so pleased that we are able to plan to open our doors again after the long Covid lockdown and make our own special contribution to the cultural and artistic community of Coventry.

All through lockdown, we have been creatively busy with online shows and Zoom play readings, but there is nothing quite like live theatre and we are looking forward to welcoming you back through our creaky front doors. And I have so many exciting things to let you know about that are happening over the next couple of months…

‘3Women’ by Katy Brand - Saturday 26th June to Saturday July 3rd.

Our first post-lockdown live production is a wonderfully funny and heart-warming story written by comedian Katy Brand and directed by Bill Butler, who knows a thing or two about directing a great comedy (Wind in the Willows, Accidental Death of An Anarchist, Reduced Shakespeare). It has been such a pleasure to see a set being built; props, costume and tech meetings happening; and of course rehearsals back on our stage. We also have the honour of this being the amateur premiere of the play.

Set over the course of one night, the play sees three generations of women from the same family discuss life, love and food along with some 21st century gender debate thrown in for good measure.

In order to ease us all back into live theatre after Covid, the play will be performed to a 50% audience capacity, allowing us to keep some reassuring measures of social distancing in place, and protect us against any changes to the government roadmap that might occur. The Criterion is as Covid-secure as is humanly possible, and we are ensuring that we are exceeding all regulatory requirements by not moving too fast back to ‘normal’ business as usual. There will also be an additional online streamed version of a recording of the first night performance available for 24 hours on 17th July.

So, please get your tickets now and support your theatre coming out of lockdown. Given the reduced capacity, they will sell fast and we do not want anyone to be disappointed. Tickets available to purchase on our website www.criteriontheatre.co.uk along with information about the play and our Covid safety measures.

Queers: The Revival – The Criterion on Tour at the Albany Theatre, Sunday July 18th.

In celebration of the City of Culture, the National Drama Festivals Association (NDFA) is holding their week-long British All-Winners Festival at The Albany Theatre. The festival is a celebration of the very best of amateur drama from around the country and features 14 plays across seven nights from Sunday July 18th to Saturday 24th July. The Criterion is honoured to have been asked to reprise our September 2020 sell-out production of ‘Queers’ curated by Mark Gatiss, providing the opening night of the festival.

Please do come and support the Criterion Theatre as we promote our work in a different venue. As we only played to a very small socially-distanced audience last year, we know that many people were unable to get tickets. Here is another chance so see this wonderful collection of beautifully-written monologues, all by different writers, celebrating a century of evolving social attitudes and political milestones in British LGBTQI+ history. Tickets can be purchased from the ‘Queers’ link on our website, or directly with the Albany Theatre https://www.albanytheatre.co.uk/ndfa-18/ .

In addition, do come along to the festival for what is going to be a very exciting week of theatre and an amazing thing to have happening just on our doorstep. The festival includes a mixture of one act and full length plays in the evenings and workshops in the day including Voice Coaching and Stage Combat with the RSC and a Les Miserables Masterclass with West End star and Coventrian David Willetts. Details of all the plays and ticket purchases including discounts for multiple bookings at https://www.albanytheatre.co.uk/shows/ndfa/

The Criterion Represents at the Drama Festivals Conference Saturday July 24th

I have the great pleasure of representing the Criterion Theatre and leading the morning session of the Drama Festivals Conference on Saturday 24th July at the Albany Theatre. This year, the conference theme is ‘Diversity and Inclusion’, and it gives me a chance to draw on some of my professional life outside of the Criterion in my job as Professor of Work, Employment and Diversity at the University of Leicester. I will be joined in the session by Alexander Mushore who is now an RSC professional actor, but as many of you will remember started his acting career at the Criterion (Three Angels, Proof, Who Killed Liberty Vallance), and by Georgia Kelly and Leigh Bartlam from the cast of Queers. The afternoon session will be led by Ian Wainwright from the RSC and Penny Amis from Side By Side Theatre (a company who works with children and adults with learning disabilities). It should be a great day and a real opportunity for some honest and open discussions about how we can look to improve diversity and inclusion in our amateur theatres. The conference is open to anyone and tickets (which include a Royal Bengal lunch) can be purchased by emailing derek.palmer1@btinternet.com who will then send you all the registration information.

Underneath The Lintel by Glen Berger - Saturday 28th August to Saturday 4th September. We end the summer in style with a fabulous one-man show, directed by the masterful Richard Warren (It’s A Wonderful Life,Steady Rain, Flarepath) and starring our very own Chair, Jon Elves. This play is sure to delight and fascinate, being a modern fable, neatly wrapped in a detective story. Our protagonist is a librarian in a small Dutch town and one day a book is returned anonymously, 113 years late. Who brought it back - and why? All the librarian has to go on is a clue scribbled in a margin, and an unclaimed dry-cleaning ticket. How does he solve this mystery? And how does it change his life? It's a beautiful, funny, moving piece of storytelling. We are waiting to see how the Covid roadmap pans out before we decide on audience capacity so tickets will be on sale as soon as possible, but do stick the date in your diary now!

The Criterion Theatre on Coventry Digital

We are so pleased to be part of a City of Culture collaboration with Coventry University in the launch of Coventry Digital. This is an online archive of photos, videos, maps and documents that are designed to celebrate the city’s heritage. The Criterion has a special place in the collection with its own gallery, and there you can see around 500 photographs from our archive stretching across our 60 years. Go to www.coventry.digital/groups and scroll to our gallery. Thanks to our President Keith Railton and to our Webmaster Pete Gillam for working so hard to make sure we could be a part of this fantastic cultural resource.

Not bad for the first couple of months out of lockdown eh? Please do buy tickets and come along and support our productions and keep an eye on the website for new events and happenings. We’ve got lots planned for the rest of our 60th anniversary year, and we are also busy planning for our 2022 season, announcements of which will come soon.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me on artisticdirector@criteriontheatre.co.uk about anything to do with the artistic activities at the theatre-I’d love to hear from you,

With all creative dust,

Anne-marie

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