Director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST), Samuel Hodges, today announces full casting for the world première of Women in Power. NST Associate Director Blanche McIntyre directs Lydia Bewley, best known for The InBetweeners, Plebs and E4’s comedy Drifters, Elizabeth Boag, Anna Fordham, Lisa Kerr, Anne Odeke and Alicia Mckenzie. The production sees some of the UK’s most influential female voices, Wendy Cope, Jenny Eclair, Suhayla El-Bushra, Natalie Haynes, Shappi Khorsandi, Jess Phillips MP and Brona C Titley, come together to write this musical comedy based on the Greek classic, The Assemblywomen. The production opens on 13 September at NST City, with previews from 6 September and runs until 29 September.
The country is in political turmoil. Recent wars and alliances have left Athenians no option but to take the most extreme action. The most radical: a government of women!
Strategia masterminds and leads a daring coup d’état, outlining her utopian vision of total equality to her crowd of cross-dressing collaborators. A world where power imbalance is eradicated and with it debt, greed and theft. But this has unintended and hilarious consequences.
Women in Power is a raucous new musical comedy, and a reimagining of the original, by a team of leading female writers from the world of poetry, broadcasting, theatre and stand up. Combined with an exceptional comic cast and led by NST Associate Blanche McIntyre, Aristophanes’ Women in Power is turned into a celebration of sketches with songs, dance, music and women taking the lead.
Women in Power will open the Bungalow Café Festival – a new arts festival in Southampton to celebrate 100 years since the first British Women won the right to vote.
Lydia Bewley’s theatre credits include The River Line (Jermyn Street Theatre). Her television credits include Plebs, Drifters, The Royals, Top Coppers, Code of a Killer, I Live With Models and Drunk History; and for film, The Inbetweeners Movie and The Inbetweeners 2.
Elizabeth Boag’s theatre credits include Break of Noon (Finborough), Invincible, Hero's Welcome, Confusions, Arrivals and Departures, Farcicals (UK and US tour), Roundelay (UK tour), Private Thoughts in Public Places (Oval House), Lilies On The Land (Arts Theatre), Stella (Southwark Playhouse) and The 24 Hour Plays (The Old Vic). Television credits include Joe's Palace and Stuart: A Life Backwards; and for film, Chasing Robert Barker and Scrawl.
Anna Fordham returns to the theatre following Fantastic Mr Fox (NST/Lyric Hammersmith/UK tour). Other theatre credits include The Borrowers (Watermill Theatre), Foreverland (Theatre503) and Urinetown (Stratford Circus) and for television as a series regular in The Athena.
Lisa Kerr’s credits for theatre includes The Dog Show (Kandinsky Theatre/New Diorama), Far From The Madding Crowd (The Watermill Theatre), Lionboy (Complicité /Tricycle Theatre/world tour), The Magic Flute (Complicité / Festival d’Aix-en-Provence), Cinderella (Olivier nominated co-production, St James Theatre/Tobacco Factory), Our Country’s Good (St James Theatre/Out Of Joint), Top Girls (Trafalgar Studios / Chichester Festival / Out Of Joint), Andersen’s English (Hampstead Theatre/Out Of Joint). Television credits include the upcoming Spoof or Die; and for film, The Unfolding and Reuniting the Rubins.
Anne Odeke’s theatre credits include The Secret Keeper (Oval House and UK tour), Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Storyhouse), Winnie and Wilbur (Birmingham Rep), Night Must Fall (UK tour), The Crucible (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh), Next Lesson (Pleasance Theatre), You Should Be So Lucky (Above the Stag), The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare's Globe), Women of Troy (The Scoop), and Finian's Rainbow (The Union Theatre/Charing Cross Theatre).
Alicia McKenzie’s work in theatre includes Whisky Galore (Oldham Coliseum, Hull Truck, New Vic and UK tour), A Christmas Carol (Stephen Joseph Theatre), Fuse (Crucible, Sheffield), Macbeth (Infinite Jest - London and Holland), The Life and Death of Martin Luther King (TNT - European tour), The White Witch of Rose Hall (Broadway Theatre), In a Pickle (Royal Shakespeare Theatre and UK tour), and Ring a Ding Ding (Unicorn Theatre, UK tour and New York); and for film, You Can Do Better, Asylum and In a Rush.
Wendy Cope is an Award-winning poet. Her first collection of poems, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, were published in 1986. Titles include Serious Concerns, If I Don’t Know, Two Cures for Love: Selected Poems 1979-2006, Life, Love and the Archers and Family Values. Her most recent collection, Anecdotal Evidence, was published earlier this year.
Jenny Eclair is an award-winning comedienne and has most recently been seen touring the UK with her new show How to be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane). As a writer her novels include Moving, Camberwell Beauty, Having a Lovely Time, Life Death and Vanilla Slices. Television credits include Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special, Alan Davies as Yet Untitled, QI, Battlechefs, Fifteen to One, Celebrity Masterchef, It was Alright In the 80’s, Countdown, The Joan Rivers Position and Room 101. For theatre her credits include Steaming (Piccadilly Theatre), Mum’s the Word (Albery Theatre) and The Vagina Monologues (Wyndhams Theatre).
Suhayla El-Bushra is a screenwriter and playwright. Recent stage work includes Arabian Nights (Royal Lyceum Theatre), The Suicide (National Theatre), The Iphigenia Quartet (Gate Theatre, London). Pigeons (Royal Court Theatre), Cuckoo (Unicorn Theatre) and The Kilburn Passion (Tricycle Theatre). She is currently under commission from Out Of Joint, English Touring Theatre, The National Theatre and The Bridge Theatre. She has been a core writer on C4 shows Ackley Bridge and Hollyoaks and has just made a short with Film4. She has various film and TV projects in development.
Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, was published to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, as was The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, her previous book. Her second novel The Children of Jocasta, a reimagining of the tales of Oedipus and Antigone, was published in 2018. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, reviewing for Front Row and Saturday Review and has appeared as a team captain on three seasons of Wordaholics. A second series of her show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, will be broadcast on Radio 4 next year. Her documentary on the Defining Beauty exhibition at the British Museum, Secret Knowledge: The Body Beautiful aired in 2015 on BBC4 in the UK and on BBC World News everywhere else.
Shappi Khorsandi quickly established herself as one of the country’s finest comedians in 2006 with her sell out Edinburgh show, Asylum Speaker, and, in 2007 went on to win Best Breakthrough Act at the Chortle Awards. That same year, she took her show Carry on Shappi to the Fringe and then on to Soho Theatre. Her television credits include I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, Mock The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Have I Got News For You, QI, Live At The Apollo & Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. Her screenwriting debut was in the form of Sky’s Little Crackers.
Jess Phillips was elected the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015 and has since been re-elected in 2017. Before this, she worked with victims of domestic violence sexual violence and human trafficking, and continues to speak out on behalf of those who struggle to have their voice heard, most recently on the subject of abortion and online trolling. She has worked with the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues of Violence Against Women and Girls. Phillips was one of the women who launched the #NotTheCost campaign to combat the violence faced by politically active women, and the [email protected] The Internet campaign, which challenges online abuse. Her first book, Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking The Truth, was published to great acclaim in 2017.
Brona C Titley is an award-winning writer and is currently Head Writer on Next Week’s News with Merman, whilst also writing on Tracey Breaks the News for BBC and a new series for Nickelodeon. She has most recently been working on The Mash Report, 8 Out of 10 Cats and with Disney on several projects including The Lodge, for which she wrote a newly broadcast episode. Further television writing includes Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule, Host the Week, Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, Newzoids and Off Their Rockers, along with the script for the BAFTA Television Awards.
Blanche McIntyre directs. Previous credits for Nuffield Southampton Theatres include Noises Off, Tonight at 8.30 and The Nutcracker. Other theatre credits include The Norman Conquests (Chichester Festival Theatre), Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC), Welcome Home Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse), The Oresteia (HOME Manchester), As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare’s Globe), Arcadia (Ambassador Theatre Group), The Seagull (Headlong), Accolade (St James Theatre), Repentance/Behind the Lines (Bush Theatre), Ciphers (Out of Joint), The Birthday Party (Manchester Royal Exchange), Foxfinder, Accolade and Moliere or The League of Hypocrites (Finborough Theatre), Liar Liar (Unicorn Theatre), The Only True History of Lizzie Finn and Open Heart Surgery (Southwark Playhouse), The Seven Year Itch (Salisbury Playhouse), When Did You Last See My Mother? (Trafalgar Studios); and for film as a writer, The Hippopotamus.
Clare Slater is the Literary Manager at the Donmar Warehouse in London. She also works as a freelance adaptor and dramaturg. Credits include Becoming: Part One (Donmar Warehouse), The Unknown Island, Here’s How It All Began, Idomeneus (Gate, Notting Hill), The Last Mermaid, Man To Man (Wales Millennium Centre), Lotty’s War (UK tour), We Have Fallen (Theatre 503/Underbelly). Slater previously worked as Executive Director of the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill and, prior to that, she was the Assistant Literary Manager at the National Theatre and worked in TV and film development with Rare Day. She is currently serving on the Board of the Royal & Derngate, Northampton and sits on the Creative Council of Shakespeare’s Globe.
Tim Sutton is a musical director and composer for musical theatre and choral music. Recent projects include The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (National Theatre), Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Shop, (Radio 4 Autumn 2016) and Dusty (Bath Theatre Royal). He collaborated with poet Ian McMillan on the community opera Cycle Song, which won the Royal Philharmonic Society Learning & Participation Award 2012. He was the recipient of the Stiles and Drewe Best Song Prize in 2013. Unplugged: Winning the Clay was nominated for an RPS Award in 2011, and his carol The Seven Joys was nominated for a British Composer Award in 2011. Musical Direction include The Frogs (Jermyn Street Theatre), Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre) and The Amen Corner (National Theatre). Scores for theatre include Joe Turner's Come And Gone (Young Vic), The Secret Garden (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Dreamfighter (Lichfield Festival), The Bacchae (National Theatre of Scotland), As You Like It (Wyndham's), and As You Desire Me (Playhouse). Tim hosts a podcast, Voice of the Musical, in which he interviews the writers of the most successful musicals of our time.
He is currently writing Victory, a new musical, with playwright Juliet Gilkes-Romero. He is an Associate Member of the Inner Magic Circle.
Jasmine Swan was a finalist in the Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2017, working with Phoenix Dance Theatre based in Leeds. She is currently the Laboratory Associate Designer for Nuffield Southampton Theatres 2017/18. Her theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Nuffield Southampton Youth Theatre), Son Of Rambow Workshop Production (NST at The Other Palace), Sleuth (Zoielogic Dance Theatre), Hanna (Regional Tour starting at The Arcola, Papatango), The Passing of the Third Floor Back (Finborough Theatre), Hyem (Theatre503 and Northern Stage), Scene Change Presents: Coming of Age (Liverpool Playhouse Studio), Who’s Afraid Of The Working Class? (Unity Theatre), The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Liverpool Playhouse Studio), Next Door but One (Cornerstone Theatre). Site Specific work includes co-designing the immersive performance art event Subterrania (Palm House, Liverpool) and Fiesta Bombarda (Constellations, Liverpool).
Women in Power is supported by The Linbury Trust, through the Linbury Prize for Stage Design. The Linbury Trust is a grant-making charitable foundation, established by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover KG (John Sainsbury), and his wife Anya, Lady Sainsbury, CBE, the former ballerina Anya Linden. The Linbury Prize for Stage Design is funded entirely by the Linbury Trust, and is the most important award of its kind in the UK, bringing together the best of emerging stage designers with professional theatre, dance and opera companies. Nuffield Southampton Theatres has collaborated closely with the Linbury Prize in recent years; Jasmine Swan was a finalist in the Linbury Prize 2017.
Women in Power – A Musical Comedy
6 – 29 September
Press night: 13 September