Zoe Wanamaker Stars in STEVIE, Kicking Off Chichester Festival 2014 Tonight
Chichester's Festival 2014 opens with a major revival of Hugh Whitemore's award-winning glimpse into the unconventional life of celebrated English poet and novelist Stevie Smith.
Nervous and droll, Stevie Smith spends her days as a private secretary at the Newnes Publishing Company and her evenings in the London suburbs eating Battenburg cake and Ginger Nuts with her beloved Aunt. All the time she is writing the piercing poetry and prose that will make her famous. In between there are diverting visits from a series of men and tussles with literary celebrity. All the while there is her greatest, often darkly comic struggle - to keep waving when she feels like drowning.
Zoë Wanamaker plays the title role. She last appeared at Chichester in Electra (1997) winning an Olivier Award and Tony Award nomination following its transfer to the West End and Broadway. Other theatre credits include the West End productions Passion Play and All My Sons, as well as Much Ado About Nothing (National Theatre). Screen credits include Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and My Family.
Lynda Baron plays Aunt. Credits include the West End production of When We Are Married, Rookery Nook and In Celebration, as well as the popular TV sitcom, Open All Hours.
Chris Larkin plays Man. Credits include His Dark Materials at the National Theatre, The Whisky Taster, Noises Off, as well as the West End production and recent TV revival of Yes, Prime Minister.
Hugh Whitemore's Chichester credits include A Marvellous Year for Plums (2012) and The Last Cigarette (2009), which he co-wrote with Simon Gray. Other credits include Pack of Lies, Breaking the Code and award-winning television drama, The Gathering Storm.
Stevie Smith wrote nine volumes of poetry. The first was titled A Good Time Was Had By All, which became a catchphrase referenced elsewhere in popular culture. Her most famous poem is Not Waving but Drowning. She also wrote three novels, Novel on Yellow Paper, Over the Frontier and The Holiday.
Christopher Morahan's Chichester credits include The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (2010), a co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, The Importance of Being Earnest and Heartbreak House. He was Associate Director at the National Theatre where his credits include the award-winning National Theatre and Broadway production of Wild Honey. He is also a notable television director whose work includes A Dance to the Music of Time, The Jewel in the Crown and The Glittering Prizes.
Design is by Simon Higlett, Associate Designer at Chichester. His previous Chichester credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (which also played in the West End), A Marvellous Year for Plums, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Singin' in the Rain, (also West End and UK tour), Yes, Prime Minister, Taking Sides and Collaboration (all of which transferred to the West End), The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (a co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse) and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
Lighting Design is by Colin Grenfell whose credits include Theatre of Blood (National Theatre), Lifegame (National Theatre, UK and US tour), Spirit (Royal Court Theatre, UK and US tours, Australia) and Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland).
Sound Design is by John Leonard whose credits include Piaf, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Much Ado About Nothing and Cyrano de Bergerac, all for the RSC where he was an Associate Artist.
Music is by Jason Carr who was Associate Composer at Chichester from 2003 - 05. His Chichester credits include The Syndicate, Funny Girl and Carousel. Other theatre credits include Sunday in the Park With George, La Cage Aux Folles and A Little Night Music (all for the Menier Chocolate Factory and West End).
Stevie is sponsored by the University of Chichester.
Stevie is at the Minerva Theatre from today, 24 April - 24 May. Evenings 7.45pm (except for the Press Night, Friday 2 May, 7.00pm), matinees 2.45pm. Tickets: Previews/Press Night: £18, £22, All other performances £24, £33. To book, go to cft.org.uk or contact the Box Office on 01243 781312. Special Prices for 16 - 25s. An allocation of tickets for 16 - 25 year olds priced at just £8.50 for all performances of Stevie will be released on Thursday 27 March. These may be booked on 01243 781312, online at cft.org.uk or in person.
The Poetry of Stevie Smith is an introduction to this 'purposeful and substantial talent' on Saturday 17 May, 11am. Smith's poems will be performed by community actors as part of The Stevie Project, where her work will be shared at weekly sessions. The event will be introduced by Dr William May, author of Stevie Smith and Authorship. Tickets £5, Friends & Concessions £4.
There will also be the chance to meet some of the Stevie company at a post-show discussion on Monday 19 May.