Peter Duncan, Edmund Wiseman and Emily Bowker head the cast of the 2015 national tour of Rachel Wagstaff’s stage play BIRDSONG, adapted from the novel by Sebastian Faulks, which will open on 4 February 2015 at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. The tour has been extended by a week, and will now play Richmond Theatre from 29 June – 4 July.
Peter Duncan returns to BIRDSONG as Jack Firebrace, having played the role in the 2014 tour. Though perhaps best known as a Blue Peter presenter, and most recently seen competing on BBC One’s Tumble, Peter began his acting career in the 1970s when he joined the National Theatre. Recent theatre credits include Denry Machin in The Card (for which he received an Olivier nomination for Best Actor in a Musical), Alan Ayckbourn‘s Things We Do For Love, the twins in Corpse, Stan Laurel in Laurel and Hardy, Macduff in Macbeth and Fantastic Mr Fox, both at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, and the title role in Charlie Peace – His Amazing Life And Outstanding Legend at Nottingham Playhouse and Coventry Belgrade’s B2.
Edmund Wiseman, whose recent theatre credits include Richard II (RSC/Barbican), Duchess of Malfi (White Bear Theatre) and Filumena (Almeida), and Emily Bowker, whose recent roles include A Bunch of Amateurs (The Watermill), What the Women Did (Two’s Company/Southwark Playhouse) and London Wall (Two’s Company/Finborough and St James Theatres), play the romantic leads of Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire. Also in the cast are Emily Altneu, Max Bowden (currently Justin Fitzgerald in BBC One’s Waterloo Road), Selma Brook, James Findlay (winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2010), Roger Martin, Liam McCormick, James Staddon, Cloudia Swann and Alastair Whatley.
Touring during the 100th anniversary of the First World War, BIRDSONG tells a mesmerising story of love and courage, before and during the war. In pre-war France, a young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford, embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire that turns their worlds upside down. As the war breaks out, Stephen must lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme and through the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground. Faced with the unprecedented horror of the war, Stephen clings to the memory of Isabelle and the idyll of his former life as his world explodes around him.
The 2013 and 2014 tours were hugely successful and critically acclaimed, seen by over 130,000 people and receiving 4- and 5-star reviews, with audiences calling the show ‘simply stunning’. Sebastian Faulks was thrilled the show was re-mounted to tour again, and has previously stated: “Both Rachel and I want this to be the definitive version of Birdsong on stage. The audience watch it and think, thank God I have never undergone all of this. These experiences are far outside the lives of most people but there is something about the way the production works which makes people identify and think, it could be me…”
Rachel Wagstaff is currently co-writing two screenplays with Sebastian Faulks, one for Eleventh Hour Productions, and one for Bob & Co. She is also under commission to write a new musical for Vicky Graham Productions/Old Vic Productions, and writing a stage play for The Original Theatre Company. Rachel adapted Sebastian Faulks’s novel, The Girl at the Lion d’Or, for Radio Four (Woman’s Hour), and When I Lost You, an Afternoon Play for Radio Four, co-written with Duncan Abel, was featured on Pick of the Week last year.
BIRDSONG is again directed by Alastair Whatley, with set design by Victoria Spearing, lighting by Alex Wardle for Charcoalblue and sound by Dom Bilkey.
BIRDSONG is produced on tour by Alastair Whatley for The Original Theatre Company and Anne-Marie Woodley and Jon Woodley for Birdsong Productions Ltd.
Official BIRDSONG website: www.birdsongthetour.com
2015 TOUR SCHEDULE
10 – 14 February ABERDEEN His Majesty’s Theatre 01224 641122
17 – 21 February BUXTON Opera House 0845 127 2190
23 – 28 February NEWCASTLE Northern Stage 0191 230 5151
3 – 7 March READING The Hexagon 0118 960 6060
10 – 14 March DARLINGTON Civic Theatre 01325 486555
16 – 21 March GUILDFORD Yvonne Arnaud 01483 440000
24 – 28 March POOLE The Lighthouse 0844 4068666
13 – 18 April LIVERPOOL The Playhouse 0151 709 4776
21 – 25 April EDINBURGH King’s Theatre 0131 529 6000
27 April – 9 May BRISTOL Old Vic 0117 987 7877
12 – 23 May LEEDS West Yorkshire Playhouse 0113 213 7700
*25 – 30 May DERBY Derby Theatre 01332 59 39 39
1 – 5 June PORTSMOUTH Kings Theatre 023 9282 8282
8 – 13 June HEREFORD Courtyard Theatre 01432 340555
16 – 20 June CREWE Lyceum 01270 368 242
22 – 27 June SHREWSBURY Theatre Severn 01743 281281
29 June – 4 July RICHMOND Richmond Theatre 0844 871 7651
*New dates announced