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Images by Frazer Ashford / ArenaPAL
BEHIND THE SCENES
A look at the hidden side of Fairfield
A new photographic exhibition by Frazer Ashford

Monday 27 October to Thursday 13 November 2014
Sun Lounge, Fairfield Halls, Croydon

A new exhibition by award-winning ArenaPAL photographer Frazer Ashford can be seen at Fairfield Halls from Monday 27 October to Thursday 13 November. Titled ‘Behind the Scenes’.

Over the years, Frazer has gained unrivalled backstage access at Fairfield Halls to many of the world’s leading artists covering stage, television and music. Images in Frazer’s exhibition include Miranda Hart, Laura Cantrell, Ken Dodd, Sam Attwater, Helena Blackman and The Circus of Horrors.

Behind The Scenes is a free exhibition, located on the Sun Lounge at Fairfield Halls. www.fairfield.co.uk  

View Frazer Ashford images at ArenaPAL

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In celebration of Black History Month this October, we focus on Paul Robeson the ground-breaking African-American singer, actor and activist who forged a successful, multi-faceted career during the USA's era of racial segregation.
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Paul Robeson 1898 - 1976

He is widely remembered as Joe in the stage and screen musical Showboat, a part written specifically for him and in which he gave his famous basso profundo rendition of Ol’ Man River. The 1928 West End premiere ran for 350 performances, ensuring Robeson's popularity across the Atlantic. In 1930 Robeson became the first black actor cast as Othello in the UK since Ira Aldridge (who died in 1867), and in 1943 reprised the role on Broadway as the first black performer do so with an otherwise all-white cast.
Over the course of his life he remained outspoken in defence of civil rights both in the USA and internationally, and in 1950 was blacklisted by the McCarthy administration. Banned from all US concert venues, labels and studios as well as having his passport revoked, he was unable to continue his career with the same momentum. Reinstated in the late 1950s he travelled to the UK for a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in 1959 became the first black performer to sing at St Paul's Cathedral.
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SHOWBOAT by Hammerstein and Kern, 1928, Paul Robeson as Joe, on balcony
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"I really do believe in the community, I really do believe in the genius in every person" Joan Littlewood
100 years ago on the 6th October the iconic radical theatre director Joan Littlewood was born.
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As director of the left wing Theatre Workshop company - who eventually settled at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London - she co-devised the seminal WWI themed production Oh! What a Lovely War as well as staging the British premiere of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children and helped kick-start the Kitchen Sink Drama genre with Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. She was a champion of working class creativity and spent her life ensuring the wider reach of theatre.
We have collected a veritable treasure trove of material related to Joan Littlewood - as well as the Theatre Workshop, and the ongoing legacy of Oh what A Lovely War. Please use the links below to explore.
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Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop

Link to images:Oh! What A Lovely War
To celebrate this centenary, a series of Fun Palaces will pop-up nationwide. A concept originally devised by Littlewood and architect Cedric Price, these spaces will be free for all to attend, contribute to, perform at and generally express their creativity. To find your nearest Fun Palace visit funpalaces.co.uk
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Oh! What A Lovely War
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ENO’s production of The Girl of the Golden West opens next month at the London Coliseum starring Susan Bullock, Craig Colclough and tenor Peter Auty, with conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson making her UK operatic début.
Originally a book by David Belasco and subsequently adapted into a Broadway play in 1905, the story is set in the American Wild West during the Californian gold rush. The Italian composer Giacomo Puccini first saw the production in 1907. By 1910 he had used it as the basis for his new opera La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) which opened on December 10th that year at the Metropolitan Opera House conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
Belasco’s original story and naturalistic style of direction provided the ideal setting for one of Puccini’s greatest and most innovative scores. The first grand opera to be written on an American theme was a resounding success with more than 1000 people attending the 9th December dress rehearsal. The first night performance received over 55 curtain calls and a 15 minute standing ovation from the cream of the operatic, theatrical and social high society!
This was the first time that the Metropolitan Opera House had premièred a major European work, and it was hoped that the collaboration of Belasco, Puccini and Toscanini would ensure New York as one of the world’s great opera cities.
Below are links to images from the historic first production of both play and opera, as well as the key creatives.
Girl
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Wealth or love? Temptation or sacrifice? Vice or poverty?
MANON celebrates its 40th Anniversary
Manon Ballet
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This month The Royal Ballet celebrates the 40th anniversary of one of Kenneth MacMillan’s most heartbreaking dramas MANON. Based on the 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost and with a patchwork of music by Massenet, the amoral nature of Manon and the precarious division between opulence and degradation in pre-Revolutionary France was unusual for a ballet at that time.
MacMillan was quoted as saying that ‘Manon is not so much afraid of being poor as ashamed of being poor. Poverty in that period was the equivalent of long, slow death’.
The premiere was given on 7 March 1974 with the lead roles of Manon and Des Grieux danced by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell. Andrew Porter of the The Financial Times, reported that Manon would ‘certainly reward repeated observation and generations of performers’...and he was right!
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"It is one thing to have an ingenious concept, another to carry it out.” Billington 
Director Phyllida Lloyd’s second production of her all female Shakespeare trilogy, Henry IV, opens at the Donmar Warehouse this October starring Harriet Walters as King Henry, Ashley McGuire as Falstaff, Jade Anouka as Hotspur and Clare Dunne as Hal. This follows her widely acclaimed Julius Caesar in 2012. 
A major Shakespearian production performed without a single male actor is unique but the idea of women playing traditionally male roles less so. We have gathered together a selection of images depicting some of modern theatres most iconic actresses playing parts which were originally written for men including: Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet; Fiona Shaw as Richard II and Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero.

Three times a lady
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On the 25th August 1929, The Wizard of Oz, one of the most popular films of all-time hit general release. Based on L. Frank Baum’s book published in 1900 the film was an overnight sensation with its spectacular use of Technicolor, song and dance. Its star Judy Garland was skyrocketed to the top of MGM studio’s books and ‘Over the Rainbow’ became her universally recognised signature tune.
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Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, Judy Garland as Dorothy and Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, 1939

There were at least 3 film versions of The Wizard of Oz before MGM's classic was released, the earliest being 1910 as a silent fantasy film with other versions in 1921 and 1925.
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Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London, 2006

Notable stage adaptations include the first (1902) scripted by Baum himself; the St. Louis Municipal Opera production (1942) based on the Garland film; ‘The Wiz’ (1974)which featured an exclusively African American cast; the much revived Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation in 1987; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2011 West End production; and of course the Oz inspired ‘Wicked’ (2003) which has become a worldwide success.
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THE WIZ, The Super Soul Musical 'Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1980

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