From Thursday 25th November, schools, universities, and educational institutions all over the world will be able to see Conor McPherson’s stunning adaptation of Chekov’s masterpiece Uncle Vanya thanks to a partnership with producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Digital Theatre+, Digital Theatre’s education platform.
The original run of Sonia Friedman Production’s sold-out stage production of Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the first lockdown Sonia Friedman Productions and Angelica Films, in association with BBC Arts, commissioned a film of the stage production, which received critical acclaim and went onto win the Theatre Award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2021.
Now this award-winning film will be made available alongside a suite of educational resources produced by Digital Theatre+ designed to support teachers and educators in inspiring and engaging students studying the play.
The collaboration between Digital Theatre + and Sonia Friedman Productions follows earlier successful collaborations on Funny Girl (with Sky) and Ghosts (with the Almeida) and is among a number of partnerships Digital Theatre+ has with theatres and producers worldwide to capture and share original content with the education sector. Educational support packages are tailored to fit each production and can include including biographies, documentaries, essays, lectures, workshops, study guides, and interviews alongside other learning aids.
The two-hour film of Uncle Vanya is directed by Olivier Award-nominated Ian Rickson and features a superlative cast including Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Rosalind Eleazar, Aimee Lou Wood, Anna Calder-Marshall, Dearbhla Molloy, Peter Wight and Roger Allam, and is directed for screen by Ross MacGibbon.
Sonia Friedman said: “One of the most important roles of a producer is to develop audiences of the future and to do everything possible to make theatre accessible for all. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously at Sonia Friedman Productions, and something we seek to promote across all our work. As such, we’re thrilled to partner with Digital Theatre Plus to make our award-winning production of Uncle Vanya available to students across the UK.
The original run of Ian Rickson’s critically acclaimed, sold out, truly mesmeric production was cut short in March 2020 due to the pandemic. In a new version by Conor McPherson, this production had such a profound impact on audiences, that once we realised it would be impossible to bring the company back together to complete our run, we knew we had to find a way to preserve this work. So, together with our partners at Angelica Films and the BBC we were able, in the midst of strict lockdown, to produce a film of this work specifically for cinema and television.
In the empty Harold Pinter Theatre in July 2020, we were the first company to reunite to create and commit work to film. The production lost none of its beauty and power on screen, with Ross MacGibbon’s screen direction enabling Ian’s and my vision so perfectly. It was such a moment of hope in a very bleak time for the theatre industry, and I believe set a new standard for filmed theatre.
Ian Rickson, director of the celebrated work said ‘I am delighted that Digital Theatre are able to share ‘Uncle Vanya’ on its education platform. It’s one of the great plays, which speaks to every generation in a deeply profound way. Its concerns about inheritance, equality and the environment feel so contemporary, and the performances are richly alive.’
Neelay Patel, CEO of Digital Theatre+ said “We are delighted that Digital Theatre+ will provide access to this powerful new adaptation of Uncle Vanya to students around the world. Chekhov is a key playwright on many global curricula, and Conor McPherson’s adaptation of this seminal play will be an important addition to our educational platform.”.