Following the announcement of the re-opening timelines for both Royal & Derngate theatres and the Filmhouse, after the recent temporary closure for RAAC investigations, the organisation has announced two new productions for the next year as part of their produced work.
The shows, which have been in development with the theatre for several years, are a co-production with Spymonkey, The Frogs – a take on Aristophanes’ classic comedy re-imagined by Carl Grose & Spymonkey, and new mounting of Simple8’s critically acclaimed family adventure Moby Dick. The reworking of their 2013 production featuring live sea shanties is an adaptation from Herman Melville’s novel by Sebastian Armesto and sees Simple8 and Royal & Derngate reunite again after A Passage to India.
Both shows announced today are part of Made in Northampton’s long term development process and part of the theatre’s ongoing commitment to ensemble-led theatre.
Jesse Jones, who took over as Artistic Director this summer, will announce his first full season of work shortly, whilst welcoming the two new shows into the theatre spaces.
Jo Gordon, Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to welcome back both Spymonkey and Simple8 as part of our Made in Northampton portfolio for spring 2024. It’s great to be working again with these inspiring companies, to bring these exciting new productions to the Royal stage.”
Jesse Jones, Artistic Director said: “I can’t wait to welcome these two new productions, both of which have been in development since before my tenure as artistic director. These shows are symbolic of Royal & Derngate’s extensive work with ensemble-led theatre companies and our commitment to staying connected with our local community, values I hope to continue to build on when I announce my first season in the months to come.”
Spymonkey’s tragically funny attempt to pull off Aristophanes’ classic comedy re-imagined by Carl Grose & Spymonkey, The Frogs will open on the Royal stage in January 2024. The production is the result of a long term development process between the company and Royal & Derngate (other collaborations have included Oedipussy and The Complete Deaths), and part of the theatre’s ongoing commitment to ensemble-led theatre.
Spymonkey’s Toby Park and Aitor Basauri are at the end of the road. The other Spymonkeys have taken themselves off to a better place, and they’re about to call it a day. To their rescue rides mega-rich philanthropist Patty Getty and her theatrically ambitious niece Pamela with an offer they can’t refuse! But does this beleaguered comedy duo have what it takes to perform the classic Greek comedy The Frogs at Patty’s legendary amphitheatre in Hollywood?
Shot through with Spymonkey’s uniquely surreal comedy, The Frogs is a delirious trip through Greek theatre, a monster-filled Underworld and classic vaudeville double acts. Promising more existential angst than Clash of the Titans and more bronzed oiled torsos than Waiting For Godot and a jumping chorus of tap-dancing frogs!
Building on the connections that Spymonkey have made in the local community over the 15 years they’ve been working in Northampton, they are hoping to connect with local tap dancers to become the chorus of frogs as well as working with local theatre-makers and freelancers. The production also intends to keep its carbon footprint as low as possible and source as many props and costumes as possible from within the local area, and where practical, collect them on a bike.
Spymonkey’s The Frogs is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. It runs Friday 19 January – Saturday 3 February 2024.
Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Simple8 will partner on a brand new staging of Simple8’s critically acclaimed and award-winning adaptation of Moby Dick for all the family, following their co-production of A Passage To India. Featuring live sea shanties, Moby Dick will open on the Royal stage in April before embarking on a national tour.
October,1839. The Pequod is due to sail out of Nantucket and her skipper, one Captain Ahab, is in need of a crew. Seeking fortune and adventure, a humble schoolmaster named Ishmael ships aboard, undeterred by the most dangerous of industries – hunting whales. Ishmael joins a company charged with one task: to wreak revenge on the white whale that lost Ahab his leg – the infamous Moby Dick. Ahab’s single-minded pursuit ends up consuming Ishmael, the crew and the Pequod itself.
The spirit of Herman Melville’s masterpiece – romantic, ambiguous, and rich with allegory is gloriously captured by Simple8. Using planks of wood, tattered sheets and a battered assortment of musical instruments, Simple8 will bring the hunt for the most famous whale on earth ingeniously to life.
In a post-pandemic age Moby Dick is more pertinent and vital than ever. The anguish of isolation, the pressure enforced inter-dependency brings, and the fear of unseen dangers swimming beneath the surface are tackled full tilt by Simple8’s production – with a crew adrift, far from home, reliant on one another, co-opted into Ahab’s single-minded hunt to destroy the whale that took his lung and leg.
It will run Friday 5 – Saturday 13 April 2024.