5 things you didn’t know about Nina Simone (& even if you did they’re still pretty incredible)

Josette Bushell-Mingo in Nina at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.jpg

Josette Bushell-Bingo in Nina at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.

1. What’s in a name? Nina Simone was born in 1933 as the slightly-less-catchy Eunice Waymon. She decided to change it after taking a job as a pianist at a bar in Atlantic City and being told she was going to have to sing too. Terrified her Methodist preacher mother would find out she was singing the “devil’s music”, she laid low under this new name which would soon become iconic. “Nina” was a term of endearment used by an ex-boyfriend whilst “Simone” came from the French actress Simone Signoret.

2. “This Bach, I liked him!” Young Nina began playing the piano as a 3 year old in church, crossing the railroad tracks to the white part of town to study classical piano for free lessons which she adored. Her aim was to be the first black classical pianist in America. It was on this journey that she encountered racism as a young girl, paving the way for her later career in activism: first when her parents were moved to the back of the church during her first piano recital to make way for a white family (Nina refused to play unless they were brought back to the front); then again when she was rejected from the Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music based on her race (she carried on trying, and did get into the Julliard School of Music).

3. Come and knock on my door… Malcolm X and Nina Simone lived next door to one another in Mount Vernon, New York during the late 1960s. The pair were united in their approach to the Civil Rights Movement, believing that a militant stance would be more effective at taking on the establishment than the peaceful protest offered up by Martin Luther King Jr. This was in great contrast to Nina’s early life where she had been taught that racism was the “great unspoken” in her childhood home.

4. “A love affair with fire” – Lisa Simone on her mother. Nina’s second husband Andrew Stroud gave up his day job to become her manager and producer full-time not long after they met and fell in love. They were introduced  in March 1961 while she was playing at a midtown supper club and he was a formidable New York City police officer. Their marriage turned tempestuous, with Stroud becoming abusive before she eventually left him.

5. The messages in Nina’s songs are as relevant today as ever. Nina’s passionate, revolutionary protest anthems such as Mississippi Goddam – a direct response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the Alabama church bombings which killed four children in 1963 – were a call to action and a truly inspiring point of change in the black power movement. In recent years, in the US, the UK and the world over, there have been political stirrings reminiscent of those seen in the 60s and 70s. Nina and her songs are perhaps even more necessary now than ever before.

Nina: A Story about me and Nina Simone runs until 29 July in the Maria studio at the Young Vic. Tickets are sold out but we’ll be operating a returns queue at the box office in advance of each performance.

🎧🎶Listen to our Nina Simone playlist on Spotify to get you in the mood… 🎧🎶

📢 New Season Announcement: Young Vic 2017/18 Season 📢

We’re thrilled to announce five new shows to round off 2017 and see in the new year.

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In the Main House, we’re presenting a season of voices from the edge: the world premiere of The Jungle by Joe Murphy & Joe Robertson, the founders of Good Chance Theatre, directed by Stephen Daldry & Justin Martin, in a co-production with the National Theatre, commissioned by the National Theatre.

Next up is a revival of The Brothers Size by the Academy Award Winner of Moonlight Tarrel Alvin McCraney, directed by Bijan Sheibani, in co-production with the Actors Touring Company.

Another world premiere, a new play presented in two parts by Matthew Lopez is The Inheritance, directed by Stephen Daldry.

Finishing up the Main House season is the UK premiere of the five Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fun Home, with Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book & Lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and directed by Sam Gold.

Over in the studios, JMK Award 2017 winner Josh Roche directs My Name is Rachel Corrie.

 

The Jungle (7 Dec 2017 – 6 Jan 2018)

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This is the place people suffered and dreamed.

Okot wants nothing more than to get to the UK. Beth wants nothing more than to help him.

Meet the hopeful, resilient residents of “The Jungle”– just across the Channel, right on our doorstep.

Join refugees and volunteers from around the world over fresh baked naan and sweet milky chai at the Afghan Café.

From Good Chance Theatre, an immersive new play where worlds collide. In the worst places, you meet the best people.

The Jungle by Joe Murphy & Joe Robertson of Good Chance Theatre, directed by Stephen Daldry & Justin Martin, and designed by Miriam Buether runs 7 December 2017 – 6 January 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House.

 

Brothers Size (19 Jan – 14 Feb 2018)

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“I was knocked for six by the vivid poetic muscularity of the play and the faultless production”
The Guardian

Ritual and reality intertwine in the sparkling, award-winning debut play by Oscar winning writer of Moonlight Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The African-American working class meets Yoruba mythology when the Brothers Size reconnect after a spell in prison.

Bijan Sheibani directs the long-awaited revival of this deeply moving fable about the rarely spoken bond between brothers.

The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney with direction by Bijan Sheibani, a co-production with Actors Touring Company runs from 19 January – 14 February 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House.

 

The Inheritance (2 March – 5 May 2018)

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You have to wonder why there isn’t a word in the English language for the fireworks that go off in your brain when you finally kiss someone you’ve wanted for years.
Or for the intimacy and tenderness you feel as you hold the hand of a suffering friend.

A generation after the worst of the AIDS crisis, what is it like to be a young gay man in New York?

How many words are there now for the different kinds of pain, the different kinds of love?

Stephen Daldry directs this hilarious and profound heart-breaker – a major world premiere in two parts by New York playwright Matthew Lopez.

The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez with direction by Stephen Daldry and set and costume design by Bob Crowley runs in two parts from 2 March – 5 May 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House.

 

Fun Home (18 June – 1 Sept 2018)

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“A blazingly original non-stop treasure of invention”
Newsday

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, this electrifying Broadway version of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel took America by storm.

Meet Alison at three stages of her life.

Memories of her 1970s childhood in a funeral home merge with her college love life and her coming out.

Looking back on her complex relationship with her father, Alison finds they had more in common than she ever knew…

“Directed with vivid precision and haunting emotional ambiguity by Sam Gold”
The New York Times

“This is musical theatre at its best”
Huffington Post

Fun Home with music by Jeanine Tesori, book & lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold runs from 18 June – 1 September 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House.

 

My Name is Rachel Corrie (29 Sept – 21 Oct 2017)

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March 2003.  The Gaza Strip.  23 year old Rachel Corrie stands between a Palestinian house and an armoured bulldozer.

Meet the heroine behind the headlines.  This play captures the idealism, the blazing eloquence, the sardonic wit in Rachel’s vivid diary entries.

Josh Roche, winner of the JMK Award 2017, directs this stirring account of an extraordinary young woman’s overwhelming commitment to her cause.

“Powerful, thought-provoking, deeply moving”
The Daily Telegraph

My Name is Rachel Corrie taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie and edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner is directed by Josh Roche, winner of the JMK Award 2017. It is designed by Sophie Thomas with light by Joe Price and sound by Kieran Lucas. It is produced in association with Paul Casey and runs 29 September – 21 October 2017 in the Young Vic’s Clare studio. 

 

Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday 21 July at 10am. You can become a Friend and book today at www.youngvic.org 

 

Refugee week – Little Pigs have Big Ears – Kitchen Conversations

Neighbourhood Theatre started in June 2016. Eighty neighbours officially became members of the new Young Vic company of local people. This company is at the heart of our work. They are ambassadors, creators, friends and supporters. Jennifer from our Neighbourhood Theatre company has written a guest-blog for Refugee Week about the Kitchen Conversations project she’s taken part in…

Golda Rosheuvel in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by HelenMurray (2)..jpg

Golda Rosheuvel in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

Kitchen Conversations is a remarkable experience. Simple and human.

“What is said in the kitchen stays in the kitchen”

On Sunday 9th October 2016, I walked into the inaugural Kitchen Conversations with one expectation: meet, greet and EAT.  Kitchen Conversations is a much needed initiative run by The Young Vic Theatre, that aim to bridge the cultural and generational gap between the local community and refugees who are new to the U.K

To get things started, we got interactive with a name game where we created an inner and outer circle in the space, and rotated in a clockwise and/or anti-clockwise fashion (depending on your position).  We introduced ourselves and revealed one thing about ourselves for one minute, move onto the next person, repeat the sequence and so on.

The ice broke as the room filled  with the musical tonality of human voices, and within that sound were a tiny group of people, basking in the welcome, who crisscrossed continents to seek refuge in the U.K, after fleeing some very grim and gloomy realities.

I had a brief chat with a person who found themselves in some serious dire straits, when they went without food and board, and subsequently found some type of relief by sleeping on public transport, while they waited for their application for asylum to be processed but, they still managed to do that human thing.  Smile.

Then there were other people that I spoke with that were just happy to be somewhere where they felt safe to be themselves, without judgement.

I think that we can all relate to that.

Like Water for Chocolate anyone?

The scene and stage set.  Candles lit. The space that was stark and bare when I first arrived,  began to morph into the warmth of burning embers.  The atmosphere created was friendly and inviting, and could rival a scene from the sub-header between Pedro and Tita sans the laid tables and the food.

Food.  It seemed that everywhere I looked there was food.  A smorgasbord of food for all palettes and preferences, most prepared and cooked by the members of the Neighbourhood Theatre Company and Two Boroughs Project.  There were flavoursome stews originating from West Africa, Mediterranean inspired salads, and Italian frittatas made by moi.

We were all encouraged to sit and talk and enjoy a meal and a drink,  with somebody who we have never met before.

Art is Cathartic

Oh yes it is, because I know.  Art soothes the mind, for like the wind, we can’t see it but most of the time it’s there, and so from time to time needs to be soothed.

A few of the refugees are trailblazers in their own right, and have participated in Taking Part Productions at The Young Vic such as, “Now We Are Here” which gave the refugees the fortuitous opportunity to garner the courage to share their stories, but at the same time alter a few perceptions, thereby illuminating the way for others to follow.

Jonathan Livingstone in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by HelenMurray (2)..jpg

Jonathan Livingstone in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

What do you mean we’ve run out of juice?

Kitchen Conversations is a remarkable experience.  Simple  and human.

In May 2017, I arrived to once again, to meet, greet and EAT.  We formed one large circle and whizzed around the room introducing our names, while ‘The Flight of The Bumblebee” played in the background as a musical accompaniment.  Well, we WERE at The Young Vic at the time, in a theatre space where imagination is freed, and so it sounded like…

Human pop-up library

‘Hi’ and ‘How are you doing?’ were said and merged cellular histories, and the ‘living manuscripts’ continue to thrive despite past circumstances, and the gap that threatens to divide us is closing, slowly.

The multiple universes masking as ideas inside each individual who were present, are gestating and hidden within their own genetic archive, and curated by the laughter and curiosity of children, ‘The little pigs with big ears’.

Refugee Week runs 19 – 25 June 2017. Find out more about the events going on in your neighbourhood. #OurSharedFuture 

8 things you probably didn’t know about Galileo Galilei

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Life of Galileo tells the story of Galileo’s life as his ‘heretical’ discoveries about the solar system brought him to the attention of the inquisition.

Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician. He played a major role in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Here’s 8 facts about him that you probably didn’t know.

1. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy, on the 15th of February 1564, he died on the 8th of January 1642.

2. Galileo firmly believed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, however he did not believe in his Kepler’s theory that the moon caused the tides.

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3. Contrary to popular opinion – Galileo didn’t invent the telescope. He got the idea from a Dutch spectacles maker who had invented a spyglass. (He was the first to use a telescope to observe the sky, though.)

6. After 400 years, Galileo’s telescope still survives, and is available in the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza in Italy. The museum has two telescopes and objective lenses, which were built by Galileo himself.

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4. For a brief period of time, Galileo also worked as an art teacher in the Italian city of Florence.

5. It took until 1992, three years after Galileo’s namesake spacecraft was launched, for the Vatican to formally clear Galileo of any wrongdoing.

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7. The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand has been exhibited at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy.

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8. Galileo lost his sight in the last years of his life. It is said that he went blind because he used to observe the sun for long stretches of time while he was looking at sun spots with his telescope.

Life of Galileo runs 6 May – 1 July at the Young Vic directed by BAFTA Award-winning director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice).  Brendan Cowell plays Galileo following his acclaimed performance in Yerma. Book tickets now.


Image credits:

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Giusto Sustermans (1636). Credit: nmm.ac.uk
Andreas Cellarius’s illustration of the Copernican system, from the Harmonia Macrocosmica (1708).
Artist’s impression of the Galileo Spacecraft courtesy of NASA
Galileo’s telescope courtesy of Museo Galileo, Verona, Italy
Galileo’s middle finger courtesy of Museo Galileo, Verona, Italy

 

Life of Galileo: Touch Tour

On Wednesday afternoon, a small group of us gathered in the Young Vic foyer to embark on a touch tour of Life of Galileo, ahead of the audio described matinee. Anticipation was high – this was my first time; for some of my visually impaired fellow visitors, expectations were abound. It was led by Eleanor Margolis and Miranda Yates who facilitate all our audio described performances here at the Young Vic.

Simply, the idea of a touch tour – and indeed an Audio Described performance – is to give people who are blind or partially sighted the chance to enjoy the show in a way that is as close as possible to the full theatrical experience. The touch tour is facilitated by an Audio Describer, along with members of the FOH and technical teams, and usually takes place just before the show. It allows participants a tactile exploration of the theatrical space, getting up-close with the textures and shapes used in the costumes and props, to help provide a more rounded experience of the performance itself.

An audience member listens to the Life of Galileo stage manager describe a heliocentric model of the solar system prop from the show. The audience member and stage manager are in the background of the image with the focus on the heliocentric model of the solar system in the foreground with the stage manager’s hand placed on the sun.
Photography by Leon Puplett


The Space

We started the tour with an impressively detailed description of the auditorium, starting from the structure of the space right down to the materials that make up the set.

“A broad set of steps made out of scaffolding and untreated wood about four meters wide sits in a dock in the back wall about 8 meters deeps and 10 meters tall” – this level of detail felt really quite remarkable, and continued throughout the tour.

As we started to move further into the space, onto the centre of the stage where a lucky few ‘floor seat’ audience members recline each night, some of the visitors noticed a reverb that isn’t obvious until you begin speaking yourself. It felt pretty unnerving, and people wondered aloud “how do the actors manage this every night?!” Apparently this strange echo disperses once the auditorium is filled with an audience.

Props & Costume

Once we’d established the intricacies of the space, we moved on to explore through touch a wide range of different props and costumes used in Life of Galileo (let’s be honest, it’s what we were all most excited about anyway):

 

 

Above: visitors exploring props and costumes including a model of a planetarium; a pair of shoes worn by one of the Dancing Girls; a Cardinal’s costume; and part of an amazing dress worn by actor Bettrys Jones in the Ballad, when she represents the Earth as the centre of the universe, complete with lights and tiny model animals.
Photography by Leon Puplett.


The Cast

Many of the actors were on hand to tell us about the props and costume, so Eleanor stopped us for a moment so that the cast could introduce themselves. We heard first what they sounded like in reality, followed by their voices as each of their characters. This gave us the opportunity to differentiate between the multiple characters each of the actors play in Life of Galileo (40+!). Ayesha Antoine, for example, plays an old northern man at one point, and she was able to demonstrate the contrast between this character’s voice and her other younger female ones.

An actor from Life of Galileo is talking to an audience member, who listens with a look of rapt attention, his hand up to his mouth, his mouth open. The two men have their backs to us but their heads are turned inwards, towards each other, so that we can see their expressions. A stage light shines brightly in the background, out of focus.
Photography by Leon Puplett

Music & Sound

The music used in Life Of Galileo by the Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands is a significant and, at times, very loud part of the performance. Yamina, the Sound Operator, was on hand to demonstrate the 7K sound system and we were advised that this could actually make our bodies vibrate due to the bass. Playing sections of this music in advance meant participants felt comfortable knowing what was to come when entering the matinee.

Yamina also demonstrated the important ‘snap’ sound effect which signifies each scene and lighting change. We all agreed that hearing this in advance was helpful in getting an understanding of the way whole show was structured.

If you want to find out more about the Young Vic’s touch tours, audio described performances or any other accessible performances we have on offer, just visit our Access for All page, give us a call on 020 7922 2922 (Textphone 18001 020 7922 2922) or ask one of our Welcome Team members next time you’re here. We’d also recommend checking out VocalEyes for listings of the latest audio-described events (including Touch Tours) around the UK. 

A Statement from London’s Southbank and Bankside Cultural Organisations

We have all been shocked and saddened by the terrible events at London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night.

Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims, and to all of those affected by this terrible attack.

As representatives of the cultural venues in the area, we are working together to ensure that our venues remain safe, open and welcoming to all. We will continue with our programmes as planned and demonstrate the cultural sector’s spirit, strength and ability to unite people of all backgrounds.

London is a city defined by its culture. We all intend to play our part in continuing to build and share this culture, and to welcome visitors from the city and the world to our creative events and spaces.

Hayward Gallery
National Theatre
Menier Chocolate Factory
Rambert
Shakespeare’s Globe
Siobhan Davies Dance
Southbank Centre
Southwark Playhouse
Tate Modern
The Bunker
The Old Vic
Young Vic

20th Anniversary JMK Young Director Awards

Josh Roche at the 2017 JMK Awards. Photo by Dan Usztan.

Josh Roche wins the 20th anniversary James Menzies-Kitchin Young Director Award with My Name is Rachel Corrie.

Josh beat a record-breaking number of applicants to win the £25,000 award in the now-legendary JMK selection process which has been described as being almost like a training scheme in itself. He will be directing My Name is Rachel Corrie, the celebrated piece of verbatim theatre created from the writings of Corrie herself and jointly edited by the late, great Alan Rickman and journalist Katherine Viner, who is now editor-in-chief of The Guardian.

The runner up this year was Nathan Crossan-Smith with a proposal for a production of debbie tucker-green’s random and will receive a £2,000 award.

My Name is Rachel Corrie was first staged to equal acclaim and controversy in 2005 at the Royal Court, directed by Alan Rickman. It is based on the vivid diaries and emails of American peace campaigner Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli tank while protecting Palestinian homes from demolition at the age of 23. It went on to gather awards and further controversy, particularly in the US, where the premiere was withdrawn after objections were raised about its portrayal of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is a testament to the quality of Rachel Corrie’s skill as a writer and passionate commitment to her cause that this monologue drama has stood the test of time with numerous revivals worldwide since its premiere.

The production will be staged at the Young Vic later this year; production dates to be announced soon.

On winning the award, Josh said: “I’m stunned and delighted to win the JMK award. It’s hard to express quite what it means to me. The chance to direct at the Young Vic is extraordinary in any context, but to be working on this play makes the opportunity even more remarkable.

“Rachel Corrie and I were born only ten years apart. Her legacy is our inheritance. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell her story on the Young Vic stage, and hugely indebted to the JMK Trust”.

Josh Roche

Josh Roche. Photo by Rob Logan.

27-year-old Josh Roche has worked as a reader and literary associate of theatres including Shakespeare’s Globe, Soho Theatre and for Sonia Friedman Productions and is founder of Fat Git Productions, discovering new approaches to new writing for the theatre through the commissioning and editing processes. He was resident assistant director at Soho Theatre, assisting Joe Murphy and Steve Marmion, and also assisted Joe Murphy at Shakespeare’ Globe (The Taming of the Shrew). He has assisted John Dove (Eternal Love for ETT and Dr Scroggy’s War at Shakespeare’s Globe, and – more recently – Farinelli and The King at the Duke of York’s). In 2015-16 Josh was assistant director at the RSC for Gregory Doran on Death of a Salesman and Shakespeare Live!; Polly Findlay on The Alchemist and Maria Aberg on Dr Faustus, as well as several one-off projects. Among the productions Josh has directed for his own Fat Git Productions are i feel fine, A Third and Magnificence at venues in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The JMK Trust was founded in the memory of James Menzies-Kitchin, a young director of great promise, who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 28, to give opportunities to theatre directors of similar ability and vision. Each year it gives one prestigious award to enable an outstanding applicant aged 30 or under to create their own production of their choice of classic text, currently at the Young Vic. Find out more here