Nottingham Playhouse: Unlocked Festival Live and Live Streamed Online.



A Festival of Live and Live-streamed shows


Rosalie Craig, Jodie Prenger, Sandra Marvin, Naomi Obeng, Mark Gatiss,

James Graham,

October 21 to November 7

Nottingham Playhouse temporarily opens its doors to the public for the first time since March

For a three-week period, this Autumn, Nottingham Playhouse will open its doors to the public for the first time since March to host an exciting and eclectic festival of live and live-streamed events. Nottingham Playhouse Unlocked will bring back the vitality and magic of theatre to an audience who have been starved of it since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic six months ago. With a programme that features a mix of world class performers, East Midlands talent, specially created work and work in progress, the festival is a celebration of live performance with its focus firmly on the future.

With a line up including West End stars Jodie Prenger, Rosalie Craig and Sandra Marvin with a programme of songs that made their careers, East Midlands based writer Naomi Obeng’s new work about mixed race identity, Mark Gatiss and Jade Anouka reading ghost stories on Halloween, and a new work from playwright James Graham, each of the talents featured has a particular relationship with Nottingham Playhouse and each are excited about bringing live performance back to the main stage.

With social distancing measures in place a strictly limited number of tickets will be available to attend the live events held in the theatre auditorium to ensure that a safe environment is created for audiences and performers alike. All the events will also be streamed live for audiences to attend virtually who are not able to attend in person.

Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse, Adam Penford says –

Whilst we’ve continued to make work online throughout the pandemic, it’s time to reengage audiences and artists on stage again. We’ve curated a programme that combines local theatre-makers and our associate companies, alongside household names, including the world premiere of a new James Graham play, providing employment and encouraging audiences back into the venue. The festival will be stripped-back and simple, top-class talent coming live from the Playhouse stage.

Ensuring the venue is Covid-safe for audiences, staff and freelancers is our first priority and we will follow the latest Government guidelines. It’s a financial risk to be programming theatre again in this environment, but we have a responsibility and desire to do so. I can’t describe the buzz of excitement at the Playhouse to be producing live theatre again and hope audiences will support us as we navigate how to get theatre back on the road again.

The programme comprises

Wednesday 21 October 2020, 7.30pm

Rootless Island Baby

A staged reading of this brand-new play from Nottingham Playhouse Associate Artist Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole. Directed by Madeleine Kludje.

Carly is a young Social Worker, conflicted by a case which triggers memories of her own childhood experiences in the care system. Her younger sister, who is white, was adopted by her ‘forever after’ family, whilst Carly – who is Black, ‘mixed race’ – remained in the care system. 

Struggling to make the right decision for the little girls on her caseload and battling the views of her management, Carly painfully reminisces on the moments leading up to, and following her separation from her sister.

This gripping and heartfelt new play seeks to explore issues around ‘race’ and identity within the care system and provoke discussions around sibling relationships and separation. 

Age guidance 12+

Tickets cost £10 in person or £8 for the livestream.

Sponsored by Nottingham Trent University

Friday 23 October 2020 at 7.30pm and Saturday 24 October 2020 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm


by James Graham            

World premiere

Nottingham Playhouse Associate Artist, James Graham (Ink, This House, ITV’s Quiz), returns to his home city with a love story for today. 

Two people. One perfect date. And then, the world collapses…

Ashley and Morgan both think they’ve found the one after years of break-ups, ghosting, and swiping left. Now butterflies, a million things in common, and embarrassing fantasies about the future.

Then, a national lockdown is announced and they’re faced with an impossible and urgent decision – quarantine apart? Or maybe, just maybe, take the crazy decision to isolate together?

Follow two alternative versions of the couple’s future as they navigate a strange new reality together, and apart. A punchy, playful and romantic new play about the sacrifices we make not to be alone.

Tickets cost £25 in person or £10 and £22.50 for the livestream

Sponsored by Nottingham City Transport

Tuesday 27 October 2020, 7.30pm

Major Labia

A tale of two cities. A tale of two boys. A tale of fathers and sons.

An epic journey fraught with every danger and excitement, until love triumphs over hatred and corruption.


Gemma and Narisha from Major Labia might have starred on the poster of previous Playhouse production Coram Boy, but that isn’t the story they tell tonight. Tonight they are here to titillate till late. To make your funny bones gyrate. To watch your bike tyres inflate. So grab a mate, jettison the hate and be sure to hydrate, cos bitches we’re back!

Major Labia is a comedy collective of witty women. Here to tackle inequality through vaginal comedy. Creative Associates at Nottingham Playhouse. Graduates of the BAFTA-winning Television Workshop.

Tickets cost £12.50 in person or £10 for the livestream

Sponsored by Nottingham Trent University

Wednesday 28 October 2020, 7.30pm

A Double Bill of New Work by East Midland Talent

Ben Norris: A Short Tour of the Heart 

Join star of The Archers and two-time UK National Poetry Slam champion Ben Norris on a short tour of the heart. Fusing spoken-word and music with his trademark storytelling panache and famous modesty, the Notts-born writer-performer will be trialling brand new work as well as sharing pieces from his back catalogue. 

Armed with several probably-illegible notebooks, a loop pedal, and a refurbished macbook paid for by the government’s coronavirus self-employment income support scheme, Ben anticipates exploring themes as diverse as family, general sadness, lockdown sadness, grief, heartbreak, other miscellaneous sadnesses, memory, The Midlands, family, and the art of effective list-making. Like so many things in the world right now, including this description, the show will be a work-in-progress.

Ben Norris is an award-winning poet, playwright and actor, and a Creative Associate at Nottingham Playhouse. His second pamphlet of poetry, published in 2019, was described by Colm Tóibín as ‘the real deal’, by Andrew McMillan as ‘moving, witty and beautifully-crafted’, and by his mum as ‘obviously quite painful to read’. In lieu of this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe, he endeavoured to capture the feeling by spending most of August standing in the rain talking to himself at home, finding it much more cost-effective and considerably better for his mental health.

Naomi Obeng: Where it lands 

The first reading of a new Nottingham Playhouse commission by East Midlands based writer, Naomi Obeng.

a woman. a mind. a knock on the door. a permission denied.

and yet, The Idea sees no boundaries, The Idea lets itself in.

mixed race people are the UK’s fastest growing ethnic group

mixed race people are the UK’s

mixed race people are

Nottingham has a higher than average mixed race population compared to the rest of the UK. Against the backdrop of historical hostility against mixed race people, resurgent racial divisions in society, and the mainstream use of ‘mixed’ as an ethnic group, this probing new piece of one-person storytelling examines the reality of a mixed race identity in 2020.

Naomi was previously a member of Nottingham Playhouse’s Homegrown group for young theatre-makers. She is a New Associate at New Perspectives, currently part of Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Alumni Group and was a writer in residence at Leicester Curve. Her writing for the stage includes A Distance Between for Paines Plough’s ‘Come To Where I’m From’ project and I’ll Show You The Oranges (Young Court at the Royal Court).

Tickets cost £10 in person or £8 for the livestream.

Sponsored by Nottingham Trent University

Friday 30 October 2020 at 7.30pm and Saturday 31 October 2020 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Ghost Stories with Mark Gatiss 

Featuring Jade Anouka

As the nights draw in this autumn, the master of spooky tales, Mark Gatiss, invites you to turn the lights down low and gather round to hear him read some of his favourite ghost stories, live from the Nottingham Playhouse stage. 

Featuring special guest Jade Anouka, the duo will bring you classics of the genre along with lesser known gems. 

Join us this Hallowe’en and enter the thrilling world of the supernatural, but beware! The audience may be socially distanced but there’s always room for the chilling presence of a shadowy other

Tickets cost £25 in person or £10 and £22.50 for the livestream

Age guidance: 12+

Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin

Tuesday 3 November 2020, 7.30pm

New Commission

A work-in-progress performance of the winner of Nottingham Playhouse’s recent call out for a new piece of work by an East Midlands artist/s or company. The call out deadline is 1 September 2020 and details of the winning submission will be announced at a later date.

Wednesday 4 November 2020, 7.30pm


by Lewis Doherty

Welcome to Shadow City, hellhole of a city but a city nonetheless. Detective Jay Walker is dead. With no leads and a case colder than ice, it’s up to his ex partner Patrick Wolf to bust some heads and find out who killed him.

Armed with just a chair, Lewis Doherty mimes every prop, makes every sound effect and brings to life over thirty characters in this cyberpunk, neon-noir, one man action packed blockbuster movie!

Lewis is an East Midlands based actor, writer, and theatre- maker and current Associate Artist at Nottingham Playhouse. The North Wall is an arts centre in Oxford led by Co-Directors Ria Parry and John Hoggarth. The venue’s ArtsLab programme provides residential opportunities for early-career artists to learn new skills and develop new work.

difficult to believe WOLF is the work of just one man’ The Stage ****

ninjacting’ Mumble Comedy *****

rollicking entertainment’ Three Weeks ****

a tour-de-force of theatrical performance’ Chortle

stunning, thrilling and mesmerizing’ The Wee Review *****

talent by the bucket-load and more’ East midlands Theatre ****

Tickets cost £12.50 in person or £10 for the livestream

Sponsored by Nottingham Trent University

Age guidance: 12+

Friday 6 November 2020 at 7.30pm and Saturday 7 November 2020 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Rosalie, Sandra and Jodie: Live in Concert

Live from the Nottingham Playhouse stage, three West End leading ladies perform a programme of the songs which made their careers.

Join Rosalie Craig, Sandra Marvin and Jodie Prenger, with Amy Shackcloth on keys, in this celebration of musical theatre.

Nottingham’s own Rosalie Craig has worked extensively in the West End. She won the Evening Standard’s Best Performance in a Musical Award on two occasions and was nominated for an Olivier for her ground-breaking performance as Bobbie in Company – the first time the role has been played by a female.

Sandra Marvin, known for her powerhouse vocals, has had leading roles in a number of hit shows including Showboat, Chicago and Hairspray. Most recently, you may have seen Sandra starring in Emmerdale, where she played Jessie Grant for two years. 

Now a firm household favourite, Jodie Prenger shot to fame after winning BBC’s I’d Do Anything and taking on the role of Nancy in Oliver!. Since then, she’s starred in a number of productions including Annie, Fat Friends the Musical and Abigail’s Party. 

From beautiful ballads to rousing upbeat tunes, don’t miss this talented trio performing together, live and unplugged in this intimate, one-off concert. 

Tickets cost £25 in person or £10 and £22.50 for the livestream

Sponsored by Russell Scanlan

Notes to editors

Nottingham Playhouse’s 2018 production of The Madness of George III was one of the first to be broadcast internationally by NT Live from a theatre outside of London and won the Whatsonstage Award for Best Play Revival and Best Supporting Actor in a play (for Adrian Scarborough’s performance as Dr Willis). It has so far been seen by over 50,000 people internationally. 

Nottingham Playcast is the Playhouse’s very own podcast. Running for two years it has included interviews with stars such as Mark Gatiss and Sting, with exclusive peeks behind the scenes as well. The Playcast can be listened to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Nottingham Playhouse believes theatre should be accessible to all, and runs wide-reaching participation schemes, youth theatres and its Amplify programme – which seeks to inspire and support theatre-makers from the East Midlands.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK has led to show postponements and the halting of many events and classes at Nottingham Playhouse. During this period, the theatre has increased its online content with such projects as acclaimed live family show, Noah and The Peacock, the National Theatre at Home screening of The Madness Of George III (end June 18) and their documentary series The Revival, as well as a host of other projects that include dance tutorials, story-telling and special episodes of its podcast. Videos have been uploaded to Nottingham Playhouse’s YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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