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Full casting announced for World Premiere of MERMAID

Mermaid play posterMERMAID adapted and directed by Polly Teale. A Shared Experience and Nottingham Playhouse Co-Production, on tour across the UK from March 2015. Designed by Tom Piper; Movement by Liz Ranken; Lighting by Olly Fenwick; Sound and Music by Jon Nicholls.

Award-winning theatre company Shared Experience, renowned for its boldly imaginative adaptations of literary classics, today announced full casting for the world première of Mermaid, its modern re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy story of The Little Mermaid. Mermaid opens in Nottingham and tours to Leeds, Mold, Richmond, Cardiff, Southampton, Edinburgh, Watford and Oxford from 13 March to 23 May 2015.

Joining Natalie Gavin and Polly Frame, are Ritu Arya, Finn Hanlon, Miranda Mac Letten, Steve North, Amka Okafor and Sarah Twomey. Writer and director Polly Teale transports the story to a contemporary setting in this unique, new production which is designed by Tom Piper, who recently designed ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London’. Mermaid is a powerful coming of age story about love, loss and longing.

Shared Experience has created a pioneering, participation project around Mermaid and are recruiting young women between the age of 14 to 20 to perform on stage and create the sound of the mermaids’ magical singing. In each of the cities the tour is visiting, Shared Experience is searching for a chorus of young women who will work with the company and become part of the production. The heart of the play explores coming of age and sexual awakening, and its themes centre on self-image and identity. Mermaid’s young ‘mermaids’ will also take part in a nationwide project that accompanies the show that looks at the effect of the media on girl’s sense of self and empowers them to challenge myths about femininity.

Ritu Arya plays Mermaid 2. Theatre credits include A Fire of Small Virtues (Arcola Theatre), Funk (Soho Theatre), Secret Cinema presents The Grand Budapest Hotel (Secret Cinema), The Collector (Gilded Balloon/ Arcola Theatre), Blood and Honour (Arts Theatre), Carpe Diem (National Theatre), Liar Liar (Unicorn Theatre) and O.K Tata Bye Bye (Royal Court Theatre).Television credits include Doctors, Sherlock 3: Sign of Three and The Tunnel.

Polly Frame plays The Mother/Grandmer/Queen. Theatre credits include Arcadia (Tobacco Factory), Twelfth Night (Filter Theatre), Pastoral (Soho Theatre), After Miss Julie (Young Vic), The Crossing 66 Books (Bush Theatre), The Comedy Of Errors (Stafford Shakespeare Festival), Earthquakes in London (RNT), The Count of Monte Cristo (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Macbeth (Chichester, West End & Broadway), Home-Work (Bodies in Flight for Singapore Esplanade), A Response to Twelfth Night (Filter), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Poor Mrs Pepys (New Vic), ACDC (Royal Court), Cleansed (Arcola), Who By Fire and Skinworks (Bodies in Flight), Seven and a Half Minutes of Happiness, Di-sect and Eve (Bristol Old Vic). Television credits include Man Down, The Tunnel, Coronation Street, Holby City, Doctors, The Curse of the Hope Diamond, Silent Witness, EastEnders, Bunny Town, Sea of Souls, Accused, Life Begins, New Tricks, Meet the Magoons, The Giblets, and Servants. Film credits include: Macbeth, Half Light, and Duplicity.

Natalie Gavin plays Blue. Theatre credits include the widely acclaimed production of The Crucible directed by Yäel Farber at The Old Vic and Bracken Moor (Shared Experience). Television credits include Prisoners Wives, The Syndicate and Shameless. On film, she portrayed a young Andrea Dunbar in The Arbor, the film about the late Bradford playwright, with other film credits including Hector, Jasmine, and The Knife That Killed Me.

Finn Hanlon plays Prince. Theatre credits include War Horse (national tour), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V and The Winter’s Tale (Propeller), The Trial (Watford Palace Theatre), Private Peaceful (tour), Beautiful Thing (BAC), Once We Were Mothers (Orange Tree), Tartuffe and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Bristol Old Vic). Television and film includes Being Human, Not Me, and Tristan and Isolde.

Miranda Mac Letten plays Mermaid 1. After graduating from London Contemporary Dance School, Miranda became an apprentice for Punchdrunk’s and the English National Opera’s The Duchess of Malfi, and she has continued performing professionally in The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, the biggest and most ambitious production yet from the award winning Punchdrunk. Site specific and immersive theatre has featured heavily in Miranda’s career going on to be part of Bold Tendencies’ Titus Andronicus, a collaboration with Parkour practitioners, beat boxers and actors. Other companies she has worked with include Secret Cinema, Smallpetitklein, Gideon Reeling. C-12 Dance Theatre, The People Pile and Bicycle Ballet. She is also founder of her own company kerfuffle Dance.

Steve North plays King. Theatre credits includes War Horse (RNT/West End), Meeting Joe Strummer (Edinburgh Fringe First Winner & National Tours), Pretend You Have Big Buildings (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Not The Love I Cry For (Arcola Theatre), and Fever Pitch (Arts Theatre & National Tour – nominated for Best Actor in the Manchester Evening News Awards). Television and film includes: War Horse NT Live (National), Holby City, Doctors, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, Mongrels, EastEnders, The Bill, Whistleblower, Casualty, Midsomer Murders, Sense & Sensibility, Murphy’s Law, Is Harry On The Boat? and London’s Burning.

Amaka Okafor plays Mermaid 3. Theatre credits include Glasgow Girls (Glasgow Citizens and Stratford East), The Snow Queen, The Three Musketeers, Beauty and the Beast, The Tempest, Cinderella (Unicorn Theatre), Dr Korczak’s Example (Manchester Royal Exchange and Arcola), The Bacchae (National Theatre of Scotland), Branded (Old Vic), Tracey Beaker Gets Real (National Tour, Nottingham Playhouse Theatre). Television includes the regular character of Jasmine in the BBC children’s series Grandpa in my Pocket, The Bill and Doctors.

Sarah Twomey plays Little Mermaid. Sarah graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art last year, and Mermaid will mark her professional stage debut.

Since 1976, Shared Experience have pioneered a thrillingly distinctive performance style that celebrates the union of physical and text based theatre. It was Shared Experience’s work in the 1970s that sparked the contemporary British interest in stage adaptations of literature, with landmark productions of Arabian Nights and Dickens’s Bleak House. Since 1987 continuing with Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale, the company has produced acclaimed adaptations of Jane Eyre, War and Peace, A Passage to India, Orestes – Light and Blood, War and Peace, Mill on the Floss, Anna Karenina, Gone to Earth and critically acclaimed new writing such as After Mrs Rochester, Bronte, Speechless, Mary Shelley and now Mermaid.

Polly Teale (writer and director) has created a unique body of work that has won critical and audience acclaim with productions transferring to the West End and touring internationally. An award-winning theatre practitioner, she has been joint artistic director of Shared Experience since 1995. She authored a number of original plays and stage adaptations. Her seminal 1997 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre was followed by After Mrs Rochester, her original play about the author Jean Rhys being locked in a room with Bronte’s mythical mad woman. For this production Polly won the Evening Standard Award for Best Director and the Time Out Award for Best West End Production. Polly is currently working as Director on a feature film based on the Brontes.

Tom Piper (designer) is an award-winning designer and is the Associate Designer of the RSC. His recent work there includes Antony & Cleopatra (RSC/Miami/New York), Boris Godunov, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth And City Madam, the Histories Cycle (Courtyard Theatre and at the Roundhouse), designing Richard II, Henry IV – Parts 1 And 2, Henry V, Henry VI – Parts 1, 2 And 3, and Richard III – for which he won the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated for the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Set Design – , As You Like It, The Grain Store, The Drunks and Antony And Cleopatra. Other recent designs include: Hamlet, Libertine, King Lear (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow); Bakersfield Mist (West End); Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre & New York); Bracken Moor (Shared Experience & Tricycle Theatre); Goodbye To All That (Royal Court Theatre & Theatre Local); Richard III, The Tempest and As You Like It (Bridge Project at BAM and the Old Vic); Dealer’s Choice (Menier Chocolate Factory and West End); Plough And The Stars, The Crucible and Six Characters In Search Of An Author (Abbey, Dublin). Tom is the designer for the critically acclaimed exhibition, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London. Tom collaborated on the exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Mermaid is a co-production between Shared Experience and Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company.

Nottingham Playhouse
Friday 13 to Saturday 21 March
Box Office: 0115 941 9419

West Yorkshire Playhouse
Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 March
Box Office: 0113 213 7700

Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Tuesday 31 March to Saturday 4 April
Box Office: 0845 330 3565

Richmond Theatre
Tuesday 7 to Saturday 11 April
Box Office: 0844 871 7651

Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 April
Box Office: 029 2064 6900

Nuffield Theatre, Southampton
Tuesday 28 April to Saturday 2 May
Box Office: 023 8067 1771

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 May
Box Office: 0131 228 1404

Watford Palace Theatre
Tuesday 12 to Saturday 16 May
Box Office: 01923 225671

Oxford Playhouse
Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 May
Box Office: 01865 305305

Friday 30th January 2015


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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