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Old Vic debut for English graduate’s play

A star-studded cast helped launch a play written by a St Andrews graduate, at The Old Vic Theatre in London last night (30th October 2005).

Rachel Wagstaff, an English graduate making her name as a playwright, celebrated the premiere of her play ‘Night Sky’ with the help of leading names from the stage and screen. The Old Vic, currently under the artistic leadership of Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey, is one of the most famous and historically significant working theatres in the world.

The play, performed initially for one night only, featured an all- star cast led by Christopher Eccleston, Saffron Burrows, David Baddiel, Navin Chowdhry, David Warner and Bruno Langley. The performance was in aid of Index on Censorship, a charity that reports on censorship, challenges free expression abuses, and publishes reportage and opinion from around the world.

Directed by Gari Jones, Harold Pinter’s long-time collaborator and associate director, the play was followed by a champagne reception with the stars, and a charity auction at the Old Vic.

Described as ‘a tale of love, lies and cockroaches’, ‘Night Sky’ charts the fates of a group of artists thrown together in the chaos of a dictatorial government. Detained for creating art contrary to the tastes and ideologies of the authorities under which they live John, Ali, George and Natasha struggle to keep hope alive in a no-mans land that seemingly offers no escape.

Rachel graduated from St Andrews in 2002 with a first-class degree in English and Philosophy. Her first play, ‘The Soldier’, about the extraordinary life and death of war poet Rupert Brooke, received rave reviews at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since then Rachel has been selected by The Old Vic as one of seven ‘New Voices’ whose work they will actively be helping to develop over the years. Her latest play, ‘Footfalls Echo’, is in development at The Soho Theatre and she is a Royal Court Young Writer.

Professor Nicholas Roe, Head of the School of English, commented: “We are thrilled to hear of Rachel’s achievement in becoming a playwright for major London theatres. Everyone here wishes her well and trusts that ‘Night Sky’ will be a great success. We are also delighted that Rachel has agreed to come back to St Andrews in 2006 to speak to our current students about her experiences and share what I’m sure will be invaluable advice on how to become a professional playwright.”

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk Ref: Old Vic Debut 311005.doc View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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