Theatre in Wales

Books, critical writings, pamphlets and published plays



What Do I Know?- Richard Eyre

“What Do I Know?” comprises fifty-two occasional pieces. They include eulogies, programme notes, introductions to plays and diary selections. Richard Eyre is a unique figure. He recorded his years of stewardship of London’s National Theatre, years of great accomplishment, in “National Service.” Eleven years on the book still reads very well. As revealed in this new collection he has also worked creditably in film and television. A diary piece follows the wayward process- erratic would be a euphemism- by which a film lurches haphazardly towards that elusive “go” green light. The film under discussion is “Iris.” Less is said about “Notes for a Scandal” a significantly greater film with a lot of emotional punch to it.

The longest piece, forty pages, is the diary that accompanied the filming of the television series “Changing Stages.” Eyre has a view on diaries. “Whatever their merits, all diaries are self-vindicating, full of evasions, self-justifications and self-recriminations.” It is an exhilarating journey with a theatre practitioner blessed with a seemingly Olympian view. Eyre has been everywhere. If the subject is Arthur Miller he has walked with him in the shadow of the pillars of the Brooklyn Bridge. He is with Peter Brook at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris and in New York to see Liam Neeson who is richly knowledgeable and fluent on the theatre of Ireland. Eyre’s next stop is William Dafoe and the Wooster Group. He even gets to visit the last Comptroller to the Lord Chamberlain or, more bluntly, theatre’s censor. The holder reveals that the office was one of Koko-esque baroquerie. While the holder was principally engaged in the management of royal events the extensive and prolonged bargaining over the number of “firks” in a script was a peculiar addition that the job entailed.

Eyre’s journey through the twentieth century includes many a moment of illumination. Harley Granville Barker’s determination to bring actor and audience closer together involved the removal of footlights and the building of an apron over the orchestra pit. Bernard Shaw was there to see the result and declare “To the imagination it looks as if he had invented a new heaven and a new earth.” Eyre’s description of the impact caused by the arrival of the Berliner Ensemble in London in 1956 is definitive.  
    
As to be expected from the previous books Eyre brings an unfailing freshness to his prose. “He wrote theatre-poetry with a grammar that asked for gauzes to spill the action seamlessly from interior to exterior, complex lighting, slashes of iridescent colour, projections, and a vocabulary that included cries in the night, distant marimbas, the tinkling of a music box, the thrashing tail of an iguana.” The last gives away the playwright who is his subject.

Arthur Miller famously had more sustained applause, and productions, on this side of the Atlantic and Eyre supplies a possible reason. “Miller use sinewy and passionate language with unembarrassed enthusiasm, which is always attractive to British actors and audiences weaned on Shakespeare.” Tony Harrison is “metrically unnervingly constant.” In the essay “Cultural Apartheid” Eyre issues eleven paragraphs that amount to a personal statement of artistic belief. “It’s a way of knowing the world, of giving meaning and form to things that seem formless.”

Eyre is firstly a director and a contribution to “the Cambridge Companion to David Hare” captures the nature of that art. Directors “are not divine creators but “negotiators, diplomats, mediators, suspended between the writer’s need to impel the play forward and the actor’s desire to stand still and create a character, obliged to interpret the blueprint, not to redraw it. They are the builders, not the architects.”

He also knows actors. The tribute to Ian Charleson was written, he confesses, with tears dropping on the keyboard. Eight years earlier as an indelible Sky Masterson Charleson had been “an actor of charm, of wit, of skill, with a kind of engaging melancholy of the Mastroianni variety, which he could dispel with a sardonic and self-mocking wit.” It is not so far from Brando who at his peak “was mercurial, feline, melancholy, witty and, like all great actors, androgynous.”

Eyre comes across many an illuminating quotation in his rovings. The reaction of Paul Scofield, when asked to give a lecture on his art, was “I have found that an actor’s work has life and interest only in its execution. It seems to wither away in discussion, and become emptily theoretical and insubstantial.” Howard Brenton has achieved an unanticipated longevity, the onetime author of “the Education of Skinny Spew” becoming the late sympathetic dramatist of Harold McMillan. “Knowing when to speak” says this great survivor “and when to shut up is nine-tenths of being a playwright in the theatre.”  In an age with a touch of hyper-ventilated speculation about audiences a craftsmen knows how it works. “If the audience are [sic] with you for the first half” says David Hare “you have ten minutes for free at the beginning of the second.”

Eyre ends with personal memories. The long illness of decline of a parent has featured in his previous writing. Mary Soames proved a tireless Chair for the National Theatre. In an obituary article of June this year Eyre recalls a night taxi ride through Parliament Square. “Night, night papa” says daughter to the great looming Churchill statue.  The topsy-turvy nature of a life in the theatre haunts. A 2004 piece on Patrick Marber ends “I’ve no doubt…that his best work lies ahead of him.”

In his introduction Eyre states that, the diaries apart, he writes when he is asked to write. “What Do I Know?” is divided into three sections and an epilogue. The shortest is entitled “politics” and is the least convincing. It is not that the writing lacks edge or sharpness of observation but it is not that of a practitioner who writes from the inside. A piece for “Vogue” makes note that the skin of its subject is  “like a white peach.” But that is the nature of the journal.

Richard Eyre may be an occasional writer but “What Do I Know?” is the best collection of essays on theatre of 2014.

historical surveys

ISBN:978 1 84842 418 0
££20:00

Nick Hern Books

published:
01 December 2014

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“Covering Shakespeare”- David Weston

“Covering Shakespeare” is a successor to the author’s “Covering McKellen” which won the 2011 Theatre Book Prize. David Weston’s opening line speaks of “a mishmash of facts and reminiscences.” That may be. But one person’s mishmash is another’s rich and varied peregrination through personal, theatre and occasionally national history.

Benedict Nightingale, in his foreword, declared himself at a loss when seeking an adjective to capture Weston’s earlier book.  “Covering Shakespeare” similarly eludes genre. Among the actors and directors who parade by the score through Weston’s career high and low is Michael Simkins. Like Simkins Weston is an actor with a second gift for writing. 2014 will not have produced a wider, more spirited, or simply more enjoyable theatre book. To borrow a line from “Measure for Measure” “he that hath made you hath made you fair hath made you good”.  

Weston divides his address to the thirty-seven plays in two parts. The second, and chunkier, part is the author’s own experience, a journey of the ups and downs, reversals, joys and jolts of sixty years of a life in acting. The first, which he calls “tattle”, is a digest of information on the texts. Thus, “Titus Andronicus” was a significant success for Shakespeare in his own time but went unperformed for three hundred years. In 1955 a young and bold Peter Brook directed it with the Olivier-Leigh partnership.

Weston’s amiable treatment of the plays encompasses historical arcana and selected critical barnacles. Germaine Greer surprisingly sees ” the Taming of the Shrew” as “not a knockabout farce of wife-battering but the cunning adaptation of a folk-motif to show the forging of a partnership between equals.” That was certainly a perspective that Terry Hands took to his mesmeric 2011 production for Theatr Clwyd Cymru.

In his summary of the rehabilitation of the reviled “Titus Andronicus” he cites with caution Michael Billington. One of the most gore-soaked texts in theatre’s history becomes a Billingtonian “prolonged lament for the suffering imposed by an imperialistic society.” Weston approves whole-heartedly of the Guardian’s critic but, unusually for a theatre member, cares less for its politics. His survey of eight critics, some now retired, includes “arguably the dullest theatre critic in the history of the world.” The book also reprints some of the unpleasantnesses of Tynan, the personal cruelty to actors both unnecessary and demeaning.  

Weston looks overall upon the critical coterie with a similar actorly eye to Michael Simkins who was offered a serious job as theatre critic for a serious publication. “I don’t honestly know how they stand going to a play every night and still retain their enthusiasm. They spend more evenings with each other than with their wives.” Husbands also, perhaps? Weston signs off his short critical digression with a characteristic “I don’t expect another notice in my life, so nobody can accuse me of buttering the buggers up.”  

An actor looks to actors. Sean Connery is remembered as a very Scots Hotspur. Richard Byers did his “Hamlet” at such a speed that the climax was taken by an unfamiliar audience to be the interval. Harry H Corbett did a Richard II as had never been seen before, or since. Robert Stephens did a Regents Park “Othello” on a summer’s night so hot as to have his make-up coming off in streams of sweat. When Mark Rylance takes the part of Olivia Weston thinks him rightly “a trifle greedy; there are too few female parts in the canon without them being purloined by the leading actors.” In Richard Burton he sees how his “cold detachment and Celtic fury fitted “Coriolanus” like a glove.”  

Weston’s index of actors is compendious. He sees some actors who rise, some who disappear and some who are lured away. An advertisement for television for a fast food chain offers £20,000 at a time when the Young Vic is paying £95 a week. Weston is third name in a war film after Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. And then the film work simply fades away.  

The “tattle” sections roam across theatre history. “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is  made into an opera by Purcell but drops out of performance for nearly three centuries. Only in 1968, with the abolition of theatre censorship, is the full text of “Troilus and Cressida” permitted on a British stage. Nineteen sixties television broadcasts thirty hours of historical Shakespeare called “the Age of Kings”, under the direction of Peter Dews. The audience is never less than five million and the whole lot is performed and broadcast live. Weston prefers them to the expensive productions of the Olympiad year- “dull and humourless.”  

The book is interwoven with biography. Weston is with the National Youth Theatre at the time of its 1956 inception. Early fellow-actors include the teenage Simon Ward and Colin Farrell. Stratford is still a market town where live sheep are delivered to the main street’s butcher. By the sixties Weston himself is to be seen in silk scarf and patent leather Chelsea boots at the wheel of a bright red Mini-de-luxe. At a career low point he descends to driving a shabby Ford Zodiac as a mini-cab. One of his passengers turns out to be Sir John Gielgud. They have played together in the big-budget film “Becket”. Sir John has no memory of his fellow actor.

“Covering Shakespeare” has many a personal touch to it. On “Love's Labour Lost” “I thought Cole Porter's songs were the best thing in Kenneth Branagh's film.” Tony Richardson has “Othello” coming on stage with a pair of Great Danes. They require the construction of a special dressing room and the most junior props ASM is blamed for the dogs’ onstage farting and howling.

The main text of “Covering Shakespeare” is bookended between a brief memoir of school days and synopses of the plays. Line summaries scene by scene reveal  that Iago has eleven hundred and seventeen lines to Othello's eight hundred and eighty-eight.

There are as many epitaphs to an actor's life as there are actors. George Cooke, a great Richard III of the nineteenth century, fell into poverty and alcoholism. His skull found eventual use as a prop in a New York production of “Hamlet.” But Weston is in a production of “the Merry Wives of Windsor.” Arundel Castle is a superb stand-in for Windsor. The production has music, twinkling tapers, children playing the fairies, Dora Bryan as Mistress Quickly and an audience in “rapt enchantment.” “That night” says Weston “it was wonderful to be an actor.”  

Acting

ISBN:978-1-78319-064-5
£14.99

Oberon Books

published:
01 October 2014

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Then What Happens?- Mike Alfreds

“Then What Happens?” is a heavyweight book, four hundred and thirty-two pages, from a heavyweight author. Mike Alfreds has two hundred productions to his name, with thirteen years as founder of Shared Experience. His book divides in two; the first third is called “Thoughtshops for Storytelling”, the larger second part “Workshops for Storytelling.” His first part contains cross-references to the appropriate workshops. The second part for practitioners is structured, for simplicity of reference, into fifteen Sets containing sixty sections.

Shared Experience has had few rivals in its particular strand of theatre, Cheek by Jowl probably its nearest equal. The workshop part of “Then What Happens” is a rigorous, testing set of principles and practices that any young director should find useful and illuminating.

Alfreds gives an example, from “Bleak House”, of a detailed method for transcription from source prose to stage action. The process may tend toward transformation. James Elroy’s “the Black Dahlia” has a complex back-story that is wholly re-shaped in adaptation. “Demons and Dybbuks” is built upon a cluster of Isaac Bashevis Singer short stories.

The workshops begin with a single actor telling a story. The process is then subject to nineteen analytical questions. Five pages are devoted to the use of props and the hazard of their too early introduction. Eight pages are devoted to hands. An exercise on pitch is comprised of eight parts.  

“Then What Happens?” is underpinned unsurprisingly by a powerfully individual aesthetic. “The purest space from which to tell a story is an empty one.” On design Alfreds is clear that “any technology or design that is decided upon should only occur after rigorous questioning proves its necessity.” The importance of interaction is stressed, albeit in a manner where it is an extension of the actor’s art and responsibility. Alfreds writes a page on the subject of  “audience autonomy”, essential reading for any theatre-makers minded to treat their audience as a plaything. Alfreds’ audience is there for a most basic of reasons, enjoyment- “ the deeper their sense of fulfilment, the fuller by far their pleasure.”

Adaptation, as evidenced by “Bring Up the Bodies” currently, is big in theatre. Alfreds does not make mention of this, but like eighty or more percent of new products it comes with an advantage of being heavily pre-branded. “Then What Happens?” leaves a genuine and impassioned impression that it is theatre taking on the acme of narrative art. Shared Experience favoured stories over rather than plays for an unusual reason. “I felt that plays might trap us in existing patterns of work. With their structures- strictures- plays can be something of a straitjacket.” Besides theatre is manifold and “survives by a magpie existence, helping itself from other arts, crafts and disciplines to whatever seems useful to its purposes.”

Certainly the book exudes reverence towards the masters of stories and their depth and inventiveness of language. He cites Dickens’ use of antithesis and Faulkner’s compressed use of sensual imagery. Alfreds’ range of reference takes in “the Nibelungenlied” and “the Bridge of San Luis Rey”, Robert Altman’s “Nashville” and  “On Chesil Beach”.  

This last is cited as an example of narratorial power but it also highlights the gulf between the art of prose and its realisation on stage. Ian McEwan artfully creates a counterpoint, the view ricocheting between the perspectives of his two new-weds. Stage writing is about what is happening between characters, with the omitted having as much value as the overt. Alfreds devotes some space and characteristic rigour to the role of the third-person narrator from outside the action. This can be the most misunderstood and dulling of stage presences when misused. Alfreds typically gives it a typically lucid and full treatment. Workshop eighteen is titled “Justifying Narrative Interruptions During a Scene.”  

“Then What Happens?” never deviates from its focus, the creating of stage action that moves in both senses. He is rightly harsh on the use of symbols that clump heavily. He looks at the language of film and the way that fadeouts and dissolves work their effect.

Narration is in a constant state of re-invention. The eighty-year old novelist E L Doctorow has delivered a firecracker of a radical novel this month. Alfreds addresses the fact that “a lot of contemporary art has removed itself from narrative and linear logic.” The argument is that it is reflector of life’s uncertainty itself. But human cognition is elementally a sense-making mechanism, which will make conclusion with or without evidence. The Alfred-ian view is clear. “But without the form created by plot, theatre and storytelling merely echo our confusions and uncertainties rather than searching for a sense to them.”

Directing

ISBN:978-1-84842-270-4
££14.99

Nick Hern Books

published:
20 January 2014

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100 Great Plays for Women- Lucy Kerbel

“100 Great Plays for Women” is a labour of love, three years in its making reveals Lucy Kerbel in her acknowledgements. Any list, she also says, is likely to be argued-over. Her book marries depth and application with a stamp of individuality.  

The title is not strictly accurate. After her selection of a hundred, roaming over centuries and continents, she adds a bonus of ten plays written for solo performance. This essay format lives or dies by sharpness of description, and Lucy Kerbel delivers it. “Three Tall Women” has the “mixture of quirkiness, quiet brutality and steely wit” to be expected from Edward Albee.  “August: Osage County” is a “blend of family discord, crumbling veneers, abandoned dreams and gasp-inducing revelations.” “Whale Music”, Anthony Minghella’s 1980 fledgling piece, is “a richly complicated and determinedly non-sentimental analysis of some of the most complex and emotionally contentious of all aspects of human existence.”  

A book with a format like “100 Great Plays for Women” might easily have a feel of search-engine-trawl-and-compile to it, interesting enough but rarely surprising. It is not. Lucy Kerbel takes her reader on a vaulting journey through a selection based on personal judgment rather than a checklist tick-off.  Pam Gems, Charlotte Keatley, Sharman McDonald, Wendy Kesselman or Beth Henley could have featured but do not. Shelagh Stephenson is represented by “Five Kinds of Silence” instead of the better known “Memory of Water” and Rona Munro by “Iron” rather than “Bold Girls.”  Kerbel reveals many a surprise, “the Beau Defeated” by Mary Pix premiered in 1700, “Just to Get Married” by Cicely Mary Hamilton premiered 1910 and “Nine to Six” by Aimee and Philip Stuart premiered 1930.

If the choice is generous in reaching back into theatre’s history it is equally as eclectic and far-reaching in geographical spread. The USA is an obvious destination. Alan Ball is known for “American Beauty” and “Six Feet Under” but is also author of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” with a cast of five women to one man. French-speaking Canada is represented by Michel Tremblay and Cuba by Maria Irene Fornes. Australia features with Ray Lawler with his 1955 “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and New Zealand with “the Woman in the Window” by Alma de Groen.  Continental Europe supplies Fermin Cabal (Spain), Victoria Benedictsson (Sweden), Odon von Horvath (Austro-Hungary historically) and Marta Tikkanen (Finland).

A roving guide like this is bound to alight on many an interesting episode in theatre’s history. We see Tennessee Williams walking out of a first private screening of “Suddenly Last Summer.” He objects to the ending- incidentally a compelling piece of cinema- for its favouring of literal depiction over allegorical treatment.  
That extraordinary figure, Clare Booth Luce, author of “the Women” with its forty-four women characters, moves on to become US ambassador in Italy. Early retirement is enforced due to arsenic poisoning from chips of paint falling from a ceiling. Ena Lamont Stewart, author of “Men Should Weep,” sees a theatre performance in the early 1940’s and in her own words “came home in a mood of red-hot revolt against cocktail time, glamour gowns….I asked myself what I wanted to see on stage and the answer was life. Real life.”

“100 Great Plays for Women” in its cumulative reading feels like an alternative and complementary writing of theatre’s history. There is material here a-plenty for any prospective Edinburgh company in search of a production choice to stand out. For a performer seeking a one-woman show or an audition piece that is different “100 Great Plays for Women” is a cornucopia of riches. Lucy Kerbel, and by extension editor and publisher, have done theatre writing great service with this book of significance.  

historical surveys

ISBN:978-1-84842-185-1
££10.99

Nick Hern Books

published:
14 November 2013

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The Quality of Mercy. Reflections on Shakespeare- Peter Brook

“The Quality of Mercy” ends with a chronology of the Shakespeare productions directed by Peter Brook. The number is twenty-two, the time span runs from 1945 to 2002 and the locations, beginning with the Birmingham Rep, include Stratford, London, Paris, Moscow, New York and a World Tour. It is a slim collection, nine essays, an epilogue and an index, but it is slim in the way that Julian Barnes’ “Sense of an Ending” is slim. Bulk and depth do not necessarily correlate. Peter Brook’s book is packed with eloquence, insight and interest.

He writes from the stance of a practitioner. “Theatre lives and breathes in the present…In theatre today, yesterday, anywhere in the world, the author is present as a living human being.” He homes in on how one particular actor, Irene Worth in 1962, interprets the role of Goneril in a brilliant new light. He describes Vivien Leigh in that most daunting of Shakespeare’s plays, “Titus Andronicus”, and sees a kinship in the acts of cruelty found in Kabuki legends.  

The arts beyond theatre flow through Brook’s approach. Working in opera spurs his understanding of how to stage Shakespeare. The notes in the music make “a world of infinitely tiny details.” That leads him to conceive “a play of Shakespeare’s must be played as one great sinuous phrase.”

For a production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” he looks deep into canvases of Watteau and then “imposed him on a reluctant designer.” In Watteau’s Arcadian scenes he takes note of the enigmatic figure often watching from the side. This leads him to recognise “the intuition of the young Shakespeare that lightness needs the shadow of darkness to make it real.”

Brook learns from Peter Weiss and Richard Rodgers. He asks the composer if he has “a stash of melodies waiting to be used.”  “Of course not!” is the reply “I need the words.” Brook advises speakers of verse and singers to listen to Piaf and Billie Holiday “where the passion, the feeling, the intonation, the tempo all arise from the word.”  

All theatre-makers carry within them a brace of aesthetic convictions, even if implicit. An initial powerful picture drives a Brook production. Bosch and Brueghel illuminate a “Measure for Measure.” But interpretation can lead to a too swift design “no longer in harmony with the new forms arising in rehearsal through the work of the actors.” He is impatient with the notion that concept has pre-eminence. “A cook has a concept, but it becomes real during the cooking.” He is not impressed by “the visual arts, “concept” now replaces all the qualities of hard-earned skills of execution and development.” In theatre “a concept is a result and comes at the end.”  

A lighter essay pursues the question of Shakespeare’s identity. A scholar in Sicily has unearthed a family who fled the Inquisition from Palermo to England. The family name is Crollolancia, literally “shake spear”. Max Beerbohm in a later century sets out to prove that the works of Tennyson were in fact authored by Queen Victoria. He trawls through “In Memoriam” and, sure enough, finds a line that is an anagram for “Alf didn’t write this I did Vic.”  

Shakespeare is infinitely elastic. For Brook, the work has a centre. It is “the question of order and chaos, chaos and order.” As humans “we are within chaos” and respond with “a profound, and sometimes despairing, need for order.” Plays and players, verse and staging run richly through “the Quality of Mercy”. The title essay is the last, its subject the last play. It is indispensable reading before any view of “the Tempest”.  

Nick Hern has produced “the Quality of Mercy” as a slim, elegantly handsomely hardback. As a physical product the pleasure of holding it is akin to the pleasure and stimulus to be had in its reading.

critical comment

ISBN:
££12.99

Nick Hern Books

published:
17 October 2013

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My First Play- Compiled Nick Hern

Nick Hern has been his own publisher of books on theatre for twenty-five years. In celebration he has invited authors whom he has published to submit a piece entitled “My First Play”. No other criterion or qualification has been asked for. Nick Hern’s own essay goes back to the year 1960. A schoolboy with a pantomime job at the now Churchill Theatre he trains a spotlight on a lead singing “Moon River.” That woman on stage and that ballad make “the moment I fell irretrievably in love with theatre”.

“My First Play” inevitably hits many points of theatre history. The chronology at the end of the book is itself a journey through history from the first book “Mrs Klein” to the first app release in 2013. Although not stated Steven Jeffreys’ “Valued Friends”, theatre’s best play on the razzy 1980’s, had a cast that included the young Jane Horrocks, Martin Clunes, Tim McInnerny and Peter Capaldi.

Nick Hern himself is at the Royal Court to see John Dexter directing a Wesker premiere. Dominic Cooke directs Louise Page’s “Tissue” in a university chaplaincy with a student Ruth Jones. The writers give testimony to theatre’s sheer power of presence. Ella Hickson sees a production of Ron Hutchison’s explosive “Rat in the Skull”. At age thirteen she has had small idea of the cast. A search a couple of decades on reveals Roche to have been played by an actor with a handful of a name, a young Benedict Cumberbatch.

Mike Alfreds is knocked out by “Oh! What a Lovely War”. Birmingham teenager Kevin Elyot is in Stratford to see David Warner’s sixties “Hamlet”- “long-haired and lanky…swathed in a long woollen scarf.” In Scotland “the Cheviot, the Stag, the Cheviot and the Black, Black Oil” does the same for Chris Hannan and John Byrne’s “the Slab Boys” for Liz Lochhead. Theatre from Wales does not appear.

Theatre is live event. Ali Taylor is at “the Weir” on the day of the death of Sarah Kane and the director steps on stage to impart the news. Vivienne Franzman is “floored by a production of “Bent” in my late teens. I found it unberarably moving.” I have read, but not seen, Martin Sherman’s scene with the two prisoners tied to stakes. I have heard it described as it is on stage, and the reading is nothing.  

Amanda Whittington discovers the catalyst to her own writing in Sheila Delaney. Jack Thorne writes his first work because a forty-five pound royalty for a script is too great a sum to afford.

Intriguing bits of autobiography pop up throughout. That austere figure David Edgar becomes a four-year reduced to wailing terror at a performance of “Beauty and the Beast”. Jonathan Lichtenstein’s description of his drift from childhood to farm labourer in the area of the River Ithon is extraordinary. There are hints of the pre-tech age. Stephen Jeffreys’ description of physically producing fifteen copies of a sixty-page script has to be read in its original to appreciate “playwriting as an act of faith.”
Andrew Bovell writes a moving account about his father, how “the writer of the play was not the son my father knew.” The words his father eventually comes out with are “I think you might have something…with this writing caper.”

The roll of names is awesome- Brenton, Callow, Churchill onward. Sixty-six authors- playwrights, directors, actors- provide contributions to this sparkle of a rattlebag.  All royalties are to be donated to the Theatre Section of the Writers’ Guild. A better, more cheering winter-blues-dispeller cannot be imagined.

historical surveys

ISBN:
££9.99

Nick Hern Books

published:
10 October 2013

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Acting Through Song- Paul Harvard

The sub-title to “Acting Through Song” is “Techniques and Exercises for Musical-Theatre Actors”. Paul Harvard addresses the practitioner, but he does it in a style and with a directness and an avoidance of jargon that make it accessible to any enthusiast for musicals. As expected, the editors and designers at Nick Hern have ensured a clear-cut, five-part structure with inset boxes for exercises. A short index would not go amiss; Harvard has much to say of interest on different examples of this most protean of genres.

By coincidence the week of my reading of “Acting through Song” has been one where  the sheer breadth, and the mixed fortunes, of the musical have been on public view. A jukebox  musical has crashed leaving a black hole of five million for the angels to pick up. An old trouper,  “the Pajama Game” from 1954, has delighted the critics at Chichester, while Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” just seems to grow in stature year on year.

Paul Harvard does not write from the position of observer. He has been there from the inside. When young he has been witness to the experienced actress in the rehearsal room with a performance so over-blown “it seemed almost grotesque to me.” In the real packed theatre it makes perfect sense.

His very first subject is self-consciousness. No-one could write the first part of page four without having been there. He identifies what he terms the three blind alleys. To focus on the singing he calls “hiding behind a good voice.” The cost is in the definition of the acting. “Becoming the Character” and “Playing Emotion” are Harvard’s other prime temptations.  

Harvard is no Stanislavsky-ite and, interestingly, he reveals that Stanislavsky was in any case ill served by his first translator into English. Many of the terms embedded in theatre’s bloodstream in the English-speaking world “are now considered by scholars to be inadequate.”

No lively theatre author can escape alighting on items of interest to the general reader. Katie Mitchell is here advising her actors to outline what their characters have been up to in the twenty-four hours prior to their arrival on a stage. Musical production teams from America come quite simply from a culture that is different. Harvard advises his actor-singers that their auditions have to be different-  “be bolder in your use of space and style and acting”.

“Youtube” he writes “is a curse for the modern actor.” On the one hand a performance from the past casts too great a shadow on the present. On the other the internet is a simulacrum of a performance. What you see is not how it was. He is quite right. For the actor preparing, for example, “the Drowsy Chaperone” Summer Strallen doing “Show Off” on Youtube may be irresistibly tempting but is of small advantage.

Harvard’s exercises are illuminating for the non-performer. “Walking the Punctuation” sharpens awareness of the precision of vocal timing.  He has a nice metaphor of the audience as a dancing partner.  Some of his insights are applicable across the arts. “Concentration destroys attention” he writes, acknowledging a debt to Declan Donnellan. This is akin to the painter who steps back over and over to gauge the effect from afar that the strokes of the brush have made close up.

Harvard explains that a tilted thyroid cartilage thins the vocal folds in the larynx. The result is a sweeter sound. The example he cites sent me to listen to Mandy Patinkin. I heard “Beautiful” from “Sunday in the Park with George” again, but in a way that was better.

When he moves from rehearsal to performance Harvard uses Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof” as an example. His complex paragraph, knitting together character and God, performer and viewer, evokes the heights that the musical is capable of reaching. “This book is a love letter” Harvard writes “to an art form I have a complex relationship with”. It reads that way. It knows wisely that love is not adoration, that  objectivity and critique are not love's antithesis but its completion.  

Acting

ISBN:978-1-84842-229-2
££12.99

Nick Hern Books

published:
01 May 2013

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Look, I Made a Hat- Stephen Sondheim

“Look I Made a Hat “ is the sequel to 2010’s “Finishing the Hat”. The two books combined make for something that is unlike any other piece of theatre writing. The subtitle is “Collected Lyrics, with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes”. Sondheim’s writing leans in tone towards the wry and self-deprecating but he includes moments of the most acerbic artistic self-critique ever committed to print. Like the prism of glass that reveals the constituent colours in the light spectrum “Look I Made a Hat” displays the maker of musical theatre as craftsman, chronicler, commentator and critic.

Look, I Made a Hat” covers the years 1981-2011. The period has a lesser number of staged shows but includes the great “Into the Woods” and “Passion.” It rounds out the career with occasional pieces, unrealised productions, and the work for television and film. When the first volume was published it was the criticism of other songwriters that drew the most attention from reviewers. Sondheim’s judgements on Alan Jay Lerner, Lorenz Hart, Anthony Burgess, Truman Capote, even his mentor Oscar Hammerstein, were severe. His compensating enthusiasm for Frank Loesser, Dorothy Fields and Yip Harburg tended to go unnoticed.

Certainly his view is the piercing gaze from the inside. He picks at the lyrical sins of mis-stressed pronunciation, twisted syntax and verbal padding. He happily goes to war against “flamboyant cleverness, ostentatious imagery, decorative elaboration and rhythmically repetitive lists like this one.”  

In the second volume the lyricist-as-critic steps is less prominent. The new generation of composers, and that beyond America, is spared the Sondheimian scalpel. Michael John LaChiusa and Steven Sater, Tim Rice and Elton John may whisper quiet prayers of relief. He turns his attention instead to ten songwriters who had only occasional careers in musical theatre.

Thus the lyrics of DuBose Heyward are “the most genuinely poetic and deeply felt in the history of musical theatre.” Those by Richard Wilbur for “Candide” are “unequalled for their combination of wit and skill.” Carolyn Leigh “is the most brilliant technician of them all with the possible exception of Cole Porter.” In addition she comes with “more irony and less camp.” “Rock Island” Meredith Wilson’s opener for “The Music Man” is “surely one of the most startling and galvanic openings ever devised.” Quite right.    

Sondheim as craftsman is possessed of the technical insight of a lifetime’s practice. In a chorus number from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” he can see that writer Leo Robin  “employs a rhyme scheme where each line ends in a three-syllable rhyme that consists of two identities followed by a masculine rhyme instead of the universal opposite, a masculine rhyme followed by two identities.”

He is unforgiving on his own work. “God is in the Details” is one of his three artistic precepts. He deplores a line that misuses a single vowel sound.  The word “aeroplane” has to be sung as “aer-oh-plane” rather than “aer-uh-plane.” The opening for the workshop version of “Wise Guys” is “flaccid and familiar.” In “A Little Night Music” “penchant” may be rhymed with “trenchant” for Broadway. But when the show moves to London the lyric needs to be rewritten.

The word “half-assed” appears in “Wise Guys” which is set in the1890’s. It is wrong not because it is historically inaccurate but because it sounds anachronistic. In “Move On” which ends “Sunday in the Park with George” he has to make do with “usually” when he intends “eventually” which, alas, comes with a syllable too many.  “Inevitably” is even worse. He frets over the excessive exposition in “Wise Guys” first outing. The number “Addison’s Trip” is “the show-stopper that isn’t” and “left, I suspect, something of a hole in Nathan Lane’s heart.”

But then he is able to celebrate those times when a lyric works absolutely rightly. A change of a single small word can intensify the emotional tone. In  “Losing My Mind” he makes a single syllable change to “I go to sleep/And think about you”. “To” takes the place of “and” to hugely greater effect.  

The lyrical master writes many a line of equally pointed prose. Awards are a-plenty and “have three things to offer: cash, confidence and bric-a-brac.” The English language is richly latinated but he is wary of those “words ending in “ition, “action” and “estion” – not only easy to rhyme but give off a sheen of erudition, as well as articulation, precision, the perfection of expression- I think I’ve made my point. I usually avoid this huge family of words because the effect invariably glitters with glibness.”

Theatre is collaboration and Sondheim is generous and revealing towards his collaborators. Admiration for writer James Lapine runs deep: “I came up with plots, while he came up with images…James was also the first (and only) writer I’ve worked with who thinks like a director”. He describes Richard Jones’ 1990 premiere in London of  “Into the Woods”. It features a giant eyeball and a twenty-foot long finger: “Unlike revivals which are hybrids of the original source, and the director’s additions, this one was a complete reinvention.” When Declan Donnellan does “Sweeney Todd” for the National Theatre he gives it a new “whispered intensity.”  

But there is a downside. The chapter on “Wise Guys: The Workshop” shows theatre’s collaboration fraying. The actors become reluctant to accept changes. The director takes the part of his cast. The producer is caught in the middle. The book’s reproductions of newspaper articles report the legal actions and injunctions that follow. Musical theatre is made in the making. Sondheim, the unstinting self-critic, knows that “Without constant attention, while it is taking shape, it doesn’t take many performances before it becomes so efficient that what’s bad becomes accepted.”  

There is one group in theatre, or on its borders, with whom Sondheim has never quite made his peace. In a dense two pages he draws the distinction between reviewers and critics, although “one thing that unites theatre critics and reviewers is that most of them have little knowledge of the craft as it is practised.” Artists, no different from any other human group, seek praise. “Every group of compliments about my work that started me preening soon” he finds “was peppered with potshots that unpreened me, and for every piece of thoughtful observation about other people’s work, there was a piece of mean-spirited snottiness.”

Criticism is ripe with error and retrospective critical self-flagellation, as with Sarah Kane, is popular. Sondheim makes mention of a “Lexicon of Musical Invective”. Its author, Nicolas Slominsky, describes the disdain that was first handed out to the likes of Brahms and Ravel.  

Some of the book’s autobiographical aspect is given over to aging. Technical facility may get easier but the capacity for invention does not. He does not cook but he reads cooking articles avidly. The challenges that face the chef are, in his view, those that face the songwriter. It is all about “timing, balance, form, surface versus substance, and all the rest of it.”

“Look, I Made a Hat” is a tribute to word and wordcraft. “Comedy Tonight” was written over a weekend. With “Wise Guys” “the tinkering took ten years, three directors, two out-of-town tryouts, a rotation of six actors in the leading roles, the writing of more than a dozen news song, the discarding of more than two dozen, and we never did open on Broadway.”

A physical book is an aesthetic object in itself. Many a publishing firm has raised its game in response to digital rivalry. Virgin Books is an imprint of Ebury Books, itself a subsidiary of the mighty Random House. At a thirty-five pound list price it does not match the quality of books on pictorial art. Maybe the editorial intent has been to give precedence to the word. The photographs are muddy and the captioning inconsistent.

A picture from “Road Show” features six actors of whom just one is named.  The five soldiers playing pool in “Passion” are labelled as “Scene Eight”. Seven British actors in Regents Park are labelled as “Negotiating with the Giant.” The picture of the cast of nineteen is a poor relation of the brilliant colour of the original picture. The double page spread given to the set of “Into the Woods” looks marvellous but no acknowledgement is given to the designer- it is the work of Soutra Gilmore. “God is in the Details” may be Sondheim’s artistic credo, but it is not obviously shared by the designers at Random House.

“Look I Made a Hat” follows its predecessor in not passing over the grind, the dismay, the occasional strokes of sheer serendipity, that accompany a life in art’s making. But then too there is the joy when, somehow, it all works. As the Roman slave Pseudolus sings in the opening song of Sondheim’s first independent success “Something dramatic, something erratic, something for everyone...”  

critical comment

ISBN:
£

Virgin Books

published:
21 December 2012

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How Musicals Work- Julian Woolford

No-one is better suited than Julian Woolford to write this book. His experience marries the role of practitioner and explicator. His adaptation as a musical of “the Railway Children” has played in forty countries. He teaches at Goldsmiths College on
Britain’s only degree course in the writing of musicals. “How Musicals Work” combines musical and lyrical analysis, dramatic theory, some exercises, a guide to legal and copyright matters and a rich selection of tales, both admiring and cautionary, from the industry.

The musicals are above all the art of collaboration. Musical brilliance is not necessarily a prerequisite. Irving Berlin wrote almost everything in F sharp and had use of a specially adapted piano for transposition to other keys. Lionel Bart could neither read nor write music. He sang to his own guitar. As to whether the music should precede the lyric or vice versa Richard Rodgers in collaboration with Lorenz Hart wrote the music first., With Oscar Hammerstein the lyrics came first. Kander and Ebb wrote music and lyrics together in the same place.

There are principles in musicals but few rules. Most are adaptations but some- “A Chorus Line”, “Company”- are not. “Follies” had its inspiration in a single photograph, that of Gloria Swanson amidst the ruins of a Broadway theatre. Previews on a tight budget are usually a few nights, but can last a month. “Spiderman” entered theatre history with its six months between first preview and press night. After “Mama Mia” the jukebox musical- a compilation of hits- looks an easy sell to  producers. Woolford reveals “a heap of musical crashes…shoehorning the songs of the Beach Boys, Rod Stewart, Blondie and Elvis into generally witless books.”

Woolford is strong on craft. Fifty-eight pages on the topic of structure begins with the sentence “At the heart of every musical is a great book.” “Mack and Mabel”, “the Beautiful Game” and “Anyone Can Whistle” have wonderful songs but lack the book that binds it all together. That is true. “With So Little to Be Sure Of” from the last is sublime.

Woolford goes back to the beginning, Aristotle’s six elements. He has a good sentence on lyric-writing “rhyme with reason”. Rhyme for the sake of rhyme and the composer loses sense and character. Sondheim in “Finishing the Hat” is fierce on “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” Why the age of seven or eight, instead of nine or ten? Because “eight” rhymes with “hate” is not good enough. The message is take care with a rhyme plucked from the air    

He has the advice of experience. If you have a draft it is an uncommon actor who will give you an unvarnished opinion. Harrison Ford is not the norm with his comment to George Lucas’ work on “Star Wars” “George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.”

“How Musicals Work”contains forty pages plus of tables in which the building blocks of the art are laid out with real examples. The mentor figure is a common character. He lists, among others, Colonel Pickering, the Engineer (“Miss Saigon”) and the Mother Abbess (“the Sound of Music”). Thirteen lyrics from “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” to “Over the Rainbow” are analysed by interval, semitone number and whether a particular phrase rises or falls. He makes mention of a mis-scanned lyric where the stress in singing falls on “York” in “New York”. (Welsh spoofers replaced it with  “Newport”. The parody did not survive the music company’s annoyance and Youtube removed it.)

But then, like Robert McKee on film structure, these are tools that he offers, not a substitute for flair and originality. “Company” has the loosest of structures and “Cats” virtually does without.  

Lastly, Woolford delivers plenty of practical advice. The Performance Rights Society has no jurisdiction over music that is used dramatically. Perfect Pitch is a not-for-profit group whose mission is the furthering of musicals. Unsolicited scripts are welcome. Mercury Musical Developments is a writers’ organisation. He advises just when it may be a good time to offer a royalty waiver. The amateur market is large and lucrative but the companies seek evidence of a hit.

The language is non-technical. “Diegetic” is as complicated as it gets. But he explains how “Somewhere”, as in “…over the Rainbow” is set on an octave leap, endowing it with a feeling of yearning.

“How Musicals Work” does not have the astringent depth of critique that Sondheim puts into the two volumes of his work. The aspirant musical writer should have sight of the insert boxes in “Finishing the Hat” and it successor. Otherwise, Julian Woolford will tell the new composer-lyricist-book-writer all they need to know. After that it is determination. As an old hand tells him “ You never finish a musical. You just stop working on it.”

critical comment

ISBN:
£

Nick Hern Books

published:
10 November 2012

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Getting Directions- Russ Hope

Three virtues run through this book. They are the attentiveness of the close-up view, the enthusiasm and the sense of authorial modesty. Russ Hope opens in 2005. He is crouching in a university lighting gantry. Peter Brook is visiting and rehearsing, near incomprehensibly, far below with a single actor. It is a nice start for this study, subtitled “A Fly-on-the-Wall Guide for Emerging Theatre Directors.”  

Hope steps down from his gantry to witness eight pieces of theatre in the making. The companies range from the well-established- the Globe and Young Vic- to the small and feisty in the form of Bristol’s Action Hero.

Hope captures the principles that underlie directors’ work. Matthew Dunster sends a note to his “Troilus and Cressida” cast: “My rules on approaching anything are simple: CLARITY-STORY-DRAMATIC EFFECTIVENESS. I want it to be clear and exciting.”  By six pm on the rehearsal’s first day the company knows how the production looks and feels. Nikolai Foster has learnt it is best to absorb the script thoroughly before rehearsal: “I want to be intuitive and open to what’s going on….observing and working in the moment.” Joe Hill-Gibbins works with his designer before rehearsal “building up and tearing down sets from whatever objects are nearby”.

Fight director Kevin McCurdy starts by teaching baby steps for the use of swords on stage. “Go slower, slower; slower is better” is his mantra. There is all the difference in the world between a character storming out of a door that is three feet away and one that is twenty feet away. Early blocking is ill-advised. Directing, says Joe Hill-Gibbons, is “really about getting actors to move and explore ways of expressing thoughts and feelings.” Poetry, says Matthew Dunster, takes care of itself when the meaning is clear to the speaker. It is all in the text , not in historical context or biographical detail.  

The directors are constantly attentive to the world they serve. Steve Marmion listens hard to his audience. A pun on Rodgers and Hammerstein- “Salmon-chanting evening- dies on stage. Dominic Dromgoole says it is the nature of the Globe that it needs “big lungs, big action, big thoughts.” Hope’s epilogue includes a paragraph headed “Intelligent isn’t enough” Matthew Dunster: “there is only one kind of director to aspire to be, which is an audience’s director.”

“Getting Directions” runs down slightly towards its end. OperaUpClose became resident company at Islington’s King’s Head in 2010. The venue has achieved a remarkable re-invention as an alternative opera venue- it was host to Dic Edwards’ “Manifest Destiny”. The short chapter on “Don Giovanni” lacks the confidence of earlier chapters. It is a debatable view that “opera is widely considered ossified”. Should the author take the Euston to Newtown train any September he would see the opposite. His slight discomfort can be seen in a sentence like “Opera is hard going on the voice (infamously so.”) In place of the attentive eye and ear he tells us he us he is wearing jeans and t-shirt and holding a glass of beer.

This is the first book by Russ Hope and he would have benefited from a stronger editor. An index would be useful. It is admittedly addressed to the emergent director but the odd piece of jargon like “god mic” would be better offloaded to attract the general reader. OperaUpClose is declared to be “unfunded”. No, it is funded by someone. The invoices have to be paid.    

Stylistically, the writing has a habit of “putting” redundant inverted commas around  normal language; thus “unhinge” the whole aesthetic, a production has a “big idea”, the audience sees Pip “lose” Estella, opera is contrasted with “straight theatre”. One sentence piles up an indigestible seventy-three words.“For he” grates. “Enormity” is used wrongly on several occasions. Although it is acquiring undertones of size its meaning is wickedness. Simon Stephens’ contribution to a pantomime is called an examination with “forensic detail.” No, a playwright does not apply forensics to his craft.

These are irregularities in a book with a distinctive content. It is not the last word on directing but complements the different approaches in the recent books of John Caird and Katie Mitchell. Hope has seen the director, not profiled here, who knows he is the smartest person in the room. He has seen a production with no centre from a director who is fearful of his players. These are not the artists he observes in “Getting Directions”.

They work in a profession where there are not enough jobs. There is never enough money. “Unless you need to go into theatre, don’t” says Steve Marmion “because you will wonder why you didn’t choose to lose your mind for something else.” Hope closes with a beautiful metaphor of the nickel of theatre beneath the gold. “But either you fall in love with the nickel underneath, or you do something else. That is the difference between infatuation and love.” His last words “Now go make something.”

Directing

ISBN:
£

Nick Hern Books

published:
06 November 2012

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The Golden Rules of Acting - Andy Nyman

Andy Nyman is twenty-five years out of Guildhall. He has driven vans and lorries, entertained at children’s parties, worked in retail and done magic. And he has acted. His lean honed guide has the authenticity of being written from the frontline. For any actor numbed by the technical rehearsal there is no need to feel guilty. They “are always” says Nyman “slow, soul-destroying and miserable.” Hard partying, alcohol and other substances will erode the capacity to learn lines after age fifty. If you are working, savour every moment of the job. You will never know how far away is the next one.

His gaze at the profession is enraptured but hard-headed. Sixty-nine percent polled for an Equity survey in 2010 earned less than three thousand pounds. The drop-out rate is scary but sticking power pays off. The role of Tracy Turnblad in Aberystwyth this summer attracted four hundred applicants. The roles for fifty-year olds play to a far smaller field. Nyman cites Morgan Freeman as a late flourisher.    

He gives some succinct tips on acting as a business. “Despite what many actors say, your agent doesn’t work for you; you are a team”. He gives the subject of auditions fourteen paragraphs and they hit it right on. He is un-snobbish about advertising work. It is nice that it pays by word count ten thousand times that of a Shakespeare speech. But they also “teach you to work fast and be technical without being precious.”

There are many guides to the art of acting and he is sparing with his comments. If a line is losing a laugh, the trick is not to try harder. It is to do less and go back to the truth behind the moment. The page entitled “Your job in rehearsals” comprises one sentence. It is a very good one.

“The Golden Rules of Acting” is wryly humourous. Good reviews can be as damaging as the bad. He wishes he could resist reading them but he can’t. He repeats an old joke that is dismissive of reviews in “the Stage”. The incontinent sprawl of internet comment he calls “the Coward’s Playground.”  

Parts of his book would be practical for any walk of life. Make a record of the people you meet. Mix outside acting. His list of Survival Tips is headed by “be nice to work with.” From personal experience a consultancy I once worked with used actors for primary research. One actor exhibited not just enthusiasm for the work but genuine curiosity as to what the business was all about. The next time I saw him was on the big screen. It was Sigourney Weaver’s film but he had the number two character part. Maybe the two were related. Nyman himself is scornful of the view that anyone ever had it easy.    

Books on the life of acting are not so many. Michael Simpkins “What’s My Motivation?” is read by many with affection for its description of a life of reward, grit and occasional happenstance. “The Golden Rules of Acting” is smaller, shorter, pithier. It has pictures and big print- page seventeen has only twenty-four words but they are indeed “acting in a nutshell”. It is priced at the level of a London latte and muffin. If you know an actor low in spirits, or indeed any actor at all, do them a favour and slip them a copy.

Acting

ISBN:
£

Nick Hern Books

published:
10 September 2012

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The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Pl- Edited Martin Middeke, Peter Paul Schnierer and Al

“The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights” discusses the work of twenty-five dramatists. The age range covers a generation from Kevin Elyot, born 1951, to David Eldridge, born 1973. The format for each writer is an introduction, a discussion of the plays, one hundred and thirty-three in total, and a summary essay. The writing is, for the most part, clear and comprehensive. The indexes of references to background books and articles are unequalled. For those venues, like Sheffield’s Crucible, which specialise in revivals it is an invaluable resource for re-evaluation.      

The work is the thing but a few of the twenty-five contributors slip in snippets of illuminating biography. Philip Ridley has a childhood experience similar to many writers. Illness, in his case asthma, dictates long periods of isolation. Roy Williams leaves school at sixteen and manages to make it to the Cockpit Youth Theatre after work in McDonalds, Safeway and various warehouses. Gregory Burke is dishwasher, hospital porter, factory employee before sending “Gagarin Way” to the Traverse.

By contrast, Anthony Neilson’s father is a director and actor and directs his own son’s “The Censor” in 2002. Mark Ravenhill goes straight from Bristol University to administration at Soho Theatre. Like plain “Tony” who would be revealed as “Anthony Charles Lynton” on election night, Jez Butterworth starts as Jeremy Penfold Butterworth of St Albans. His contemporaries at Cambridge include a future Times editor.

Words from the authors themselves are few but acute. “More than acceptance, everybody in my plays wants understanding…”says Joe Penhall “…one of the key components to characterisation is paradox.” David Eldridge’s early life is divided between a prep school and weekends on a shoe stall in Romford market. “This weird double life...largely informs the person I am and the plays I write.” Mark Ravenhill: “I’ve always written against moral relativism…to stage something that makes an audience say “That is wrong”- that is definitely something I’ve delighted in doing.”

The plays span the years 1981 to 2010. Theatre’s array of themes and subjects impress; AIDS in Africa (debbie tucker green) prison (Simon Stephens), gated “communities” (April de Angelis).  It is not just public policy that comes under scrutiny (Iraq, Care in the Community) but dramatists catch deeper intellectual currents. The characters in Kwame Kwei-Armah’s “Statement of Regret” clash over DuGruy’s notion of Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome. Shelagh Stephenson’s “the Memory of Water” uses the Benveniste-Sheldrake notion of morphic resonance for its central metaphor. Beneath its visual and verbal bravura Terry Johnson’s subject in “Hysteria” is Jeffrey Masson’s assault on the core of the Freudian belief system.  

A reviewer of a performance has it easy compared with the critic trying to construct an essay after the event. There is colour, sound, movement to write about. One challenge is theatre’s sheer lability. “Days of Significance” changes hugely over its two versions. “Playhouse Creatures”, says Rebecca D’Monte, comes in at least three different versions.

Critics have a drive to classify. As culture is not susceptible to nature’s speciation this often runs into difficulty. Thus, “Terry Johnson is a difficult man to classify”, Jim Cartwright “ “difficult to place”, Penhall “a difficult dramatist to classify.” At the extreme, comparisons with Beckett are invoked too over-freely and on occasion stretched to the fanciful.

The writing regularly hits its subject spot on.  Dan Rebellato sees in “Pitchfork Disney” “a ferociously funny and unsettling vision of a 1990’s culture shot through with uncertainty, absence and loss.” Christina Wald rightly sees that “Elyot’s dramatic oeuvre is “not chiefly the depiction of gay life, but a melancholic obsession with the past.”  Aleks Sierz calls Jez Butterworth “the master of the tall tale and the narrative monologue. His obsession is male experience and the narrative monologue.”

David Pattie ends his essay on Gregory Burke with a summary of three national narratives that apply to Scotland. They apply equally, and as pertinently, to Wales. Peter Paul Schnierer’s summary of Jonathan Harvey feels right; he closes with a tribute “to have kept faith with that commitment for two decades, with no sign of a let-up, is no mean achievement.”

Theatre’s audience, and output, is dwarfed by television and film. Yet it has a habit of jumping outside its boundaries, and quite rightly. When the Daily Mail shouts “treason” at the RSC, the company must be doing something good. Eckart Voigts-Virchow reports how a platform discussion of “England People Very Nice” was invaded by critics accusing the writer of racism.
  
Debate legitimises theatre and the work here provides material rich for debate. Janelle Reinelt passes over some of the interesting aspects of David Greig’s “Damascus”. But then not many in the audience have been, like the play’s lead character Paul, a sales rep in Syria. But theatre’s capacity to raise argument is a testament to its richness.  

Ken Urban in six paragraphs distills the critical discussion that Sarah Kane has left in her wake. Michelene Wandor’s early view gets short shrift-“dismissive and inaccurate.” Dominic Dromgoole’s mix of essay and memoir in 2000 still reads very well. But then it is a personal preference that a practising director may be closer to theatre than a disciple of Lacan. But it is the debate that matters.    

Some of the contributors do inhabit something of a Platonic world. The work is what has been performed. There are no lost commissions, no literary managers, no chop and change of artistic policies, no rancour, no caprice. If a writer drifts to television work it must be for artistic reasons. The fact that the money is seven times greater does not apply. Sometimes in the arts the poor creator simply drops out of fashion. The supply of work is a thousand times greater than the companies to stage it or the galleries to exhibit it.  

In this critical world, the fact that a play may require doubling is grounded in aesthetics. “Far from being a way of restricting the actors”, seeing the same face again makes the audience grow in Brechtian distancing. Maybe so: but it doesn’t half cut a company’s wage bill, shorten the audition process, tighten up rehearsals. Money pervades the making of theatre but not its commentary.  

Actors and directors get but a rare mention. A magisterial production by Peter Stein is the exception. If an actor appears naked it is to enhance the play’s theme of voyeurism. The audience too becomes complicit. It is a rare play that makes it to the West End. I was there in Shaftesbury Avenue. The actor was blonde, fresh from a Bond film, and the audience was definitely not made up of Royal Court or Bush regulars.  

Over five hundred and twenty pages the odd inelegant word or phrasing is bound to slip in. Richard Bean apparently suffers the disadvantage of coming from “less than glamorous” Hull. This sounds like the writer saying “I ain’t been there and I sure ain’t going.” Spurn Head is possessed of a quite distinctive lonely beauty. Beverley and Bishop Burton are Gloucestershire without the Ferraris. Coming from Hull does not make Bean “an odd man out among successful British playwrights.” As a performed playwright John Gcdber comes second only to Ayckbourn. But then, like Frank Vickery, no-one is ever going to write about John Godber.  

Metaphors from marketing have become endemic. When confronted by a BBC investigation into dodgy dealings in higher education, a Welsh Vice-Chancellor’s first response in interview is “Wales needs strong brands.” It is disheartening to read that an uncompromising writer “has moved ahead developing her own brand.” One contributor prefers the verb “privilege” over “choose.” “Substantiate a writer’s standing” grates. “With growing temporal distance” sounds like a translation.

A Methuen Guide is for the general reader. The enthusiast for theatre might well be spared “perspectival lacuna”, “stichomythic verbal duels”, “teleological narratives” or “synecdoches of the mediatised city”. That is Martin Crimp. The essay on Crimp has phrases that convey no meaning to this reader- “carefully crafted receptional blanks”, frescoes of the skull”,  “ “satirical categorisation…seems self-reflexively broken”. The author likes his “self-reflexive” as it also turns up in the next sentence. One grim sentence manages to pile up fourteen Latinate words of three or more syllables.  

Some readers may think neologisms like [dis]ease and [auto]biographical come with a fine Derridean swagger to them. Others may consider them anti-literate. Commentary is servant to the art. The Arts deserve better in their commentators.    

Scotland is represented by four playwrights, Wales and Ireland none. Ed Thomas was knocking on the door to be playwright number twenty-six. Wales-based critics are represented. Stephen Lacey of the University of Glamorgan writes succinctly and insightfully on Terry Johnson.  David Ian Rabey and Steve Blandford are both cited in the essay on Jez Butterworth.  Rabey also writes that “the Wonderful World of Dissocia” “lays out a confrontational, insistent and socially contradictory physicality.”  

I savoured this book over two weeks, a couple of dramatists a day. It does not have the sweep of Aleks Sierz's two books on new writing. It does not have the pith and particularity of Dominic Dromgoole’s “the Full Room”. But it is full of good writing and good writing breathes enthusiasm.  It made me wish I had seen a Sarah Daniels play. It reminded me why theatre grips. Philip Ridley has a nice metaphor “I like putting people on a ghost train, but I guide them safely through the other end.” Cardiff’s Waking Exploits should get their copy soon. They will find riches a-plenty to assist the selection for their 2013 tour.

critical comment

ISBN:
£

Methuen

published:
10 April 2012

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Theatre Craft- John Caird

Many a director has written many a book. They come in three types. There is the evening-of-career valediction. Manifesto-style, it states what is good in theatre and what is killing it. These books come in at a crisp one hundred and fifty pages. The typeface is large. Footnotes are absent. It is written from the heart.

A second genre is the book that has arisen from a sabbatical break in the busy life of a director. It is written from the head. The prose makes tribute to the continental tradition- “specularisation”, for instance, “involves the commodification of experience.” Index and footnotes make reference to Baudrillard and Levinas.

The third genre, and the one to excite publishers, is the how-to manual. The late Don Taylor’s “Directing Plays” went through many editions. Katie Mitchell’s “The Director’s Craft” (2009) comes with a recommendation from Nicholas Hytner. Its two hundred and forty pages follow the chronology of a production, the whole lot from first private reading to how to read the reviews. It is an excellent work- Elen Bowman is among the many to whom the author gives thanks- that uses “the Seagull” as a practical example.

John Caird is a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College and a director for Welsh National Opera. The Caird Studio has seen many a well-known acting name give a first student performance. His “Theatre Craft” is eight hundred pages long, two and three-quarters inches thick, and comes with an on-cover endorsement from Dame Judi. “Written with such humour and common sense I may have to carry it around with me all the time.”

Its form is alphabetical, from “abstraction” to “work-through.” It is low on theoretical anxiety, high on sharp observation from the inside. The reader meets an array of theatre personalities. There is the director who becomes “the clingy parent, who cannot bear to see the actors happy and independent.” Reviving a play can mean taking on “an ignorant band of lawyers and self-aggrandising executors from a writer’s estate.” No part of theatre is left out. After a sketch of the good stage doorman Caird describes the bad, the one who “sits in a surly nicotine silence gawping at a tiny television, occasionally grunting...rudely refusing access to anyone who isn’t on one of his lists.”

The book is addressed throughout to the young director. The advice runs from audition and casting to the show up and running. His perspective towards the audience is intriguing. “One of your most important functions as a director is that you represent the audience's interest in a play...thus, when your first audience walks into the theatre, they replace you.” If they react “in a way that you cannot approve or understand, you mustn't blame them.” The reader may wonder how many directors are quite so philosophical as to be able to say to themselves “you have simply imagined them incorrectly.”

The most important entries have the scale of a full-blown essay. The six entries on different aspects of rehearsal span fifty pages. Fifteen pages are given to actors, an entry that ends on a note of warning, with a touch of melancholy to it. “Though you may have many actor friends, some of them intimate friends, you will always remain on the outskirts of their fraternity.”

“Theatre Craft” may be addressed to the young professional but there is much of interest to theatre’s audience and enthusiasts. It is rich in the physical texture of theatre. On acoustics it is the nature of wood as a material that it “has the capacity to absorb and reflect sound at the same time as reverberating with it and is deeply sympathetic to the harmonic complexity of the human voice.” Contact lenses apparently dry out under the heat of stage lighting. Other cast members may be reduced to not much more than a blur to a myopic actor. In mega-musicals a quasi-police force monitors the movements of the singers. Step outside your numbered grid position and your name goes on a blacklist.

There is new vocabulary for the outsider to encounter- the iron, scrim, spike, park and bark, gobos, nubbing and stridulent. The pitfalls of performance are limitless. Facial hair tickles the mouth and nose, falls off or gets stuck to another person’s face. The strain suffered by performers who seek emotion that eludes them is described in near clinical terms. “The strain usually starts in the voice but soon transmits to other parts of the actor’s frame, resulting in a performance that rasps the vocal cords, bulges the neck and twists the body into dehumanising contortions.”

Theatre is collaboration. Caird writes with warmth of his fellow craftsmen. Dramatists are people “whose companionship in the dressing room has provided me with some of my happiest insights.” Fight directors are “usually the gentlest people in the world but their business is violence. They dote on it.” On actors “an actor’s mind comprises his humanity. If the theatre is to reflect an audience’s true nature back to itself, only a whole actor can create a whole human image.”

But it is not a world that is all roses. “All theatres have their malcontents and mischief-makers. Do not give them credence by encouraging them or conspiring with them.” Bullies are broken down into four categories. The role of the director is equivocal. The thirty-seven descriptive terms applied to the director include “irritant” “irrelevance” and “bastard”. Like any walk of life “the theatre world is full of unhappy directors or directors who are only happy from time to time.” It is not so uncommon. Four-fifths percent of partners in City law firms hate their lives. That unhappy chasm between the original motivation, the actual work and the cash is not just a feature of a life in the arts.

The prose of “Theatre Craft” is practical and un-showy. But in the distinct authorial voice that pervades, it is not unlike the art of the director itself. “Rehearsals are largely about finding order and meaning in an imagined world” even if you have cast members “who prefer the theorising over a scene rather than getting on and doing it.”
Theatres in the USA deliver playbills that are “badly designed, sparsely worded and deadly dull.” He exudes sympathy for the actor who gets to play Fortinbras. The audience has “no stake whatever in his kingship” or “patience left for any further dramatic gestures from anyone.” Quite true. Particularly apposite for a performance culture more at ease with aesthetic exploration than modernity, Caird makes the observation “the more you work in the theatre the more careful you have to be to stay in touch with life as it really is.”

The entry on surtitles is largely restricted to opera. In a bilingual performance culture there is a lot more to be said. A second edition could usefully expand and take in issues of perception and cognitive speed. But the range of topics is impressive. His must be the first text to anatomise exactly who sits in the balcony and why they deserve the director’s attention. Critics are subject to a similar generous analysis. He pins down exactly the three-way nexus of commentator, viewer and reader. “Believe in your own choices” and anyway “b***er the critics… the play’s the thing.”

Caird’s description of the dress rehearsal is a classic, just too good to be quoted selectively. Like all media, publishing thrives on surfeit. There are too many books on everything. That includes theatre, but “Theatre Craft” is a good one.

Directing

ISBN:
£

Faber and Faber

published:
26 November 2011

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The Reluctant Escapologist- Mike Bradwell

The Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush, London is currently putting online its badge of pride. With the support of the Jerwood Foundation the productions of two hundred and fifty plus playwrights are being publicly archived. One Artistic Director from the theatre has already put his experiences into print. Dominic Dromgoole in “the Full Room” in 2000 chose the form of crisp, incisive portraits of one hundred and twelve dramatists.

Mike Bradwell has opted for autobiography, or rather a partial one. “This book tells the tale of the two theatre companies I have run” he writes. “Hull Truck from 1971 to 1982 and the Bush Theatre from 1996 to 2007.” The private life, if any, is hardly touched on but as a theatre narrative “The Reluctant Escapologist” is as riotous, exuberant and rambunctious as they come.

In his very first paragraph Bradwell records hearing “Interstellar Overdrive” and “See Emily Play”. This is Pink Floyd live, in their real incarnation as headed by Sid Barrett. It is a truism of the nineteen-sixties that many of the rainbow memories they left behind were in fact made in the climate of the grey nineteen-seventies. The spirit of the book, and it would seem the life as well, is soaked in the sixties.

Bradwell is there in 1966 in Sheffield City Hall to hear Dylan's mould-breaking electric tour. He is among the eighty thousand at the Grosvenor Square anti-Vietnam rally where an elderly woman spits at him and tells him to get his “f***ing hair cut.” He says that he smashes the window of a police van with his fist.

While crossing Charing Cross Road he bumps into a couple who turn out to be John and Yoko. Ken Kesey takes over the Albert Hall for a Happening. Bradwell maps out the beginning of “bagism” from “Le Petit Prince”. His is an intoxicating account of an era- “It certainly beat doing panto in Scunthorpe.”

Charles Marowitz presents Hamlet as a tearful clown swinging on a rope. “I despise Hamlet” he says “..a slob, a talker, an analyser.” The book’s editor has in truth given the author a lot of leeway. Asides on Woodstock, the Chicago Eight and a history of the Living Theatre are not strictly relevant to the narrative. The effect of these formative years lives on. Twenty-five years later, Gary Owen’s “The Drowned World” gets a mention only because its last day coincides with the great Hyde Park rally against Iraq.

Before the tumultuous sixties there is the childhood. Guided by his farmer father he sees Tony Hancock, George Formby, Jimmy Clitheroe live on stage. A shy, terrified nineteen-year old, he arrives at East 15 Acting School where an early “inhibition-busting” exercise is termed “The Wanking Donkey.” As an acting exercise what the students hear is what they have to do.

The book is ripe with tales. Mike Leigh is to be found in the unlikely environment of Bermuda, directing a “Galileo” with a cast largely comprised of gin and yachting expatriate amateurs. The Minister for the Arts visits the Bush Theatre the night that a sozzled Bulgarian climbs in via the fire escape and threatens all and sundry with a broken bottle.

Joan Littlewood wants nothing to do with the “calcified turds”, who inhabit the repertory and West End theatres. Later, in receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award, she is refused entry to her own party at the Waldorf. The doorman mistakes her for a cleaner. In Birmingham, David Edgar is to be seen in frock coat and top hat on top of a table singing “I am the man, the very fat man who watered the workers' beer.” (It sounds as though the venue, the Gun Barrels pub, has been moved several miles East.) A young Michael Billington is encountered in the reported role of Publicity Manager at Lincoln Theatre Royal.

An artistic credo unfolds amidst the rolicking. Grotowski is depicted as an autocrat, in whose rehearsals none may speak. Artaud and the Living Theatre's Becks are treated with respect, but Bradwell diverges in inclination. “I wanted to make theatre with words and three-dimensional characters and argument and metaphor and story-telling and jokes and life and laughter.”

He confesses he is no great fan of workshop culture per se. Too much time gets wasted on plays that theatres have small intention of producing. Workshops are there to help the author to make the work better. The description of the way in which an impassioned literary manager can help a theatre's success has probably never been bettered. He gives a close description of the making of Richard Cameron's “the Glee Club.” Not that the record is perfect. During a short, none too comfortable spell at the Royal Court he admits to being the directorial hand behind one of the silliest scripts- my words, not his- ever put on by that great theatre.

Beside the art is the practicality. “The Reluctant Escapologist” seethes with rage, rancour and the spirit of confrontation. The Bush itself occupies a small corner of a large pub premises. It is liable to flood. The cause on one occasion is identified as a drain blocked by a pair of underpants that belong to a member of the bar staff. The building itself becomes part of the great property shuffle that marked British capitalism's finest hour. Long, slowly nurtured plans collapse overnight as the building is sold on from owner to owner. In a comic irony, a likeable, genuine Irish-flavoured pub goes through makeover after makeover to become a completely reinvented, synthetic…Irish-themed pub.

In the background the Arts Council lowers, in a relationship of largely bilious confrontation. A consultant is to be foisted on the theatre for which the Council has no intention of paying itself. An instruction is issued to identify the ethnicity of those behind the fifteen hundred scripts that arrive in the mail each year. “How exactly?” asks Bradwell. “By surname?” is the suggestion. “And what would that say about the name of a writer like Roy Williams” enquires Bradwell. The instruction to send every playwright a form is refused.

The relationship is not helped by the Council's official count of the audience being wrong by a cool hundred thousand. According to Bradwell, but this is hard to believe, seventy thousand pounds are taken away from theatres so that the funder can effect a name change that removes the word “of” and replaces it with a comma.

There isn 't a theatre book quite like “the Reluctant Escapologist.” Its language is inelegant. “Cool as f***”, “We didn’t sell shit” “and “get off their tits on acid” have all passed by the editor. Mike Leigh writes a foreword that describes Bradwell as “tough as an old scrotum.” Do they toughen with age? As an autobiography Bradwell omits personal attachment so that it reads like a life consumed by theatre

And messages for theatre-makers in the Wales of 2011? Beware the burgeoning overhead. At her artistic peak Joan Littlewood has an administrative team of three. At the time of his writing her theatre's full and part-time staff number eighty-six. That is before a penny has been spent on a theatre creator.

As for what a new writing endeavour should be John Godber appears on the Terry Wogan show. “What sort of plays does Hull Truck perform?” he is asked.

“I just wanted to do plays me Mam and Dad would like.” replies Godber. “I never went back.” writes Bradwell.

Directing

ISBN:
£

Nick Hern Books

published:
04 August 2011

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GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY: LONE TWIN – JOURNEYS, PERFORM- Edited by David Williams and Carl Lavery

This is the first book-length collection to focus on the performance and theatre work of Lone Twin - Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters - a duo recognised
internationally as one of the UK's most inventive performance collaborations of the past decade. They have made over thirty projects located at the cusp of live art, theatre, and performance writing, travelling the world with theatre shows, collaborative public projects, durational events, and a six-year cycle of performances about bodies, water, journeys, and chance encounters.

The book contextualises, documents and analyses Lone Twin's work. It explores their interest in live performance, journeys, places, language,
narrative and image, and includes original interviews, essays, performance texts and photographs. It has been designed to engage creatively and critically with the duo’s evolving concerns and diverse modes of practice by adopting a range of theoretical and interdisciplinary perspectives. The collection locates Lone Twin within a contemporary landscape of experimental performance making, and seeks to pay homage, in deliberately playful manner, to the participatory and optimistic energies that characterise the duo’s creative work.

critical comment

ISBN:
£33.50

Centre for Performance Research

published:
01 June 2011

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Rewriting the Nation- Aleks Sierz

Recently the ever indefatigable David Edgar reported that he had made enquiry of the Arts Council of England as to the number of new plays produced. A first axiom of quality management is “make the important measurable, not the measurable important”. No count or record is made, replied ACE.

The best writers on the arts and humanities are good on description; the less good rely on assertion. Providing a quantitative context is less common. Among his strengths as a critic Alex Sierz is good on the numbers In this follow-up to his “In-Yer-Face Theatre” (Methuen 2001) he gives the number of productions of new plays in the century’s first decade as three thousand. New plays in the noughties were double those produced in the nineties. Three hundred playwrights had a debut production during the decade.

So, from the start the ambition of this book sets out to do the impossible. No one person can ever know quite what made up new theatre as a whole. A run-through of the index shows that three hundred and fifty-three plays are cited. Even so every reader is likely to have her own cavil as to what gets in or out. In Scotland Zinnie Harris gets three mentions while the intriguing D C Jackson- eleven productions to date- gets none. In Wales Catherine Tregenna’s “Art and Guff” is in. Jonathan Lichtenstein’s “Memory”, which made it to New York, is out.

Nonetheless the two books together, five hundred pages of text, fifty pages of bibliography, as much again of notes and references are about the best we have, or probably ever likely to have. From the opening he confesses it is a metrocentric perspective, that the view from elsewhere, “whether Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, to name but five- is different. ” London is famously a villagey city. Here the admirable Tricycle Theatre, which was host to “Deep Cut”, is described as not in the “centre of town.” I made the trip on a January night and it could not be more than a couple of miles or so distant from Hyde Park. Geography is all in the mind.

But then Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland come in for a commendation that is as uncommon as it is surprising. “But while the three nations seemed to be moving, England often felt as if it was immobile, stuck in a rut of old ideas.”

As a critic the author has several virtues. At the level of pure description the writing has a sharp conciseness. “Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco” is “a striking picture, all acid-glow colours and purple-shadow effects, of dead end life.” Kwame Kwei-Armah’s “Statement of Regret” is described, quite rightly, as “packed full of ideas, and buzzes with appealing characters and provocative theories”.

The personality is evident. He enthuses over Martin Crimp. Sarah Kane is “the most outstanding playwright of the previous decade.” The word “thrilling” shows a critic whose stance goes beyond that of cool appraisal. One recipient is Gregory Burke. David Edgar’s “Testing the Echo” and Roy Williams “Days of Significance” are described in the same way. It is a word I like.

Sierz seems to have been everywhere and spoken to everyone. What is a theatre looking for amidst the weekly flood of new scripts? RSC literary manager Jeanie O’Hare is here on the attributes of a good theatre writer: “instinctive rawness, linguistic invention and concern with ideas”. The view of the director? Jenny Topper, in a comment on debbie tucker green, lists her essential elements. “She is concerned with ideas, she is concerned with form, and she has the courage to stay true to her intuition and let her own linguistic invention come through.”

Writers get their say. The power of drama, says David Greig, is “resisting the management of the imagination by global capitalism.” The adjective “under-rated”- Winsome Pinnock and others- is an indicator of Sierz’s personal engagement. But in trying to throw his lasso around the vast protean entity that goes under the title of new writing he is sometimes dependent on others. For “Stone City Blue” in Mold he cites David Rabey at length. For “The Drowned World” he has to rely on director Vicky Featherstone.

He never loses sight of the fact of performance. “Theatre is all about location, location, location.” It is an event that happens, that leaves its imprint on the memory of those who were there, both artists and audience. For them it may be forever a cherished, perpetual present. A play is never only its text.

So David Hare's “Stuff Happens” may be three hours of valuable forensic examination that attracted huge publicity. (No wonder the Bin Sauds and Assads of our this world are stupefied by our culture. Not only are Cabinet Ministers put on display for scrutiny, by actors, but the public purse gets to pay for it.) “Stuff Happens”, he says, reads very well but “visually, it has a claim to being one of the decade's dullest, if also one of the worthiest, theatre experiences.”

Similarly, Charlotte Jones in “Humble Boy” may have made her character Felix a father-haunted, wounded soul. For all the metaphors of bees and hives and astrophysics what matters theatrically, and hilariously, are the ashes that are mistaken for pepper and freely poured on the gazpacho at the al fresco lunch. Lucy Prebble’s “Enron” flies. But it is not because anyone knows, or much cares, what is mark-to-market accounting. It was those fearsome raptors in the cellar that made it.

“In-Yer-Face Theatre” was structured to include chapters on the most prominent nineties playwrights. “Rewriting the Nation” attempts to corral its seething subject matter into five thematic groupings. No collection of human artefacts ever fitted a tidy taxonomy. A Linnaean-style speciation may well define the natural world but human beings are just too creative.

There is also an underlying question as to how much theatre is mirror to the world. A play like Ayub Khan-Din’s fascinating hybrid “Rafta Rafta”, already revived, is not mentioned; perhaps because it overturns all genre expectation. “In most asylum plays”, he writes “Britain is not a friendly place: it is an unwelcoming fortress nation.” That is true, but if it weren't true, no-one would touch it as subject for theatre. Theatre is more or less about human fissure. Happiness can feature but only after a struggle. That was why “Beautiful Thing” was adored.

The first grouping by theme is titled “Global Roaming”. The chapter lists every headline hazard from Ebola onward. But is it true that “the idea of extreme risk grew into a new bogeyman”? Most of us are still going to experience what Scott McPherson dramatised in “Marvin’s Room.” That is, a doctor is going to clear his throat, and say “it” has come back positive. That has been the stuff of memorable memoir, with John Diamond and Justine Picardie in the lead, but rarely made it to the recent stage.

But without a doubt writers did a good job in getting foreign policy distemper up and out on stage. It was not just Gregory Burke and Roy Williams- although to be the denounced by the Daily Mail as writing something with “the bitter taste of treason” in it must be a sign that theatre is doing something right.

Sierz goes through “Justifying War”, “Called to Account”, “My Name is Rachel Corrie”, “Talking to Terrorists,” “Baghdad Wedding”. Mike Bartlett’s “Artefacts” gets a lengthy write-up, although another critic wrote of it “the Iraqis are humourless, preachy and quite unrecognisable. It’s the sort of play that ought to issue its departing audience with little whips, so they can go home and flagellate themselves before bedtime.”

From this line of plays last word should go to Wasim, the Syrian scholar-administrator in David Greig’s “Damascus” “You know nothing about the world I live in…You know nothing of its complexities and conflicts.” If artists are supposed to be our source of symbolic prescience “Damascus” hits home with true accuracy.

If writers flay cross-cultural idiocy and document racial, marital and class bile Sierz ends with what got left out. “No major fictional New Labourites” – not true, a Lord Levy clone was the main character in David Hare’s “Gethsemane”- “no memorable politicians, investment bankers, newspaper owners, estate agents or credit-card managers.” I might add a few more. In an age of technological and genetic triumph is there a molecular biologist, a chemist, a software engineer, a chip designer to be seen? Like Charlotte Jones, Joe Penhall in “Landscape with Weapon” did get to feature a rare scientist.

The top twenty thousand job-holders who hold sway over the other twenty million of us have got off lightly. Skewered as they were, the Skilling-Lay-Fastow trio at “Enron” may have been movers in planting wind farms across the Cambrians but they were hardly relevant to Britain as were the inner circles of HBOS and RBS.

But then Sierz writes about the money. It is the same pay for the playwright whether the play is a piece of close-to-the-heart autobiography or one in need of considerable research. “Jerusalem” is as fizzing a script as there is, but an anarchist campsite is easier to capture than what goes on within a hermetic tower of steel and glass. Getting under the skin there requires time, insight and guile. It is noticeable that theatre’s only call centre play is set in Chennai rather than Cardiff or East Kilbride.

From the opening Sierz admits to the struggle with classification. He cites an academic worried that “the idea of English drama is that it has been consumed by the notion of British drama.” When a notion starts consuming an idea writers are in trouble. But “Englishness needs redefining” indicates a need for classification above simply describing aesthetic perception.

“Rewriting the Nation” “ has brought some of the blogerati out in high dudgeon. If small in number they are large in protest and have certainly seen a lot of plays. Some of the book's critics reject the premise that collectively new writing speaks for a fragmenting of Britain. “I'm not even sure there is such a thing as "nation" anymore” opines one. Try telling, say, a Tibetan, a Uighur or a Kurd that the concept of nation is defunct.

Others pillory the language. “In a passage of pure semantic nonsense “the History Boys” is described as “simply not contemporary”, despite being newly written for 2004” writes one. Far from semantic nonsense Sierz is dead accurate. His book is called a “tragedy.” “Tragedy” now follows “iconic” and “passionate” as one more word ripe for gutting and devaluation.

The detail in “Rewriting the Nation” is prodigious. A reader may regret exclusions but it flows over with information. Here are the self-help new writing organisations New Writing North, Script, Menagerie, New Writing South, Pier Playwrights. Dirty Protest should write in and get a listing alongside the Apathists, Minimalists, Dry Write and Antelopes.

As for the sheer quantity of theatre, in 2009 alone there were three verbatim plays about the Stockwell Tube shooting. On four occasions I have seen a Terry Johnson script send actors on stage naked, for not a lot of reason. I did not know that in “Piano/ Forte” he features dildo-sporting aerial artists.

Nor does the book gloss over the rough side. Looking for a smooth career progression? Even Mark Ravenhill says, forget it. Theatres over-commission. Scene-by-scene breakdowns are asked for. The requirement for television-style pitches is creeping in. The whole framework is metropolitan, unplanned, mercurial, free of nepotism. It is all very British, in its way even ironically mirroring the market liberalism that separates Britain from mainland Europe. But then visit Vienna or Munich in the summer and July onwards every theatre is locked. The whole lot of them have gone on holiday.

The sheer profusion that Sierz describes, its scale, its irreverence, its probing fearlessness left me cheered and not a little awed. A culture that can bubble with so much disordered exuberance must have a lot to be said for it.

critical comment

ISBN:
£

Methuen

published:
06 April 2011

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BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE- Olivia Turnbull

THE CRISIS IN BRITAIN’S REGIONAL THEATRES

A crisis between 1979 and 1997 saw over a quarter of Britain’s regional theatres closed down. Those that survived found themselves constantly on the brink, forced to radically reduce their programmes and go dark for extended periods of time. Bringing Down the House delves into how and why the crisis occurred, and examines its long-lasting effects on the English theatre industry revealing problems extending beyond the government’s scant regard for the arts, right back to World War II.

By probing into the history of regional theatres from the introduction of state funding after the war, Turnbull unearths a catalogue of re-occurring problems that ensured the fabric of British theatre was historically fragile. Between the foundation of the Arts Council in 1945 and the Conservatives’ election in 1979, unresolved issues about the nature of regional theatre and the basis for allocating funds made it difficult for theatres to successfully adapt to changing times. Turnbull seeks to address why theatres were so ill equipped to deal with Thatcherism and asks what, if anything, was done under Blair to address the situation. An important and timely read for theatre and cultural history scholars alike, Bringing Down the House interrogates the history and politics of regional theatre.

Olivia Turnbull is a Senior Lecturer in Drama Studies at Bath Spa University. Her research interests include contemporary British and American theatre, verbatim, site specific and experimental performance practices.

critical comment

ISBN:9781841502083
£19.95

Intellect Books

published:
01 November 2008

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Corsets- Jill Salen

Progressing through almost two centuries of corset-making, this fascinating collection showcases an astonishing range of period pieces, from the 1750 whale-boned corsets, through the invention of the sewing machine and mass-produced corsets of the 1850s



Jill Salen is a freelance costume maker, and is widely employed in the theatrical costume industry. She has made costumes for many clients including the Globe theatre. She is a lecturer in costume on the BA (Hons) theatre design course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Jill lives in Cardiff.

historical surveys

ISBN:9-781-9063-8801-0
£20.00

Anova Books

published:
01 August 2008

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Pattern Cutting for Men's Costume - Elizabeth Friendship

This is a practical guide to men's pattern cutting featuring every type of costume from 16th century onward: fashionable costume and ordinary clothes.

Garments are illustrated with drawings and paintings from the period, with introductions to each section explaining the historical developments affecting each costume. Numerous line diagrams show each step of drafting the pattern. alongside useful shortcuts and tips.
Includes detailed chapters on 16th century peasant costume, fashionable costume 1530-1660, fashionable costume 1660-1800 and 17th-19th century non-fashionable costume.

historical surveys

ISBN:9781408100066
£19.99

A&C Black

published:
01 August 2008

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Lovefuries- David Rabey

Lovefuries offers a double bill of performance pieces that explode national and personal pressures to keep silent, and explore the surprising and shocking resurgences of life that break through grief.

In The Contracting Sea, the fiancée of a just-shipwrecked sailor is challenged by a feminine elemental force of catastrophe to throw off the shackles of her common humanity. The second play, The Hanging Judge, explores from the inside an occurrence of sexual abuse in a contemporary Welsh context, and how one survivor finds the courage to discover defiance. This second volume of dramatist-director Rabey’s plays for his own Lurking Truth/Gwir sy’n Llechu theatre company also includes the short two-hander Bite or Suck, completing a collection of innovative drama that restlessly explores what is possible at the extreme boundaries of human language and physicality.

David Ian Rabey is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Aberystwyth University, and Artistic Director of Lurking Truth/Gwir sy’n Llechu theatre company, which he co-founded in 1985.

collected plays

ISBN:9781841501840
£14.95

Intellect Books

published:
01 March 2008

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Contemporary Theatre in Education- Roger Wooster

Paperback 230x174mm

Theatre in Education emerged in the mid-sixties as a unique hybrid of performance and child-centred learning. Contemporary Theatre in Education
charts the creation and adaptation of this ‘hybrid’ through the changing political, economic and educational environment. It also takes a ‘snapshot’ of the TIE being created today, considering all the projects being performed
in Wales during a single month. The projects are analysed and every TIE director interviewed about the work and the policies of their companies. It
becomes very clear that that the distinction between TIE and Children’s Theatre is being blurred.

Is it possible for the hybrid to survive? Or have the economics of schools, the post-National Curriculum educational philosophy and the lack of
understanding from a new breed of teachers created an environment that has forced a mutation? Perhaps theatre in education has just evolved, but
perhaps just forty years after it began it is facing extinction.


This book will be of relevance to any who works with TIE or drama in schools as a practitioner or a teacher. It is also an invaluable resource for any school, college or university student studying the application of theatre in a school environment.

‘A most useful, provocative and well-researched theoretical document which I will most certainly have on my essential reading list for students studying theatre in education.’

Charmian Savill, University of Aberystwyth

critical comment

ISBN:9781841501703
£19.95

Intellect Books

published:
01 August 2007

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A Performance Cosmology- Judie Christie, Richard Gough, Daniel Watt

A Performance Cosmology is an adventurous departure for the field of theatre and performance studies.  This book explores the future challenges of performance and theatre through a diverse and fascinating series of interviews, testimonies and perspectives from leading international theatre practitioners and academics.
Contributors Include:
Philip Auslander, Rustom Bharucha, Tim Etchells, Jane Goodall, Guillermo Goméz-Pena, Jon Mckenzie, Claire MacDonald, Susan Melrose, Alphonso Lingus, Freddie Rokem, Richard Schechner, Edward Scheer and Rebecca Schneider.
In A Performance Cosmology the 'Testimony from the Future' is structured as a travelogue through a matrix of strategic, imaginary, interdisciplinary fieldstations.  This innovative framework enables readings that disrupt linearity and afford different forms of thematic engagement, opening new vistas on the old, new, and as yet unimagined worlds of performance.
In 'Evidence of the Past' , CPR's exploratory past and vigorous present is charted through an illustrated chronology of thirty years' extraordinary contribution to the field of theatre and performance studies, whilst speculating on and conjuring up its futures.

critical comment

ISBN:
£29.99

Centre for Performance Research

published:
24 November 2006

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Radioactive Monologues for Women - Marina Caldarone, Marilyn Le Conte (eds)

Over thirty monologues for women drawn from contemporary radio and stage plays. Draws together over thirty extracts from the best contemporary plays for radio and stage. Designed as a resource for actors working in radio, theatre or television, this collection of extracts is suitable for audition and performance work. It also features an essay on the challenges, skills and rewards of radio acting.

collected plays

ISBN:9780413775801
£8.99

A&C Black

published:
01 August 2006

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Radioactive: Duologues For Radio, Stage and Scree- Marina Caldarone, Marilyn Le Conte (eds)

Presents over thirty extracts from the plays for radio and stage. Designed as a resource for actors working in radio, theatre or television, this collection of extracts is helpful for audition and performance work. It is divided into three sections of duologues: male/female; male/male, and female/female, and features introductions to each piece.

collected plays

ISBN:9780413775788
£8.99

A&C Black

published:
01 August 2006

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Radioactive Monologues for Men - Marina Caldarone, Marilyn Le Conte (eds)

Presents over thirty extracts from the plays for radio and stage. Designed as a resource for actors working in radio, theatre or television, this collection of extracts is helpful for audition and performance work. Each extract is accompanied by a brief introduction and features an essay on the challenges, skills and rewards of radio acting.

collected plays

ISBN:9780413775795
£8.99

A&C Black

published:
01 August 2006

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Hijinx: A Book of Three Plays - Sharon Morgan, Greg Cullen and Lewis Davies

The book features Dreaming Amelia by Sharon Morgan, Paul Robeson Knew My Father by Greg Cullen and Spinning The Round Table by Lewis Davies.

collected plays

ISBN:1-902638-77-8
£7.99

Parthian Books

published:
01 April 2006

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By a Thread / The Raft- Lucy Gough

Two plays for secondary schools by WJEC playwright

Two plays pitting characters in perilous situations to explore issues of responsibility, love, death and the instinct to survive.

By a Thread: Four survivors struggle to flee the horrific reality of an apocalyptic war. As they retreat up the mountain, they discover conflict and change are inescapably woven into the thread of life: the young couple cannot stop arguing, the soldier refuses to part with his lost friend's head and the old lady would rather stay put and sew her quilt.

The Raft: In prison, a despondent teenage mother watches herself sink deeper into the sea of her despair; but the soul seems reluctant and keeps drifting back up, and then her son Robbie starts calling to her ...

A resource booklet on 'By a Thread' has been produced by the WJEC for use at Key Stage 3 by teachers of English.

collected plays

ISBN:041377581X
£8.99

Methuen

published:
01 January 2006

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Edward Bond and the Dramatic Child- David Davis (Editor), David Allen (Editor)

Edward Bond and the Dramatic Child is set to become the seminal work for academics and teachers concerning Bond’s switch from mainstream theatre to relatively marginal Theatre in Education productions. Bond has argued that drama can help children ‘know themselves and their world and their relation to it’. The beauty of  this textbook is that Bond himself contributes to the process of making his recent work accessible by writing a short introduction, ‘Something of Myself’, recalling his own childhood wartime experiences alongside his present day convictions regarding site, human responsibility and how his new form of theatre works. This, combined with a glossary of terms and Bond’s own explanation of his ‘drama devices’, will help many readers unfamiliar with his recent work or TIE itself come to grips with what is happening both in text and on the stage.

These contributions from Bond are supplemented by 8 essays by teachers, former actors, and directors which serve to give a wide ranging historical overview of Bond’s work and relationships with various companies and the fate of TIE in Britain since the 1980’s. There are also challenging pieces by Kate Katafiasz’, Tony Coult and Bill Roper which analyse the theory, themes and contexts of Bond’s work, engaging with his continuing challenge to authority alongside other emerging art forms in the late twentieth century. Edward Bond and the Dramatic Child is a valuable resource to anybody involved or interested in drama with young people and community based theatre.

David Davis is founder of The International Centre for Studies in Drama in Education, at the University of Central England.

[reviewed by Nigel Rodenhurst, Jan 3 2006]

critical comment

ISBN:1858563127
£17.99

Trentham Books

published:
03 January 2005

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Raslas bach a mawr!- Wynford Ellis Owen

For a man who has tried everything he shouldn’t have – from alcohol and drugs to sex, work and food addiction - the clear message conveyed within his autobiography is that there is a way out. You don’t have to suffer.  Wynford Ellis Owen, Welsh actor, author and Minister’s son, who has published Raslas Bach a Mawr, chronicles his journey to the depths of despair and the damage he caused to his family and friends. The book also charts his road to recovery after hitting his rock bottom outside an off licence in Aberystwyth in 1992.

critical comment

ISBN:1-84323-362-2
£8.99

Gwasg Gomer

published:
13 December 2004

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Rosebud- Mark Jenkins

Smash-hit winner of the two top awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2004. Transfers to New York, November 2004 for showcase performances before Broadway producers. Already booked into the Berlin Film Festival, the Prague Festival, the Adelaide Festival and venues throughout Britain and America during 2005. About the boy wonder, who revolutionised Broadway theatre, radio drama and Hollywood by the tender age of twenty four, only to find his true greatness as a sixty-year-old, grossly overweight, Falstaffian Hollywood exile, doing commercials to finance such film classics as ‘Othello’, ‘The Eternal Story’ and ‘Chimes at Midnight’.
‘There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!’ Daily Mail
‘Perfection…Sophisticated…Lush…Decadent!’ Daily Telegraph
‘The sharpness in the writing matches the wit of his subject.’ The Guardian

single plays

ISBN:0954384261
£

Infestedwaters.co.uk

published:
08 August 2004

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The Wye Plays- David Rabey

A first volume of plays by a startlingly ambitious and inventive dramatist.



THE BACK OF BEYOND takes, as its starting point, the route of a sequel to KING LEAR, in which the surviving Shakespearean characters set out on an odyssey through a perilous, blasted landscape, and encounter new agents of cruelty, desire and magic. Wildly humorous and fiercely shocking, the play charts a series of remorseless exposures, interrogating the idealisms and brutal repressions that have informed Anglo-Welsh relations whilst subverting Shakespearean motifs; tragically humorous poetic language and nightmarish visual imagery contribute to the sense of a land where the signposts have been smashed.

Praise for THE BACK OF BEYOND:

'This is large-scale epic drama that sets out to subvert the grand literary tradition as a group of sort-of Shakespearean characters roam around discovering imperialism in a cruel land ... I found myself intrigued by the ambition of the project, mesmerised by the richness of the language and impressed by the energy ... Aberystwyth company Lurking Truth has taken on a mammoth task with evangelical enthusiasm' - David Adams, THE WESTERN MAIL

A sequel to THE BACK OF BEYOND, THE BATTLE OF THE CROWS extends and concludes the stories of three characters - a maverick witch, a renegade knight, and an abuse victim made empress - in a harrowing and humorous exploration of border warfare, witchcraft, massacre, bitchery, hilarity and heartbreak. THE BATTLE OF THE CROWS is partly a dramatic speculation about desire as magic, partly a sad reckless laugh at internecine hostilities and the passionate and disastrous transformations which spring up in the face of Death itself.

Author:
David Ian Rabey is Artistic Director of Lurking Truth/Gwir sy'n Llechu Theatre Company, and Professor of Drama and Subject Leader of Theatre Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

collected plays

ISBN:1-84150-115-8
£14.95

Intellect Books

published:
01 April 2004

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Cyfrwng- MEDIA WALES JOURNAL – CYFNODOLYN CYFRYNGAU C

Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal – Cyfnodolyn Cyfryngau Cymru is a new interdisciplinary refereed journal that will provide a forum for the presentation of research and scholarly discussion concerning the media in Wales, namely film, television, new media, radio, journalism, theatre and performance studies. Each issue of Cyfrwng, published annually by the University of Wales Press, will contain six thought-provoking articles (three articles published in Welsh and three in English, with translations posted on www.cyfrwng.com) together with reviews of new publications and productions.

The Cyfrwng website, www.cyfrwng.com, will not only host translations of all articles published in the journal but will also provide access to:

- previous editions of the journal
- digitised sound and visual clips relevant to the articles
- shorter articles and discussion pieces on contemporary and historical themes
- a discussion forum for contemporary issues relating to the media in Wales

Further information on the first Cyfrwng conference, held at Bangor between 16th-18th April 2004, is hosted at www.cyfrwng.com.


CYFRWNG: Volume 1: ‘Wales and the World’: April 2004

‘Stanley Baker's ‘Welsh Western’: Masculinity and Cultural Identity in Zulu’
Robert Shail, University of Wales Lampeter

‘Beginnings: New Media and the Welsh Language’
Grahame Davies, BBC Cymru'r Byd

‘Representing the ‘Celtic Thing’: German newspapers, tourist board literature and
discourses of Celticity’
Sanna Inthorn, University of Portsmouth

‘Interpreting The American Civil War’
Jerry Hunter, University of Wales Bangor
Ifor ap Glyn, Cwmni Da

‘A Home for Refugees: Writing Wales Differently’
John Jewell, Cardiff University

‘The story was sufficient': A Profile of Michael Harvey, Storyteller’
Michael Wilson, University of Glamorgan

critical comment

ISBN:
£

University of Wales Press

published:
01 April 2004

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Ghost City- Gary Owen


It could be any city. It just happens to be ours. Twenty four hours. Twenty four lives. Each linked in a way that no-one can predict.

single plays

ISBN:0413774376
£8.99

Methuen

published:
03 March 2004

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Communication Breakdowns- Ruth Shade

Communication Breakdowns tells the story of theatre in Wales against a background of rapid change, deep tensions, and numerous policy reports, coinciding with the development of the Welsh Assembly and the demise of ‘Cool Cymru’. Ruth Shade gives voice to the performance practices of the south Wales Valleys and investigates the relationship between politics and performance, the conundrum of ‘community’ theatre, and the nature of indigenous theatre in the context of state subsidy. Communication Breakdowns follows the changing cultural and political position of Wales during the last decade through a social history of performance traditions in one small Welsh, English-speaking, working-class town in the Valleys.

Ruth Shade argues that although theatre should make connections between performers and audiences, much contemporary theatre offers a pre-prepared product for the audience to consume. Instead, Welsh theatre should become more inward-looking, more parochial and more populist. Such a ‘radical parochialism’ is profoundly opposed to consumerist approaches to theatre performance, and challenges the dominant ways of thinking about theatre in contemporary Britain. Communication Breakdowns is a ground-breaking book that will be essential for anyone interested in the future of theatre in both Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole, from performers and administrators to academics, critics and theatre-goers.

Ruth Shade is Course Leader in Drama at the University of Wolverhampton.

historical surveys

ISBN:0–7083–1
££9.99

University of Wales Press

published:
01 February 2004

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More Lives than One- Mark Jenkins

Contents
PLAYING BURTON – International prize-winning hit play about the legendary Welsh Superstar, with over eight hundred performances worldwide.
‘Virtuoso writing, lyrical and rich!’ Norman Mailer

BIRTHMARKS -  First-prize winner, Drama Association of Wales. The conspiracy to conceal the paternity of Karl Marx’s illegitimate son by his housekeeper.
‘Succeeds brilliantly! Memorable! Excellent!’ Western Mail

MR OWEN’S MILLENNIUM – A homage to the great Welsh philanthropist, social reformer and founder of the co-operative and trades union movements.
‘A gifted outpouring, pulsing with life! England may have its Trevor Griffiths. We have our Mark Jenkins. Tis enough!’ Jon Gower, BBC, New Welsh Review.

DOWNTOWN PARADISE – A modern American tragedy. A Jewish attorney falls in love with her Black Panther client on a murder charge, with awesome consequences.
‘Confident in its craftsmanship…A powerhouse of emotions! The insanity of human barbarism glides clearly into view.’ London Evening Standard.

NORA’S BLOKE – A dark comedy for six women. An Irish coven finds a husband for their facially-challenged spinster friend. Straight from a successful New York run.
‘A great storyteller…gripping and amusing, highlighting the bewilderment and uncertainties of war.’ Mike Kelligan, Theatre-Wales website.

collected plays

ISBN:1902638417
£7.99

Parthian Books

published:
08 January 2004

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Wales Theatre Handbook- Keith Morris and Gill Ogden

The first comprehensive guide to theatre and dance companies, venues and resources in Wales. An invaluable resource for arts managers, writers, actors, UK and international presenters or anyone with an interest in the theatre scene in Wales in both languages.


The handbook offers:
 Contact details and information about theatre and dance companies, venues, festivals and resources in Wales
 A guide to training and funding opportunities for companies and individuals
 Details of support organisations
 A listing of new plays by Wales-based writers produced during the last 10 years
 Photographs of company productions
 Information on company and venue policy, current and future work

Directories

ISBN:1 872609 90 2
£6.00

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

published:
19 October 2002

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The Drowned World- Gary Owen

Winner of the George Devine Award for 2002, published to tie in with the opening at the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival

And that is why we can't have these/Fatally radiant creatures/Walking round the place/Reminding us how clumsy/And mean-spirited/And graceless/And cowardly/And shapeless/And flabby and foul we all are.
In a drowned world - how far will you go to save your own skin? In this vicious tale of love, revolt and beauty, Gary Owen presents a vision of a world divided between citizens and non-citizens, where friends betray one another and where surfaces matter more than love or kinship.

"A blazing new talent" Guardian
"A blast of brilliant theatrical writing straight from the heart of post-modern Wales" Scotsman

single plays

ISBN:0413772829
£7.99

Methuen

published:
01 August 2002

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FRANCO'S BASTARD AND LOLA BRECHT- Dic Edwards

Franco's Bastard looks at nationalism/terrorism; Lola Brecht at the situation in the Balkans;
The plays deal with their subjects often with a humour that tests audiences and questions what we regard as the truth. They are based on the author's belief that theatre is not simply a place of entertainment but a vital and radical forum for the debating of issues necessary to the health of democracy.

collected plays

ISBN:1840023066
££9.99

Oberon Books

published:
01 August 2002

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The Shadow of a Boy- gary owen

A new play from the writer of Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco, to premiere at the National Theatre in May 2002

Luke, a sci-fi obsessed adolescent who lives with his grandmother, is about to start high school. Taunted by his friend, Katie, who warns him of the bullying he'll suffer at the big comp, Luke finds refuge in his alter-ego, Shadow.

"A blast of brilliant, painful theatrical writing, straight from the heart of post-modern Wales" - Scotsman

single plays

ISBN:041377208X
£7.99

Methuen

published:
20 June 2002

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Franco's Bastard- Dic Edwards

Carlo is a philosopher. Carlo is a soldier. Carlo is a lover. Carlo is a hunter. Carlo's tears make Llyn Brianne. Carlo is the dawn on Poppit Sands...the rough seas' calmer who whistles out the boats on beating eddies...a man with not a hint of mediocrity. Carlo is a fashist...
While he is dreaming of the day when a new Wales will dawn, Carlo Francisco Franco Lloyd Hughes' project goes strangely awry when he falls in love with a mixed-raced woman from Cardiff and meets a playboy called Ben, who murdered his boss with a frozen fish...
Drawing on experiences of Julian Cayo Evans, self-styled leader of the Free Wales Army, Franco's Bastard, is a richly written and very funny play looking at the absurdities of nationalism through the eyes of Carlo, a romantic fascist who believes himself to be the illegitimate son of Generla Franco and 'a horse owner and citizen of Rome'.

single plays

ISBN:1840022507
££7.99

Oberon Books

published:
01 April 2002

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Acting Wales : Stars of Stage and Screen- Peter Stead

Why has Wales produced so many great actors, especially as it does not have a national theatre or cinema? Is it looks, the voice or a sense of the dramatic? Are the Welsh just natural declaimers and entertainers? These are some of the questions considered by Peter Stead in a dazzling discussion of Welsh acting on stage and screen, ranging from the career of matinee idol Ivor Novello down to the present impact of Catherine Zeta Jones and Ioan Gruffudd and the so-called Taff Pack.

In Acting Wales: Stars of Stage and Screen, Peter Stead puts forward a sociology of Welsh acting, inspired by the ways in which American and English critics have examined the role of acting within their respective cultures. He takes the view that acting can influence and enhance a culture by endowing it with new shades and depths of meaning. From that premise arise questions over and above the initial critical reaction to any particular performance. What aspects of Wales are reflected on stage and screen? In physical terms are there distinctively Welsh characteristics? How has the tension between Welshness and Englishness played out? How have individual actors related to Wales? This and so much more is examined as we look in detail at the lives and careers of more than twenty stars of stage and screen.

critical comment

ISBN:0-7083-1623-9
£14.99

University of Wales Press

published:
11 January 2002

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FRANCO'S BASTARD AND LOLA BRECHT- Dic Edwards

Franco's Bastard looks at nationalism/terrorism; Lola Brecht at the situation in the Balkans;
The plays deal with their subjects often with a humour that tests audiences and questions what we regard as the truth. They are based on the author's belief that theatre is not simply a place of entertainment but a vital and radical forum for the debating of issues necessary to the health of democracy

collected plays

ISBN:1840023066
££9.99

Oberon Books

published:
05 January 2002

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Three Plays for Young People- Charles Way

collected plays

ISBN:
£

Aurora Metro Press

published:
17 September 2001

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Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco- Gary Owen

Saturday night, small town Wales, one pub, one party and three lads stuck with their school reputations - the gimp, the geek and the bully. Their dream - to get the hell out

With a dead cat stuffed through a letterbox, a soupcon of mindless violence and the perfect girl to die for, Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco bristles with the desperately ordinary, the truly extraordinary, and the just plain mad. Heroic, comic and right up your street, director Vicky Featherstone's reputation for excellence coupled with Gary Owen's dazzling gist for storytelling, creates another unmissable hit for Paines Plough in a co-production with Sgript Cymru - national new writing company of Wales.

Produced by Paines Plough, with Sgript Cymru, and directed by Vicky Featherstone, Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco premiered at the Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, in February 2001.

single plays

ISBN:0413768503
£6.99

Methuen

published:
08 February 2001

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Llwyfannau Lleol- Hazel Walford Davies (ed)

historical surveys

ISBN:1 85902 902 7
£9.95

Gwasg Gomer

published:
01 January 2000

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State of Play- Hazel Walford Davies

This is a volume of newly commissioned essays on the work of four of Wales's leading playwrights - Greg Cullen, Dic Edwards, Edward Thomas and Charles Way. It is the first book to provide a full critical perspective on the work of the main English-language playwrights now working out of Wales, whose quality has brought the forms of drama and theatre right to the forefront of what is now known as 'Welsh Writing in English'
There are incisive and challenging interviews with the dramatists themselves and lively, sharp essays by theatre practitioners, reviewers and academics working in the field of theatre studies. Reviews of performances both in Britain and abroad are equally as illuminating. They are complemented by over 70 photographs of crucial performances. The volume also contains over thirty important, hitherto unpublished, letters from Edward Bond to Dic Edwards.
State of Play is destined to initiate a lively debate in the field of theatre writing in Wales, and provoke sustained consideration of the best work written for the stage

critical comment

ISBN:1 85902 574 9
£19.95

Gwasg Gomer

published:
01 January 1999

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On the Tongue of a Bird- West Glamorgan Youth Theatre and Dance Company

An exciting and poetic play with music, based on the story of Branwen, the Welsh princess, married to an Irish king. This is the first play text from Pont Books - written by young people for young people.
A Teacher's booklet by Derek Cobley supplied free on request.

single plays

ISBN:1 85902 527 7
£4.50

Gwasg Gomer

published:
01 January 1999

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A Trilogy of Appropriation- Ian Rowlands

Love in Plastic
With the death of his parents Harold coats the interior of his house in easily disinfected plastic and regestates for nine months. As re-birth approaches he becomes obsessed with an image of an actress who appears on a TV commercial. To find her he journeys into the evils of society protected only by a space suit.

Glissando on an Empty Harp
Two tramp bards meet a woman who gives birth to a box. She claims that within it lies true beauty. To the bards, it could only be one thing, the ultimate in poetical perfection- the absolute for which they strive. But to what lengths will they go to achieve it ?

Blue Heron in the Womb
A family gathers to scatter the ashes of a dead child. A family divided in grief - blown apart by jealousy, blame, frustrated ambition and by twin sisters who share one face and one lover.

collected plays

ISBN:1 902638 01 8
£6.99

Parthian Books

published:
01 January 1999

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New Welsh Drama - Voices from the City- Jeff Teare (ed.)

Three of the best new plays in contemporary Welsh Drama.

Set in the city they are the new urban voices.

Edited with an introductory essay by Jeff Teare, Artistic Director of Made In Wales Theatre Co. & former director of Stratford East.

Safar
Afshan Malik
beautifully depicts the erosion of Urdu/Muslim traditions as seen through the eyes of a young girl torn between the country of her parents, rural Pakistan, and the faster immediate attractions of New Britain.
"Safar takes you in, behind closed doors, both cultural and mental, to eavesdrop on the most private of moments."
The Western Mail


Gulp
Roger Williams
nineties youth culture, the rhythms of club music and the desires of a young, gay city.
"A hit. A cultural milestone." The Guardian

My Piece of Happiness
Lewis Davies
a play of love friendship and delivering papers. "Sex is good isn't it George ?"
"Yes it's good, with the right person... Well it's pretty good with anyone really."
"A fine play." The Stage

These three plays showcase the strength of Wales' contemporary drama scene. The one which has garnered the most attention is Roger Williams' "Gulp" -- the first play to be produced in Wales that not only deals with gay relationships but gay issues, and is by a gay writer. Described as "a major and significant cultural event" by The Guardian, the

collected plays

ISBN:0 9521558 7 7
£6.99

Parthian Books

published:
01 January 1999

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Gas Station Angel- Ed Thomas

Bron meets Ace six days after his house falls into the sea. Their families may share a past of fairies, angels, axe-murderers and chickens, but what do Bron and Ace need with the past when they've got imagination and a tinted glass blue Marina 1800 TC ready to drive into the heart of Saturday night? Set in a shrinking land, Gas Station Angel is the latest play from Ed Thomas whose previous plays includes House of America (also recently released as a film) and Songs From a Forgotten City.

single plays

ISBN:0413727408
£6.99

Methuen

published:
01 April 1998

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The Merthyr Trilogy- Alan Osborne (edited by Gilly Adams and Dorien Tho

Three plays by one of Wales' most original and innovative artists.

The Merthyr Trilogy ...

Bull, Rock and Nut
Two ex-fighters and their manager gather in Luigi's cafe on the day of Johnny Owen's funeral. Life is an opportunity that hasn't arrived, they begin to talk of heroes and the town that deals hard chances.
"a most remarkable piece of theatre.. ...layered with meanings, violence and power." The Guardian


In Sunshine and In Shadow
Vee's home is a work of art. She lives on the ugliest Council estate in Europe. Sanctuary is a bed and a family of mis-fits who crowd near to Vee's flame. This is her life.
"shot through with intensity and honesty, a powerful play." The Western Mail

The Redemption Song
Mick is a designer of toys, a dreamer, and a dope-smoker. Bo-Bo and Bunny look after Mick, lend him money, push him drugs. Mick's new toy is worth a fortune, at least a thousand. He owes them.
"a stark uncompromising tragedy." The South Wales Echo

collected plays

ISBN:0 9521558 6 9
£6.99

Parthian Books

published:
01 January 1998

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Opera House Lottery- Nicholas Crickhowell

This is the story, told from the inside, of a dream that was shattered; of controversial decisions involving Michael Heseltine and Virginia Bottomley; of attitudes in the Welsh Office under five Conservative Secretaries of State; of in-fighting across political boundaries by MPs and local politicians; of a campaign by the Sun against élitism; of the way in which large international architectural competitions are managed and mismanaged; of the manoeuvring of celebrated architects; and of the betrayal of those most closely involved by the Cardiff Bay Development

critical comment

ISBN:ISBN -7083-1442-2
£15.95

University of Wales Press

published:
01 August 1997

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Staging Wales- Anne Marie Taylor

This book of lively and provocative essays, written by dramatists and professionals active in drama teaching, theatre research and/or theatrical practice in Wales, examines significant developments in theatre in Wales from the late 1970s to the present day.

Anne Marie examines the development of theatre in Wales since the 1970's through a collection of essays and personal statements. Topics covered include Wales's contribution to theatre in education, theatre's position in a bilingual culture and the effects of government funding policies. There are also brief profiles of individual companies. Nic Ros's essay on the failure of Welsh language theatre is particularly interesting in a depressing way, and Mike Pearson's essay is a gem

The editor, Anna-Marie Taylor, is a lecturer in the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Wales, Swansea.

critical comment

ISBN:0-7083-1419-8.
£5.99

University of Wales Press

published:
01 June 1997

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AMERICANA: Utah Blue, Over Milk Wood- Dic Edwards

The plays of this uncompromising Welsh dramatist are about what he calls the evicted. His characters serve as a metaphor for Wales itself: lost, angry and in search of an identity. Utah Blue is a powerful reworking of the story of Gary Gilmore, the man who killed two black men and then famously insisted the state carry out the death penalty it had imposed upon him. In Over Milk Wood we follow Hugh Pugh, the character from Dylan Thomas, as he heads into the Bronx, trying to exorcise the curse of being portrayed as a murderer. Cast sizes are 4 and 9.

collected plays

ISBN:1840021594
£6.99

Oberon Books

published:
01 January 1996

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Stage Welsh- David Adams

Nation, nationalism and theatre: the search for a cultural identity

The author, who feels he ought almost to apologise for his having missed being Welsh by 6 miles, has produced a fascinating essay which needs to be read by anyone involved in the nation's cultural and political debate. Far from disqualifying him, the missing miles, coupled with an in-depth knowledge of his chosen area of work, seem to have given him an insight and freedom to express views on Welsh culture. He expresses neither the emotional prejudice of some Welsh speakers nor the defensive arrogance of some of those who do not speak the language.
This essay is about far more than the state of theatre in Wales.
David Adams has been The Guardian's arts critic in Wales since 1980, reviews theatre for the Western Mail and has contributed to various publications and to radio and television programmes. He was on the Welsh Arts Council's Drama Committee and is an advisor to the new Arts Council of Wales as well as to several regional arts boards.

critical comment

ISBN:1 85902 344-4
£3.95

Gwasg Gomer

published:
01 January 1996

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Perthyn- Meic Povey

single plays

ISBN:0-86381-307-0
£3.75

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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Yn Debyg iawn i ti a fi- Meic Povey

single plays

ISBN:0-86381- 597-9
£3.75

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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Llifeiriau- Wil Sam

single plays

ISBN:0-86381-426-3
£3.75

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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Bargen- Theatr Bara Caws

single plays

ISBN:0-86381-308-9
£3.75

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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Hwylaiu'n Codi- Theatr Bara Caws

single plays

ISBN:0-86381-361-5
£3.75

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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Deg Drama Wil Sam- Wil Sam

Dramau Byrion

collected plays

ISBN:0-86381-353-4
£7.50

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

published:
01 January 1995

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SAUNDERS LEWIS A THEATR GARTHEWIN- Hazel Walford Davies

a renowned little theatre established in 1937, and of Saunders Lewis's connection with the venture and a large collection of his correspondence. Black-and-white and colour photographs.

historical surveys

ISBN:1859022928
£19.95

Gwasg Gomer

published:
01 January 1995

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The Scam- Peter Lloyd

Sharp-edged, tough and funny, The Scam is Peter Lloyd's play about two young Welshmen out to hit the business big time.

Keen to escape their dead-end lives on a housing estate, AI and Oar make do picking apples until a chance meeting with the quick-talking Finn sets a wholesale scheme in motion that could net them all thousands. AI, all optimism, cajoles retailers and troubled grower Nick, while Oar, who remains suspicious, sets about the back-breaking deliveries.

Are the lads on the brink of riches or will their plans and dreams unravel? The Scam is a ruthless expose of the 'feel good factor' that fuelled the boom of the eighties. It reveals the lighter and darker sides of friendship, class, macho attitudes and professional greed.

single plays

ISBN:1854111507
£4.95

Seren Books

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On The Road Again (Three Plays by Laurence Allen)- Laurence Allen

The striking humour and resilience of his characters, often at odds with social and political trends, beset by unemployment and harsh circumstances, shines through.

In On The Road Again two tramps (one a compulsive cheat, the other a hapless liar) receive a notice to evict them from their derelict caravan home.

Redundant miners kidnap the Secretary of State for Wales in The Best Years of Our Lives.

Cradle to the Grave chronicles the comic and painful misadventures of a patient named Nye Bevan, mistakenly transferred from a private to an NHS hospital, which, for all intents and purposes, has been closed.

collected plays

ISBN:1854112651
£7.95

Seren Books

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Mary Morgan (Three Plays by Gregg Cullen)- Gregg Cullen

Mary Morgan is the story of a young servant girl seduced and then betrayed by her master's son. Pregnant and in despair, she is trapped into actions that have ultimately tragic consequences. Based on an incident in nineteenth-century Wales, this moving play is set against a background of civil unrest, family disharmony and social and sexual inequality.

Tarzanne is a female version of the tale of the white 'apeman'. Kidnapped by chimps as a toddler, Anne is recaptured and sold to her wealthy family back in the Welsh borders. Will they be able to civilise the young heiress? Told with imaginative flashbacks including a cast of 'apes', this play is a provocative critique of Victorian values.

Frida and Diego: A Love Story is based on the colourful lives of the Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Using images from their own works and a chorus of figures from Mexican folklore, this play follows the tempestuous couple from their first meeting, through their travels to the States - where Diego paints murals for Rockerfeller - to their involvement with Trotsky and his enemies.

collected plays

ISBN:1854112236
£7.95

Seren Books

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Crossing the Bar (Three Plays)- Lucy Gough

There's a point in between. The sea and the sky, Heaven and Hell, life and death. Where the debris of life carried out on the flow meets the sea and is forced to let go. If you fail to cross over that bar you go down with no soul.

So says the mysterious Keeper of the purgatorial cell that is the setting for the poetic and evocative Crossing the Bar. A nun speaking medieval English and an inner-city drop-out on remand find themselves sharing this bleak place. The bald contrasts of their origins and personalities is the source of some humour; the Nun's religious intensity a foil for the Boy's nihilistic despair. This highly imaginative, award-winning play raises complicated issues with dramatic aplomb.

Head is an original reworking of Keats' macabre 'Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.' On a bleak modern estate, Ella retrieves the head of her murdered lover and buries it in a herb pot, and revenges herself on the killer, her brother, with a frying pan. Out of this implausible material, Gough creates a frequently haunting and savagely funny drama.

A dramatic poem controlled by rhythms, Our Lady of Shadows is a dark and thought-provoking play, inspired by Tennyson's 'Lady of Shalott', which explodes our expectations of the myth.

collected plays

ISBN:18511266X
£7.95

Seren Books

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One Act Wales- Phil Clark

This substantial collection of one act plays from Wales charts the rise of Welsh Drama from the 1950s to the present.

From the Dylan Thomas classic, Return Journey, to the work of established names likes Charles Way and Frank Vickery, to the more recent plays by young writers like Edward Thomas and Ian Rowlands, this book presents a significant overview of the drama of our era. Though stylistically and thematically diverse, these plays all deliver thought-provoking characters, unusual situations and moving confrontations.

Editor Phil Clark, Artistic Director of the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, in his perceptive introduction, charts the growth of professional theatre-writing in Wales, acknowledges the powerful influence of the amateur movement, and finds areas of common influence among these various distinctive writers. As well as ensuring the continued performance of the many classics of the form written over the past four decades, this collection will be a catalyst for the future of drama in Wales.

collected plays

ISBN:1854111523
£8.95

Seren Books

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THREE PLAYS: Casanova Undone, Looking for the Worl- Dic Edwards

Introduction by Edward Bond The height of the terror of the French Revolution, a prisoner-of-war camp and Greece under the Generals. These are the settings for three powerful, witty and disturbing plays by Welsh playwright, Dic Edwards. Casanova Undone was first performed by the Citizens Theatre Company, Glasgow. Cast sizes: 3, 6, 5

collected plays

ISBN:1870259297
£7.99

Oberon Books

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The Shakespeare Factory (Three Plays)- Dic Edwards

New Plays for Young People:

The Shakespeare Factory must produce five-minute video versions of Shakespeare's plays. Will factory manager Gillian Brutus get the videos to the Government Officer on time? Shop Steward Jack Cash puts up a fight, and the actors are unruly and rebellious. Jack's idea that a party in the woods at night will help inspire cast and crew soon results in strange escapades and romantic entanglements. This imaginative play is an entertaining introduction to Shakespeare.

Moon River: The Deal is the story of Bryn Morgan, who runs away from his valleys home and meets Charley, another runaway, down by the river. Bryn enjoys hearing about Charley's adventures and relishes the stories that Charley reads him from Huckleberry Finn. The two become friends and are about to embark upon a journey down the river when fate intervenes. This play touchingly highlights children's right to help determine their own lives.

David, takes the Biblical tale of David and Goliath and sets it in modern Wales. Gol is an abused child and a bully. David is the victim of his taunts. Leah is David's girlfriend, also liked by Gol. With the help of Leah and his wise friend Elijah, David helps Gol face his background and imagine a new future. This play artfully raises the issues surrounding bullying and offers options for change.

collected plays

ISBN:1854112244
£7.95

Seren Books

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The View from Row G: Three Plays- Dannie Abse

Three plays from one of Britain's leading and best loved literary figures: House of Cowards, The Dogs of Pavlov and Pythagoras (Smith).

All previously performed in London, these prize-winning plays originate in Abse's preoccupation with personal and public themes.

House of Cowards, which won the Foyle Award for the best play produced outside the West End, concerns the willingness of people to surrender their individuality to a charismatic leader.

The Dogs of Pavlov, which the Financial Times described as' a work of exceptional merit' and' a superb creation', explores the conditioning of people to perform un-thinking evil; and Pythagoras (Smith), which was awarded a Welsh Arts Council Literature Prize, focuses on the relationship between patient and doctor and of medicine and magic.

collected plays

ISBN:1854110225
£8.95

Seren Books

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Edward Thomas - Three Plays- Edward Thomas

House of America: An explosive, passionate play about the Lewis family, an absent father, an opencast mine, and the American Dream. Sid and Gwenny create a fantasy world based on Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Boyo, their brother, is a hometown boy with no home, and Mam goes mad after killing a cat called Brando. Is Wales a land for heroes?(Now an award-winning feature film)

Flowers of the Dead Red Sea Mock and Joe are denizens of the slaughterhouse. Blood-spattered, half-naked, their conversations boil with hilarity and rage as random objects fall from the sky. Who is a craftsman? Who is a butcher? Who is an artist? Who stole Tom Jones' dicky bow? Is this the last place?

East from the Gantry Bella met Ronnie by phoning him up at random. Trampas called himself Trampas after the sixties series The Virginian because he had no home. Bella met Trampas on a derelict hill. Ronnie shot dead a cat he thought was Martin Brat ton. In a cold and cruel world will we make love or pay a visit to the garden centre to get a new fan belt for the lawnmower?

collected plays

ISBN:1854110179
£5.95

Seren Books

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Three Plays- Charles Way

Dead Man's Hat explores the myths of the Old American West, with many an acknowledgement to films like Shane and High Plains Drifter. A compelling stranger arrives at a remote homestead. Seventeen year-old Anne is ready to fall under his spell. Her mother, Kate, remains suspicious but she is desperate for help against the local rancher who is after their land. Is this stranger their saviour or their downfall?

Paradise Drive is the story of a family during the 1980's, 'four strangers bound in blood'. David works for British Rail and is about to leave the Labour Party. Jennifer his wife, seems to have lost purpose to her life. Their daughter, Sally, is upwardly mobile and marries an ad man while son, John, is a struggling artist. The play moves through a series of painfully humorous family occasions towards its tragic climax. In

The Bleak Midwinter is based on a medieval mystery play. Zac, the dreaming shepherd, and Miriam, his pragmatic, long-suffering wife, journey from Black Mountains border country to Bethlehem where they must register for the 'poll tax'. Along the way they are plagued by sheep-steeler Mak and his lively girlfriend, Gill, not to mention a certain Mary and Joseph.

collected plays

ISBN:1854111132
£5.95

Seren Books

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Gwyn Thomas - Three Plays- Gwyn Thomas

Novelist, storywriter, columnist, broadcaster and raconteur, Gwyn Thomas (1913-1981) was also a prize-winning dramatist. Presented here are The Keep, Jackie the Jumper and Loud Organs, three of his plays from the early sixties.

The Keep, produced at the Royal Court, shown on television and translated into German, is Thomas's comic masterpiece, a kitchen-sink drama in which the family home has become an intellectual prison.

In Jackie the Jumper, set in the Merthyr Rising of 1831, the action is an observation on rebelliousness, turning on youth opposing age, vitality versus entrenched conservatism. The more experimental

'Loud Organs' also explores repression and freedom in Cardiff dockland society. In all three plays the social change of the times, especially in Wales, is acutely perceived.

collected plays

ISBN:1854111140
£5.95

Seren Books

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Waiting at the Water's Edge- Lucinda Coxon

Waiting at the Water's Edge is a gripping new play by Lucinda Coxon.

It opens with a chance meeting between two young girls, Vi and Su, on a North Wales beach. Their fates become entwined when they are both employed as servants in the same house. Vi forms a strange alliance with Will Couth, son of the house. The consequences of their relationship unfold with devastating results for those whose lives they touch.

From the coast of Wales to the mining heartland of Nova Scotia, Waiting at the Water's Edge charts a magical voyage across time and continents. Constantly undermining traditional notions of male/female and master/servant roles, this play is frequently as thought provoking as it is entertaining.

single plays

ISBN:1854111493
£4.95

Seren Books

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WITTGENSTEINS DAUGHTER- Dic Edwards

Premiered at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Alma Wittgenstein, bored by her neo-fascist husband, goes to Cambridge to investigate the values of her long-lost father, Ludwig.

single plays

ISBN:1870259351
£5.99

Oberon Books

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Codi'r Llen - Hywel Teifi Edwards

At the beginning of the Second World War the dramatist John Ellis Williams was in contact with some 350 local drama companies. That number shows the popularity of Welsh drama between the two World Wars.
The purpose of publishing this collection of photographs is to remind the readers of the scale and vitality of the entertainment and to stimulate fresh debate on the value of community culture.

historical surveys

ISBN:1 85902 625 7
£10.95

Gwasg Gomer

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Sioeau Maldwyn - Linda Gittins, Derec Williams a Penri Roberts

Detholiad o ganeuon gorau Cwmni Theatr Maldwyn, yn cynnwys caneuon o sioe gyntaf y cwmni, Y Mab Darogan, a sioeau gwefreiddiol fel Pum Diwrnod o Ryddid, Heledd, a Mela.

single plays

ISBN:0 86243 491 2
£8.95

Y Lolfa

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WORLDS- Dic Edwards

single plays

ISBN:1840022507
£7.99

Oberon Books

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