Plays by Nick Dear

The Art of Success

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Eighteenth century London. The world of art is on the brink of transformation, about to spread from the drawing rooms of the rich to public houses across the country. Compressing the events of ten tumultuous years into a single night, Nick Dear uncovers the hidden world of seminal artist William Hogarth. The Art of Success is a raucous play with resonant debates about gender, sex, hedonism in the face of censorship and the responsibility of the artist.

The Art of Success by Nick Dear was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 1986.

The Dark Earth and the Light Sky

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Deep in the Hampshire countryside Edward Thomas, disaffected husband, exhausted father and tormented writer, scrapes a living. In 1913 he meets American poet Robert Frost and everything changes. As their friendship blossoms Edward writes, emerging from his cocoon of self-doubt into one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century. But he makes the drastic decision to enlist, confounding his friends and family.

The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in November 2012.

Dedication

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Patron? Collaborator? Employer? Voyeur? Lover? Questioned about the nature of his relationship with the 3rd Earl of Southampton, William Shakespeare is on trial. The evidence: tender poems, financial dependency, attempted revolution.

Dedication by Nick Dear premiered at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, in September 2016.

Frankenstein

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Slowly I learnt the ways of humans: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.

Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein's bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the friendless Creature, increasingly desperate and vengeful, determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.

Urgent concerns of scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil are embedded within this thrilling and deeply disturbing classic gothic tale.

Frankenstein, based on the novel by Mary Shelley, premiered at the National Theatre, London, in February 2011.

In the Ruins

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Windsor Castle, 1817. King George III contemplates his life, drawing on his personal past as well as momentous political and historical events over the course of his reign. An almost uninterrupted monologue of digressive musings, In the Ruins unpicks the psychological reality of the Mad King.

Nick Dear’s In the Ruins was first broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in June 1984.

Power

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Some say power's an illusion. But Louis is the master of illusion. He has turned government into a spectacle, politics into a circus.

Nick Dear's new play on the origins of the Sun King is a dark and dazzling tale of ambition, corruption and illusion. The play premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London, in June 2003.

The Villains' Opera

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Under the cover of his South London pub, Peachum plies a successful trade in small-time scams. But his world is shattered when the charismatic villain, Macheath, not only plans to marry his daughter, Polly, but to move into dangerous levels of criminal activity.

In Nick Dear's contemporary version of Gay's The Beggars' Opera, we are shown a modern London teeming with petty thieves, gangland hoods, corrupt politicians and bent coppers.

The Villans' Opera premiered at the National Theatre, London, in April 2000.

Zenobia

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'Zenobia pits a tribal monarch against the mighty republic of Rome. A middle-eastern state takes on the global superpower in a battle for control of trade and commodities. On a more personal scale, it’s a play about ambition and accommodation, about principles and their dismemberment, about survival. History, here, is something you’ve got to get through.' from Nick Dear's introduction.

Zenobia was first performed at the Young Vic, London, on 2 August 1995, in a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Nick Dear's plays include Dedication (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, 2016) The Dark Earth and the Light Sky (Almeida Theatre, 2012), Frankenstein (National Theatre, 2011), Lunch in Venice (National Theatre Connections, 2005), Power (NT, 2003), The Villains' Opera (NT, 2000), Zenobia (RSC, 1995), In the Ruins (Bristol Old Vic, 1990), Food of Love (Theatre de Complicite, Almeida, 1988), The Art of Success (RSC, 1986), Pure Science (RSC, 1986) and Temptation (RSC, 1984). He also collaborated with Peter Brook on the development of Qui est là? (Bouffes du Nord, 1996). His adaptations include The Promise (after Arbuzov, Tricycle, 2002), Summerfolk (after Gorky, NT, 1999), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (after Molière, NT, 1992), The Last Days of Don Juan (after Tirso de Molina, RSC, 1990) and A Family Affair (after Ostrovsky, Cheek by Jowl, 1988). His screenplays include Persuasion, The Turn of the Screw, Cinderella, The Gambler, Byron, Eroica and Agatha Christie's Poirot. Opera libretti include The Palace in the Sky (ENO/Hackney Empire, 2001) and Siren Song (Almeida Opera Festival, 1994). He has also written extensively for BBC Radio, beginning with his first play, Matter Permitted (1980).