Plays

Agnes Colander - An Attempt at Life  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

We should all have been taught more of life and less good manners

It is three years since Agnes, an artist, left her unfaithful husband Henry. Now he writes to her in her Kensington studio begging to reunite, but Agnes married young; her innocence has gone and her ambition and independence is growing. As she travels from London to France, Agnes finds herself torn between Otho, a worldly Danish artist and Alec, an infatuated younger suitor, between a longing to paint and be an independent woman and a yearning to be loved.

This witty and compelling exploration of love, sexual attraction and independence was written in 1900 and unearthed among Granville Barker's papers in the British Library a century later. Revised by playwright and librettist Richard Nelson this edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath in Spring 2018. 

An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A monologue about an inexperienced young woman, An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side is a clever monologue describing the growing incomprehension of a critic of the Suffragette movement as she struggles to undersand why she was against votes for women in the first place.

Described in her introduction by Naomi Paxton as ‘charming, clever . . . a fantastic monologue for an actress, full of character, well written and enjoyable to play’, An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side was first published by the Actresses’ Franchise League (AFL) in 1910.

At the Gates

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

At the Gates dates from and is based on the events of the same year when the Women’s Freedom League picketed the House of Commons from July 5th to October 28th, 1909: “an example of patient endurance which should go far to silence the foolish cry of “hysteria” as applied to the Suffrage Movement”.

Chapin was actually in prison when the play was first scheduled to be performed at the Albert Hall in December 1909. However, it was cancelled due to the “lateness of the hour” following a long programme. Based on the experience of a young woman’s 540-hour picket, it presents a series of encounters between her and various passers by, including: a male sympathiser, an embarrassed waiter, two well-disposed policemen ardently interested in politics, cynical about most of their rulers and one of them a great theatre-goer who likes serious drama. Others include: small boys and grown men who jeer; a drunk (who boasts that he has the vote while she does not); a seamstress (who works in a sweatshop and is battered by her husband) and who supports the suffragists as a means to gain the power, it is implied, to change her circumstances; an elderly, self-described “womanly woman”, who attacks the male sympathiser with her umbrella. The line: “These Antis are so militant”, spoken by the heroine, was added to the play between the submission of the manuscript to the Lord Chamberlain’s office and the play’s publication. It is interesting dramaturgically in its attempt to give theatrical form to a durational experience and find a theatrical language to describe an experience of multiple brief encounters, rather than a defining dramatic collision of different viewpoints. The piece makes reference to the biblical Book of Esther comparing the arbitrary exercise of power by the tyrannical King Ahasuerus who ordered the slaughter of the Jews of Persia to that of the government of the day – but “Ahasuerus was a gentleman. He did hold out his sceptre . . . He didn’t keep her waiting either”. The published play is rare and has attracted little critical attention

A Change of Tenant

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

The play examines the reasons why Squire Brooks has decided to evict his long-standing tenant of 30 years, a widow, Mrs Basset, despite the fact that she is an industrious, reliable tenant who pays her rent on time and looks after his property well. The Squire reluctantly agrees to her visit to plead her case. He reveals that the insuperable problem is her sex. Not having a vote, she will not be able to support his son in winning a highly marginal election. In the meeting that follows with his prospective new tenant, John Smith, the Squire is forced to question the wisdom of the ‘Mrs Bassets’ being disenfranchised when the ‘John Smiths’ of the world have a say in government. John Smith is a drinker and a fool, in debt and ignorant, and when he has bothered to vote at all, he has spoiled his voting papers. The piece is weakened by the stereotypical portrayal of both John Smith and Mrs Basset. In choosing to make Basset unremarkable, merely the embodiment of reasonable ordinary civic virtue, the author bases her argument on justice: she is visibly no less worthy of a vote than a similar man in her circumstances, no less worthy than was her husband. She is a version of a virtuous, suffering (albeit middle-aged) heroine, victimised by the heartless squire. Her ordinary virtues: concern for her neighbours, maintaining and improving the property, are contrasted to Smith’s fecklessness and selfishness. However, she also reveals more dynamic virtues in her response to the situation – a determination to be given the reasons for her removal and an intelligence and adaptability. She understands the processes of political persuasion ‘talking to people, giving away papers’, in contrast to Smith, and is willing to earn more, take in washing rather than keep chickens, if required, but finally these cannot make up for her inability to vote. She is sent away for ‘a vote is a vote, and nothing else however good and necessary can make up for the lack of a vote’. It is only when faced with Smith’s record of rent arrears that the Squire relents in his decision.

audio The Cherry Orchard

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Chekhov’s masterful last play, The Cherry Orchard, is a work of timeless, bittersweet beauty about the fading fortunes of an aristocratic Russian family and their struggle to maintain their status in a changing world. Alternately touching and farcical, this subtle, intelligent play stars the incomparable Marsha Mason. Translated and adapted by Frank Dwyer and Nicholas Saunders.

Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Directed by Rosalind Ayres
Producing Director: Susan Albert Loewenberg
Marsha Mason as Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Ranyevskaya
Hector Elizondo as Leonid Andreyevich Gayev
Michael Cristofer as Yermolay Alekseyevich Lopakhin
Jennifer Tilly as Dunyasha (Avdotya Fyodorovna)
Joey Slotnick as Semyon Panteleyevich Yepikhodov
Christy Keefe as Anya Ranyevskaya
Amy Pletz as Varya Ranyevskaya
Jordan Baker as Charlotta Ivanovna
Jeffrey Jones as Boris Borisovich Semyonov-Pischick
Charles Durning as Feers
Tim DeKay as Pyotr Sergeyevich Trofimov
John Chardiet as Passer-By

Sound Effects Artist/Stage Manager: Jane Slater
Assistant Stage Manager: Cary Thompson
Radio Producer: Raymond Guarna
Associate Producer: Susan Raab

The Cherry Orchard (adapt. Murphy)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Chekhov’s tragicomedy of inertia and loss – perhaps his most popular play – an aristocratic family cling to their sheltered lives in a picturesque estate while the forces of social change beat on the walls outside.

Completely bankrupt, Lyubov Ranyevskaya returns with her daughter Anya from Paris to her childhood home, to the beautiful cherry orchard outside the house and to her grief. The estate is paralysed by debt, but she and her billiard-playing brother refuse to save their finances by having the vast orchard cut down to build holiday cottages. Hopelessly paralysed, incapable of decisive action, they put the estate up for auction, and find their world is brought crashing down by powerful forces rooted deep in history and in the society around them

Chekhov maintained that the play was a cheerful and frivolous comedy, but audiences have found its tragedy irresistible. The comedy is poignant; the tone is ambiguous, both farcical and piercing. While remaining faithful to the original, Tom Murphy’s adaptation reimagines the events of this classic play in a language that resonates with wit, clarity and verve. It was first performed in 2004 at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

video The Cherry Orchard (NT)

National Theatre
Type: Video

Age recommendation: 12+

Recorded through National Theatre Live on 30th June, 2011.

Ranyevskaya returns more or less bankrupt after ten years abroad. Luxuriating in her fading moneyed world and regardless of the increasingly hostile forces outside, she and her brother snub the lucrative scheme of Lopakhin, a peasant turned entrepreneur, to save the family estate. In so doing, they put up their lives to auction and seal the fate of the beloved orchard.

Set at the very start of the twentieth century, Andrew Upton’s new version of Chekhov’s classic captures a poignant moment in Russia's history as the country rolls inexorably towards 1917.

For teacher resources, visit this page.

CAST
Dunyasha: Emily Taaffe
Lopakhin: Conleth Hill
Yepihodov: Pip Carter
Anya: Charity Wakefield
Ranyevskaya: Zoe Wanamaker
Varya: Claudie Blakley
Gaev: James Laurenson
Charlotta: Sarah Woodward
Simyonov-Pishchik: Tim McMullan
Yasha: Gerald Kyd
Firs: Kenneth Cranham
Peya Trofimov: Mark Bonnar
A Passer-by: Craige Els
The Station Master: Paul Dodds
Ensemble: Mark Fleischmann
Ensemble: Colin Haigh
Ensemble: Jessica Regan
Ensemble: Tim Samuels
Ensemble: Stephanie Thomas
Ensemble: Joseph Thompson
Ensemble: Rosie Thomson
Ensemble: Ellie Turner

CREATIVES
Director: Howard Davies
Author: Andrew Upton
Designer: Bunny Christie
Lighting Designer: Neil Austin
Music: Dominic Muldowney
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis
Choreographer: Lynne Page

Children of the Sun (Trans. Upton)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Protasov, detached and idealistic, wants only to immerse himself in chemical experiments to perfect mankind. He’s more or less oblivious to the voracious advances of the half-crazed widow Melaniya and his best friend’s unrelenting pursuit of his wife, let alone the cholera epidemic and the starving mob at his gates. While Nanny fusses round, Protasov’s admiring circle, variously sceptical, romantic and lovesick, spar over culture and the cosmos. Only Liza, neurotic and patronized, feels the suffering of the peasantry and senses that their own privileged world is in jeopardy.

Written during the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905, Maxim Gorky’s darkly comic Children of the Sun depicts the new middle-class, foolish perhaps but likeable, as they flounder around, philosophizing, yearning, or scuttling between test tubes, blind to their impending annihilation. This translation by Andrew Upton was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in 2013.

Deirdre of the Sorrows

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Deirdre of the Sorrows is based on an ancient Irish myth, a story of a beautiful young woman, Deirdre, and her equally handsome lover Naisi, one of three brothers sworn to protect each other - and the young lovers - from Deirdre's betrothed, the ageing king Conchubhor.

Almost finished upon Synge's premature death, and published posthumously after revisions by Synge's fiancée, the actress Mary 'Molly' Algood, and poet and theatre-manager W. B. Yeats, Deirdre of the Sorrows is a vivid reimagining of the Deirdre myth, complete with Synge's distinctive lyric style.

audio The Doctor's Dilemma

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The blowhards, the know-it-alls, the scrupulous and the impecunious are all targets for Shaw’s incisive wit in his classic satire of the medical profession. A well-respected physician is forced to choose whom he shall save: a bumbling friend or the ne’er-do-well husband of the woman he loves.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston and Paxton Whitehead.

Includes a conversation with Dr. Neil Wenger, the Director of the Healthcare Ethics Center at the University of California-Los Angeles

The Doctor’s Dilemma is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

Featuring: Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston, Paxton Whitehead

A Flea in Her Ear

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear (La puce à l’oreille) is a classic French farce, first performed at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris on 2 March 1907.

Stephen Mulrine, in his introduction to this translation by Kenneth McLeish, describes A Flea in Her Ear as 'perhaps Feydeau’s best-known play, certainly to English audiences, and its intricate choreography draws together two classic farce plots – that of the suspicious wife who sets a trap to expose her faithless partner, and the venerable comic device of mistaken identity. And the latter complicates the former to such a degree that by the end of Act II, the spectator is almost as exhausted, mentally, as Feydeau’s characters are, physically, by their manic pursuit of each other across the stage, in a flurry of whirling doors and spinning beds.'

Mulrine also observes that 'Feydeau’s plays are a form of perpetual motion, and almost impossible to summarise, but taken by itself, the mistaken identity plot is comparatively straightforward: the supposed unfaithful husband, Chandebise, bears an uncanny resemblance to a drunken porter, Poche (both parts are played by the same actor), and when circumstances bring the two into proximity, in the seedy Hotel Casablanca, all hell breaks loose. Those circumstances arise through the workings of the main plot, set in motion with the entry of the principal characters, midway through Act I, when Chandebise’s wife Raymonde confesses to her friend Lucienne that she suspects her husband of infidelity, while Chandebise himself, a little later, complains to Dr Finache about a worrying, and inexplicable, loss of sexual vigour.'

Her Vote

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Naomi Paxton writes: ‘Her Vote features a young suffragist whose plans to attend a political meeting are disrupted by an unexpected proposal from her young man. It is an unusual suffrage play as the character of the Girl, a suffragist, is portrayed rather more like that of an anti-suffragist. When questioned by the Clerk she is unable to elaborate on her views about the Suffrage and the issues surrounding it and instead responds by repeating words and phrases that she has heard but clearly doesn’t really understand. Her firm resolve at the beginning of the piece to attend a Suffrage Meeting that night counts for nothing when a much more desirable offer arises . . . the play provides an interesting male viewpoint on the movement, criticizing the Girl for wanting to be part of a political movement without really knowing about it or understanding it – a criticism more often levelled at anti-suffragists in suffrage drama.'

Her Vote was first performed at Terry’s Theatre, London, on 13 May 1909 and was first published the follwoing year by Samuel French.

How the Vote Was Won (ed. Paxton)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In her introduction, Naomi Paxton writes: ‘How The Vote Was Won was and remains one of the most popular and well known suffrage plays. A brilliant ensemble piece, it is set in the living room of Horace and Ethel Cole in Brixton, London, on the day of a general women’s strike called by Suffragettes because the Government has said that women do not need votes as they are all looked after by men. All the women who have previously supported themselves agree to leave their jobs and homes and instead insist on support from their nearest male relative. As Horace’s female relatives arrive at his house one after the other, he comes to realize something must be done and rushes to Parliament, along with all the other men in London, to demand “Votes for Women” as soon as possible.'

How the Vote Was Won was first performed at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 13 April 1909, and was first published by The Woman’s Press that same year.

In the Shadow of the Glen

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dan Burke, it seems, is dead, his body lying on his bed beneath a sheet. His young wife Nora has taken in a Tramp into the house, a man seeking refuge from the cruel weather of the valley in which she lives. They pass pleasantries until Nora's intended arrives, a neighbouring shepherd named Michael Dara, with whom Nora schemes a fresh union even while her husband's body is not yet cold.

The comic surprise that follows is a magnificent coup de theâtre: that it is followed by a denouement as unexpected as any the Irish theatre had seen speaks volumes to Synge's sophistication as a playwright and master of his craft.

First performed in Molesworth Hall, Dublin, in 1903, In the Shadow of the Glen was the first play by Synge to be presented professionally, and, in its one act structure, contains the germ of all of the great playwright's oeuvre: comedy, macabre, rural isolation and the motivating power of lyrical speech.

Lady Geraldine's Speech

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In her introduction, Naomi Paxton writes: ‘Lady Geraldine’s Speech is an all-female ensemble piece, full of wonderfully eccentric Suffragette characters . . . The whole play is delightful, representing Suffragettes as happy, talented, intelligent and good humoured and Lady Geraldine as misguided but charming. Beatrice Harraden defended the Suffragettes in response to criticism of the militant movement by feminist writer Sarah Grand, proudly writing of “the good temper, the courage, the good camaraderie of the Suffragettes”, all of which are evident in the characters of Dr Alice’s friends in Lady Geraldine’s Speech.'

Lady Geraldine’s Speech was first performed at the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) Women’s Exhibition in the Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge on 15 May 1909. It was first published in the WSPU newspaper ‘Votes for Women’ on 2 April 1909.

Major Barbara

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Major Barbara is a play about power, religion and capital: Shaw’s story of a conversion contest between an arms manufacturer and a Salvation Army Major is a provocative dramatization of the relationship between money and morality. As with Mrs Warren’s Profession and Pygmalion, the play exposes the material reality behind the political and moral philosophies of the time.

Andrew Undershaft is an immensely powerful and wealthy arms manufacturer, owner of a company with immense pan-European power. His wife, the imperious Lady Britomart, was outraged by his decision to disinherit his own children and separated from him many years ago, but now finds she must ask Andrew for money to support their three children. Andrew’s consequent visit to his estranged family introduces him to his energetic daughter Barbara, who has recently been made a major in the Salvation Army, and her Greek professor fiancé, Adolphus. Their ideological conflict leads them into a conversion contest: Andrew will visit the Salvation Army shelter, and Barbara will visit the munitions factory.

Major Barbara is a challenging comedy of ideals which subverts ideals and moral expectations, following a three act structure intended to advance understanding by stages as per Shaw’s dialectic method. It was first produced in 1905 at the Royal Court, London, to great acclaim, despite one newspaper criticising Shaw for his ‘withering attack’ on the Salvation Army, a claim that Shaw disputed in his later Preface to the play; nevertheless, it was to be one of the series of his plays produced at the Royal Court (along with John Bull’s Other Island (1904) and Man and Superman, amongst others) that would help establish Shaw as a respected playwright. Its discussion of the morality of armaments was apt at its time of writing, when Britain was allied with Japan in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5; ongoing warfare sealed Major Barbara’s relevance throughout the twentieth century, and it was made into a 1941 film with Rex Harrison and Wendy Hiller as Adolphus and Barbara.

audio Major Barbara

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Barbara is a major in the Salvation Army - but she’s also the daughter of Andrew Undershaft, a man who’s made millions from the sale of weapons of war. The real battle, however, rages between between the devilish father and his idealistic daughter as they answer the question: does salvation come through faith or finance? This sparkling comedy traverses family relations, religion, ethics and politics - as only Shaw, the master dramatist, can!

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: JB Blanc as Bill Walker/Dialect Coach Kate Burton as Lady Britomart Matthew Gaydos as Snobby Price/Bilton Brian George as Morrison/Peter Shirley Hamish Linklater as Stephen Undershaft Henri Lubatti as Adolphus Cusins Tony Palermo as Sound Effects Artist Kirsten Potter as Barbara Undershaft Roger Rees as Andrew Undershaft Russell Soder as Charles Lomax Amelia White as Rummy Mitchens/Mrs. Baines Missy Yager as Sarah Undershaft Sarah Zimmerman as Jenny Hill Directed by Dakin Matthews. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in December, 2007.

Featuring: J.B. Blanc, Kate Burton, Matthew Gaydos, Brian George, Hamish Linklater, Henri Lubatti, Kirsten Potter, Roger Rees, Russell Soder, Amelia White, Missy Yager, Sarah Zimmerman

audio Misalliance

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Taking place on a single day in May 1909, a self-made millionaire and his family invite their future nobleman-in-law for a visit to their estate in Surrey, England. In this delightfully clever play, issues of gender, class, politics and family are all targets for Shaw’s keen wit.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Beyer, Joy Gregory, Roger Rees, Serena Scott Thomas, W. Morgan Sheppard, Eric Stoltz, Victoria Tennant, Tegan West and Douglas Weston.

Featuring: Tom Beyer, Joy Gregory, Roger Rees, Serena Scott Thomas, W. Morgan Sheppard, Eric Stoltz, Victoria Tennant, Tegan West, Douglas Weston

audio Mrs. Warren's Profession

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Modern parallels abound in the plight of Cambridge-educated mathematics wiz Vivie Warren, who discovers that her comfortable upbringing was financed in unspeakable ways. Shaw pits a clever heroine against a memorable gallery of rogues in this superbly intelligent -- and still shocking -- comedy, banned for eight years from the English stage.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Paul Gutrecht, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Basil Langton, Dakin Matthews and Robin Sachs.

Featuring: Paul Gutrecht, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Basil Langton, Dakin Matthews, Robin Sachs

Now You See It

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Now You See It is a tale of love, jealousy, infidelity and hypnotism. Ribadier, the second wife of widow Angèle, evades his wife’s paranoid jealousy by means of his skills as a hypnotist. However, his cosy system begins to fall apart when he reveals his trick to Thommerau, a man seeking to romance Angèle himself.

In his introduction, translator Kenneth McLeish writes: 'Now You See It (Le Sysème Ribadier, written in collaboration with Hennequin in 1892), a darker comedy altogether, subverts the vaudeville tradition, even as it follows it, letting the men's obsessions turn them into mechanistic puppets – in a manner English readers may associate with Orton's characters in Loot or What the Butler Saw – while the heroine's character and personality flower before our eyes. It has one of the smallest casts and tightest construction of any Feydeau farce. It was one of the author's own favourite plays and he revived it in 1909 under a new title, Nothing Known.'

Now You See It was first performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in 1892, the same year as The One That Got Away

Picnic At Hanging Rock

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tom Wright’s stage adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was first co-produced by Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, and Black Swan State Theatre Company, Perth, and first performed at Malthouse Theatre on 26 February 2016. The play received its European premiere at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh on 13 January 2017.

The play's action is narrated by five performers, 'Five Australian women', who are named in the published script after the actors who played them in the first production. They are struggling to solve the mystery at the heart of Joan Lindsay's original novel, which presents itself as the true story of the disappearance of three schoolgirls and their teacher one summer's day in 1900 while on a picnic expedition to Hanging Rock in Victoria. Euphoria and terror reverberate throughout the community, as the potential for history to repeat itself becomes nightmarishly real.

The premiere production was directed by Matthew Lutton with set and costume design by Zoë Atkinson. It was performed by Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Arielle Gray, Amber McMahon, Elizabeth Nabben and Nikki Shiels.

audio The Playboy of the Western World

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Orson Bean and Alley Mills star in the story of a man who becomes the town hero after he boasts of murdering his father. Riots greeted the first performance of this 1907 comic masterpiece of the Irish Literary Renaissance.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Orson Bean, Robert Evan Collins, Alexander Enberg, Jacqueline Heinze, Stuart W. Howard, Dennis Madden, Seth Margolies, Alley Mills, Carolyn Palmer and Sarah Moyo Tracey.

Featuring: Orson Bean, Robert Evan Collins, Alexander Enberg, Jacqueline Heinze, Stuart W. Howard, Dennis Madden, Seth Margolies, Alley Mills, Carolyn Palmer, Sarah Moyo Tracey

The Playboy of the Western World

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

J. M. Synge’s tale of storytelling and strange idolisation is a humorous satire on Irish peasant life, a mock-heroic in lyrical leaping poetic prose.

When the young Christy Mahon stumbles into a tavern on the coast of Mayo, claiming to have killed his father, the excitement-starved villagers hail him as a hero instead of contacting the authorities. The barmaid and publican’s daughter Pegeen Mike falls in love with his glamour, to the dismay of her betrothed, who tries to set the stranger up with a predatory widow. But the dashing, silver-tongued hero is not all he seems, as a second stranger turns up to refute the story and the ‘playboy’s allure.

Synge created a huge scandal at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin where the play was first staged in 1907, because its audience did not take kindly to a comedy that seemed to portray the Irish as gullible, superstitious and violent, not to mention references to Irish womanhood that were construed as immodest. Today, The Playboy of the Western World is recognised as a finely balanced and blackly-humorous mix of Irish folklore and social observation.

Pot and Kettle

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Pot and Kettle by Ciciely Hamilton and Christopher St John tells the story of young Marjorie, a newly signed-up member of the Anti-Suffrage movement, whose parents are delighted at the decision she has taken, hoping that by joining, she will meet lots of respectable and well-to-do people. They are thus in shock to see her return from a rally in floods of tears. It turns out that she has been arrested for assaulting a Suffragette, Lady Susan Pengarvon.

Described in her introduction by Naomi Paxton as ‘a comic pleasure’, Pot and Kettle was first performed at the Scala Theatre, London on 12 November 1909.

Riders to the Sea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Maurya's son Michael has been swept out to the sea, the latest of the men in her household to die. While they wait for his body to wash ashore, the last remaining man in the house, Bartley, decides to take a boat to the mainland for the Connemara horse fair. But Maurya's premonition of the ghost of Michael following Bartley out to sea proves ominous, leaving Maurya and her daughters alone.

First performed in 1904, Synge's one-act play Riders to the Sea carries with it the weight of a culture in thrall to the ocean around it, in a style reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedy,at once unmistakably local and inescapably epic.

Strife

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Strife charts the progress of an industrial strike at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, dealing with the fanatical antagonism between industrial workers and those who are determined to remain their masters. The play’s structure is intended to present an impartial balance between the forces of revolt and conservatism, describing the fierce stalemate from both the workers' and the directors' points of view.

On the one hand there is the dynamic, white-haired John Antony, who dominates the Board of Directors with his fixed ideas of class supremacy; on the other, David Roberts is the passionate and righteous orator who leads the strikers through the struggle. As starvation threatens the families of the strikers, the relationships of the women on either side of the dispute falter across the class divide.

Galsworthy’s patterned naturalism leaves the argument carefully poised and ultimately unresolved, as the vehement ideologies of each side are eventually defeated by the negative, reductive force of compromise. But the power of his characters is designed to resonate beyond their circumstances as portraits of absolute extremism. The play was first produced in 1909 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London.

audio Three Sisters

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A full-cast performance of Chekhov’s masterpiece starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Tessa Thompson, Sarah Zimmerman and Jon Hamm.

Meet Olga, Masha, and Irina, warm and cultured young sisters who were reared in the exciting hubbub of Moscow, but have been living in the dull, gossipy backwaters of Russia for far too long. With their father’s passing, and the ordinary grip of day-to-day life slowly suffocating them, the urge to return to the city with its rich and exciting life rises to a fever pitch. First performed in 1901, Three Sisters beautifully mixes humor and heartbreak and is a perennial favorite of actors and audiences alike. The great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov is one of the most influential figures in modern literature, whose classic works include Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard (also available from L.A. Theatre Works). An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Jennifer Westfeldt as Masha Tessa Thompson as Irina Sarah Zimmerman as Olga Jon Hamm as Vershinin Josh Clark as Solyony and Rode Josh Cooke as Kulygin Dan Donohue as Tuzenbach Pamela Dunlap as Anfisa Marc Halsey as Fedotik Rebecca Mozo as Natasha Robert Pine as Chebutykin and Ferapont Reid Scott as Andrei Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Jenny Sullivan. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Josh Clark, Josh Cooke, Dan Donohue, Pamela Dunlap, Marc Halsey, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Mozo, Robert Pine, Reid Scott, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Westfeldt, Sarah Zimmerman

The Tinker's Wedding

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Sarah Casey, an Irish traveller woman, has for years been going the roads with Michael Byrne, a casual tinsmith; now she would like to get married. She has saved up just enough money to pay the priest to marry them; half a sovereign plus the tin can Michael has made is to be the fee for the ceremony. But the tin can is too much of a temptation for Michael's mother Mary, who sees in it a quick sale that would give her ample money for alcohol, leaving Sarah unable to pay the unsympathetic pastor for the wedding, and the respectability, she so craves.

A broad comedy with elements of social truth, The Tinkers' Wedding was refused production in the Abbey Theatre, instead premiering at His Majesty’s Theatre London, 11 November, 1909, after Synge had passed away.

The Voysey Inheritance

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Financial chicanery and ethical concerns conflict in this early twentieth-century classic.

Edward’s highly principled world is turned upside down when his father reveals that he has been illegally speculating with clients’ money. To make matters worse, he soon discovers his large, scandal-fearing family would perpetuate the crime rather than risk public dishonour.

This magnificently observed, hugely enjoyable portrait of an upper-middle-class family was written by Granville Barker, just ten years before the First World War finally sent old values flying.

The play was first staged at the Court Theatre, London, in November 1905.

audio The Voysey Inheritance

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this surprisingly modern psychological portrait, a prosperous Edwardian family is torn apart when young Edward Voysey discovers that his family’s wealth was obtained through three generations of deceit and theft. A captivating study of turn-of-the-century morals.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Suzan Crowley, Kenneth Danziger, Diana Douglas, Arabella Field, Robin Gammell, Paul Gutrecht, Arthur Hanket, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Judith Owen, Serena Scott Thomas and Paxton Whitehead.

Featuring: Suzan Crowley, Kenneth Danziger, Diana Douglas, Arabella Field, Robin Gammell, Paul Gutrecht, Arthur Hanket, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Judith Owen, Serena Scott Thomas, Paxton Whitehead

Waste

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Backstage at a hung parliament, visionary Independent Henry Trebell is co-opted by the Tories to push through a controversial Bill. Pursuing his cause with missionary zeal, he’s barely distracted by his brief affair with a married woman until she suffers a lethal backstreet abortion. Threatened by public scandal, the Establishment closes ranks and coolly seals the fate of an idealistic man.

Famously banned by the censors in 1907, Harley Granville Barker’s controversial masterpiece gathers a large ensemble to expose a cut-throat, cynical world of sex, sleaze and suicide amongst the political elite of Edwardian England.Waste was first presented by the Stage Society at the Imperial Theatre, Westminster, UK, on 24 November 1907, in a production directed by the playwright.

The Well of the Saints

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Martin and Mary Doul are blind and homeless tramps. They beg for a living in a village where the locals have taken a perverse pleasure in making the poor unfortunate couple believe that they are the most beautiful, radiant couple that ever walked the earth.

Of course, this is visibly not the case, as they soon discover, when a saint blesses their eyes with water from a holy well, miraculously restoring the blind couple's sight. This new vista gives a terrible insight into their condition, and the cruel face of the world, driving a wedge in their marriage even as their restored sight once again begins to fade.

Synge's dark comedy was first performed in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 1905.