Plays

audio Adam's Rib

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A classic battle of the sexes and a courtroom farce, this peerlessly witty examination of husband and wife attorneys was first crafted for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Commissioned by L.A. Theatre Works, David Rambo includes never-before-heard original material in this adaptation of the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Adam Arkin, Anne DeSalvo, Paul Eiding, Mary Pat Gleason, Annabelle Gurwitch, Anne Heche, Marvin Kaplan, Loren Lazerine, Robert Lesser, John Pankow, Amy Pietz.

Featuring: Adam Arkin, Anne DeSalvo, Paul Eiding, Mary Pat Gleason, Annabelle Gurwitch, Anne Heche, Marvin Kaplan, Loren Lazerine, Robert Lesser, John Pankow, Amy Pietz

audio Additional Dialogue: An Evening With Dalton Trumbo

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In 1947, witty, outspoken, irascible Dalton Trumbo - the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Roman Holiday and Spartacus - went to prison for defying the House Committee on Un-American Activities and became one of the framed Hollywood Ten. Through his wildly funny and thought-provoking correspondence, Trumbo’s son has created a touching portrait of an extraordinary man.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jeff Corey, Harry Groener, Christopher Trumbo and Paul Winfield.

Featuring: Jeff Corey, Harry Groener, Christopher Trumbo, Paul Winfield

audio All My Sons

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

World War II is over and a family, mourning a son missing in action, plants a memorial tree and tries to go on with their lives. A storm blows down the tree and a devastating family secret is uprooted, setting the characters on a terrifying journey towards truth. Based upon a true story, All My Sons is a classic drama by one of America’s greatest playwrights.

At the heart of All My Sons lies a scathing criticism of the American Dream. After its publication Arthur Miller was called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he famously refused to give evidence against others. A Tony Award Winner for Best Author (1947). Includes an interview with historian Bill Yenne, author of “The American Aircraft Factory in World War Two”, one of his many works that chronicle the history of wartime aviation and manufacturing. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Julie Harris as Kate Keller James Farentino as Joe Keller Arye Gross as Chris Keller Mitchell Hebert as Dr. Bayliss Naomi Jacobson as Ann Barbara Klein as Lydia Paul Morella as George Michaeleen O'Neil as Sue Nathan Taylor as Bert Jerry Whiddon as Frank Directed by Nick Olcott. Recorded at Voice of America, Washington DC.

Featuring: James Farentino, Arye Gross, Julie Harris, Mitchell Hebert, Naomi Jacobson, Barbara Klein, Paul Morella, Michaeleen O'Neil, Nathan Taylor, Jerry Whiddon

All Our Children  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Unwin's debut play All Our Children explores the fate of disabled children in Nazi Germany, examining the moral dilemma facing those in whose care they were placed. It was first produced by Tara Finney Productions in association with Jermyn Street Theatre, and was first performed at Jermyn Street Theatre, London, on 26 April 2017.

The play is set in January 1941, in the Winkelheim Clinic near Cologne, run by paediatrician Victor Franz. Having created the clinic in peacetime to help sick children, Victor is now being forced to use it to dispatch severely disabled people to their deaths. His own growing qualms about the process are brutally countered by a young SS officer, Eric, who has been installed as his deputy. In the course of the play's action, Victor is forced to defend himself against two visitors: a mother, Elizabetta, anxious about the fate of her son; and the historical figure of Bishop von Galen, who, as in life, challenges both the practice and the philosophy of the extermination of the supposedly 'unproductive citizens'.

In a note in the published script, Stephen Unwin writes: 'All Our Children is very much a work of fiction. There is no evidence that von Galen had a meeting of the kind that I have dramatised (though he did talk with senior figures in the SS) nor do we know of a doctor involved in the programme having qualms about what he was doing. What’s clear, however, is that his intervention raised the most profound questions about the innate value of the human being, regardless of cost or productivity, and his voice, for all its stubborn absolutism, deserves to be heard.'

The premiere production was directed by Stephen Unwin and designed by Simon Higlett. It was performed by Edward Franklin, Rebecca Johnson, Lucy Speed, Colin Tierney (as Victor) and David Yelland (as Bishop von Galen).

audio Antigone (Anouilh)

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

"The body of Polynices, Antigone's brother, has been ordered to remain unburied by Creon, the new king of Thebes. Antigone's faithfulness to her dead brother and his proper burial, and her defiance of the dictator Creon, seals her fate. Originally produced in Paris during the Nazi occupation, Anouilh's Antigone was seen by the French as theatre of the resistance and by the Germans as an affirmation of authority.

Includes an interview with translator Christopher Nixon and director Brendon Fox. Also includes an interview with Ned Chaillet, a playwright, radio producer and director for the BBC. Chaillet is the former Deputy Drama Critic for the Times of London and the London theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal-Europe. He spoke with us about Antigone in the context of World War Two, the differences bewtween the original myth of Sophocles and the Anouilh version, and Anouilh’s influence on later playwrights. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Jordan Bridges as Haemon and Guard Dominic Fumusa as Guard Francis Guinan as Creon John Hansen as Guard and Messenger Alan Mandell as Chorus Elizabeth Marvel as Antigone Alley Mills as Nanny Mandy Siegfried as Ismene Directed by Brendon Fox. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles."

Featuring: Jordan Bridges, Dominic Fumusa, Francis Guinan, Alan Mandell, Elizabeth Marvel, Alley Mills, Mandy Siegfried, John Hansen

The Antigone of Sophocles

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his book The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht, John Willett writes of The Antigone of Sophocles: 'Perhaps two-thirds of the play follows the Hölderlin version, but even here Brecht has largely reshaped the verse so that although much of the sense, many of the images, and even the words themselves are the same as Hölderlin's the cadence is different. Almost indistinguishable in style, his new passages are woven into this. Considerable changes result. A prologue set in Berlin of 1945 shows two sisters whose brother has deserted from the German army and is found hanged: should they risk being seen by the SS cutting his body down? In the play itself Creon becomes a brutal aggressor who has attacked Argos for the sake of its iron ore; Polyneikes deserts in protest against this war which has killed his brother; and Antigone is partly moved by a like disapproval of her uncle's policy.'

The Antigone of Sophocles was conceived as a new experiment in the epic theatre, and is linguistically an extraordinary composition. It was first produced in February 1948.

Blithe Spirit

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Blithe Spirit is an ‘improbable farce in three acts: a charming and lightly supernatural comedy about a man whose deceased first wife comes back from the spirit world to live with him. Charles invites the mystic Madame Arcati to hold a séance in his living room in order to research the tricks of the medium trade for his new book. But a challenge to his scepticism appears in the elegant form of Elvira, his first wife – an apparition that is invisible and infuriating to Charles’s second wife, Ruth.

As the departed spirit settles into the house, Charles finds himself in the middle of a spectral cat-fight between the acid-tongued Elvira and the fiercely jealous Ruth, Elvira’s invisibility to everyone but Charles resulting in some of Coward’s most delightfully sharp dialogue.

Blithe Spirit proved an ideally escapist entertainment when it was first produced in 1941: flippant and careless enough about death and yet funny and sturdy enough to be a constant source of joy and hilarity to theatregoers for the rest of the war.

audio Blithe Spirit

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This classic comedy is set in the charming country home of Charles Condomine, a re-married widower. A witty and convivial evening party among friends is transformed when a séance conjures the ghost of Elvira, Charles’ first wife, who delights in wreaking havoc among the living. An enchanting Coward comedy!

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Rosalind Ayres, Alexandra Boyd, Judy Geeson, Shirley Knight, Lynne Marta, Christopher Neame and Ian Ogilvy.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Alexandra Boyd, Judy Geeson, Shirley Knight, Lynne Marta, Christopher Neame, Ian Ogilvy

audio The Browning Version

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In Terence Rattigan’s classic drama, an aging schoolmaster at an English secondary school faces the harsh judgments of his students, his fellow teachers, and his vicious and spiteful wife. But can a lone act of kindness from a sympathetic student change his heart?

This recording also includes an interview with Michael Darlow, the author of “Terence Rattigan: The Man and His Work”. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Steven Brand as Frank Hunter Martin Jarvis as Andrew Crocker-Harris Ian Ogilvy as The Headmaster Darren Richardson as Peter Gilbert Devon Sorvari as Mrs. Gilbert Kate Steele as Millie Crocker-Harris Daniel Stewart as John Taplow Directed by Peter Levin. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience.

Featuring: Steven Brand, Martin Jarvis, Ian Ogilvy, Darren Richardson, Devon Sorvari, Kate Steele, Daniel Stewart

The Browning Version

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version is a one-act play about an unpopular schoolmaster who, faced with the collapse of his career and marriage, snatches a last shred of dignity when he receives an unexpected gift from a pupil. It was premiered in a double-bill with the one-act farce Harlequinade under the joint title Playbill at the Phoenix Theatre, London, on 8 September 1948.

The play is set in the sitting-room of Arthur Crocker-Harris, a classics teacher at a boys' public school in the South of England, just as he is about to retire because of ill health. He is an unpopular teacher known for his strict discipline and stern lack of humour, and his younger wife Millie, embittered by his lack of passion and ambition, is having an affair with another teacher, Frank Hunter. But when John Taplow, a hitherto unremarkable pupil, makes Crocker-Harris a gift of a second-hand copy of Robert Browning’s translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, the unexpected gesture sets in motion a series of actions that force him to reflect on his past and confront his future.

The Phoenix Theatre premiere was directed by Peter Glenville, with Peter Scott as John Taplow, Hector Ross as Frank Hunter, Mary Ellis as Millie Crocker-Harris, Campbell Cotts as Andrew Crocker-Harris, Eric Portman as Dr Frobisher, Anthony Oliver as Peter Gilbert and Henryetta Edwards as Mrs Gilbert.

The play was unanimously praised by the critics and went on to win the Ellen Terry Award for the best new play produced in London, the second time Rattigan had won the prize, having won it previously for The Winslow Boy. It has become perhaps the most highly regarded of his plays, with frequent revivals – both in its original form, as a double-bill with Harlequinade, and on its own. In 1980, The Browning Version and Harlequinade were the first Rattigan plays to be performed at the National Theatre, featuring Alec McCowen as Crocker-Harris, Geraldine McEwan as Millie and Nicky Henson as Frank Hunter.

The Browning Version has been filmed twice: in 1951, directed by Anthony Asquith with a screenplay by Rattigan, starring Michael Redgrave as Crocker-Harris; and in 1994, directed by Mike Figgis, with Albert Finney in the lead role.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle (trans. J. Stern, T. Stern, Auden)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in exile in the United States during the Second World War The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a politically charged, much-revived and complex example of Brecht’s epic theatre.

In a prologue set in Soviet Georgia, a narrator-figure called The Singer introduces the story of choice and sacrifice. The servant girl Grusha sacrifices everything she has to look after an abandoned child, even marrying a dying peasant in order to provide for him. But when the boy’s biological mother attempts to reclaim him, the unruly judge Azdak, one of Brecht’s most vivid creations, calls on the ancient tradition of the chalk circle to resolve the dispute. Brecht subverts an ancient Chinese story (echoed in the Judgement of Solomon) into a parable advocating that resources should go to those best able to make use of them.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle was first performed in 1948 by students at Northfield, Minnesota in Eric and Maja Bentley’s translation, and has since become one of his most popular works. A morality masterpiece, the play powerfully demonstrates Brecht's pioneering theatrical techniques.

This version is translated by James and Tania Stern with W. H. Auden.

The Cocktail Party

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'Obviously something more than a successful play, it is the practical demonstration of a patently conceived theory of dramatic form, and as such of high historical interest.' Times Literary Supplement

'Eliot has attempted here something very daring and well worth doing. He has taken the ordinary West End drawing room comedy convention - understatement, upper-class accents and all - and used it as a vehicle for utterly serious ideas.' Observer

The Cocktail Party was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival, in August 1949.

audio The Country Girl

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

"One of America's great dramatists rocked the worlds of Broadway and Hollywood in this moving drama about a desperately self-destructive alcoholic actor and Georgie, his long-suffering wife. A searing, emotional play of love and redemption.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring:

Harry Hamlin as Bernie Dodd

Stacy Keach as Frank Elgin

Mare Winningham as Georgie Elgin

Jamie Hanes as Larry

Rick Podell as Phil Cook

Spencer Garrett as Paul Unger

Mandy Siegfried as Nancy Stoddard

Directed by Nancy Malone. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles."

Featuring: Spencer Garrett, Harry Hamlin, Jamie Hanes, Stacy Keach, Rick Podell, Mandy Siegfried, Mare Winningham

The Duchess of Malfi (adapt. Brecht and Hays)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in collaboration with H. R. Hays and intended for performance by Elisabeth Bergner, (described by the editors of the Collected Works as ‘the most famous of all the exiled German actresses’), Brecht and Hays’s adaptation of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi was born of a tortuous set of drafts, redrafts and recriminations, which led to several versions of the script, including a Broadway staging of a version by W. H. Auden. H. R. Hays sets the scene:

‘Early in 1943 Brecht came to New York and broached the idea of The Duchess of Malfi to me as a vehicle for Elisabeth Bergner, who was currently playing on Broadway in a whodunit. Brecht and I were both fond of the Webster piece and both felt that it sprawled too much for a successful production. The idea was to eliminate the anticlimactic series of deaths at the end, tighten up the script and emphasize the implicit incest motivation of the duke . . . We began working in April 1943 . . . We had a meeting in my agent’s office, at which Mr Czinner [producer] announced that what the project needed was “a British poet”. I hit the roof and told them to take my name off the script. Needless to say, the poet was Auden, whose name they hoped would be success insurance. Brecht did not at first withdraw, but later, when he saw what was happening, he too removed his name . . .’

This version of the script, written directly in English by Hays, with Brecht advising on story and structure, reproduces a copy that was in the possession of Hays. It is complemented here by notes and letters by Brecht himself on how the play ought to be performed.

Filumena Marturano (trans. Ardito)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Filumena is De Filippo’s best-known work and arguably his finest comedy-drama, drenched in Neapolitan atmosphere and full of entanglements at once cynical and romantic.

In the heat of late-1940s Naples, Filumena Maraturano lies on her deathbed awaiting her marriage to Domenico Soriano, the man who has kept her as his mistress for twenty-seven years. But no sooner has the priest completed the ceremony than Filumena makes a miraculous recovery. As he reels in shock, Domenico discovers that this brilliant, iron-willed woman has a few more surprises for him.

Is Filumena a simple, illiterate woman who wants to create a family for her children, or a ferine, opportunistic prostitute? Will Domenico, the selfish aged gigolo, learn to accept his responsibilities? Exploring themes of family, age and love, Filumena exemplifies De Filippo’s trademark moral optimism and warmth, coupled with unflinchingly astute and humorous observation of his characters.

This translation is by Carlo Ardito.

Flare Path

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Flare Path, written while he was serving as an air gunner with the RAF during the Second World War, is a story of love and loyalty following a group of RAF airmen and their wives over the course of one day. It was first produced (after a short run in Oxford) at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 13 August 1942.

The play is set in The Falcon, a small hotel in Lincolnshire, close to an RAF base. We meet a series of airmen and their wives, as well as the imperious landlady and her staff. Into this hotel walks Peter Kyle, a famous British film actor, who has come to whisk his lover Patricia Graham away. The only problem is that Patricia is married to Flight Lieutenant Teddy Graham. She has been putting off telling her husband of her affair. However, Peter and Patricia’s elopement is delayed by the sudden announcement of a bombing raid; the airmen take off and they all return but one. Count Striczevinsky, a Polish airman stationed with the RAF, sent out a distress signal, but then nothing was heard and he is presumed lost at sea. The emotional stresses of war are felt by all, notably Teddy, who fears he may have lost his nerve. Patricia is moved by his need for her and resolves to give up Peter; Peter seems unwilling to accept this and plans to tell Teddy himself. However, reading a letter from the Count to his wife, Doris, he has a change of heart and leaves. At the last minute, the inhabitants of the hotel are joyfully surprised by the return of the Count, whose long and eventful journey back is the cause for impromptu celebration as the curtain falls.

Rattigan's script (originally entitled Next of Kin but renamed Flare Path at the suggestion of his psychiatrist, Dr Keith O. Newman, who found the original too bland) was rejected by two of the principal backers of his earlier West End hit French Without Tears on the assumption that the last thing that the public wanted was a play about the war. It was however accepted by Hugh ‘Binkie’ Beaumont at H. M. Tennent Ltd., already on his way to becoming the most powerful and successful West End producer of the era.

The production was directed by Anthony Asquith, with Adrianne Allen as Countess Skriczevinsky (Doris), Martin Walker as Peter Kyle, Dora Gregory as Mrs Oakes, Leslie Dwyer as Sergeant Miller (Dusty), George Cole as Percy, Gerard Hinze as Flying Officer Count Skriczevinsky, Jack Watling as Flight Lieutenant Graham (Teddy), Phyllis Calvert as Patricia Warren (Mrs Graham), Kathleen Harrison as Mrs Miller (Maudie), Ivan Samson as Squadron Leader Swanson and John Bradley as Corporal Jones (Wiggy).

The play was well received by the critics, though several found fault with the happy ending, summed up by Roger Manvell in the New Statesman & Nation as a ‘wanton sacrifice to the wishes of the audience’. Nevertheless, audiences responded enthusiastically, and the play ran at the Apollo for almost 700 performances, a remarkable success for a war play. It re-established Rattigan’s reputation and was the first of five successive box-office successes that put him in the front rank of West End playwrights.

Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato, in his introduction to the play (Nick Hern Books, 2011), notes that 'There is a curious side-story to this production; Dr Keith Newman decided to watch 250 performances of this play and write up the insights that his ‘serial attendance’ had afforded him. George Bernard Shaw remarked that such playgoing behaviour ‘would have driven me mad; and I am not sure that [Newman] came out of it without a slight derangement’. Shaw’s caution was wise. In late 1945, Newman went insane and eventually died in a psychiatric hospital.'

Twentieth Century Fox paid Rattigan £20,000 for the film rights – a remarkable sum at the time. Even so, the film was never made, though aspects of Flare Path make their way into The Way to the Stars (1945), one of the finest British movies of the period, with a screenplay by Terence Rattigan and Richard Sherman.

The play was revived as part of the Rattigan Centenary celebrations at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, on 10 March 2011 in a production directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Sienna Miller and James Purefoy as Patricia and Peter, with Sheridan Smith as Doris. It was the first major London revival of the play since 1942.

The Good Person of Szechwan (Modern Classic)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Brecht’s famous parable pivots around a moral paradox – that in an unjust society good can only survive by means of evil.

The play opens on three gods, who have come to earth in search of enough good people to justify their existence. They find Shen Teh, a good-hearted and penniless prostitute, and make her a gift that enables her to set up her own business. But her generosity brings ruin and trouble to her small tobacco shop, and she is forced to disguise herself as an invented male cousin, Shui Ta, in order to reclaim her shop from the scroungers and creditors. Shui Ta turns out to be the stern and ruthless counterpoint to Shen Teh, helping her to capitalist success and financially-motivated marriage, but not to happiness.

Through this sharply split personality Brecht points to the impossibility of living anything like a ‘good’ life in a corrupted and persistently exploitative world.

The Good Person of Szechwan was first performed in Zurich in 1943. This version is translated by John Willett.

The Good Person of Szechwan (Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Brecht’s famous parable pivots around a moral paradox – that in an unjust society good can only survive by means of evil.

The play opens on three gods, who have come to earth in search of enough good people to justify their existence. They find Shen Teh, a good-hearted and penniless prostitute, and make her a gift that enables her to set up her own business. But her generosity brings ruin and trouble to her small tobacco shop, and she is forced to disguise herself as an invented male cousin, Shui Ta, in order to reclaim her shop from the scroungers and creditors. Shui Ta turns out to be the stern and ruthless counterpoint to Shen Teh, helping her to capitalist success and financially-motivated marriage, but not to happiness.

Through this sharply split personality Brecht points to the impossibility of living anything like a ‘good’ life in a corrupted and persistently exploitative world.

The Good Person of Szechwan was first performed in Zurich in 1943. This version is translated by John Willett.

Harlequinade

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Harlequinade is a one-act farce about a touring theatre company, first produced in a double-bill with The Browning Version under the joint title Playbill at the Phoenix Theatre, London, on 8 September 1948.

The play is set on the stage of a theatre in a Midlands town. Arthur Gosport and his wife Edna are the principal leads in a professional touring theatre company, currently performing Romeo and Juliet. In order to hide their unsuitability as teenage lovers, they have the stage lights turned down so low that they fuse. However, when Arthur is confronted by the daughter and granddaughter he never knew he had, he discovers that he’s actually still married to his first wife and has (unwittingly) committed bigamy.

As Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato writes in his introduction to the play (published in a volume with The Browning Version by Nick Hern Books, 1994), the play is 'a witty satire of the kind of touring theatre encouraged by the new Committee for the Encouragement of Music and Arts (CEMA, the immediate forerunner of the Arts Council)'. In August 1946, this body was reconstituted as the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The Phoenix Theatre premiere was directed by Peter Glenville, with Eric Portman as Arthur Gosport, Mary Ellis as Edna Selby, Marie Löhr as Dame Maud Gosport, Hector Ross as Jack Wakefield, Kenneth Edwards as George Chudleigh, Peter Scott as First Halberdier, Basil Howes as Second Halberdier, Noel Dyson as Miss Fishlock, Anthony Oliver as Fred Ingram, Henry Bryce as Johnny, Thelma Ruby as Muriel Palmer, Patrick Jordan as Tom Palmer, Campbell Cotts as Mr Burton, Henryetta Edwards as Joyce Langland and Manville Tarrant as the Policeman.

audio The Heiress

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A Tony Award-winning play based on the novel Washington Square by Henry James - one of James’ most complex and satisfying portraits of the American character. Set in New York City in 1850, the play centers on the painfully shy Catherine and her austere father. When Catherine falls in love with a handsome suitor, her father threatens to disinherit her, convinced that the young man could only be interested in Catherine’s fortune.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Amy Irving, George Gaynes, Chris Noth, Jane Beard, Helen Hedman, Maureen Kerrigan, Marty Lodge and Halo Wines.

Featuring: Jane Beard, George Gaynes, Helen Hedman, Amy Irving, Maureen Kerrigan, Marty Lodge, Chris Noth, Halo Wines

The House of Bernarda Alba

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Finished just two months before the author's murder on 18 August 1936 by a gang of Franco's supporters, The House of Bernarda Alba is now accepted as Lorca's great masterpiece of love and loathing.

Five daughters live together in a single household with a tyrannical mother. When the father of all but the eldest girl dies, a cynical marriage is advanced which will have tragic consequences for the whole family. Lorca's fascinatingly modern play, rendered here in an English version by David Hare, speaks as powerfully as a political metaphor of oppression as it does as domestic drama.

This version of The House of Bernarda Alba premiered at the National Theatre, London, in March 2005.

video An Inspector Calls (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Emotionally powerful and sharply relevant, this is a stylish new adaptation of JB Priestley’s timeless masterpiece. An Inspector Calls is both an enthralling mystery and a scathing critique of a hypocritical, class-obsessed society. Set in 1912, it vividly evokes a thriving industrial age built on crippling social inequality. Taking place over the course of a single night, this taut, affecting and ultimately tragic story centres on the prosperous Birling family. They receive a surprise visit from Inspector Goole who investigating the suicide of a young girl, a former factory worker of Mr Birling’s. Interrogating each family member in turn, Goole’s incisive questioning reveals that each one not only had a connection to the girl but also may have played a significant part in her demise. As the family’s callous actions are brought to light, so are dark and shameful secrets that threaten to tear the Birling household apart and destroy its reputation.

Credits:

A Drama Republic production for BBC. Director: Aisling Walsh (Wallander, Room at the Top); Adapted by: Helen Edmundson (The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Coram Boy) from the play by JB Priestley; Producer: Howard Ella (The Interceptor, Good Cop); Executive Producers: Greg Brenman (The Honourable Woman, Peaky Blinders) Roanna Benn (My Mad Fat Diary, Prisoners’ Wives). Starring: David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, War Horse, Harry Potter); Ken Stott (The Hobbit, The Missing, Rebus, Messiah); Miranda Richardson (Mapp & Lucia, Testament of Youth, Parade’s End).

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Less Than Kind

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Less Than Kind is an early version of a play that, after extensive rewriting, he called Love in Idleness, and which, in its later form, was first produced at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 20 December 1944. Less Than Kind was itself never performed in his lifetime; it was eventually premiered at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London, on 20 January 2011 as part of the Rattigan centenary.

The play is about a idealistic young man, Michael Brown, who returns home to London from his wartime schooling in Canada to find that his widowed mother Olivia has become the mistress of a leading Tory cabinet member, Sir John Fletcher – a man who represents the antithesis of everything Michael believes. The play brings into sharp ideological conflict the values of the pre-war and the post-war world, with an emphasis on their material and economic underpinnings.

Less Than Kind switches genre throughout, touching on society comedy, farce, domestic melodrama, psychological thriller, and political drama. It draws closely on Hamlet for its plot, with its Oedipal conflict between an idealistic young man and the powerful usurper who holds his mother in thrall. Even the play's title is taken from Hamlet's description of his uncle, ‘a little more than kin, and less than kind’.

Rattigan never produced a final performance draft of Less Than Kind; instead he was sidetracked into turning it into a rather different play, Love in Idleness. A full account of the differences between Love in Idleness and Less Than Kind is given by Dan Rebellato in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition (2011), which contains the texts of both plays.

The Jermyn Street premiere was directed by Rattigan’s former friend and lover, Adrian Brown, with Michael Simkins as Sir John Fletcher, David Osmond as Michael and Sara Crowe as Olivia.

Life of Galileo (Modern Classic)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Life of Galileo examines the tension between the pursuit of knowledge and the power of official ideology, and contains one of Brecht’s most human and complex central characters. It was first performed in Zurich in 1943.

The play opens on Galileo, wild with excitement about a new world of scientific upheaval and improvement, teaching his servant’s young son the remarkable theories of Copernicus with the assistance of an apple and a lamp. But his hopes of a general enlightenment are cut short when his heretical discoveries about the solar system bring him to the attention of the Inquisition. Broken by torture, Galileo is forced to publically abjure his theories, and though Galileo’s name is the one we remember today, Brecht’s character does not forgive himself for his betrayal and his new world disappears with his recantation.

As an examination of the problems that face not only the scientist but also the whole spirit of free inquiry when brought into conflict with the requirements of authority, Life of Galileo has few equals.

John Willett's translation is included here, along with the much shorter version translated in Brecht's lifetime by Charles Laughton as an appendix (see 'From the Book'). Also included are Brecht's own copious notes on the play.

Life of Galileo (Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Life of Galileo examines the tension between the pursuit of knowledge and the power of official ideology, and contains one of Brecht’s most human and complex central characters. It was first performed in Zurich in 1943.

The play opens on Galileo, wild with excitement about a new world of scientific upheaval and improvement, teaching his servant’s young son the remarkable theories of Copernicus with the assistance of an apple and a lamp. But his hopes of a general enlightenment are cut short when his heretical discoveries about the solar system bring him to the attention of the Inquisition. Broken by torture, Galileo is forced to publically abjure his theories, and though Galileo’s name is the one we remember today, Brecht’s character does not forgive himself for his betrayal and his new world disappears with his recantation.

As an examination of the problems that face not only the scientist but also the whole spirit of free inquiry when brought into conflict with the requirements of authority, Life of Galileo has few equals. This version is translated by the great Brechtian scholar John Willett.

A Life of Galileo (trans. Ravenhill)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Life of Galileo examines the tension between the pursuit of knowledge and the power of official ideology, and contains one of Brecht’s most human and complex central characters. It was first performed in Zurich in 1943.

The play opens on Galileo, wild with excitement about a new world of scientific upheaval and improvement, teaching his servant’s young son the remarkable theories of Copernicus with the assistance of an apple and a lamp. But his hopes of a general enlightenment are cut short when his heretical discoveries about the solar system bring him to the attention of the Inquisition. Broken by torture, Galileo is forced to publically abjure his theories, and though Galileo’s name is the one we remember today, Brecht’s character does not forgive himself for his betrayal and his new world disappears with his recantation.

As an examination of the problems that face not only the scientist but also the whole spirit of free inquiry when brought into conflict with the requirements of authority, Life of Galileo has few equals. This version is translated by Mark Ravenhill.

audio Light Up The Sky

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Moss Hart’s Light up the Sky is a fast-paced, hilarious and ultimately loving look inside show business, set just before and immediately after a Broadway bound play meets its first audience.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Ian Barford, Patrick Clear, Shannon Cochran, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Matt DeCaro, Kevin Gudahl, Deirdre Lovejoy, Mariann Mayberry, Phyllis Newman and Steve Pickering.

Featuring: Ian Barford, Patrick Clear, Shannon Cochran, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Matt DeCaro, Kevin Gudahl, Deirdre Lovejoy, Mariann Mayberry, Phyllis Newman, Steve Pickering

audio The Man Who Had All the Luck

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The Man Who Had All the Luck is a charming story of the fate of a young Midwestern man whose fortune shines on him while it passes over everyone else around him. The play wrestles with the unanswerable - the question of the justice of fate, and how it is that one man fails and another, no more or less capable, achieves some glory in life.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Emily Bergl, Kevin Chamberlin, Tim DeKay, James Gammon, Lee Garlington, Graham Hamilton, Tom McGowan, Kurtwood Smith, Russell Soder and Tegan West.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Kevin Chamberlin, Tim DeKay, James Gammon, Lee Garlington, Graham Hamilton, Tom McGowan, Kurtwood Smith, Russell Soder, Tegan West

The Messingkauf Dialogues

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written between 1939 and 1942 The Messingkauf Dialogues are among the most concise, witty and light-hearted of all Brecht’s theoretical discussions of theatre. In Brecht’s words they constitute a ‘four-sided conversation about a new way of making theatre’ and provide the blueprint for Brecht’s radical aesthetic of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Actor who seeks admiration; the Actress interested in politics; the Dramaturg (or literary advisor) hoping for a new lease of life for theatre; these three argue with the Philosopher who wants to exploit their talent for imitation for his own purposes. The result is a lively and sharp debate about the place of art in society.

This text is translated by John Willett.

Mother Courage and Her Children (Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Brecht's classic play is here presented with ample scholarly material to aid in the study of this great work.

A chronicle play of the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, the remarkable Mother Courage follows the armies back and forth across Europe, selling provisions and liquor to both sides from her canteen wagon. As the action of the play progresses, between the years 1624 and 1646, she remains indomitable in her profiteering, refusing to part with her wagon and her livelihood even as she loses her each of her three children to the conflict. The play demonstrates poignantly that those trying to profit from a war cannot escape its costs.

The play is one of the most celebrated examples of Epic Theatre and of Brecht's use of alienation effect to focus attention on the issues of the play, over and above the individual characters. First performed in Switzerland in 1941, it is regarded as one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century and one of the great anti-war plays of all time.

This version is translated by John Willett.

Mother Courage and Her Children (trans. Hare)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A chronicle play of the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, the remarkable Mother Courage follows the armies back and forth across Europe, selling provisions and liquor to both sides from her canteen wagon. As the action of the play progresses, between the years 1624 and 1646, she remains indomitable in her profiteering, refusing to part with her wagon and her livelihood even as she loses her each of her three children to the conflict. The play demonstrates poignantly that those trying to profit from a war cannot escape its costs.

The play is one of the most celebrated examples of Epic Theatre and of Brecht's use of alienation effect to focus attention on the issues of the play, over and above the individual characters. First performed in Switzerland in 1941, it is regarded as one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century and one of the great anti-war plays of all time.

This version is translated by John Willett.

audio My Favorite Husband

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Before Lucy and Desi became America’s favorite television couple, Lucille Ball developed her show-business-aspiring housewife character from 1948-1951 on CBS Radio. Some of TV’s most popular sitcom stars reprise two episodes from the radio series that inspired I Love Lucy.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Samantha Bennett, Jeff Conaway, Harold Gould, Marilu Henner, Joe Liss and Alley Mills.

Featuring: Samantha Bennett, Jeff Conaway, Harold Gould, Marilu Henner, Joe Liss, Alley Mills

Peace in our Time

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

‘The idea of Peace in Our Time’, Coward wrote, ‘was conceived in Paris shortly after the Liberation . . . I began to suspect that the physical effect of four years intermittent bombing is far less damaging to the intrinsic character of a nation than the spiritual effect of four years enemy occupation. This in time led me to wonder what might have happened to London and England if, in 1940, the Germans successfully invaded and occupied us, which they so very nearly did.’

Peace in Our Time was first produced in Brighton at the Theatre Royal on 15 July 1947 and then in London at the Lyric Theatre on 22 July 1947 in a production directed by Alan Webb. Set in a London pub, it presents a picture of occupied Britain after a successful German invasion. There the new regime seeks to convince and coerce its new-found subjects, but finds that the resistance and resilience of the English middle classes are not so easily conquered. Arriving so soon after Liberation, it was well received, with the Daily Telegraph writing that ‘This play cannot possibly fail. It is too moving, too exciting, too deft – and too timely. We need to be reminded, just now, that we are people of spirit.’

Present Laughter

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Present Laughter is witty, sparkling and eminently theatrical; its star is matinée idol Garry Essendine, suave, hedonistic and too old, says his wife, to be having numerous affairs. His line in eager, adoring debutantes is largely tolerated among his small circle of intimate friends, but playing closer to home is not. Just before he escapes on tour to Africa, the curtain is drawn back on a whole tangle of his misdemeanours.

In between hustling infatuated conquests out of sight into the spare room, Garry gives a dazzling performance, centre stage in a light, charming, farcical comedy.

Arguably the most autobiographical of his plays, Present Laughter provided a perfect platform for Coward’s talents, both directing and starring as Garry. It was first performed in 1942 at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool.

audio Present Laughter

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A gallery of friends, lovers, relatives and theatre acolytes sparkle around stage star Garry Essendine like bubbles in fine champagne. While Garry struggles to plan his upcoming trip to Africa, his elegant London flat is invaded by a love struck ingénue, an adulterous producer and a married seductress–not to mention Garry’s estranged wife Liz and the memorable Roland Maule, an aspiring playwright who is quite, quite mad.

"Present Laughter is a very light comedy and was written with the sensible object of providing me with a bravura part.”

Noël Coward

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Gregory Cooke, Arthur Hanket, Jon Matthews, Ian Oglivy, Siri O'Neal, Christina Pickles, Carolyn Seymour and Yeardley Smith.

Featuring: Gregory Cooke, Arthur Hanket, Jon Matthews, Ian Oglivy, Siri O'Neal, Christina Pickles, Carolyn Seymour, Yeardley Smith

Schweyk in the Second World War

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Jaroslav Hašek’s original The Good Soldier Švejk, Švejk, a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army drifts through the carnage of the First World War, a picaresque study in brio that parodies the noble claims of the warring nations, while depicting the horror of their conflict.

Brecht masterfully deploys this character in the Second World War as a counter-actor to the Nazi regime decimating Europe. Writing in their introduction to the collected works of Brecht, the Editors describe Schweik as ‘arguably the outstanding fictional figure of our century’, and quote Brecht’s own reading of his play, from his journal: ‘a counterpart to Mother Courage. compared with the schweik i wrote for piscator around 27 (a pure montage based on the novel) the present second world war version is a lot sharper, and corresponds to the shift from the hapsburgs’ well-ensconced tyranny to the nazis’ invasion.’

In the play, Schweik wanders by and through Gestapo HQ, labour camps, military prison and the Eastern Front, even coming face to face with Hitler himself, though both are, according to John Willett, ‘utterly lost. But Schweik has lost himself accidentally-on-purpose.’ (The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht, p. 55)

Written while Brecht was exiled in the United States during the Second World War, this version was translated by William Rowlinson.

Sigh No More

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

Sigh No More was first presented by John C. Wilson and H. M. Tennent Ltd at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, on 22 August 1945. It ran for 213 performances.

audio Tea

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Velina Hasu Houston’s Tea uses history and poetic writing to weave a drama about Japanese “war brides” living in Kansas. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Shuko Akune, June Angela, Takayo Fischer, Lily Mariye and Diana Tanaka.

Featuring: Shuko Akune, June Angela, Takayo Fischer, Lily Mariye and Diana Tanaka

audio The Third Man

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Somewhere in shadowy post-war Vienna, where everyone has something to sell on the black market, lurks the third man who witnessed the murder of Harry Lime. Novelist Holly Martins is haunted by the death of his friend. His search for the killer makes electrifying drama, in this witty and sophisticated audio adaptation of the Graham Greene classic.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Ian Abercrombie, Rosalind Ayres, Ethan Glazer, Kelsey Grammer, John Mahoney, Wolf Muser, Barry Philips, Andreas Renell, Bettina Spier, Slav Troyan, John Vickery, Tom Virtue and Nobert Weisser.

Featuring: Ian Abercrombie, Rosalind Ayres, Ethan Glazer, Kelsey Grammer, John Mahoney, Wolf Muser, Barry Philips, Andreas Renell, Bettina Spier, Slav Troyan, John Vickery, Tom Virtue, Nobert Weisser

This Happy Breed

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This Happy Breed shows a different side to Coward's writing than one we might be used to. Rather than dealing with the affairs of the upper classes, we instead see the movements of the lower middle-class Gibbons family, between the end of World War I and the outbreak of World War II.

This crucial twenty years of British history is made personal by the lives of Frank and Ethel, and their children, Queenie, Vi and Reg, along with friends Bob, Billie, Sam, Phyllis and Edie. The disintegration of European relations is a backdrop to suburban ennui, socialist rhetoric, and patriotic strike breaking, as alliances fail and revive within a small dining room near Clapham Common.

This Happy Breed was first performed in 1942, before being adapted for the screen, directed by David Lean.

audio The Undecided Molecule

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

From the imagination of radio pioneer Norman Corwin comes one of the strangest trials in the history of jurisprudence. A molecule refuses to be assigned to any particular substance and insists on choosing for itself.

Starring Edward Asner, Carl Reiner, Charlie Robinson, and Erika Schickel.

Written and directed by Norman Corwin.

Featuring: Edward Asner, Jack Delson, Arye Gross, Daniel Passer, Elliott Reid, Carl Reiner, Charlie Robinson, Erika Schickel

Who is Sylvia?

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Who is Sylvia? is a drama about a married man who is drawn to women who resemble a childhood sweetheart. One of his lesser-known plays, it also one of his most personal, with its main character apparently inspired by Rattigan's own father. The play was first produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 24 October 1950.

The play unfolds over three acts, set respectively in 1917, 1929 and 1950. In each act we see Mark, a married man with a son, attempting to conduct affairs with three near-identical women: a shop girl, a 1920s 'flapper', and a model. At every turn his seduction is foiled: in the first act, by the arrival of the young woman’s brother; in the second, by the arrival of his son; and in the third, by the arrival of his wife, who explains that she has known about Sylvia and his assignations all along.

In his introduction accompanying the published edition of the play (Nick Hern Books, 2011), Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato argues that Who is Sylvia? is Rattigan's 'most misunderstood play... a dramaturgical experiment of considerable interest and delicacy, very much ahead of its time, and also one of Rattigan’s most turbulently personal pieces of work.' The model for Mark is believed to be Rattigan’s own unfaithful father. Rattigan’s mother confided in her son that her husband’s behaviour caused her considerable pain.

The Criterion Theatre premiere was directed by Anthony Quayle and designed by William Chappell, with Robert Flemyng as Mark, Esmond Knight as Williams, Diane Hart as Daphne, Alan Woolston as Sidney, Diana Allen as Ethel, Roland Culver as Oscar, Diana Hope as Bubbles, Diane Hart as Nora, David Aylmer as Denis, Roger Maxwell as Wilberforce, Diane Hart as Doris, Joan Benham as Chloe and Athene Seyler as Caroline.

A film version directed by Harold French, The Man Who Loved Redheads, was released in 1955; the new title reflected lead actress Moira Shearer’s flowing auburn locks.

The Winslow Boy

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy is a drama based on the real-life court case of a young naval cadet unjustly accused of stealing a five-shilling postal order. It was first produced (after a brief pre-London tour) at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 23 May 1946.

The action of the play takes place in the Winslow family home in Kensington, London, in the years immediately before the First World War. The fourteen-year-old Ronnie Winslow has been expelled from naval college, accused of the theft of a postal order. The boy remains adamant that he is innocent. Enraged, his father Arthur engages a leading lawyer, Sir Robert Morton, to challenge the Admiralty to prove the charges in court. The play follows Arthur’s attempts to clear his son’s name, even in the face of public opposition and weakening resolve. Each member of the family suffers as the case slowly unfolds, including Ronnie’s suffragette sister Catherine, who sacrifices her own happiness and ambition in the pursuit of justice for her brother.

Although Rattigan's play is closely based on the well-publicised 1910 trial of George Archer-Shee, he eschewed the option of showing us the courtroom proceedings and instead chose to set the play entirely within the Winslow family home. The result is a play that, as Dan Rebellato argues in his introduction to the edition published by Nick Hern Books (1994), adopts 'the sturdy form of the four-act "well-made play", which had become the staple of the late Victorian and Edwardian theatre... while providing a series of technical devices to introduce the legal story, this model also gives Rattigan a formal language with which to conjure up a family living on the other side of two world wars.'

Furthermore, the names of most of the characters have been altered from those of their real-life counterparts in the Archer-Shee case, and Rattigan transformed the conservative Winslow daughter, Catherine, into a suffragette.

The Lyric Theatre premiere was directed by Glen Byam Shaw, with Michael Newell as Ronnie Winslow, Kathleen Harrison as Violet, Frank Cellier as Arthur Winslow, Madge Compton as Grace Winslow, Jack Watling as Dickie Winslow, Angela Baddeley as Catherine Winslow, Alastair Bannerman as John Watherstone, Clive Morton as Desmond Curry, Mona Washbourne as Miss Barnes, Brian Harding as Fred and Emlyn Williams as Sir Robert Morton.

The production received good reviews and strong box office returns. For the first time in Rattigan's career, as Dan Rebellato argues in his introduction, 'the critics began to recognize Rattigan’s complexity and skill, and that his apparently uncomplicated, wellmade plays artfully concealed levels of narrative sophistication.'

The play became a staple of repertory theatre and has enjoyed several high-profile revivals, both in the West End and on Broadway. It was turned into a feature film in 1948, directed by Anthony Asquith, and again in 1999 by David Mamet. The play won the Ellen Terry Award for Best New Play and, on its US premiere at the Empire Theatre in October 1947, received the New York Critics’ Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.