Plays

Semi-Monde

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Semi Monde offers a wonderful view of a cross-section of high society. Set across three years in the Ritz Hotel in Paris, we see characters representative of 1920s' society 'jagged with sophistication . . . either demi mondaine or just plain mondaine' as Coward himself put it.

In his book Coward the Playwright critic John Lahr describes the play as 'easily the most visually daring of [Coward's] comedies, and the most intellectually startling . . . it gets much nearer the homosexual knuckle than Coward's public image allowed.'

First written in 1926, it would wait more than 50 years for its first production, finally being staged in 1977 by the Glasgow Citizens Company, directed by Philip Prowse.

Sexual Perversity in Chicago

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dan’s friend and colleague Bernie claims to have had a plethora of unusual sexual encounters, ranging from war-themed coitus to animal intercourse. When Dan meets, dates and moves in with the more down-to-earth Deborah, Bernie reckons it’s only a matter of time before Dan gets bored – a view shared by Deborah’s former flatmate, Joan. The fast-paced, forceful dialogue points to the city male’s propensity for sexual exaggeration and the disturbing misogyny that underpins it.

First produced by the Organic Theatre Company in Chicago in 1974, Sexual Perversity in Chicago played the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, in 1976, before transferring to the Regent Theatre, London, the following year.

The Slab Boys

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Spanning the 1950s to the 70s, the Slab Boys trilogy – The Slab Boys, Cuttin' a Rug and Still Life – capture the rebellious mood of a post-war generation growing up to a backdrop of James Dean, Elvis, sharp-suited glamour, hope and despair.

John Byrne takes the slab room he worked in and makes it pure theatre: the scams, the dreams, the aloof but gorgeous girl, the despair of life back home, the obligatory tormenting of the office 'weed', and the mandatory boy chat and pranks all help the day to pass. Phil and Spanky explode onto the stage in a classic vaudeville double-act.

Now considered one of Scotland's defining literary works of the twentieth century, the Slab Boys trilogy premiered at the Traverse back in the late 1970s and early 80s taking Scotland, then Britain, and then Broadway by storm. Byrne returned to these characters thirty years later in Nova Scotia.

The Soul of the White Ant

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in South Africa in the 1980s, this satirical comedy tackles the evils of apartheid – envisioned by Wilson as a termite viciously eating away at the structure of society. Borrowing its title from a book by South African naturalist Eugene Marias, in Wilson’s play Marias returns from the dead to spout his racist views and be treated to drinks at a local bar.

But in this world, the absurd becomes ordinary – killing black Africans is celebrated, a dead body is left behind the bar to fester without notice and a woman who believes adultery is immoral, insists that her lover ejaculate into a Tupperware container.

Considered by some to be Wilson’s masterpiece, The Soul of the White Ant exposes racial violence and political corruption with Wilson’s signature humour.

The Soul of the White Ant was first performed at the Soho Poly Theatre, London, on 2 February 1979. T

Spoiled

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Simon Gray adapted Spoiled from a television play of the same name. The television version of Spoiled was first broadcast by the BBC on 28th August, 1968, as part of the Wednesday Play series.

Spoiled is a play about the tensions that arise in a schoolmaster’s home when he invites one of his 'O'-level French pupils to spend the weekend before the exam there for some last-minute coaching. Donald is a nervous, over-mothered boy who works in a shop; he is anxious to better himself for his mother’s sake and to please his teacher. Howarth is a born teacher, but his enthusiasm and flair for play-acting and for getting the best out of dull pupils seem to mask a kind of self-indulgence. Joanna, his heavily pregnant wife, full of unease, begins to see this clearly as the weekend progress: the realization only makes her more vulnerable.

Spoiled was first performed at the Close Theatre Club in Glasgow in 1970.

Spring Awakening

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Spring Awakening is a classic but still startling play, addressing adolescent sexuality at a time when sexual oppression and ignorance made puberty a confusing and terrifying mystery.

Notorious for its supposed pornographic content, the play addresses homosexuality, abuse, abortion, rape, suicide and sadism, with an acute and semi-lyrical directness astonishing for its time. A group of teenagers struggle with fear and curiosity about their growing sexual feelings, while the adults raise a wall of disgust and misinformation.

It is a mosaic of scenes, the mood shifting between comedy and alarm, the characters tense and fiercely etched: a seminal and vastly influential treatment of adolescence, education and generational conflict.

Edward Bond’s scrupulous translation first brought the play to English audiences when it premiered at the National Theatre in 1974; it is now considered to be the definitive English translation.

Squirrels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

First produced by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company in Chicago in 1974, Squirrels is a short play about an older writer, Arthur, his newest recruit, Edmond, and the unnamed cleaner with whom they strike up an artistic friendship.

Art, his career on the downturn, is obsessed with including squirrels in his prose – an obsession from which Ed is desperate to steer away. Every evening, once Art and Ed have gone home after a day of throwing ideas and paragraphs around to little effect, the Cleaning Woman writes down her own superior ideas for Art to find, crumpled up in the wastepaper basket, in the morning.

Stage Struck

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In his younger days, Robert Simon was a first-rate stage-manager in provincial rep. Now he keeps house for his West End actress wife, while amusing himself with lots of little sexual adventures. In fact, a thoroughly happy man. Until one evening, through the clumsy intervention of a psychiatrist, his happiness and his marriage are destroyed. He plans a hideous revenge, both on his wife and on the psychiatrist…a revenge which allows him to discover all his old talents.

Stage Struck was first presented on 21st November 1979, at the Vaudeville Theatre

Stags & Hens

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Unknown to each other, Linda and Dave have decided to have their respective hen and stag parties in the same tacky Liverpool club – or more accurately, in its toilets. With the girls applying make-up, doing their hair and crying in cubicles, and the boys puking into the lavatory and drawing on the walls, the whole of Stags and Hens takes place in the Ladies and Gents.

Both parties are out on the pull, after a night (or even just a few minutes) of passion – with the exception of the groom, who is throwing up after the curry, and the bride, who is having second thoughts. Russell’s raucous, coarse, and very funny play is a brilliant depiction of what passes for courtship, and the squeals, jeers and flings considered a necessary prelude to getting married.

Stags and Hens premiered in 1978 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool; the updated text, entitled Stags and Hens – The Remix was produced at the Royal Court, Liverpool, in 2008.

Stone

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Stone is a one act parable of oppression, a politically-charged journey through a spare and allegorical landscape. It tells the story of a man who sets out into the world with seven coins saved up for him by his parents. The man meets a stonemason who robs him, returns the money, and gives him a stone to carry and promises to pay him if he carries it to the stonemason’s house. As the man walks he meets a tramp, a dancing girl, a policeman and a judge, and the stone gets bigger and heavier all the time. Sewn into forceful images and angular poetry, Stone is a simple but fervent discussion of injustice and freedom.

Stone was first presented in 1976 at the ICA, London.

The Struggle of the Naga Tribe  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Depicts the fighting spirit of indigenous people in postcolonial Indonesia against a corrupt government under the influence of multinational compaires and international powers.  

The Swing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At the beginning of the The Swing, one of the characters explains that in Kentucky in 1911 a black man was charged with murder and lynched on the stage of the local theatre. Bond’s short play is subtitled A Documentary: this true story is sparingly stylised into a powerful and profoundly shocking drama. Bond draws a detailed picture of the quotidian injustice of a community, headed by the store owner Mr Skinner, which can condone violent murder and drive people to madness. When his store is robbed and a young woman appears to have been attacked, Skinner accuses Fred with no evidence, and organises the grotesque staging of his death.

The Swing was first presented in 1976 at Inter-Action’s Almost Free Theatre, London.

audio Table Manners

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

England’s famous seducer of other men’s wives lays siege to his sister-in-law in the first “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests. In Table Manners, the action occurs in the dining room of Mother’s house, where a conventional middle-class family is attempting to have a pleasant country weekend. But they are no match for Norman, the bane of the family, who horrifies everyone by doing exactly as he likes.

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

Rosalind Ayres as Sarah

Kenneth Danziger as Reg

Martin Jarvis as Norman

Jane Leeves as Annie

Christopher Neame as Tom

Carolyn Seymour as Ruth.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Teendreams

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It is 1975 and Frances and Rosie, friends since their teenage years, when they discovered the revolution of feminism together, are nonetheless drifting apart. At the same time, Denise and Tricia, part of the new crop of girls-becoming-women, are still in school, and suffering still with the confusion of their femininity as others did years before.

Each woman must carve for herself a new way of life, away from the choiceless careening of girlhood to bridehood, but for none will it be an easy journey, as optimism of the sixties turns stale and harsh by the middle of the next decade.

Written in collaboration with Susan Todd, Teendreams was first presented by Monstrous Regiment at the Van Dyck Theatre, Bristol, in 1979. It was the theatre company's sixth production, and their first to be part-authored by a man.

Traps

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Intriguing and impossible, Traps is a puzzle about living with other people that plays tricks with time. In two looping, sinuous acts, the play presents several versions of the lives of Syl, Jack, Albert, Reg, Del and Christie, who live in a commune. These six characters, four men and two women, repeat themselves, repeat the same action, exit the room and re-enter; they change partners, play Patience, and move between alternate scenarios with a fluidity that is unreal, and yet not illusionary. It is a hypnotic treatment of choices, connections and possibilities.

Traps was first produced in 1977 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London.

audio True West

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Pulitzer-Prize winner Sam Shepard’s classic comedy is a story of estranged brothers Austin and Lee. Shepard compares and contrasts the reality of the two brothers by forcing them to come to terms with each other, with themselves, and with family.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Dean Cameron, Alfred Molina, Charlotte Rae and Francis Guinan.

Featuring: Dean Cameron, Alfred Molina, Charlotte Rae, Francis Guinan

The Unmanageable Sisters  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deirdre Kinahan's play The Unmanageable Sisters is a version of Michel Tremblay’s 1968 Québécoise comedy, Les Belles-Soeurs, translating the action to 1970s Dublin. It was first performed on 1 March 2018 at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

The play is set in a flat in Ballymun, Dublin, in 1974. The matriarchal Ger Lawless has just won a million Green Shield Stamps, and has invited fifteen friends round to help her fill up her stamp books. As the night passes and the books are filled, the women clash over bitter resentments and deeply entrenched, generational differences over how a woman should live.

The Abbey Theatre production was directed by Graham McLaren with set design by Colin Richmond. It was performed by Karen Ardiff, Clare Barrett, Charlotte Bradley, Catherine Byrne, Rachael Dowling, Tina Kellegher, Lisa Lambe, Sarah Madigan, Clare Monnelly, Máire Ní Ghráinne, Mary O’Driscoll, Marion O’Dwyer (as Ger Lawless), Rynagh O’Grady, Caoimhe O’Malley and Catherine Walsh, with additional voices by Owen Roe. 

Vampire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

‘Every age has its own vampires . . .’ – Snoo Wilson

Vampire is a tour de force of theatre which takes us through 150 years of British history. Chronicling the movement from countryside to city and the various forms of repression which have plagued women throughout, each of the three acts examines the ‘vampires’ of its age from the Victorians’ prudishness to the modern S&M culture.

Director Richard Romangnoli described the play as ‘a work of great theatrical imagination based on enduring themes existing in the realms of the real and surreal; a playground full of possibilities whose only limitations are our own imaginations.’

Vampire was written for Paradise Foundry Theatre Company, who gave the first production at the Oval House, London, on 28 April 1973.

Vinegar Tom

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

With potent images of disturbing injustices, Vinegar Tom uses a seventeenth-century witch hunt to condemn the past and present oppression of women. Caryl Churchill shows how marginalised women, who did not fit into the narrow social categories of the patriarchy, were often labelled witches for little reason other than their non-conformity.

Alice sleeps with a man she does not know. Her mother Joan owns an old cat, and curses when her neighbours are cruel to her. Betty does not want to marry the man she is supposed to. Susan doesn’t want to be pregnant. These women are subjected to the humiliating investigations of doctors and witch hunters, and forced into self-loathing and panic and hatred. The play is striking beyond its historical setting in its depiction of women’s subjugation and repression.

Vinegar Tom was first presented in 1976 at the Humberside Theatre, Hull.

The Water Engine: An American Fable

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It is 1934, and Charles Lang has invented an engine that runs solely on water. Attorneys Morton Gross and Lawrence Oberman see an opportunity to make themselves rich off the back of Lang’s ingenuity, blackmailing him into handing over the patent for his invention. When his sister Rita urges him not to give in to the bullies, Lang’s quest for justice ends in tragedy.

First produced as a radio drama for NPR, The Water Engine was first performed onstage by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company, Chicago, in 1977, before transferring to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway the following year. It was produced at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in 1989.

The Woman

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Woman is set at the end of the Trojan War, recasting Hecuba (the wife of King Priam of Troy) as the main character, and reshaping the epic narrative into what Bond calls a ‘socialist rhapsody’.

Bond’s play deviates from the orthodox narrative of the siege, emphasising instead its significance as a dissertation on morality and historical truth, and a celebration of individuals who can change society. It begins with Priam’s death, showing the savage struggle over a statue of a goddess, a relic which Troy has stolen from Greece. Later, the half-blind Hecuba and half-mad Ismene are living on a remote island, where they meet an escaped miner searching for sanctuary, and the Greeks arrive still searching for their statue.

The Woman refuses resolution, offering instead a complex definition of social conflict. It was first performed in 1978 at the National Theatre, London.

Womberang

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Sue Townsend delights in smashing the grim silence of the hospital waiting room in a charming and comic short play, as Rita whirls into a drab gynaecology clinic and smokes, rearranges the furniture and frightens away the clerk.

Rita’s sparky no-nonsense attitude quickly livens up the sheepish patients: she gets Audrey to stand up to her husband for the first time, persuades Mrs Conelly to finally take off her corsets and hands everyone their own medical files. With the Assistant Hospital Administrator giving up and joining in with the general gin-drinking, and with no doctors anywhere to be seen, Rita takes charge and proves that there is sometimes no better tonic than wit, candour, and treating patients as people.

Womberang was first presented in 1979 at the Soho Poly Theatre Club, London.

The Woods

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In The Woods, David Mamet shows us one evening, night and morning in the life of a couple, Nick and Ruth, who are spending some time in a summerhouse. As they pass the time, sharing stories and arguments, the mechanics of their relationship – and by implication, the relationships between women and men generally – come into focus.

The play has been praised by the New York Times, who wrote ‘Mamet's language has never been so precise, pure and affecting’. It was first produced by the St Nicholas Theatre Company, Chicago on 11 November 1977, in a production directed by the playwright.

audio Working

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The first revised and updated version of this 1970’s cult classic. A rousing musical with a cast of twenty, Working is for anyone who has ever punched a clock, a cow or a supervisor - or wanted to.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Eileen Barnett, Orson Bean, Harry Groener, Kaitlin Hopkins, Michael Kostroff, Kenna Ramsey, Vickilyn Reynolds, Vincent Tumeo and B.J. Ward.

Featuring: Eileen Barnett, Orson Bean, Harry Groener, Kaitlin Hopkins, Michael Kostroff, Kenna Ramsey, Vickilyn Reynolds, Vincent Tumeo, B.J. Ward

The Worlds

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Worlds offers a clipped and lucid examination of the violent machinery of capitalism, the politics of industrial action and the use of terrorism.

After a difficult week trying to deal with a strike by his organisation’s employees, Trench goes away for the weekend to a smart country hotel, to dispense wisdom to his boardroom protégés. He is then suddenly kidnapped, his captors holding him hostage until the demands of the strikers are met. Meanwhile, his workers shiver on the picket line, trying to figure out why some men get to follow different rules. But while Trench is absent, his protégés find they appreciate being in charge, and the ruthlessness of the corporation turns in on itself.

The Worlds was first performed at the Newcastle Playhouse in 1979. Bond has written a set of texts entitled The Activist Papers as a commentary on the play.

audio Zoot Suit

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Chicano playwright Luis Valdez masterfully uses the Sleepy Lagoon murder case to examine the Chicano Zoot Suit Culture of the 40’s. Passionate and provocative, Zoot Suit pulses with the beat of Big Band Music and traditional Latin songs.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Raul Cardona, Daniel Chacon, Estrella Esparza, Primavera Flor-Valdez, Spencer Garrett, Ruben C. Gonzalez, Gregory Itzin, Alma Martinez, Seth Millwood, Marco Rodriguez, Al Ruscio, Daniel Valdez, Katrina Valdez, Kinan Valdez and Lakin Valdez.

Featuring: Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Raul Cardona, Daniel Chacon, Estrella Esparza, Primavera Flor-Valdez, Spencer Garrett, Ruben C. Gonzalez, Gregory Itzin, Alma Martinez, Seth Millwood, Marco Rodriguez, Al Ruscio, Daniel Valdez, Katrina Valdez, Kinan Valdez, Lakin Valdez