Plays

Lear

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Edward Bond recasts the story of King Lear into a fundamentally political epic, which reveals the violence endemic in all unjust societies. He exposes corrupted innocence as the core of social morality, and this false morality as a source of the aggressive tension which must ultimately destroy that society.

The despotic Lear is building a vast wall to keep his enemies out of his kingdom, but the betrayal of his two daughters sends the country into civil war. Lear is deposed and tried, while the punishment of those who sheltered him begins a revolutionary uprising against the sisters. The new regime proves a cruel and hypocritical one, and orders that work on Lear’s wall be resumed. Though Lear has now been blinded, he begins to see the suffering of the people and becomes a focus for opposition.

Bond takes names and structures from Shakespeare’s play, but twists them into a brutal new shape that also takes influences from Chekov’s Three Sisters. The play premiered in 1971 at the Royal Court Theatre in London to many shocked reviews.

video Les Blancs (NT)

National Theatre
Type: Video

Age recommendation: 15+ (contains mature themes and references to racism)

This production is an archival recording captured in 2016.

An African country teeters on the edge of civil war. A society prepares to drive out its colonial present and claim an independent future. Racial tensions boil over. Tshembe, returned home from England for his father’s funeral, finds himself in the eye of the storm.

A family and a nation fall apart under the pressure to determine their own identity as this brave, illuminating and powerful play confronts the hope and tragedy of revolution.

Les Blancs marked the National Theatre debut of the multi-award-winning director Yaël Farber, whose productions include The Crucible (Old Vic) and the internationally-acclaimed Mies Julie and Nirbhaya.

Written eleven years after A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s final drama is an unknown masterpiece of the American stage and a highly theatrical search for the soul of post-colonial Africa.

For teacher resources, visit this page.

CAST
The Woman: Sheila Atim
Abioseh Matoseh: Gary Beadle
Peter: Sidney Cole
Charlie Morris: Elliot Cowan
Dr Willy Dekoven: James Fleet
Major George Rice: Clive Francis
Eric: Tunji Kasim
Dr Martha Gotterling: Anna Madeley
Ngago: Roger Jean Nsengiyumva
Madame Neilsen: Siân Phillips
Tshembe Matoseh: Danny Sapani
Boy: Fola Akintola
Boy: Xhanti Mbonzongwana
Boy: Tumo Reetsang
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Nofenishala Mvotyo
Ensemble: Anna-Maria Nabirye
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Nogcinile Yekani Moaqobiso
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Mpahleni (Madosini) Latozi
Singer: Joyce Moholoagae

CREATIVES
Director: Yaël Farber
Designer: Soutra Gilmour
Lighting Designer: Tim Lutkin
Music and Sound: Adam Cork
Movement Director: Imogen Knight
Fight Director: Kev McCurdy
Dramaturg: Drew Lichtenberg

Life Class

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Life Class depicts a crucial day in the life of an art school teacher named Allott, as he aims to lead his class through the processes of discovery that will turn their sketches into artworks, but which instead lead only to troubling scenes and crossed boundaries.

Writing in the introduction to Storey Plays: 3, David Storey says: ‘Allott (a lot: munificence) is an art teacher in a northern provincial art school (I had attended one such, at Wakefield, in my late teens). Conceived as something not unakin to an existential Prospero, he creates, as if with the audience’s participation, a class, or “event” – in his designation, an “invisible event” since the participants are not consciously aware of their involvement. The materials of this event (or performance: his self-declared “work of art”) are, as for most artists, those of his daily existence: in this instance, a group of (largely) unsympathetic (and conceivably ungifted) youths who, for one reason or another – fortuity – have found their way into what might be described as his allegorised arena (i.e., onto his “canvas”) – a phenomenological act, and perception, which, Allott concludes, is, like all “art”, expressive – an embodiment – of his time.’

Life Class was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 9 April 1974.

A Life in the Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A Life in the Theatre shows the relationship between two stage actors – Robert, the older, and John, the younger – who are playing side by side in a season of plays. We see them both off stage and on as their relationship evolves from one of professional solidarity to one marked by bitterness and division, with John's promise as a young actor beginning to be realised just as Robert's talent starts to wane.

‘As so often in Mamet, a sense of desolation lies behind the laughter. In the spare, beautifully poised dialogue of the off-stage scenes he captures all the tension and rivalry between the old stager and the young pretender, scrupulously charting the balance of power as it shifts from age to youth . . . Mamet brings us to the heart of transcience and loss.’ Sunday Telegraph

A Life in the Theatre was first produced by the Theater de Lys, New York City, and opened on 20 October 1977, in a production directed by Gerald Gutierrez.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Churchill uses the events of the millenial movement during the English Civil War, when the revolutionary belief in the second coming of Christ reached fever pitch, to stage a volatile discussion of idealism, pragmatism and justice.

In a series of compact, concentrated scenes, Churchill dramatises the fervent conflicts of a time when hierarchies and conventions had been shaken. The Putney Debates pitted Cromwell against the nonconformist Diggers and Levellers, the Ranters triumphed in the non-existence of sin and preachers warned of the end of days.

Churchill suggests that, as in the original performance, parts are swapped and the same character is played by different actors. Light Shining in Buckinghamshire refracts, unbalances and shifts ideological positions producing profound and timeless debate well as historical insight.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire opened in 1976 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

The Little Black Book

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

One morning, Jean-Jacques leaves his door ajar – and a total stranger slips into his life. Is she deranged, a squatter, or a woman from his past? As a lawyer, he should know how to get rid of her, but as a man, he has no idea. His orderly world is turned upside-down when what started as a comic encounter changes his life forever.

The Little Gray Home in the West

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Little Gray Home in the West was a reworking of a 1972 play called The Ballygombeen Bequest which was described by the Guardian as 'a freewheeling Brechtian parable of sickness, colonialism and capitalism in Ireland'.

Chris Megson, in his book Modern British Playwriting: the 1970s described the case succinctly: '7:84's production of The Ballygombeen Bequest by John Arden and Margaretta D'Arcy . . . attacked British actions in Northern Ireland and accused the British Army of using torture. The production was halted after legal advice in the final week of its run at the Bush Theatre. The controversy related to a programme note about a real absentee English landlord who was in the process of evicting a tenant and whose contact details were listed in the programme. The landlord issued a writ on the writers in a civil action and the military also complained about the play's content. The case was eventually settled out of court but the company's annual grant was removed.'

A play with songs, and a spoonful of cynicism, The Little Gray Home in the West tells the story of a businessman named Baker-Fortescue who has come to inherit a small estate in the south of Ireland, a place where communications with the locals, and the security of fences, is forever on a knife's edge.

audio Living Together

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In the second “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated triology The Norman Conquests, we rejoin the family weekend, this time hearing the events in the living room, where Norman gets drunk on homemade dandelion wine – and all hell breaks loose. Norman unleashes his merry brand of manipulative charm on the hapless guests and even his most formidable opponents go down in defeat on the drawing room rug.

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, Ken Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

The Local Authority

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When the court system is corrupt, where can people turn for justice? In a small town in Napoli – the setting for The Local Authority – justice rests in the hands of the local mafia on, Antonio Barracano.

But when Antonio is shot during the mediation of a dispute, he must struggle in his final hours to prevent a blood-feud from erupting after his death.

Written in 1960, The Local Authority was first performed in England in 1979.

audio Make and Break

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

From the author of Copenhagen and Noises Off. A comedy-drama about a door manufacturing company and a fateful convention in Frankfurt.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Rosalind Ayres, Allan Corduner, David Ellenstein, Julian Holloway, Peter A. Jacobs, Martin Jarvis, Robin Goodrin Nordli, James Warwick and Michael York.

Directed by Robert Robinson. Recorded before a live audience in February, 1993.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Allan Corduner, David Ellenstein, Julian Holloway, Peter A. Jacobs, Martin Jarvis, Robin Goodrin Nordli, James Warwick, Michael York