Plays

Abortive

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's Abortive is a short radio play first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 4 February 1971.

Roz and Colin are having a difficult time with sex, largely because of an invisible yet forbidding barrier between them. Roz became pregnant after being raped and had an abortion. Roz is not sure she made the right decision and Colin is not altogether convinced his wife was raped.

The BBC Radio 3 production was directed by John Tydeman, with Prunella Scales as Roz and Dinsdale Landen as Colin.

audio Absent Forever

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A bright and politically-engaged college student goes missing after a demonstration turns violent. But as her grieving mother begins her search, she uncovers a dark side to her daughter which she never knew existed.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring: John de Lancie, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Al Ruscio and Jennifer Warren.

Directed by Peggy Shannon and recorded before a live audience by L.A. Theatre Works.

Featuring: John de Lancie, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Al Ruscio, Jennifer Warren

Accounts

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A rural counterpart to the urban Rents, according to author Michael Wilcox, Accounts touches on the same themes of homosexuality, money, and survival that the former play introduces. As teenage brothers Andy and Donald Mawson cope with the death of their father, learning how to run a farm with their widowed mother, Mary, the play primarily concerns the family’s processes of discovery – both in being independent land owners for the first time, and in terms of the brothers’ development during adolescence.

A bildungsroman, of sorts, Accounts details the daily routine of the family within their first year on the farm, and specifically demonstrates how Andy and Donald must mature quickly to take responsibility for its financial performance. With this mental maturity comes bodily maturity, as well; the audience becomes privy to Andy and Donald’s awakening sexuality, and in the case of Donald, emerging homosexuality. As a result, Accounts is a ‘coming out’ experience in the Scottish countryside, in the same way that Rents was in Edinburgh, for the play’s characters, the audience, and Wilcox, himself.

Accounts premiered at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre Club in May of 1981, with performances at the Fringe Festival following shortly after. The play made its way over to the US in 1983, and was shown in New York City’s Hudson Guild Theater.

Adult Child/Dead Child

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

How do we cope without love? The need for love and care, and the trauma that’s brought about by its absence is at the heart of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child/Dead Child.

The unnamed protagonist of this one-person show is confronted throughout her life with excessive discipline and punishment from her parents. Whether it’s the eye-for-an-eye punishment her father insists upon, or the hours of claustrophobia and inactivity spent corralled in the cupboard under the stairs, throughout the play we see the building tension that comes from living with parents who would rather chastise than show love.

Her only comfort comes in the shape of her imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.

Adult Child/Dead Child won a Time Out award in 1988, with Time Out magazine describing it as ‘A strangley exhilarating experience as well as a subtle exploration of a personality under siege.'

Adult Child/Dead Child was first presented at the Finborough Theatre Club, London, on 5 June 1987, before embarking on a national tour of the UK. Performed by the author, it was directed by Dowie’s long-time collaborator Colin Watkeys.

The After-Dinner Joke

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill’s The After-Dinner Joke is a satire on the charity business, written for television. It was first broadcast on BBC 1 on 14 February 1978 as part of the BBC's Play for Today series.

Told in 66 short, episodic scenes, the plot follows Selby, a young woman who quits her secretarial job in a big corporation to pursue her passion for ‘doing good’. As a charity worker, she studiously avoids becoming embroiled in political issues, only to discover during the course of the action that this is impossible.

The BBC production by directed by Colin Bucksey, with a cast including Paula Wilcox as Selby.

audio Agnes of God

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this contemporary murder mystery, set within the confines of a convent, Agnes is a devout, innocent young nun accused of infanticide. As a psychiatrist, herself a lapsed Catholic, and the Mother Superior struggle over Agnes' fate, the play plunges deeply into the mystery of faith and the consequence of truth.

Includes an interview with Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson, author of "Why Do Catholics Do That.”

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Barbara Bain, Emily Bergl and Harriet Harris.

Featuring: Barbara Bain, Emily Bergl, Harriet Harris

The Art of Success

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

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

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

Bailegangaire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Bailegangaire, an endless folk story told by a senile old woman is woven through her granddaughters’ arguments and struggles to free themselves from her.

Night after night, in lyrical and relentless detail, Mommo begins to relate the story of a laughing competition in Bailegangaire and how the town came by its name – ‘the town without laughter’. Of her two granddaughters, she only recognises Dolly, and not Mary who does most to look after her. The younger women yearn to be free of the past in order to make a new beginning, and Mary comes to believe that to do so the story of Bailegangaire has to be concluded.

In Mommo, Tom Murphy has created one of the greatest female characters of twentieth-century Irish literature. The play was first performed by Druid Theatre Company, Galway, in 1985.

Barnes’ People: Eight Monologues

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Barnes’ People is a series of wonderfully varied monologues from deeply imagined individuals. Whether their stories are historical, fantastic or familiar, they are always intimate and human.

‘Confessions of a Primary Terrestrial Mental Receiver and Communicator: Num III Mark I’ is spoken by a man who finds a meaning for his life through covert correspondence with aliens.

‘The Jumping Mimuses of Byzantium’, spoken by an aged hermit, is based on a legend of a tumbling jester and a wanton prostitute with a nocturnal secret.

‘The Theory and Practise of Belly-Dancing’ is about finding a way to survive the everyday.

‘The End of the World – And After’ is spoken by William Miller, a preacher who amassed a large following by predicting that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1844.

A one-hundred-and-thirteen year old woman tells an interviewer about her calmly scurrilous life in ‘Yesterday’s News’.

‘Glory’ is the final oration of Peregrinus Proteus, an Ancient Greek philosopher famous for parricide, before he steps on to his own funeral pyre.

In ‘No End to Dreaming’, an old man tells his psychoanalyst about growing up in the Cracow ghetto and about his dreams.

The monologues were presented by BBC Radio 3 in 1981.

Bazaar & Rummage

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Sue Townsend’s heartfelt comedy, three severely agoraphobic women have left their houses for the first time in years, and made it to a jumble sale. The sale has been organised by their social workers, the young trainee Fliss and the ex-agoraphobic volunteer Gwenda, though as the afternoon progresses, the distinction between them and the anxious people they are supposed to be looking after becomes less and less clear.

As Margaret, Bell-Bell and Katrina prepare to meet the public, armed with the suits of a deceased husband, old sequinned show dresses, bric-a-brac and a standard lamp, nerves and neuroses are running high, and a sensitive portrait of the suffering behind their phobia emerges.

Bazaar and Rummage was first presented in 1982 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London.

The Belle of the Belfast City

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Belle of Belfast City is a story of loyalty, both political and familial. At its centre is Dolly, once a music-hall star, whose ballads and memories weave through the play recalling the past. Vi, the elder of her daughters, stayed with her in Belfast, while the younger Rose has travelled all over the world as a journalist. She returns, bringing with her for the first time her mixed-race and illegitimate daughter Belle, who is named for her grandmother’s stage name. The extended family also includes the Protestant Loyalist fundamentalist Jack, and his sister Janet.

Against the background of protests about the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the play confronts different models of Loyalism and allegiance, a rich and honest lament.

The Belle of Belfast City was first produced in 1989 by the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast.

Beside Herself

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

St. Dymphna's is a halfway house for people with mental illness. On the board of management there sits Evelyn, an MP's wife, who is struggling desperately to make people like her; helping her father round the house, acceding to colleagues' requests and absorbing the stress she is quite obviously feeling, her innermost thoughts voiced to the audience by the otherwise unseen Eve.

For it seems that Evelyn is also not well, the spectre of mental illness dogging her as she puts on a timid, polite manner and faces the world as though nothing is the matter.

Named after the patron saint of the mentally ill – a girl whose father tried to seduce her then murdered her when she refused – St. Dymphna's Community Group Home becomes not just a place of work for Evelyn, but a safer space in which she can work out the problems afflicting her, and cut right to the source that caused them.

Beside Herself was first performed by the Women's Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court, London, on 29 March 1990.

Bicycle  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Deals with the brutal burning of 127 suspected anti-communists in a South Korean village by retreating soldiers of North Korean People's Liberation Army in 1950.  

audio Biloxi Blues

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The second hilarious installment of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy follows a naïve Eugene Jerome through boot camp. Performed by: Justine Bateman, Rob Benedict, Joshua Biton, John Cabrera, Matthew Patrick Davis, Steve Rankin, Josh Radnor, Russell Soder and Darby Stanchfield

Featuring: Justine Bateman, Rob Benedict, Joshua Biton, John Cabrera, Matthew Patrick Davis, Steve Rankin, Josh Radnor, Russell Soder, Darby Stanchfield

Blinded by the Light

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Blinded by the Light is a manic black comedy, a madcap farce of drinking, smoking, Mormons, Catholics, transvestites and a saint all crammed into the tiny bedsit of the hapless Mick.

Mick’s priorities in life are finding new ways to call in sick for work, getting hold of some roach paper, and seeing Siobhan again: he needs nothing else to make him happy. But in a moment of idleness he lets a couple of evangelical Mormons into his bedsit; they are so delighted to have found a friendly ear, it seems unlikely they’ll ever leave. Despite Mick’s increasingly desperate attempts to shock them out of all hope of converting him, soon they are visiting three times a week – prompting his landlord to invite over Lily and Jack from the Legion of Mary, to bring him back into the Catholic fold. Mick can just about juggle his schedule of visiting evangelicals, until the moment that the petty criminals from upstairs present him with the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunkett.

Bolger’s increasingly surreal comedy is a triumph of riotous humour and sharp observation. It was first produced in 1990 by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Blood and Ice

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Liz Lochhead's earliest play, Blood and Ice is a psychodrama that tells the story of Frankenstein’s creation and weaves a web of connections between Mary Shelley’s own tragic life and that of her literary monster. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 1982. It was later revived, in a revised version, by David McVicar at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1988, and subsequently toured by McVicar's company, Pen Name. It was again revived, in the version that was ultimately published, at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 24 October 2003.

The play unfolds as a series of flashbacks from the perspective of Mary Shelley in later life, disillusioned, let down by her friends, and struggling to understand her own creation, Frankenstein, or why she wrote it in the first place. It focuses on the summer of 1816, when eighteen-year-old Mary and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley are joined at a house party on the shores of Lake Geneva by Mary’s half-sister Claire and the infamous Lord Byron. They take part in a challenge to see who can write the most horrifying story. Little do they know that Mary’s contribution is to become one of the most celebrated novels of all time, nor how her life, already burdened with the death of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, is to be so full of tragedy.

Liz Lochhead, in a 2009 Introduction to the published text, writes 'It’s exactly thirty years since I first took down from a library shelf Muriel Spark’s Child of Light, her wonderful biography of Mary Shelley, and, shortly after, began my own pursuit. Could I make a play…? Naively, I was, at the time, quite blithely unaware that I wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t be the last, to be fired by the dramatic possibilities of this moment in history, that iconic stormy summer of 1816 by the shores of the lake and beneath the high Alps.'

The 2003 Royal Lyceum production was directed by Graham McLaren and performed by Lucianne McEvoy, Phil Matthews, Alex Hassel, Susan Coyle and Michele Rodley.

Blood Brothers

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A compelling story of friendship, loyalty and fate, Blood Brothers is one of the longest-running and most successful ever West End musicals, as well as one of the most moving.

Twin brothers are separated at birth because their mother cannot afford to keep them both; one of them is given away to a wealthy woman, the other remains with his mother. They become friends and swear to be blood brothers, all the time unaware of their true fraternity. But as they grow older, the two brothers find they can no longer ignore the class difference that divides them, and the love triangle that has dominated their lives erupts into a quarrel. The staggeringly emotional climax of the play questions whether it was destiny, or the inevitable difference of class, that led to the fatal conflict of two brothers who were once so close. Blood Brothers was first performed at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983.

Bloody Poetry

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An elegiac and fiery play about poetry and failed utopias, Bloody Poetry follows Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and their lovers Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont, into exile. This strange family, vilified for their private lives and socially banished to the Continent, try on the shores of Lake Geneva to find a new way of living, free of repression and constraint, and filled with love and revolutionary passion. But what emerges is a fascinating tangle of disappointments. Brenton stages the famous biographical events of the writers’ lives – the meeting of Shelley and Byron, the stormy night when Frankenstein was conceived – deftly and lyrically, a portrait of the failure of an ideal.

Bloody Poetry was first presented in 1984 at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester.

Bouncers (1990s Remix)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bouncers by John Godber shows a night on the tiles from the point of view of the men on the door. It is a funny, energetic piece of highly theatrical storytelling where the men are at once themselves, and every character they happen to meet on a night at work at the nightclub.

In his introduction, the author writes: 'In many ways the content informed the form. The boredom of the men on the door spills over into grotesque violence and fantasy. The antics of the girls and boys out for a night on the town hardly need developing to make them dramatic. The conflict between those wanting a good time and those stopping a good time from being had is a basic dramatic premise . . . the central theme of Bouncers is universal: men after beer after women, and the beat goes on.'

Bouncers premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1984. This revised version was first presented by the Hull Truck Theatre Company in 1991.

audio Breaking the Code

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Based on the book ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA by Andrew Hodges.

Simon Templeman stars as brilliant mathematician Alan Turning, the man who cracked the German Enigma code and enabled the Allies to win World War II. But Turing was to find that the country he saved cared less about his genius and more about his sexual orientation.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Sheelagh Cullen as Sara Turing Kenneth Danziger as Detective Mick Ross Peter Dennis as John Smith Samantha Robson as Pat Green Orlando Seale as Ron Miller W. Morgan Sheppard as Dillwyn Knox Andre Sogliuzzo as Christopher Morcom and Nikos Simon Templeman as Alan Turing Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in July, 2003. Breaking the Code 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: Sheelagh Cullen, Kenneth Danziger, Peter Dennis, Samantha Robson, Orlando Seale, W. Morgan Sheppard, Andre Sogliuzzo, Simon Templeman

audio Brighton Beach Memoirs

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In Neil Simon’s darkly funny memoir of his family in 1930’s Brooklyn, fourteen-year-old Eugene is preoccupied by his passion for the Yankees and his lust for his beautiful cousin, Nora. Eugene’s comic growing pains contrast with the darker issues troubling his family: poverty, illness and the growing Nazi threat to relatives in Europe. Simon creates a Brooklyn universe full of memorable characters, humor and truth. A BBC co-production.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Max Casella, Peter Michael Goetz, Valerie Harper, Alexana Lambros, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, Jonathan Silverman and Joyce Van Patten.

Featuring: Max Casella, Peter Michael Goetz, Valerie Harper, Alexana Lambros, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, Jonathan Silverman, Joyce Van Patten

audio Broadway Bound

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The final installment of the playwright Neil Simon’s acclaimed biographical Eugene Trilogy, preceded by Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues.

Having returned from World War II, Eugene Jerome and his brother Stanley pair up to break into the world of professional comedy writing. Inspiration strikes when they aim their sights on their dysfunctional family – and the network broadcasts it nationwide! A Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee for Best Play.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Caroline Aaron, Dan Castellaneta, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, James Gleason, Alan Mandell, Jonathan Silverman, JoBeth Williams and Scott Wolf.

Featuring: Caroline Aaron, Dan Castellaneta, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, James Gleason, Alan Mandell, Jonathan Silverman, JoBeth Williams, Scott Wolf

Byrthrite

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in the seventeenth century, Sarah Daniels' play Byrthrite tells the story of a group of women who, using a variety of tactics and paths, fight back against the growing, male-dominated obsession with herbal medicine, so-called 'witchcraft', and the purging of innocent women.

Grace, the oldest of the women, is to be condemned as a witch, but time and again, the women with whom she is friends band together in solidarity to protect her from the attention of the 'Newly appointed Woman-Finder General', Pricker.

In Byrthrite Daniels again and again shows the connection between the medical profession and the subjugation of women: as timely an observation in the era of IVF and the fight for abortion rights as it was in the seventeenth-century Britain, suggesting that solidarity amongst women in this matter can and should transcend all other dichotomies of politics, religion and wealth.

Byrthrite was first produced in the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, in 1986.

Can't Stand Up for Falling Down

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A woman's body is found in a quarry, eight years to the day since her son died in the same place. Three women, strangers to each other, are bound by these events through one man. They have to find a way to break free from 'the fallen' and stand up for themselves.

Winner of the 1990 Independent Theatre Award, Can't Stand up for Falling Down was first performed at that year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, before transferring to the Hampstead Theatre London.

A Chorus of Disapproval  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘Plunges us into an amateur operatic society production of The Beggar’s Opera. The result is magnificent comedy – symmetrically shaped, psychologically acute and painfully, heartbreakingly funny.’ Guardian

A Chorus of Disapproval premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in May 1984.

Christmas is Miles Away  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Chloë Moss's play Christmas Is Miles Away is a coming-of-age drama set in Manchester at the end of the 1980s. It was first performed at The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 2 November 2005, transferring to the Bush Theatre, London, in February 2006.

The play's action takes place in Manchester between February 1989 and October 1991. The play opens as best friends Christie and Luke, both sixteen, are camping out in a field not far from their homes. Christie is consumed with anxiety about whether he can pluck up the courage to ask Julie Bridges out on a date. Luke, brasher and more confident, offers to step in on his behalf and, in so doing, starts off a chain of events that will force a wedge between the two boys.

The premiere production was directed by Sarah Frankcom and designed by Jamie Todd. It was performed by David Judge (as Christie), Paul Stocker (as Luke) and Georgia Taylor (as Julie).

Coming Clean

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Coming Clean, Kevin Elyot’s first professionally produced play, looks at the breakdown of a gay couple’s relationship and examines complex questions of fidelity and love. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 3 November 1982.

The play is set in a flat in Kentish Town, north London, in 1982. Struggling writer Tony and his partner of five years, Greg, seem to have the perfect relationship. Committed and in love, they are both open to one-night stands as long as they don’t impinge on the relationship. But Tony is starting to yearn for something deeper, something more like monogamy. When he finds out that Greg has been having a full-blown affair with their cleaner, Robert, their differing attitudes towards love and commitment become clear.

In his foreword to Kevin Elyot: Four Plays (Nick Hern Books, 2004), Elyot writes 'From 1976 to 1984 I'd acted in several productions at the Bush Theatre, and Simon Stokes, one of the artistic directors, had casually suggested I try my hand at a play. I presented them with a script entitled Cosy, which was passed on to their literary manager Sebastian Born. He responded favourably and, largely through his support, it finally opened on 3 November 1982 under the title Coming Clean. Cosy had fallen out of favour – a pity, as I'd always liked the pun on the opera which plays such an important part. I came up with the present title as a necessary compromise after what had proved to be quite a bumpy ride from acceptance to premiere.'

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by David Hayman and designed by Saul Radomsky. The cast was Eamon Boland, C.J. Allen, Philip Donaghy, Ian McCurrach and Clive Mantle.

Coming Clean won the Samuel Beckett Award for writers showing particular promise in the field of the performing arts.

The Common Pursuit

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'I finished this play at six this morning, having worked through half of the night. I'’d also worked through three packages of cigarettes and half a bottle of malt whisky. But the main thing is that it'’s finished. Olé. I numbered the pages, packed and shaped them into a completed looking pile, toasted myself with a further gulp of whisky and a few more cigarettes, gloated. This, for me, is the only moment of pure happiness I ever experience in the playwriting business.' Simon Gray

'A play that delivers an unexpected depth charge of emotion. Gray'’s writing is sharp, funny and clever, and, more than twenty years after the piece'’s premiere, the dramatist'’s assumption of intelligence and cultural knowledge on the part of his audience seems breathtakingly daring… What a pleasure to re-encounter a splay that combines unabashed intelligence and zinging wit with rare generosity of spirit.' Daily Telegraph

The Common Pursuit was first performed in July 1984 at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London.

Conversations after a Burial

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Simon Weinberg is dead. And, on a November morning, six people gather at his funeral - brothers and a sister, lovers and in-laws. Mourning allows them a special privilege and, for a few hours, they are isolated in another world under a lingering sun, in the shadow of the deceased.

Conversations after a Burial is a savage but richly comic play which explores that ineffable moment of mourning, when the newly deceased is still almost palpable, the moment in which one can maintain the memory of a breath, the intense pause between absence and the return to everyday existence, between loss and life.

Conversations after a Burial premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in September 2000.

Conversations on a Homecoming

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Fresh from an apparently successful acting career abroad, Michael has returned to his old home town; back to the youth club-turned-pub where he and his friends once hashed out their plans for the future. That pub, 'The White House', stood as a place where free thought was possible for the young people of the town, away from the church and from the school. Now, though, the reunited friends are tied down to the realities of their lives after youth has given way to slow but steady decay, and as the evening wanes to night, their true lack of direction becomes clear through muddled conversations as pints are poured and drank.

Standing over all of this are the absent bar owner JJ and his beloved portrait of the late JFK, both fallen heroes from an idealistic and idealised time now long gone.

Conversations on a Homecoming was first performed by the Druid Theatre Company, Galway, on 16 April 1985, in a production directed by Garry Hynes.

The Crackwalker

Playwrights Canada Press
Type: Text

Teresa is sexy, seductive, and mentally challenged. Worshipped by her boyfriend, she turns tricks at $5, is addicted to Tim Hortons' doughnuts, lies without thinking, and overflows with endless kindness, but she continues to hold on to her limitless innocence. The Crackwalker captures the music, the dialect and the unpretty realities of the inner city. First produced thirty years ago, Thompson's striking portrayal of the discarded class in Canada continues to move audiences today.

audio David Mamet Shorts: Bobby Gould in Hell

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

audio David Mamet Shorts: The Shawl

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Death and the Maiden

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden is a psychological thriller about a woman who, in a country newly released from dictatorship, seeks revenge on the man she believes to have been her torturer. Translated by Dorfman from his original version in Spanish, La Muerte y la Doncella, the play was first performed as a reading at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London on 30 November 1990, before receiving its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs on 4 July 1991. It was later turned into a feature film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.

The play is set in a beach house in a country that, according to a note in the script, is 'probably Chile but could be any country that has given itself a democratic government just after a long period of dictatorship'. Years have passed since political prisoner, Paulina Salas, suffered at the hands of her captor: a man whose face she never saw, but whom she can still recall with terrifying clarity. Tonight, by chance, a stranger, Roberto Miranda, arrives at the secluded beach house she shares with her husband Gerardo Escobar, a human rights lawyer and member of the Commission set up to investigate the terrible crimes perpetrated under the dictatorship. Paulina is convinced the stranger was her tormentor and believes he must now be held to account.

The play's first performances took place soon after Chile's return to democracy following the end of General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. In an Afterword to the published edition of the play, Dorfman explains that, although he'd had the idea for the play some 'eight or nine years' before, 'It was not until Chile returned to democracy in 1990 and I myself therefore returned to resettle there with my family after seventeen years of exile, that I finally understood how the story had to be told'.

The first reading at the ICA in London was directed by Peter James, with Penelope Wilton as Paulina, Michael Maloney as Gerardo and Jonathan Hyde as Roberto.

A workshop production was staged in Santiago, Chile, on 10 March 1991directed by Ana Reeves, with Maria Elena Duvauchelle as Paulina, Hugo Medina as Gerardo and Tito Bustamente as Roberto.

The world premiere at the Royal Court Upstairs on 4 July 1991 was directed by Lindsay Posner with Juliet Stevenson as Paulina, Bill Paterson as Gerardo and Michael Byrne as Roberto. The production moved to the Main Stage at the Royal Court on 31 October 1991, with the same cast and director.

The play then transferred on 11 February 1992 with the same cast to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End.

The American Broadway premiere opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater on 17 March 1992 directed by Mike Nichols, with Glenn Close as Paulina, Richard Dreyfuss as Gerardo and Gene Hackman as Roberto.

A feature film version followed in 1994, directed by Roman Polanski with a screenplay by Rafael Yglesias and Ariel Dorfman, starring Sigourney Weaver as Paulina, Ben Kingsley as Roberto and Stuart Wilson as Gerardo.

Derek

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Derek is a short farce with the significance of social commentary, telling a story of waste and exploitation.

The aristocratic Biff is the proud possessor of an Eton education, a Sandhurst polishing, and a mental age of a ten-year-old. To his disgust, some people have pointed out that because of the latter he should not be made a Member of Parliament. So Biff needs a genius desperate enough to sell his brain, and finds Derek, a floor-sweeper who has just outsmarted a safe and stolen two million pounds.

The play is a comic but sharp critique of social stratifications which allow those with a privileged background to steal the life and self of those less fortunate, and send them to die in wars they don’t understand.

Derek was first performed in 1982 at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Youth Festival at The Other Place, Stratford Upon Avon.

The Devil's Gateway

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Second floor flat in Bethnal Green, and the world is looming large over the lives of Betty and her neighbours. If it's not Social Services, then it's Social Security; if not's unemployment, then it's the bomb. Betty and her old friend Enid, who is trapped in an abusive marriage, are mirrored across town by Enid's daughter Linda, and Linda's lover Fiona, while Betty's daughter Carol tries and fails to duck in and around the whims of her bullying husband.

And all the while on Greenham Common, women are taking action. Against the bomb; and against the patriarchal system that would drop it. We're used, Daniels writes, to seeing men go off to war but we should get used to women going off for peace.

The Devil's Gateway was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, Upstairs, London, in 1983.

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman...?

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? is a painful love story divided by sectarianism, and punctuated by the tasteless racist jokes of an anti-Irish comedian.

Allison’s family don’t want her to marry Brian, a Catholic whose brother is serving a life sentence for terrorist offences. Brian’s family don’t want him to marry Allison, as she is a Protestant, and the niece of a Unionist politician. The play parallels scenes of their two families, doubling characters to bring together two groups so impossibly divided. Allison and Brian’s brilliant optimistic hope that they will rise above the feud becomes heartbreaking as the play shows that the perpetuation of conflict is more powerful than either of them.

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? was first produced during a Royal Shakespeare Company tour of America in 1985; this revised version was first performed in 1987 at the King’s Head Theatre, London.

Dracula (adapt. Lochhead)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Liz Lochhead's Dracula is a stage adaptation of Bram Stoker’s hugely influential novel. It was first performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 13 March 1985.

Jonathan Harker, engaged to Mina Westerman, has come from England to Count Dracula’s crumbling mansion in the Carpathian Mountains to provide legal aid in a real estate transaction. Dracula has bought a castle next to an asylum in England and plans to travel over to take up his new residence. While at first impressed by Dracula’s inviting manner, Jonathan soon becomes unnerved by the sinister goings-on within the castle, including a terrifying encounter with three vampire brides. Meanwhile, back in England, strange things are also afoot. Asylum inmate Renfield is raving about ‘not letting him in’ and Mina’s sister Lucy is growing paler by the day. Dr Seward, in love with Lucy and fearful for her life, calls in his rival Van Helsing to help solve the mystery of her illness. It seems Dracula is on his way.

In her 2009 Introduction to the published text, Lochhead writes 'Rereading it now, my version – and I haven’t for years – I see what a strong debt the whole atmosphere of it owes to my other reading at the time. My appetites have always found deeply satisfying the work of Isak Dinesen (real name: Karen Blixen, the Danish baroness, author of Out of Africa), whose Seven Gothic Tales and, especially, her Winter’s Tales are so pervaded by loneliness and longing. And an aching luminous loveliness and "bottomless wisdom". She’s like an even more deeply visionary and romantic Hans Christian Andersen – for grown-ups, though.

'I also by then had read, and reread – it’s so gorgeous — The Bloody Chamber, by the great and original Angela Carter, whose equally delicious but deliberately more ornate and baroquely romantic tales were also soul food for the feminine imagination.'

The Royal Lyceum premiere was directed by Hugh Hodgart and designed by Gregory Smith. It was performed by Patricia Ross, Irene McDougall, Tamara Kennedy, Vari Sylvester, Laurie Ventrie, Robin Sneller, John McGlynn, Sean McCarthy and Tam Dean Burn.

audio Dracula (adapt. Morey)

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Before Twilight and True Blood, only one vampire commanded “the children of the night.” In this blood-thirsty tale of unholy terror, Count Dracula slips into Victorian London with a cargo of his native Transylvanian soil - so he can rest between victims. The city seems helpless against his frightful power, and only one man, Dr. Van Helsing, can stop the carnage. But to do this, he must uncover the vampire’s lair and pierce his heart with a wooden stake.

Program note from Rosalind Ayres, director of the live performance by L.A. Theatre Works: “For centuries man has dreamed of a life beyond death. Chinese Emperors were buried with clay armies to protect them in the next world. Egyptian Pharaohs were entombed with all the belongings they would need in the afterlife. But how might it be possible to cheat death itself? Well, try the myth of the Vampire. One who, by constantly drinking the ‘life force,’ the blood of others, could ensure eternal survival. In Charles Morey's dramatization of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, the creed of the Vampire and the Christian belief in 'life everlasting' is juxtaposed. It's the eternal struggle between good and evil. Plus, the confidence of scientific beliefs and theory, marred only by that uncomfortable shaft of inexplicable fear when something goes 'Bump' in the night. Enter Dracula...” An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: David Selby as Abraham Van Helsing John Glover as Renfield Simon Templeman as Count Dracula Matthew Wolf as Arthur Holmwood Moira Quirk as Lucy Westenra Lisa O’hare as Mina Murray Harker Nick Toren as Dr. John Seward Karl Miller as Jonathan Harker André Sogliuzzo as Maxwell and others Sheelagh Cullen as Mrs. Westenra and others Denise Carole as Tart and others Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Denise Carole, Sheelagh Cullen, John Glover, Karl Miller, Lisa O'Hare, Moira Quirk, David Selby, Andre Sogliuzzo, Simon Templeman, Nick Toren, Matthew Wolf

audio Each Day Dies With Sleep

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Written by José Rivera, recent Academy Award Nominee for The Motorcycles Diaries, Each Day Dies with Sleep is the story of a young woman’s struggle to find an identity apart from the two men in her life – her father and her husband. Written in Rivera’s typical satiric and super realistic style, this fantastical tragic-comedy leaps from coast to coast, and from one outrageous moment to the next.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Laura Ceron, Noe Cuellar and Frankie Davila.

Featuring: Laura Ceron, Noe Cuellar, Frankie Davila

Ecstasy

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mike Leigh’s play is a paean to loneliness and longing that paints a portrait of a group of old friends catching up on a Friday night.

1979. The winter of discontent is over and Margaret Thatcher’s regime is about to transform the country. Stuck in her cramped Kilburn bedsit, Jean is trying to live some sort of life, trapped in a cycle of hopeless dalliances with violent men and continually drowning her sorrows. After an unexpected home invasion by the furious wife of her latest lover, she is persuaded by friend Dawn to throw a little get-together that evening for old times’ sake. Joining them is Dawn’s Irish husband, Mick and their old pal, Len for a drunken celebration of their mutual affection, filled with memories and songs from their youth. It is only after the fun has died down that Jean reveals the full extent of her aching melancholy.

Ecstasy was first performed at the Hampstead Theatre in London in 1979 with a cast that included Julie Walters, Stephen Rea and Jim Broadbent – all of them virtual unknowns at the time. In an unprecedented move, Mike Leigh returned to the play twenty-two years later when it was revived at the same venue in 2011. The revival transferred to the West End later that year and garnered excellent reviews.

Edmond

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A fortune-teller’s teasing rumination sends Edmond lurching into New York City’s hellish underworld, his whole life abandoned in a searing quest for self-discovery and redemption. From brothels to jail cells, card-sharps to chaplains, Edmond depicts a man on a mission which is doomed to cycle through hope and disappointment.

Writing about the play, the Financial Times wrote: ‘A stunning amorality play, glittering and disturbing, suspended in the dark void of contemporary New York. It is also a technically adventurous piece pared brilliantly to the bone, highly theatrical in its scenic elisions.’

Edmond was first performed at the Goodman Theater, Chicago, in June 1982, in a production directed by Gregory Mosher.

video An Englishman Abroad (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Alan Bennett's award-winning film drama based on a meeting between Australian actress, Coral Browne and British spy, Guy Burgess. Alan Bates stars in a story based on a true incident which took place in Moscow in 1958. British spy, Guy Burgess encounters actress Coral Browne (who plays herself) on tour from the 'old country'. Invited to lunch at Burgess's shabby apartment, he presents her with a strange request. Both Browne and Bates were winners of BAFTA awards for acting for their roles in this production.

Credits:

Guy Burgess: Alan Bates; Herself: Coral Browne; Claudius: Charles Gray; Rosencrantz: Harold Innocent; Guildenstern: Vernon Dobtcheff; General: Czeslaw Grocholski; Boy: Matthew Sim; Hamlet: Mark Wing-Davey; Hotel Receptionist: Faina Zinova; Toby: Douglas Reith; Giles: Peter Chelsom; Tessa: Judy Gridley; Scarf Man: Bibs Ekkel; Tolya: Alexei Jawdokimov; Mrs Burgess: Molly Veness; Tailor: Denys Hawthorne; Shoe Shop Assistant: Roger Hammond; George: Charles Lamb; Pyjama Shop Manager: Trevor Baxter; Writer: Alan Bennett; Director: John Schlesinger; Producer: Innes Lloyd.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

The Factory Girls

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Factory Girls was first performed at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, in March 1982.

Fen

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Against the flat, bleak landscape of the Fenlands, men and women are cramped into bitterness by grinding labour and economic oppression.

Fen is composed of brief, fiercely resonant scenes, carving with powerful humanity the desolate lives of the village’s men and women. Three girls sing of being hairdressers or housewives when they grow up. Angela makes her stepdaughter drink water from the kettle. The representative of a City corporation purrs and placates her way to buying a farm that has been in the same family for generations. Ninety-year-old Ivy dreams aloud of union struggles. But the hard spine of the play is Val, a thirty-year-old who finds herself caught between her children and her lover – happy in brief moments, yet tormented past hope.

First performed in 1983 at the University of Essex Theatre, Fen is a flinty, eerie play, haunted by the ghosts of starving field workers and claustrophobic in its condemnation of agrarian and social exploitation.

The Ferryman

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jez Butterworth's play The Ferryman is about a family whose life on a farm in rural Northern Ireland is disrupted when the past comes back to haunt them. It was first performed at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 24 April 2017, and subsequently transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End on 20 June 2017.

The play is set in rural County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in late August 1981.

A short Prologue, set the previous day in Derry, establishes the context: the body of Seamus Carney, who disappeared on New Year's Day 1972, when he was twenty years old, has been discovered in a peat bog in County Louth, just across the border; he had been shot in the head, apparently in retribution for his defection from the IRA. Now Seamus's widow, Caitlin, and their son, Oisin, live under the same roof as Seamus's brother, Quinn, a man who has had his own associations with the IRA, but who has long devoted himself to maintaining the family farm, as well as looking after his ailing wife Mary and their six children. Amongst the household too are Quinn’s uncle Pat, and his aunts, Patricia and Maggie, the one a staunch and bitter Irish republican, the other a gentle soul whose long silences are broken by voluble outbursts. Also present is an English factotum, Tom Kettle, a man of slow wits, but whose seemingly bottomless pockets provide amusement for the Carney children. Through it all, Quinn harbours an unspoken love for Caitlin as the family go about observing their ritual harvest celebrations, only to find their lives upended by the arrival of IRA power figure, Muldoon, out to prevent any further damage to the Republican cause resulting from the discovery of Seamus's body.

The premiere production of The Ferryman was directed by Sam Mendes and designed by Rob Howell. It was performed by Turlough Convery, Eugene O’Hare, Gerard Horan, Stuart Graham, Paddy Considine (as Quinn Carney), Laura Donnelly (as Caitlin Carney), Elise Alexandre, Meibh Campbell, Darcey Conway, Angel O’Callaghan, Clara Murphy, Bríd Brennan, Carla Langley, Des McAleer, Niall Wright, Sophia Ally, Grace Doherty, Rob Malone, Dearbhla Molloy, John Hodgkinson, Fra Fee, Genevieve O’Reilly, Tom Glynn-Carney, Conor MacNeill, Michael McCarth and Xavier Moras Spencer.

Gasping

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Philip is challenged by his boss to find a new way of making money from nothing, he invents the Suck and Blow machine and along with it the business of air – providing private air, stockpiling air, and eventually selling air. A flash advertising campaign soon convinces the public that everyone needs a Suck and Blow, but as the market for oxygen grows, the world’s supply is diminishing.

In this sharp-witted satire on the ludicrous, dangerous endgame of commodification, Ben Elton pushes the logic of capitalism through to its ridiculous and alarming conclusion. Gasping, first presented in 1990 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, is a whirl of innuendo, an exuberant mockery of yuppie culture and a scintillating parody of corporate greed.

The Genius

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A nuclear physicist runs away from the horrifying consequences of his research in this flinty, electric modern parallel to Brecht’s Life of Galileo.

Brenton’s genius is Leo Lehrer, a brilliant and magnetic American, in academic exile at a rainy English Midlands university because he refused to work for the Pentagon. His inability to confront the moral and ethical implications of his discoveries leave him unable to work, or do anything except get high and sleep with his friend’s wife in the snow.

Then he meets Gilly, a first year mathematics student, who can do the equations he has been trying to hide from: she has worked them out for herself. Together they struggle to deny science’s imperative for progress, and stare in horror at the momentous power which they have articulated.

The Genius was first performed in 1983 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

The Gigli Concert

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

JPW King is a dynamatologist – an English purveyor of a cultish quack psychology-cum-science whose Dublin office is far from thriving; indeed his professional space is also his only domestic arrangement as he eats rough meals and sleeps in the office, occasionally receiving visits from his lover Mona and making phone calls to his 'true' love Helen.

When an Irish man arrives to enlist King's services – he wants to be able to sing like the great Italian opera singer Beniamino Gigli – a symbiotic deadlock of character ensues, with each man playing his part, at times believing and then despairing of ever achieving any goal, whether practical or fantastic.

In his introduction to Murphy: Plays 3, Irish critic Fintan O'Toole writes: 'With The Gigli Concert, arguably Murphy's masterpiece, we get something even more ambitious [than The Sanctuary Lamp], a full-scale dramatisation of the impossible. With one set and three characters, Murphy gives us an operatic drama complete with deaths and arias, a version of Faust in which the Irishman's Mephistopheles tempts JPW into taking on his own demonic striving, and in which against all the laws of reality this down-at-heel alchemist finds the philosopher's stone of despair that enables him to transmute the leaden metal of his life into a moment of pure, glittering possibility.'

The Gigli Concert is an astonishing story of human intention and achievement. It was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 1983.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Glengarry Glen Ross is a spikey, powerful, and nerve-wracking story of four real estate salesmen, colleagues in the same firm, who are engaged in a sales competition to try and sell off as many units of real estate as possible. But when some of the character feel that the leads are weighted in favour of those already doing well, alternative tactics are deployed to try and gain ground.

The play has been critically acclaimed since its first release, garnering major awards including the 1983 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 1984 New York Drama Critics' Circle for Best American Play, the 2005 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Glengarry Glen Ross was first presented in the Cottesloe auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 21 September 1983. The US premiere took place the following year at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago on 6 February 1984, before transferring to the John Golden Theater on Broadway on 25 March 1984. It was subsequently adapted for the screen by the author, the film being released in 1992 and starring Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Jonathan Pryce and Kevin Spacey.