Plays by Diane Samuels


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Between 1939 until the outbreak of World War II, nearly 10,000 Jewish children were taken from their families in Nazi-occupied Germany and sent to live with foster families in Britain. Diane Samuels’ seminal play, Kindertransport, imagines the fate of one such child. Now widely considered a modern classic, Kindertransport has been read and studied the world over.

Nine-year-old Eva is taken from her home in Germany and sent to Manchester to live with the Miller family. At first she clashes with her foster mother, Lil, but slowly a bond of trust forms between them. After she learns that her parents have failed to escape Germany, the Millers become her family and a new identity begins to form. After the war is over, she changes her name to Evelyn and acquires British citizenship. Over thirty years later, her now grown-up daughter, Faith stumbles across some old letters in their attic and Evelyn is forced to confront her traumatic past. Samuels deftly weaves together Evelyn’s past and present as she explores the devastating impact of the Holocaust on three generations.

The play won the 1992 Verity Bargate Award and was subsequently staged by the Soho Theatre Company at the Cockpit Theatre in London in 1993. It was a huge success both in the UK and the US, where it was staged at the Manhattan Theatre Club, with the New Yorker calling it ‘a powerful contribution to Holocaust literature.’ It also won the Meyer-Whitworth Award in 1993.

Since its premiere the play has been revived several times. Watford Palace Theatre staged it in 1996, in a production that transferred to the West End. Renowned theatre company Shared Experience also revived the play to great acclaim for a regional tour in 2007. Kindertransport is a set-text for GCSE Drama (AQA) and AS/A-Level English Literature.

audio Kindertransport

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

As conditions deteriorated in Germany in the 1930s, many Jews tried in vain to escape. But thanks to a British humanitarian effort, about 10,000 Jewish children from Germany and neighboring countries were relocated to live with families in the United Kingdom, while their parents stayed behind. This passage to freedom became known as Kindertransport, and is the title of Diane Samuels’ play about families, secrets, and survival.

Includes a conversation with Kindertransport survivor Hilda Fogelson.

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

Jane Kaczmarek as Helga

Hugo Armstrong as Ratcatcher/ Misc.

Shannon Lee Clair as Eva

Angela Paton as Lil

Molly Quinn as Faith

Susan Sullivan as Evelyn

Directed by Jeanie Hackett. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience.

Featuring: Hugo Armstrong, Shannon Lee Clair, Jane Kaczmarek, Angela Paton, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan

The True Life Fiction of Mata Hari

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Diane Samuels’ long-awaited follow-up to her international hit play, Kindertransport, is the story behind the notorious World War One femme fatale, known as Mata Hari.

It is 1917. The First World War is taking a heavy toll on Paris. Paranoia and chauvinism are rampant. Mata Hari, celebrated exotic dancer, is arrested for passing information to Germany and interrogated by two Frenchman who believe that she is the greatest female spy of the century. Whilst she proclaims her sincerity and innocence, her captors are increasingly convinced that everything she says is a lethal fiction. Mata Hari has often been viewed as an icon of dangerous female sexuality, but Samuels’ play probes more complex questions with regards to the fluidity of her identity and the nature of celebrity.

The True Life Fiction of Mata Hari was first performed at the Palace Theatre in Watford in 2002 with Italian-Australian film star Greta Scacchi in the lead role.

Picture of Diane Samuels

Diane Samuels was born and raised in Liverpool. She currently lives in London, where she has been writing extensively as a playwright and author since the early 1990s.

Her play Kindertransport, first produced by Soho Theatre Company in 1993, won the Verity Bargate and Meyer-Whitworth Awards. It has been translated into many languages and performed all over the world. It was revived in 2007 by Shared Experience and in 2013 for a national tour by Hall and Childs. It is now studied at A and AS Level, and is a set text for English Literature GCSE. Her other plays include The True Life Fiction of Mata Hari (Watford Palace Theatre, 2002); Cinderella’s Daughter (Trestle Theatre tour, 2005) and 3 Sisters on Hope Street (with Tracy-Ann Oberman), after Chekhov and inspired by the Jewish community of her upbringing (co-produced by Liverpool Everyman Playhouse/Hampstead Theatre, 2008).

Her plays for younger audiences include One Hundred Million Footsteps for Quicksilver Theatre Company; Chalk Circle, Frankie’s Monster (adapted from The Monster Garden by Vivien Alcock) and How to Beat a Giant at the Unicorn Theatre.

She has written many plays for BBC radio, including Swine, Doctor Y, Watch Out for Mister Stork and Hen Party. Tiger Wings, an original drama based on pilot Joan Allen’s 1948 solo flight from England to Singapore, was broadcast as a five-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 2012.

Diane has wide experience of teaching creative writing, lecturing at the universities of Birmingham, Reading, Oxford and Goldsmiths, and running workshops for IATE (Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education), Alternatives, Theatre Royal Haymarket and the National Gallery. She was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, 2008 to 2011, and visiting lecturer at Regent’s University, London from 2013. She runs regular writers’ groups for adults at her home and is writer-in-residence at Grafton Primary School in Islington, North London.

Diane was one of a creative team awarded a Science on Stage and Screen Award by the Wellcome Trust in 2001. The resulting work, PUSH, was performed at the People Show Studios in London in 2003. Her short story, Rope, was broadcast as one of the 2002 winners of BBC Radio 4’s online short-story competition, and in 2011 she wrote and recorded Essay: Inter-rail Postcards for BBC Radio 3. As Pearson Creative Research Fellow 2004/5 at the British Library, she completed research into magic, and her booklet A Writer’s Magic Notebook was published in 2006.

Musical theatre includes the book and lyrics for Persephone (A Love Story), with composer/lyricist Maurice Chernick, and the book for The A-Z of Mrs P, tracing the creation of the London A-Z street guide, with music and lyrics by Gwyneth Herbert (Southwark Playhouse, 2014).

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