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See you in court

Consent, our new play by Nina Raine, revolves around a court case: two friends take opposing briefs in a rape trial. But the techniques they use to spin their side of events also crop up in their personal lives. The inherent theatricality of the courtroom can make for powerful drama. Here we look at some other great courtroom plays. Thanks to Lucy Morehen.

Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the film version of A Few Good Men

A FEW GOOD MEN by Aaron Sorkin

Daniel Kaffee is an inexperienced military lawyer, assigned to defend two US marines accused of the murder of a fellow marine at Guantanamo Bay. Over the course of the trial, the defence unearth a wider conspiracy around the murder, establishing the existence of a “code-red’ order – an extrajudicial punishment beating.

The play was inspired by real events and several people have claimed to be the “real” Kaffee, though Sorkin has said the character is not based on any one individual.

The Headlong/Almeida produciton of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT by Stephen Adly Guirgis:

Guitgis imagines a court cae to determine the fate of Jesus kisser/betrayer Judas Iscariot. The play uses flashbacks to an imagined childhood, and lawyers who call for testomines from people such as Mother Teresa, Saint Monia, Sigmund Freud and even Satan.

 

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by William Shakespeare:

Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, quite literally demands a pound of flesh from merchant Antonio as the price of failing to repay a loan.

Bafflingly, Antonio agrees: the loan is to help his dear friend Bassanio pursue marriage. When Antonio’s ships fail to come in, Shylock takes him to court to demand his due. Why be lenient when he has been treated appallingly by Antonio and his circle for years?

Bassanio’s new wife, Portia, poses as lawyer and takes to the court, finding a loophole in the particular wording of the agreement, arguing that Shylock may take his pound of flesh but if any blood is shed, or the weight taken is not exactly a pound, or any harm comes to Antonio, Shylock will lose his fortune – and his life.

 

THE ACCUSED

Jeffrey Archer’s third play cast the audience as its jury, and himself as Dr Sherwood, accused of murdering his wife. Two endings were prepared, depending on the audience’s vote.

 

TWLEVE ANGRY MEN by Reginald Rose:

Twelve nameless jurors must decide whether a young man killed his own father.

The stakes are high: during the play the jury are told if they reach a guilty verdict, it will result in the death sentence.

Twelve Angry Men explores the roles of race and class within a justice system that depends on the willing participation of its citizens. The play was adapted from Rose’s original teleplay of the same title in 1954 and made its Broadway debut fifty years later.

To Kill A Mockingbird, at Regents Park Open Air Theatre

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee:

Lawyer Atticus Finch is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman – an impossible task in the social climate, despite the significant evidence supporting Tom’s innocence. Lee’s genius move was to tell her Depression-era story through the eyes of Scout, Atticus’ young daughter.

The best-known adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel is the 1962 film, but the 1990 stage adaptation has been performed widely including a 2013 production starring Robert Shawn Leonard.

 

THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller:

Three girls and a black slave are caught dancing in the woods by local minister Reverend Parris, whose daughter has fallen into a coma-like sleep.

Rumours of witchcraft fly about, and the resulting persecutions and trials engulf the town. But more earthly secrets complicates the proceedings, not least the past affair between one of the young women and John Proctor, a local farmer who is eventually hung for witchcraft, having refused to make an official confession that might save his life.

The Crucible is set amid the witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Miller wrote it during the administration of Senator Joseph McCarthy, to whose House Committee on Un-American Activities Miller had testified, but refused to name suspected Communists.

Kevin Spacey in Inherit The Wind at the Old Vic

INHERIT THE WIND by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee:

Highlighting the cultural clash between science and religion, Inherit the Wind follows the trial of Bertram Cates, who has been arrested for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The small-town court case draws national attention with lawyers and journalists flocking in from all around.

It was based on the 1925 trial of teacher John T Scopes in Tennessee USA. In 1922, a legislator from Tennessee had argued that since the bible provided the basis for the American government any deviation from it constituted as disrespect to the law.

The play gets its title from the Book of Proverbs which says, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind; and the fool shall be servant to the wise of the heart.”

 

THE WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION by Agatha Christie:

[SPOILER!]

A young man named Leonard Vole is arrested for the murder of Emily French, a wealthy middle-aged woman with whom Leonard has had an affair and who has made Leonard her principle heir.

Leonard’s wife Romaine testifies in the trial, not to his defence but as a witness for the prosecution. At first, her testimony seems a damning indictment that will see him hanged. But some of her evidence proves fabricated, and the case against Vole collapses. It is, however, a deliberate ploy: by playing an unreliable witness, Romaine secures her husband’s freedom.

Christie’s play was first published as a short story, and she revised the ending more than once.

 

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS by Robert Bolt:

Sir Thomas More was the Chancellor of England in the 16th Century. He was charged with treason for refusing to approve King Henry VIII’s wish to divorce Catherine of Aragon in order to Marry Anne Boleyn. At trial he is found guilty, and the town gathers to see him beheaded.

The Catholic martyr’s life and trial are also the subject of Thomas More, a play written by Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle with contributions from other writers including William Shakespeare.

 

LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL by Laurence O’Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Heather Hach:

Based on the novel written by Amanda Brown and after the success of the 2001 film, Legally Blonde The Musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won three Olivier Awards. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girls who follows her ex-boyfriend in enrolling at Harvard Law in a bid to win him back by attempting to appear more substantial. At first look, people have little faith in Elle’s abilities, but much to their surprise in a dramatic court case Elle successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wydham in a murder trial against her rich, older husband.

 

CHICAGO THE MUSICAL by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and John Kander

In 1924, reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins covered two unrelated murder trials, both of which featured a woman who had been accused of murdering a man. Both women were acquitted. She adapted the stories into a play, Chicago, which was much later adapted into the far better known 1975 musical.

Chicago exploits the jazz-age backdrop to the events in its music, and explores society’s expectations of women.

 

A MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH by Robert Shaw:

Holocaust survivor Arthur Goldman is now a rich and eccentric industrialist living in luxury in Manhattan. He is kidnapped by Mossad, and taken to Israel to be tried as a Nazi war criminal, accused of running the death camp at which he claimed his family were killed.

Goldman’s own extraordinary defence at trial draws on myriad and far-reaching cultural and historical references, and leaves his identity in question till the end.

Shaw’s play, based on his 1967 novel and adapted with the help of Harold Pinter, was inspired by the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

 

The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS by John Kander, Fred Ebb and David Thompson

In the infamous Scottsboro boys trial of 1931 nine African-American teenagers were accused of raping two white American women on a train. Their accusers make the accusation as a distractive ploy after being recognised as prostitutes by the police. So begins a painfully long trial process, in which their first defence lawyer is useless and a drunk.

 

THE TRIAL OF GOD by Elie Wiesel:

Three minstrels arrive at an inn in the city of Shamgorod. It is Purim, a holiday commemorating the defeat of a planned genocide against Jews. But when they discover that all the city’s Jews have been massacred except for the innkeeper, they decide to put their God on trial for allowing such carnage.

 

Corbyn & May in the spotlight: read short satirical plays by top writers

Exclusive: read short new plays by Alistair Beaton, Stella Feehily and David Hare.

Sarah Alexander in The Accidental Leader. Photo by Robert Workman

“Oh, I do love your centre ground. Sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? The centre ground. But does the centre ground stay in the same place? I don’t think so.”
– The Accidental Leader

READ THE PLAYS:

Alistair Beaton: The Accidental Leader
Stella Feehily: How To Get Ahead In Politics
David Hare: Ayn Rand Takes A Stand

In May we opened a show called A View From Islington North*, comprising short political satires. Here we publish three of the scripts in full, with the kind permission of writers Alistair Beaton, Stella Feehily and David Hare. We think they make for a funny, exasperating and illuminating read.

One proved uncannily prescient: Alistair Beaton’s The Accidental Leader imagined a Labour MP orchestrating a mass resignation of shadow cabinet members in protest at the party’s Corbyn-like leader. We could barely believe it when in late June, towards the end of our run, this happened in real life almost exactly as Alistair had written it, to the extent that people who saw the play subsequently got in touch to ask if it had been hastily rewritten. We hadn’t changed a word. Alistair’s play brilliantly articulates the debate in the Labour Party today: the arguments over its soul, its mission, its achievements and the compromises it must make to gain power.

In the highly imaginative Ayn Rand Takes A Stand, David Hare puts the then home secretary Theresa May on stage in a searing piece that found a deep contradiction in her political philosophy. It’s well worth a read now she’s the boss.

And Stella Feehily’s gloriously cynical How To Get Ahead In Politics was inspired by accusations of bullying and sexual harassment within the Conservative Party and sees a Chief Whip practising his dark arts to contain a scandal.

READ THE PLAYS:

Alistair Beaton: The Accidental Leader
Stella Feehily: How To Get Ahead In Politics
David Hare: Ayn Rand Takes A Stand

SEE ALSO:

A brief history of satire
Can laughter change the world? Satirists on satire

*Islington North is Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency – and it’s also where Out of Joint is based!


If you’ve enjoyed reading (or seeing) these plays, please consider making a small gift to Out of Joint.

Donate with JustGiving GiftAid

A View from Islington North – cast

Joseph  Prowen, Sarah Alexander, Steve John Shepherd, Ann Mitchell, Kathryn O'Reilly, Bruce Alexander, Jane Wymark

Joseph Prowen, Sarah Alexander, Steve John Shepherd, Ann Mitchell, Kathryn O’Reilly, Bruce Alexander, Jane Wymark

Meet the cast of A View from Islington North, our forthcoming West End show featuring imaginative, provocative and hilarious political plays from some of the country’s finest writers.

The company includes

Bruce Alexander
A Touch of Frost, Love and Marriage, Out of Joint’s Ciphers

Sarah Alexander
Smack the Pony, Coupling, Armstrong and Miller

Ann Mitchell
Best known as Cora Cross in EastEnders and Dolly Rawlins in Linda La Plante’s Widows series, extensive stage work includes Whose Life Is It Anyway (West End)

Kathryn O’Reilly
Our Country’s Good (Out of Joint in the West End), Call The Midwife 

Joseph Prowen
Single Spies and An Ideal Husband, Chichester Festival Theatre

Steve Jack Shepherd
Michael Moon’ in Eastenders, Jo in This Life; Lunch Monkeys, Waking The Dead

Jane Wymark
Midsomer Murders, Poldark, Out of Joint’s This May Hurt A Bit

Sarah Alexander appears until 4 June. Kathryn O’Reilly appears from 6 June.

Read about A View From Islington North

 

Women and witchcraft

four women are standing in a row all wearing black cloaks one is holding a small human like figure, next to her another is holding a candle and book and next to her is the other holding a basket full of these small human like figures. Beneath them are two other women bending over one in a yellow robe who is reaching out to the other woman who is bent even further down dressed in white. In the background there are three birds hovering behind the women.

One of Francesco de Goya’s witch paintings

Why were women so vulnerable to being accused of witchcraft?

By 1712, when our play Jane Wenham: Witch of Walkern is set, the most intense period of witch hunting was over, although still within living memory. During the height of the hunts somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people were tried and of those 50,000 to 100,000 executed. The idea of a witch had changed from someone who used magic for good or evil, to someone who had made a pact with the Devil to his bidding. It became not just about what you did but who you were, and to the authorities it became less important to prove a witch had committed evil magic in order to secure a conviction.

A huge proportion of those accused and killed were women. Here’s some background:

Women were the preservers of popular culture
It has been argued the “witchcraze” was part of a larger struggle by the elites to suppress popular culture, and to force those in rural areas to assimilate urban values. Women were  the preservers and transmitters of popular culture, and so particularly suspect.

There were increasing numbers of unmarried women
During the sixteenth century, there were more unmarried women who were seen as out of the control of a man, and hence more suspect. This happened because people married at a later age, the number of people who never married also increased, female life expectancy rose, and male life expectancy decreased as a result of religious wars.

Women were less powerful
Women were seen as having less physical, economic, and political power than men, and therefore likelier to resort scolding, cursing and casting spells.

Women worked with with the young and the sick
Women women worked in areas of life in which witchcraft appeared to explain tragic events: they watched over animals which could die mysteriously; prepared food which could become spoiled inexplicably; nursed the sick of all ages who could die without warning; and cared for children who were even more likely to die unexpectedly.

Some women embraced their reputation for witchcraft
We might assume that women would do everything they could to avoid accusations of witchcraft, but a reputation for witchcraft could protect a woman and some embraced it. This might explain the number of women who confessed to being witches without the application or even threat of torture—after years of providing magical services, they were as convinced as their neighbours of their own powers.

Women accused women
Women number prominently amongst accusers and witnesses because the actions witches were initially charged with were generally part of women’s sphere. Household or neighbourhood antagonisms often led to accusations, particularly between those women who knew each other’s lives intimately, such as servants and mistresses or close neighbours.


This information is taken from a brilliant programme essay by Dr Roberta Anderson. You can read the essay in the programme-script for Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern

Buy the Faber script of Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern at our exclusive price from our shop.

Also on the blog: witch tales from around the UK.

Love and a Bottle – the making of a restoration comedy

Love and a Bottle email

See this show for £6. Use the code OOJ when booking. Performances at Greenwich Theatre on 9, 12 or 14 July  Book tickets.  


Max Stafford-Clark and writer Stella Feehily are working with students from LAMDA drama school on their final year show – a major rewriting of the “lost” restoration comedy Love and a Bottle by George Farquhar. Here we talk to Max and Stella, and below you can read the experience of one of the young actors, Joseph Prowen.

LAMDA_LongProject040713_imageRichardHubertSmith-3020 (1)

“We sent one of the students, who plays a beggar, to Finsbury Park station to beg – he wasn’t allowed to come back until he got at least 50p! It took him about three quarters of an hour and he said it was a mortifying experience. But when he came back, he played the scene completely differently”

Max Stafford-Clark and Stella Feehily talk to us about the process of creating Love and a Bottle and working with LAMDA students

What was it about the play made you want to rework it?

SF I’d read Love and a Bottle and loved it. It seemed like the perfect project to work with LAMDA students on. It’s young and full of spirit. The females in it are also resourceful, strong and very, very funny – that’s the other reason I wanted to do it. It’s quite sassy. Max had asked me to do it and I said the only way I would is if I could do it with LAMDA.

MSC Farquhar gives identities to his characters and he also gives them an emotional existence. Stella has done just this through workshopping the piece, especially with a character called Mrs Trudge, who she has since renamed Mistress Endwright. She’s gone from a fifteen line part to having one of the biggest parts in the play. By doing this, Stella has really released a whole emotional strand of the play.

What does the process involve? How do you begin?

SF Well Max has actually worked with LAMDA students before on a verbatim play called Mixed Up North, which was written by Robin Soans. Max and Robin went up north and interviewed locals and that formed the basis of the play. Whereas this project was quite different – I had this ancient text which I had to try and make sense of to begin with. Then I had an idea that because there were so many different characters, it would be best to conflate them all – I cut the character of a playwright named Lyrick and instead gave that role to Roebuck – which meant that we actually brought the play much closer to the autobiographical account of Farquhar’s first visit to London. So by the time we had our first proper rehearsal I already had a draft of this new version. From there, we started to cut the play – it needed to be a lot leaner. Once we’d done the cutting, we went through the process of casting, and once we knew who was playing who, I started to write each character to match the students’ personalities. So the creative process really sprung from the students’ differing personalities and writing each character to suit them. Joseph, for example, is a talented musician, so I have adapted his character Roebuck to play the violin.

How has it been working with LAMDA students?

SF Having the opportunity to knock the piece around with enthusiastic, talented drama students was essential in helping me write this play. I would ask them to do silly things to help me which I perhaps wouldn’t ask professional actors to do; they would run around the room and try out different accents, which really helped me envisage where the energy should be in the scene. Coming from an improvisational background myself, that is exactly what I wanted – for people to say yes, let’s go, let’s try that. They’re such a warm bunch of actors, and we loved seeing them develop so much from the initial readings to seeing them create these gorgeous, hilarious characters and speak the language so fluently and with ease.

We sent one of the students, who plays a beggar, to Finsbury Park station to beg – he wasn’t allowed to come back until he got at least 50p! It took him about three quarters of an hour and he said it was a mortifying experience. But when he came back, he played the scene completely differently; the humility that he brought to it was just extraordinary.

What are the differences between working with student actors and working actors?

MSC I would say it’s very similar. The first job you have as a director is to create a company – and the majority of that has been done for you because you’re presented with a company when coming to LAMDA. The second thing is to be able to harness the actors’ enthusiasm for the project, which has to be led by my own enthusiasm and the ability to turn the energy of discovery into the energy of performance. Immersing the students in the historical background was fun for both of us, and it was a learning curve for me as well as for them.

How important are drama schools in the role of new writing?

MSC Well the facilities are marvellous. Having the opportunity to unearth a hidden gem means we’re also restoring it to the canon and saying this play is worth considering, which will be a considerable service to the whole theatre community that LAMDA has expedited.


“Stella’s created a more well-rounded play, with clearer resolutions and she’s fleshed out the characters”

LAMDA_LongProject040713_imageRichardHubertSmith-2908

Joseph Prowen, a graduating BA (Hons) Professional Acting student at LAMDA, tells us about his time working with Stella Feehily and Max Stafford-Clark on a new version of George Farquhar’s Love and a Bottle, showing at Greenwich Theatre on 9, 12 & 14 July.

We began the LAMDA Long Project – an opportunity for students to work with a professional writer and director to produce the first draft of a new play – in our second year.  The process essentially involves research, readings, actioning and improvisation. We had a couple of sessions back in January last year, purely to talk about the play and do a read-through with Max and Stella. From there, everybody had the opportunity to read for each part – Max would say ‘tomorrow this will be the cast’, and then it would change every day. You’d then go home, look at the scene you were going to read, think about the character you were going to be reading for and do any relevant research that needed to be done. It’s really lovely to think that the end product of this play will have been made by us, and that Stella took inspiration from improvisations we did in rehearsals. Everyone had a chance to contribute something to each character.

Working with Max and Stella isn’t just an interesting dramatic process; a lot of the preparation was in the historical research. On our first day, Max did a quiz with us – what happened this year? When did this happen? When was this battle? We’d be asked to carry out some research around the period, or about different parts of Ireland – we might be asked to do a presentation on the Battle of the Boyne one week or John Dryden the next. You’ve really got to turn up having done your research, which is great as it encourages you to work hard.

Unlike a lot of new writing that happens, we had a leg up in that we took a play that already existed, Love and a Bottle, which was George Farquhar’s first play. The play is about a young Irishman named George Roebuck, who I play, and is based on Farquhar. When we got it, Love and a Bottle was great – youthful and exciting – but it felt like it needed some work. So what Stella did with us was to rework it and what you will see when the show opens is an amalgamation of Farquhar and Feehily. Stella’s created a more well-rounded play, with clearer resolutions and she’s fleshed out the characters, making them three-dimensional and much more human.

When we perform Love and a Bottle, there will only be a handful of us playing the same part as we were last year in rehearsals. So going into it again this summer has been like entering into a completely different play: workshopping a piece really is an ever-changing process, which I love. It’s such a rare opportunity for an actor to be able to completely immerse yourself in a process like this – especially with funding cuts. This is also our first major collaboration of this scale, which is great as the training at LAMDA is very much geared towards working as an ensemble, so this is something that’s perfect to do. We really felt like a company this year.

Love and a Bottle opens at Greenwich Theatre on Wednesday 9 July in collaboration with Out of Joint. To book tickets please call 020 8858 7755 or book online at www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk

 

Forgotten People

a man wearing a white vest and jeans is lying on a sofa which has a checkered sheet over it, resting his head on his arms. A woman wearing a skirt and blouse is sat next to him also on the sofa looking down at him whilst holding his hand. In front of them is a wooden table with a tea towel and a piece of paper which has writing on it.

Barney Norris in a production of Through The Leaves

Fear of Music writer Barney Norris on rewrites, the army, and the strange fame of Andover.

In 2008 I was in a play called Through the Leaves by the German writer Franz Xaver Kroetz, in a production directed by Alice Hamilton, the director of Fear Of Music. I hadn’t previously encountered Kroetz, Germany’s most frequently performed living playwright, and his work fascinated me. I thought Through The Leaves was incredible: a portrait of a failed affair between a butcher and a roaming drunk (that was me) that put life on stage and demanded we pay it attention. I thought, I want to write a play like that. I’d just written my first short play, a piece called At First Sight about the memory of a failed affair, which was very romantic, and wanted to try something different. This uncompromising portrait of real life, not commenting, just showing, struck me as an exciting model.

The story of Fear Of Music started with two ideas. Firstly, I thought I could write about the experience of sharing a bedroom with your brother; secondly, I wanted to explore an image Alice’s mother Jane had put in my head. Jane told me that on the day she had moved out of her childhood home, the last time she looked into the kitchen, she had seen herself and her family five years earlier in the room – not remembered it, but seen the memory taking place in front of her eyes. I thought that was an amazing trigger for a play, so I wrote about two brothers refracted through the lens of memory. Alice didn’t think it was very good. I did a workshop and a reading and discovered she was right. The play went on the back burner, a story without impetus I put in a drawer.

Then, in 2010, I walked past an army recruitment poster that said ‘this is my life: I want to do more with it than flip burgers’, and knew at once that I had to go home and get back to writing. The slogan struck me as an incredibly offensive piece of bullying – a targeted belittling by the state. The idea that the Army marketing department might play on the insecurities of ordinary people suffering from a lack of opportunity in order to put them in the line of fire seemed abhorrent: so I went home and wrote another layer into my story. I organised another reading, and Alice and I began to plan a production.

a street advert sign, surrounded by buildings, cars and people walking down the street, which says "bored of the same routine?"

I’m cautious about sounding rabidly anti-army. This November 11th the company of Fear Of Music went to the Remembrance Day service in Andover, where the play is set. We were struck by the beauty of the idea the army presented of itself at that ceremony, which strikes me as the central ritual of our society (it seems to me that England in the last century has been, above all, a story about the war). My grandfather lost three brothers in the Great War, and still lives a hundred metres from the memorial where their names are inscribed. The sacrifices made by soldiers for my life are woven into my family’s identity, and at that level, the level of the individual soldier, I feel conscious of a tremendous debt to the people who make up the army. But my argument wasn’t with them. The army is an arm of the state – and it’s a failure of our state if, rather than working to improve conditions for those on low incomes or in deprived areas, we exploit their insecurities and aggress them into barracks, a systematic practise documented by Forces Watch: http://www.forceswatch.net/what_why. It’s feudal.

a pair of shoes tied together by their laces, hanging over a wire.

Andover: around the world, shoes over a telegraph wire can mean a drug dealer’s patch, the death of a gang member or, presumably, boredom.

I hadn’t known at first that I wanted to set the play in Andover. But then the Tories got into power and in late 2010, while I was working at the Bush Theatre, announced new benefit caps for families. People I knew on benefits in Shepherds Bush just laughed at these: there was no way a family could live on that in that area. I learned that on the day these caps had been announced, Hammersmith and Fulham council had block-booked B&Bs across Brentford for the weeks following the date the new rates were due to come into effect. They weren’t aloof or disconnected; they had done the maths, and knew families on benefits would have to leave the area. It was planned social cleansing, ideological violence.

I wanted to engage with this, but I didn’t want to write about ‘now’. Seamus Heaney has said that at the height of the Troubles, he and his contemporaries avoided writing about the situation around them because such an attempt tended to produce what he called ‘Troubles trash’. I felt like I read and saw a lot of ‘banking trash’ being made around me too. So I looked for a time when what I wanted to write about – the shuffling of the working class out of city centres, a receding jobs market, a lack of opportunity, a sense of powerlessness, the overpowering shadow of the city on the lives of the people around me – had also been relevant. And I ended up looking at Thatcher.

Andover became the setting because I grew up there and could do the accent; because it’s a military town, a natural setting for this story, and because during the 80s Andover became a battleground for the abnegation of social responsibility. From the 60s, the London Overspill relocations project transformed Andover from a town of 5,000 to one of 50,000. Facing overcrowding in the metropolis, the GLC paid to turn places like Andover into overspill towns, and relocated people in social housing out to the country. In Andover, this wasn’t the end of the story: by the 80s, it was clear the new housing was so badly built it would have to be done again. Andover Council got a lot of coverage when it had to bring a suit against the GLC before they made a settlement to pay for this second draft of the new town. Nowhere was it more painfully clear how unwanted the public were by the state. So that seemed like a good place to write a play about forgotten people.

Watch Fear of Music