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Category: Writing


Same As It Ever Was

“EVEN NOW, VOICES LIKE DUNBAR’S ARE LARGELY ABSENT FROM THE ARTS”

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on Andrea Dunbar’s extraordinary portrait of teenage girls Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Taj Atwal and Gemma Dobson in our production. Photo by Richard Davenport.

To have a play produced for the Royal Court at the age of 19 is an astonishing achievement. For it to be your second play (the first, The Arbor, having been written by Dunbar at 15 about her teenage pregnancy and subsequent stillbirth, was also put on at the Royal Court), and for you to be a working class woman from one of the roughest council estates in Bradford is a rise of astronaut proportions. Even now, a class ceiling ensures that voices like Andrea Dunbar’s are largely absent from the arts, perhaps even more so than they were in 1982, when Max Stafford-Clark first staged Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

Times have changed since the Thatcher era, but not so much that modern audiences will struggle to recognise the world Dunbar draws with such raw humour. We have a different female Tory prime minister in 2017, but one who equally seems to believe there’s no such thing as society. As food bank use rockets and the younger generation face a housing crisis, the conservatives’ austerity policies continue to hit the most vulnerable.

Some will look at the world Dunbar came from ­– the Buttershaw estate where she continued to live until her premature death at the age of 29 was one of the poorest in Bradford ­– and marvel that she found anything to laugh about. Her semi-autobiographical tale of the friendship between two teenagers, Rita and Sue, and their “affair” with the older, married Bob which begins when he drives them home from babysitting his children crackles with sharp humour. Self-pity is entirely absent; Rita and Sue seem to be in possession of their own sexualities, yet are innocent by the standards of today’s teenagers, who can have porn clips beamed into their smartphones at a moment’s notice. They are also, obviously, under the age of consent, and though this is referenced, their relationship with the sleazy Bob is viewed by the girls themselves as bleakly but amusingly par for the course. A succession of abuse scandals that have come to light may have left you wondering whether the concept of grooming existed in 1982. Dunbar implies that the answer is not simple, though audiences may disagree. In a way it is courageous and perhaps controversial to stage this play now.

Andrea Dunbar. Photo: Don McPhee

Rita and Sue have the cocky sexual self-assurance of girls who’ve been fumbling since their early teens, yet neither knows how to put a condom on (Rita is even too embarrassed to buy sanitary towels), nor are equipped with the resilence or maturity to deal with the fallout of their sexual relationships with Bob. When it all finally falls apart, it is they who are left shouldering the blame as “sluts” who should be ashamed of themselves, while Bob is largely exempt – even his wife accuses them of putting it on plate. There’s a feeling that this is just how men are, nothing but trouble, unable to control themselves when tempted.

What makes Rita, Sue and Bob Too so successful as a piece of drama is its confrontational and unsentimental presentation of the characters; there is nothing “actorly” about them; these are real people, you can tell from the way they speak, and joke, and most of all swear. “This is life, the facts are there … these things do go on – maybe not in every circle, but certainly in mine”, Dunbar told the Yorkshire Post. To audiences who saw the much-loved film adaptation, this was “Thatcher’s Britain with her knickers down”, but to Dunbar there was little shocking about it, it was just the way things were. Her ambivalence, her refusal to moralise, and her insistence on portraying Rita and Sue’s lust for life despite their grim surroundings.

Class is a constant undercurrent in the play. Bob is married, employed, aspirational, from a posher part of town. He and his wife Michelle have the funds to pay two local girls to babysit while they enjoy evenings out. Michelle is a machinist and part-time Avon lady with a wardrobe full of the kinds of clothes that others can only dream of. Meanwhile Rita and Sue are about to leave school and are on YTS at the mill. “She’s got everything a woman could ask for,” says Rita. “Her own house. A nice husband and a couple of kids. She can buy what she wants. And still she’s not satisfied. I wouldn’t mind what she’s got. I’d be satisfied.”

Taj Atwal, Gemma Dobson and James Atherton in our production. Photo by Richard Davenport.

The affair ends up, in a way, providing both Rita and Sue with a passport out of the estate – Rita to what she hopes will be a more comfortable, middle-class life with Bob (though he has fallen on hard times and lost the biggest symbol of his sexual prowess – his car), and Sue to a new relationship with a fella you assume is more age-appropriate. She says that she misses the estate, but what it turns into over the years is something even worse, with booze and glue-sniffing replaced by heroin. In A State Affair, a play based on interviews with residents that was commissioned in 2000, audiences returned to the Buttershaw estate to discover that it was, if possible, even grimmer up North. “[Today] Rita and Sue would be smack heads… on crack as well… and working the red light district, sleeping with everybody and anybody for money. Bob would probably be injecting heroin”, said Andrea Dunbar’s daughter Lorraine, at the time. She went on to be convicted of manslaughter after her one-year-old son ingested her methadone.

The world of Rita, Sue and Bob Too could be seen as rather innocent in comparison. At the time the play was first performed, there were some residents of the estate who took objection to its portrayal, but what Dunbar did is hold a mirror up to her world with a lack of sentimentality that was defiant and courageous. She was one of seven children, with an abusive father, and by 18 was a single mother with three children of her own and living in a women’s refuge in Keighley. She could have so easily fallen by the wayside, as so many other working class kids with potential do. Instead, she became “a genius straight from the slums” who refused to shy away from uncomfortable and unpalatable truths, shocking Southern audiences and prompting them to ask, “is this really how people live?” Allegedly at least one critic believed it to be satire. It wasn’t so much kitchen sink drama as backseat of a car drama – filthy and funny, gritty and depressing, sexual yet hilariously unerotic, not to mention confrontational. Rita, Sue and Bob Too is full of the contradictions of poverty, a condition that to outsiders can seem two-dimensional at best. The play has a nuance that’s lacking from modern, reality TV depictions of life in benefits Britain, a country in which as far as much of the media is concerned there are scroungers and strivers and nothing in-between.

In 2017, the country is going through a period of soul-searching in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Politicians and commentators no longer see it as politically convenient to ignore communities such as Dunbar’s. The Buttershaw has seen millions of pounds of regeneration money poured into it in the wake of the play and the film’s success, but it’s doubtful that it will have been enough to reverse decades of industrial and economic decline. A revival is timely. Rita and Sue’s live’s are as real and their problems as relevant today as they ever were.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a Guardian columnist and author based in North London. @rhiannonlucyc

Rita, Sue and Bob Too tours until February 2018.

Precocious Writers

Andrea Dunbar at home on Bradford’s Buttershaw Estate in the early 80s while she was writing Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Photo: Don McPhee.

Raised on a Bradford council estate, Andrea Dunbar was just 15 when she wrote her first play, The Arbor. A drama teacher encouraged her to send it to the Royal Court Theatre, where it was first staged as a one act play in the Young Writers Festival before being expanded into a full two-act show in the prestigious main house. Andrea was still in her teens when she wrote her second play, her biggest hit Rita Sue and Bob Too: it was commissioned when she was 19.

In case that doesn’t make you feel under-achieving enough, here’s a look at some more writing prodigies. With thanks to Kelly Slade.

ALEXANDER POPE (1688 – 1744)

Pope wrote his first poem, “Ode to Solitude,” in 1700 at the age of 12. He suffered from ill health following a childhood illness and had a curved spine, asthma and headaches. He also had a disjointed education due to his illness and tough laws against Catholics. According to his sister, all he did was write and read.

His first major work, Pastorals, was published in 1709, and brought him instant fame at 21. His most well-known poem is The Rape of the Lock, a satirical look at a high society quarrels in a pastiche of a heroic epic.

Pope eventually gained great financial success and is the third most frequently quoted author in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations behind Shakespeare and Tennyson. He died in 1744.

 

CAITLIN MORAN (b. 1975)

Caitlin Moran on the cover of her novel, which she wrote when she was 15.

Caitlin Moran’s novel The Chronicles of Narmo was published when she was 16 – the same age at which she became a reporter for Melody Maker. She grew up in a council house in Wolverhampton and was home educated, an upbringing that inspired her sitcom Raised by Wolves.

Moran – she pronounces her first name “Catlin” – is a Times columnist and has published several books of memoir, journalism and fiction, including How to be a Woman and How To Build a Girl.

 

BARBARA NEWHALL FOLLETT (1914 – ??)

Barbara was an American child prodigy novelist. Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in January 1927, when she was 12 years old and her second, The Voyage of the Norman D., received critical acclaim when she was 14.

In December 1939, aged 25, she reportedly became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment with thirty dollars. She was never seen again, and later investigations failed to find trace of her alive or dead.

 

BRET EASTON ELLIS

The American Psycho author wrote his first novel Less Than Zero when he was 21 – the movie rights were sold before the book was published. He published his second, The Rules of Attraction, at 23.

JEAN NICOLAS ARTHUR RIMBAUD (1854 – 1891)

Rimbaud’s poem “Les Étrennes des orphelins” (“The Orphans’ New Year’s Gift”) was published in Revue pour tous when he was just 15. Having been raised by an ambitious mother who would punish his academic mistakes by depriving him of meals, Rimbaud became the image of the romantic rebel poet. At 16, he wrote “Le Bateau ivre,” which he sent to the poet Paul Verlaine as an introduction. At Verlaine’s invitation Rimbaud travelled to Paris and began an affair with the older poet, who abandoned his wife and child when the two men moved to London.

When he was almost 19, Rimbaud returned to Paris; when Verlaine later joined him, the reunion did not go well, and Verlaine shot at Rimbaud in a drunken rage, hitting Rimbaud in the wrist. (As a result of the ensuing police investigation into the attempted murder as well as the two men’s relationship, Verlaine received a 2-year prison sentence.)

Around the same time, Rimbaud published Une Saison en Enfer, his first and only work published by himself. By age 20, Rimbaud had given up creative writing for good. When he was 21, he enlisted in the Dutch Colonial Army, but deserted once he got to the Dutch East Indies.

 

ANYA REISS (b. 1991)

Anya Reiss’s debut Spur of the Moment in its Royal Court production. Photo: Keith Pattison.

An alumni of the Royal Court’s Young Writers Programme, Reiss was 17 when she wrote Spur of the Moment, for which she was named Most Promising Playwright at both the Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard awards. (She received her A-level results during the play’s Royal Court run!). As well as subsequent plays and Chekhov adaptations, Reiss has been a frequent writer for Eastenders.

See Rita, Sue and Bob Too on tour from September 2017 – February 2018.

How I write plays

kermit

“Keep on writing, even if it’s crap. You can always throw it away later”.

Maybe all writing advice boils down this bit of practical wisdom from Alistair Beaton. We spoke to Alistair and other successful playwrights to ask them about the business of writing. Where does inspiration come from? When is the best time of day to write? What do you do if you get stuck?

Whether you’re a writer, trying to be a writer or are just interested the creative process, we hope you find insight and encouragement. If you’d like to read more, you’ll find the full interviews on the WiT Award website.


ON GETTING STUCK

“Stuck, to me, just means it’s hard, it’s not fun, you don’t want to suffer the shame of writing something terrible… but you just have to get it out, get through it, accept it won’t be perfect the first time”
James Graham (This House)

“Keep on writing, even if it’s crap. You can always throw it away later.”
Alistair Beaton (Feelgood)

“Getting stuck is the sign that I need to step back and create thinking space. It also means that the story might not have the legs I initially thought it had.”
Oladipo Agboluaje (New Nigerians)

James Graham

James Graham

“Stuck is not necessarily quicksand – it’s simply a refusal to move in a certain direction at that time. If I can’t write then I’ll try and watch some brilliant films”
Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Her Naked Skin)

“Often being stuck is because I’ve not thought enough about my intention. I kind of think writer’s block is an invention of people who want to think of themselves as writers but not do any work… It can be avoided by thinking and preparing properly.
Simon Stephens (Curious Incident)

“When I’m stuck I do a lot of violent self-loathing, which is unhelpful, and discussions with my husband, which are very helpful.
Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica)

“Lots of writers clean when they’re stuck. I don’t. I probably should. I go to the coffee shop. Phone my granny. Do some yoga.”
Jessica Swale (Nell Gwynne)

“I try and write through it. I go ‘off book’ and write around the script. I try stream of consciousness writing in character, or write scenes that I know aren’t part of the story I’m writing but that help to unlock the characters a bit more for me. Sometimes I like that stuff more, and it ends up going into the final piece.”
Suhayla El Bushra (The Suicide)

HOW I WRITE stella

Stella Feehily

 


WHERE INSPIRATION COMES FROM

“The news. And the past”
James Graham

“I write satirically, so I riff off news stories and I observe people and situations.”
Oladipo Agboluaje

“Galleries and museums can be very helpful, so can talking to people. I try to follow my obsessions because if you can’t stop thinking about something you might have to write about it.”
Dawn King (Foxfinder)

“I find a lot of inspiration in true stories. I always think I should keep a notebook of ideas and never do. People’s acts of bravery I find inspiring”
Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Suhayla El Bushra

Suhayla El Bushra

“Previous inspiration has come from teenagers I’ve worked with, my dad, my mum, my upbringing, history books, Greek tragedies, fiction, cinema. Some music videos I find really inspiring. Listening to music while running. Eavesdropping on conversations on trains and buses.”
Suhayla El Bushra

Blue Stockings, my first play, came from a detail in the research I was doing on another project entirely. I was reading about the life prospects of women in the 1800s to help an actress with her character, and I stumbled across the fact that women weren’t given access to University. The whole thing grew from there.”
Jessica Swale

“People talk about inspiration like an event but I think it is more of a cumulative thing, the gradual synthesis of different ideas and emotions and ambitions until there is something interesting and concrete enough to provoke a play.”
Lucy Kirkwood

“My inspiration usually comes from a feeling that there’s more to something than meets the eye, and I want to find out what that is. I also have an inbuilt distrust of authority and want to know what’s really going on.”
Robin Soans (Talking to Terrorists)


WHERE AND WHEN TO WRITE

“I split up working at home and working out of the house in cafes, because I get bored of being in the same place and I find if I move locations I can often squeeze out another couple of hours.”
Dawn King

“Usually after the 10 o’clock news and then through to the early hours. I’m often close to a state of dreaming. I’m not sure how helpful that is though. Sometimes I fall asleep…”
Stella Feehily (This May Hurt A Bit)

HOW I WRITE oladipo

Oladipo Agboluaje

“I have a lot of creative mental activity in the fuzzy area between sleeping and waking, and so have a burst of outpouring when I first reach the computer, probably before breakfast… I will go on writing through the day, but that initial burst is always the best and most productive. I usually write to music: Always Bach in the morning, then through Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, into Schubert and Mahler, Verdi, Tchaikovsky late afternoon, and if I’m burning the midnight oil, either Elizabethan polyphonic music, Plainsong, or Indian mystic music.”
Robin Soans

“I write any time of day. I’m more of an inspiration than a perspiration writer. If the spirit doesn’t move me, no time of day is ideal.”
Oladipo Agboluaje

“I rent a portacabin… it has far less distractions than at home. Cafes can be good; trains if my brain says yes.”
Rebecca Lenkiewicz

“Nine o’clock till lunch weekdays when it goes badly; nine till five weekdays when it goes well”
David Hare (Plenty)

“I can write anywhere. At the moment I am enjoying writing in my kitchen with my puppy at my feet”
Simon Stephens.


PROCRASTINATION

“I’m addicted to Facebook. It can be a nice break if you work from home as it’s the equivalent of having a chat around the water cooler, but you can end up staring at the screen numbly scrolling, or wasting time and energy arguing with people you don’t know very well about contentious political issues or what the best Bananarama single was.”
Suhayla El Bushra

“I don’t have a smartphone and only check emails once a day – sometimes once every couple of days if I am really in the trenches with something. This isn’t something I’m proud of, I think other people find it easier to juggle things”
Lucy Kirkwood

Jessica Swale

Jessica Swale

“I realised a short time ago that procrastination was a fundamental part of the job. I set myself rigorous deadlines and compartmentalise the objectives of each working day strictly according to meet those plans. I know what I want to achieve each day. I can procrastinate as much as I like as long as I hit those objectives. Sometimes the objective might be writing a number of scenes. Sometimes refining a plan or doing a redraft. But I never miss the objective.”
Simon Stephens

“I give myself restrictions. So, for example, I will only read three of the ten Guardian leading news stories before I start work. I’ll answer one email but will not get distracted by funny videos on You Tube… I’ll review what I’ve already written but if I’ve got a distance to go I won’t allow myself to edit – I keep going. Plus, I sort of believe in procrastination. Sometimes an idea pops up when you are unnecessarily dusting the skirting boards.”
Stella Feehily

 


 

ON CALLING YOURSELF A WRITER

“I still blush or feel like a fraud when I have to say what I do now to strangers. I don’t know why. No one should.”
James Graham

“My first review ever was in Plays and Players. “The most pointless evening I have ever spent in a theatre”. I knew I was a writer then.”
David Hare

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage - Robin Soan - 21 January 2015 co-produced by Out of Joint and National Theatre of Wales members of the cast rehearse for national tour of new play about rugby player Gareth Thomas, the world’s most prominent gay sportsman.

Robin Soans

“Getting the type-set proofs of my first play from Nick Hern Books. It was very exciting. It was the first time that I felt like a writer.”
Stella Feehily

“I remember being asked my profession was when I registered at a new doctor’s in 2000, and I was resident dramatist at the Royal Court and I said “writer” and that felt great.”
Simon Stephens

“I remember hearing my name on the radio for the first time, following a sketch I had written, and was stunned with what felt like sudden fame.”
Alistair Beaton


WHEN IS A PLAY FINISHED?

“You never know. That’s why deadlines are essential. They stop you from tinkering and force you to commit.”
Simon Stephens

“When intelligent actors can’t find any more questions to ask. The greatest moment in playwriting is when the actors take it out of your hands.”
David Hare

HOW I WRITE david

David Hare

“It never really is. I sit there at the first night noticing the little things I should have improved”
Alistair Beaton

“When your actor says ‘I don’t want anymore lines’.”
Stella Feehily

“You can tell when a draft is finished. That’s usually when you feel you’ve done all you can for now and you need someone else to cast a fresh eye on it. But I don’t know that a play ever feels finished…  you just have to let it go and move on to the next project.”
Suhayla El Bushra

“A play is only ever the recipe not the finished cake. But I know when it’s ‘finished’, as in I’ll let people look at it and judge it when I can’t think of anything else to do to it to improve it.”
Dawn King

“A reticence to change any of it is the closest I can feel to “it’s finished.” When you’re moved by it and you don’t want to change it, it’s a good guide to down tools.”
Rebecca Lenkiewicz 

 

Find the complete interviews on the WiT Award website.

 

Back to the future: Max Stafford-Clark on three major Autumn revivals

Black and white photo of two men in restoration wigs and clothes.

Out of Joint and the Royal Court’s production of The Libertine. Photo by John Haynes

Our artistic director MAX STAFFORD-CLARK introduces three plays which started life as Out of Joint commissions, and are now shining bright in new productions this autumn. 

It’s always validating when a play you commission gets a further life and becomes part of the national repertoire. And strange, too, seeing someone else’s take on something I’m that close to.

This autumn there are major revivals of three plays that were commissioned and first produced by Out of Joint. The Libertine by Stephen Jeffreys comes to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, with Dominic Cooper in the title role. Caryl Churchill’s experimental Blue Heart is being produced by Bristol’s Tobacco Factory and the Orange Tree in Richmond. And the Lyric Hammersmith is giving a big new production of Shopping and F***ing by Mark Ravenhill.


SHOPPING AND F***ING by Mark Ravenhill

Two young men in animated conversation in front of a neon sign saying "home"

Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre’s production of Shopping and F***ing. Photo by John Haynes.

I went to a scratch night of new theatre writing, at which Mark presented a short play called Fist. Twenty minutes, very rude. I don’t remember much more than that apart from thinking he had a fresh voice and could command attention.

I told Mark, if you ever write something longer, send it to me. He said that he already had something he’d show me. I heard nothing for months so I decided to seek him out – I tracked him down to the Salisbury Playhouse education department where he was working. “Where’s my play?” He’d been lying – there was no play. But eventually he got a draft together and sent it to me, and I gave him £250 or something to develop it.

I had to do some convincing. Sonia Friedman, who was Out of Joint’s founding producer, was dead against it because she thought it would ruin our chances of any Arts Council funding. It started at the Royal Court upstairs, playing to fifty-something punters a night, and went on to play two West End runs. But perhaps more remarkably, I can see from my diary that on its first tour, Shopping and F***ing also played to over 350 people a night in Bury St Edmunds.

Meet Mark and Max at Out of Joint’s special fundraising event on 3 November

Buy Mark Ravenhill: Plays 1 at a special price from our shop.

Two young men on a sofa, one holding a script

David Moorst and Alex Arnold rehearse in the Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Shopping and F***ing. Photo by Helen Murray

Sean Holmes, director of Shopping & F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith: 

I’d seen Max’s production but I hadn’t read it for a long time and I was taken by how prophetic it is. One of the characters talks about how there used to be big stories and big ideas, but now we’re making up our own little stories instead. That’s become true with the way we present edited versions of our lives on social media.

We’re a lot further on now from the fall of the Berlin Wall than when it was written. We live in a world with one system now, global capitalism, and that affects our behaviour and responses, whether that’s Trump or Corbyn or radical ideologies.

It remains a shocking play, but it’s not as violent or even sexual as people think. It’s the humour and the message that are subversive. I’m not directing it as a period piece. That doesn’t mean we’re filling it with iPhones, but we’re making a world that reflects today’s concerns. We’re transforming the auditorium and stage into a big studio or arena, so it’ll be very presentational, very aware of the audience.

Meet Sean, Mark and Max at Out of Joint’s special fundraising event on 3 November


THE LIBERTINE by Stephen Jeffreys

Johnny Depp dressed in restoration costume and long wig

Johnny Depp in the 2004 film of The Libertine

Poster for The Libertine, with actor Dominic Cooper reclining with semi-undressed young women

Poster for the 2016 production of The Libertine

I’ve enjoyed pairing new plays with revivals of classics a number of times and in this case I wanted to do something about the second Earl of Rochester to play in rep with the restoration play The Man of Mode.

Rochester had been the model for that play’s rakish central character, Dorimant. He was a courtier to Charles II, and a writer of brilliantly robust poems. His A Ramble in St James’s Park begins “Much wine had passed, with grave discourse / Of who fucks who, and who does worse”. I was going to commission Heathcote Williams, and mentioned the idea at a Royal Court script meeting. Stephen Jeffreys was also on the literary team and he jumped in saying “No that’s my area Max. Let me do it.”

It was later made into a film starring Johnny Depp, though for me nothing will beat David Westhead’s performance in our production.


BLUE HEART by Caryl Churchill

A middle aged woman and man at a dinner table look astonished at an ostrich

Out of Joint’s production of Blue Heart. Photo by Donald Cooper

I’d worked with Caryl on Top Girls and Serious Money at the Royal Court – they were both big hits – and before that, Cloud Nine with Joint Stock. When I commissioned Blue Heart there was no brief or suggestion on my part, just an invitation to Caryl to write something for us.

The script, which consisted of two short plays, was a surprise. Heart’s Desire is about the anticipated arrival of a woman coming home to visit her family from Australia where she has lived for many years. Blue Kettle is about a conman who seeks out women who gave up children for adoption and convinces them that he’s the son they gave away. Good dramatic situations, both, but what distinguished them was the way the plays themselves begin to break down or implode, as though there was a bug in the text – and because of that you became very aware of the text itself.

In Blue Kettle, the language becomes corrupted as the words “blue” and “kettle” start to replace the words that you’d expect until the language becomes meaningless. In Heart’s Desire, the play keeps restarting or “resetting” to earlier points in the story, with surreal moments intruding. At one point, gunmen break in to the very domestic scene. Later, characters answer the door to find an ostrich waiting to enter – probably the best costume I’ve ever commissioned.

There’s also a brief moment when a crowd of children run on shrieking and run off again almost immediately, so I had to rehearse a dozen kids in every venue we toured to – and we did a substantial international tour. An observation: the kids in Catholic countries were very well behaved. Finnish children were chaotic, perhaps because they start school later. In Israel it was like directing the Old Testiment. “Rebecca, come out of that cupboard. Ishmael, stop chasing Malachi…”

Blue Heart marked the beginning of a period of formal experimentation for Caryl that has continued even to her most recent plays. She talked at the time of “anti plays”. You could call Blue Heart “the plays that go wrong”.

Two men and two women drink wine around a table on a stage set

The 2016 production of Blue Heart by Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Photo by The Other Richard.

David Mercatali, director of the 2016 revival:

I was told about Blue Heart by Out of Joint alumni Barney Norris two years ago. I read it and thought ‘I have to get this on, it’s extraordinary’. It’s a huge logistical challenge, but the Orange Tree and Tobacco Factory Theatres were brave enough to take it on. It marked a change in direction for Caryl and you can see the influence on work like Escaped Alone. I wanted to bring it back into the conversation. The plays are like much of Caryl’s work: a simple conceit presented in such a bold, theatrical way that your brain goes on overload. I felt I had got a handle on them when I first read them, but a conversation with Caryl where she mentioned the word ‘virus’ made things much clearer. I’ll say no more than that!

There are two levels to the plays. We had to formulate the ‘facts’, to work out the straightforward domestic stories in both. We devoted time to that, like any other shows. The language breakdowns and resets we accepted on their own terms, and required much more of a technical process. It was exhausting but fulfilling work.

There are lots of Caryl’s plays I’d like to direct. Cloud Nine was one the best theatrical experiences I have ever had, Far Away is a great influence, Fen is a sometimes overlooked gem. I would be lucky to get to do any of them.

Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre

I remember seeing Out of Joint’s first production so well, and being blown away by the audacity of the pieces, and how very very funny they were, as much as anything. So I’d been surprised that the plays hadn’t been revived much until now. And I became more and more aware over time of how very influential these particular pieces were on a whole new generation of playwrights. The play questions its own nature, and that feels very contemporary. It’s right for the Orange Tree because we look at the present day and we look to the recent past. So a theatre that does plays by Alastair McDowall, Zoe Cooper and Alice Birch, for example, certainly seems the right place to see these pieces in.


The Libertine by Stephen Jeffreys
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London to 3 December

Blue Heart by Caryl Churchill
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, to 1 October
Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, 13 Oct – 19 Nov

Shopping & F***ing by Mark Ravenhill
Lyric Hammersmith, London, 7 Oct – 5 Nov
Meet Mark and Max at our special fundraising event on 3 November

Buy Mark Ravenhill: Plays 1 at a special price from our shop.

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.

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The Accidental Leader & Corbyn – how fiction became reality

A middle aged man in suit and tie using a mobile phone and holding a piece of paper

Bruce Alexander in The Accidental Leader by Alistair Beaton. Photo by Robert Workman.

The Chambers English Dictionary defines ‘plot’ variously as a conspiracy: a stratagem or secret contrivance and: the story or scheme of connected events running through a play, novel etc.

Imagine my astonishment to find those two definitions of ‘plot’ suddenly merging. The dust had scarcely settled from David Cameron’s successful attempt to blow up Britain, when I started receiving puzzled enquiries from theatre-goers attending my short play THE ACCIDENTAL LEADER currently running at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End. People couldn’t understand how the play could have been written in 24 hours.

It wasn’t, of course.

Written several months ago, THE ACCIDENTAL LEADER tells the tale of a plot to oust a bearded, left-wing allotment-loving politician whose parliamentary party have lost all faith in his ability to win the next election. I wrote the play because I felt the election of Jeremy Corbyn was both a moment of hope (the end of politics as merely a version of management) and a moment of high anxiety (can a decent old leftie backbencher hack it as a modern leader?) and, like many people, was unsure about the outcome.

In the play, the plotters meet secretly to arrange the coup. Their strategy is simple. In order to make the event appear spontaneous (yes, they are perhaps a bit naïve) they plan to resign one by one over the space of a single day. Two of the plotters talk:

JIM: It’s been one of the great weaknesses of our party, Eleanor. 

ELEANOR: What has?

JIM: We’re too sentimental. We should be as ruthless as the other lot. They know a loser when they see one. Anyway, tomorrow you say whatever you want. That’s up to you. The main thing is – you resign. By 8pm tomorrow, we’ll have had eleven resignations from the shadow cabinet. He’ll be gone by midnight.

Alistair Beaton

Alistair Beaton

But the leader fights back. His heavies twist arms to breaking point. What happens next I don’t want to say. There are still tickets left for this, the last week of the run, and I’d like to suggest you go along and find out how it ends.

As to how the real-life drama ends, well, at the time of writing, the man’s still in post. Though not, I suspect, for much longer. The lesson? Integrity is not enough. Authenticity is not enough. As we watch our politicians lie about the lies they told during the campaign, Labour needs a leader who can fight and win an election later this year. Otherwise it’s goodbye Britain, hello Borisland. I shudder.

Alistair Beaton. 27 June 2016

THE ACCIDENTAL LEADER is part of a five-play production entitled A VIEW FROM ISLINGTON NORTH, running at the Arts Theatre London. Ends Saturday.

 

 

 

 

My first Beckett

Ciaran McIntyre in Endgame, Liverpool Playhouse 2008

Ciaran McIntyre in Endgame, Liverpool Playhouse 2008

Out of Joint is presenting a rare live production of Samuel Beckett’s radio play All That Fall, in which theatre-goers will be blindfolded, the actors moving about the auditorium. One of Beckett’s most naturalistic plays, it is inspired by his native Foxrock in Ireland.

We asked cast members about their first experience of Beckett.

 

 

BRÍD BRENNAN

“Waiting for Godot was my template for a great play”

I studied “En attendant Godot as part of my French degree course at Queen’s University. It was revelatory! For years, waiting for Godot was my template for a great play and since the beginning of my adventures in acting I’d hoped to be part of a Beckett production. I am delighted now to find myself in that world which was first revealed to me all those years ago in Belfast.

 

KILLIAN BURKE

“I realised I didn’t need to ‘get’ it. In watching his plays you have all you need”

If I’m being honest, my initial feeling toward Beckett was trepidation. A deeply lined, stern face floating in the darkness, staring out at you. My first encounters with his works was through reading it, and this lead to a feeling of needing to ‘get it’. ‘What does it mean?’. Undoubtedly a hangover from an education where poetry and drama is dissected into its component parts, each weighed and measured, then shoved back together, more often than not leaving one with a feeling of ‘I didn’t like that’.

Then in my first year of university I went to see a production of Waiting for Godot at The Gate Theatre in Dublin. I left the theatre, making my way down O’Connell Street toward my bus, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say my world was shattered or anything, but it was ever so slightly tilted on its axis. I was confused and satisfied, and realised I didn’t need to ‘get’ a thing. In watching (or listening to) his plays you have all you need. You may of course dissect it if you wish but I think it’s more enjoyable to walk along with the world at an ever so slightly strange angle.

 

TARA FLYNN

“I’d love to have gone for a drink with him”

I studied English and French at university, so Beckett and his influence began to creep into my consciousness then. I read Waiting for Godot during that time and wished desperately to see it in a theatre. To this day, I haven’t managed it yet. I can’t wait.

Once I became an actor, I’d bump into Beckett periodically. Not in real life, of course – although I’d love to have gone for a drink with him, who wouldn’t? – but it’s impossible to live and work in Ireland and not be aware of his reach, even outside the theatre. I’d read him sometimes and read about him more. His life is as fascinating as his work.

As much of my own work has centred on comedy and satire, one of my favourite aspects of Beckett, and All That Fall in particular, is the humour. He can be so darkly funny. The world in All That Fall sits not too far from the world of one of Ireland’s greatest satirists, Flann O’Brien – which might surprise some. I’ve never performed in Beckett before and I couldn’t be more thrilled for this to be my first.

 

GARY LILBURN

“Leaving three actors in charge seemed a recipe for disaster”

My first opportunity to perform in a Beckett play came in 1994 when I was cast as Estragon in a New Victoria Theatre production of Waiting For Godot. Other New Vic regulars Paul McCleary and Lennox Greaves were to play Vladimir and Pozzo respectively. When we arrived for the first read through our director Peter Cheeseman announced that he didn’t believe we would have much need of his services and handed over the direction of the production to us three .

The play is difficult, dense and multi layered enough for any experienced director, but to have not one but three actors, inexperienced at directing, who were also in the production, in charge, seemed a sure recipe for disaster.

Thankfully we were saved by a Birmingham University professor and Beckett expert who took pity on us, gave us a crash course on the play and playing Beckett, and we managed to pull it off.

 

 

CIARAN MCINTYRE

“I find him hilariously funny”

As a theatre-goer I first encountered Beckett when I was a student in Dublin. I saw Waiting For Godot at a student drama festival and loved it immediately. My first Beckett on the other side of the footlights was a few years ago at Liverpool Playhouse, wedged in a dustbin with my feet poking out the back hidden under rubble, playing Nagg in Endgame, which starred Matthew Kelly and his son.

I find Beckett funny – hilariously funny. Very dark, but so, so funny.

 


Hear All That Fall at Bristol Old Vic (8-12 Mar 2016) and Wilton’s Music Hall in London (22 Mar – 8 Apr 2016).

Beckett Beginnings

Ciaran McIntyre in Endgame, Liverpool Playhouse 2008

Ciaran McIntyre in Endgame, Liverpool Playhouse 2008

Out of Joint is presenting a rare live production of Samuel Beckett’s radio play All That Fall, in collaboration with the Enniskillen Happy Days Festival. We asked some of the cast about their first encounters with Beckett.

 

GARY LILBURN

“Leaving three actors in charge seemed a recipe for disaster”

My first opportunity to perform in a Beckett play came in 1994 when I was cast as Estragon in a New Victoria Theatre production of Waiting For Godot. Other New Vic regulars Paul McCleary and Lennox Greaves were to play Vladimir and Pozzo respectively. When we arrived for the first read through our director Peter Cheeseman announced that he didn’t believe we would have much need of his services and handed over the direction of the production to us three .

The play is difficult, dense and multi layered enough for any experienced director, but to have not one but three actors, inexperienced at directing, who were also in the production, in charge, seemed a sure recipe for disaster.

Thankfully we were saved by a Birmingham University professor and Beckett expert who took pity on us, gave us a crash course on the play and playing Beckett, and we managed to pull it off.

 

GARETT KEOGH

“High flung philosophy from low lying mouths”

I knew Beckett from schooldays – well, knew of him. The sort of person you were supposed to know about. The obscure and difficult artist that for a teenager to know was cool.

But I first really met him in a tiny hall off Sherriff Street in the centre of Dublin when some school pals were arguing, fighting more like, over what lines to include or cut from their adaptation of his novels for a one-man show. Jim Sheridan and his brother Peter, armed with well-worn A4 pages and biros, Vinnie McCabe the actor voicing the results of their latest joust. So this is who Beckett was? A master of words, and rhythms I knew. Hilarious. Speaking the thoughts inside Vinnie’s mind.

These three and Mister Sheridan had done a famous production of Godot that shocked the amateur circuit. They were baptised in Beckett. They bit the nose off each other fighting for sense, non-sense, for continuity, and laughter.

Then in a dark and dingy basement on Abbey Street which was the original incarnation of the Project Arts Centre I saw my first theatre apart from school Gilbert and Sullivans. Vinnie as Krapp, and how he sat into the part, or the part seemed to sit into him.

One night I was lucky to wander into the Gaiety and see Jack McGowran do his one-man Beginning to End. Funny, seemingly effortless, the native Dublin cadences that Beckett had knitted into something profound, poetic, provocative, and funny. Here was high flung philosophy from low lying mouths. Here were dilemmas of birth, death, and the in-between, condensed, crystallised, and comic. Here were us humans tying ourselves in knots with words.

And here was silence. And the man who dared to ask, what happens when your questions are left hanging in the void?

 

GINA MOXLEY

“There’s no end to the learning”

By the time I moved from Cork to Dublin, after I graduated from Art School, I can only remember having seen two plays – The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds with a student Fiona Shaw, and a stultifying production of Joyce’s Embers that almost doused my budding interest in theatre.

Without any knowledge, experience and precious little talent I managed to be cast by an education theatre company touring to schools. In Sligo we crossed paths with the Irish Theatre Company on their final tour with a production of Waiting for Godot. It was the first Beckett I’d seen and I was of course blown away – but also I realised just how little I knew and how much there was to learn.

And here I am hundreds of years later performing in my first Beckett and realising there’s no end to the learning.

 

CIARAN MCINTYRE

“I find him hilariously funny”

As a theatre-goer I first encountered Beckett when I was a student in Dublin. I saw Waiting For Godot at a student drama festival and loved it immediately. My first Beckett on the other side of the footlights was a few years ago at Liverpool Playhouse, wedged in a dustbin with my feet poking out the back hidden under rubble, playing Nagg in Endgame, which starred Matthew Kelly and his son.

I find Beckett funny – hilariously funny. Very dark, but so, so funny.

 


See All That Fall at the Enniskillen Happy Days Festival, 22 July – 2 August 2015

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

 

How To Sort Your Stuff – making a play about museums

The Pitt Rivers Museum

Recently we hosted a 5-day workshop, giving writers an opportunity to learn new techniques for devising theatre. Isabel Quinzaños reports:

Over a few days in August, a group of budding writers, performers and directors got together at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford to produce a script about both the Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums. Out of Joint had set out to organise an education workshop that would focus on a devising and writing technique called “verbatim theatre”, which means creating a play out of people’s words. (You’ll find some examples of this kind of play at the bottom of this article.) The process of writing verbatim plays typically involves conducting a series of interviews with people who are somehow involved with the topic or “world” you have chosen to investigate; and recording their words in order to use them later on in a play. It is like theatre’s version of documentary film.

Our group of ten participants included both mature and fledgling performers; a budding director; a professional writer; and an academics in the course of PhDs in Architecture and Literature. Led by Naomi Jones – who has directed for Out of Joint and Eastern Angles and who has taught extensively at Oxford School of Drama – they set off to interview the staff and punters of the museums to find out what goes on behind the scenes.

It involved them finding and approaching people who would be interesting to interview, recording their exact words and then transcribing them. Then, the whole material was put together, and decisions had to be made about what story they could tell. Naomi did the first edit, but all participants had an input about what they felt should be in or not. On the final day, they rehearsed the play and put on a viewing of it for museum staff and invited guests.

The result was a moving and quirky piece of theatre that gave a real insight into how museum staff create the environment that we, the visitors, experience, let alone their perspective on their favourite pieces, the ones they hate the most and what they think of their work.

Here’s a snippet:

Enter brother and sister.SISTER                  Well I came to see the shrunken heads

MAYA                     Everyone knows the Pitt Rivers for the shrunken heads.  In fact they often know that, before the name of the museum ‘Is that the place with the shrunken heads?’ Yep, and 80,000 other objects!                                                              

BROTHER             I wouldn’t have come today but we came to see the shrunken heads; it’s a big attraction

MAYA                     I definitely don’t like them. I really…I avoid that case. Obviously if I have to show – actually, we don’t tend to take the public to them because, because the media for instance, whenever they talk about the Pitt Rivers will just focus on the shrunken heads.  

SISTER                  I don’t know why but…

BROTHER             …er it’s more of a macabre thing/ it’s the most macabre thing in here

SISTER                  Yeah it’s very macabre…..it’s fascinating. Not just the shrunken heads, it’s everything. 

BROTHER             Yeah…but it’s mainly the shrunken heads with/ my sister

SISTER                  No it isn’t, it’s the textiles, I like the textiles.

For the participants the best thing was meeting the fascinating personalities we never meet on our regular museum visits. Learning about the thought process behind the placement of each object in the museum. What is written about those objects, to tell us a story. In the end, the work the museum staff do is as much about us as visitors as it is about the objects they safeguard. The script is now in the Pitt Rivers archive – maybe they’ll let you have a read if you ask nicely.


Verbatim theatre – some examples

Look Left Look Right’s “The Caravan” – in its own venue parked outside the Royal Court.

YESTERDAY’S NEWS
Max Stafford-Clark and Bill Gaskill’s Joint Stock Theatre Group produced this piece because, as Gaskill tells it, they were at a loss for what to do next and decided to look through the newspapers for a story. The play was written from the company’s subsequent interviews with Angolan mercenaries.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT
by Tectonic Theater Project, about the murder of Matthew Shepard and the media storm that followed it.

LONDON ROAD
by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork – the National Theatre’s verbatim musical about the impact on the community of the Ipswich prostitute murders.

THE PERMANENT WAY
by David Hare – about the privatisation of Britain’s railways and the four train crashes that happened shortly afterwards.

TALKING TO TERRORISTS
by Robin Soans

JUSTIFYING WAR
The Tricycle Theatre condensed the Hutton Inquiry into the Iraq war into 2 hours of theatre

WAITING ROOM GERMANY
Commissioned from Klaus Pohl by Der Spiegel to test the mood of Germany after reunification.

THE EXONERATED
Stories of six innocent survivors of death row.

THE CARAVAN
Look Left Look Right’s play told the stories of those worst affected by the 2007  floods.