European drama

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Plays

13

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At the beginning of Bartlett’s political and profound epic play, twelve completely different people across London wake up from an identical, terrifying dream – monsters and explosions, thousands of voices. At the same moment, a young man named John returns home after years away to find economic gloom, ineffective protest, and a Prime Minister about to declare war. But John has a vision for the future and a way to make it happen.

Coincidences, omens and visions collide with political reality in this ambitious and dextrous play, which depicts a London both familiar and strange, a London staring into the void.

13 explores the meaning of personal responsibility, the hold that the past has over the future and the nature of belief itself.

The play was first performed in 2011 at the National Theatre, London.

3 Winters

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tena Štivičić’s play 3 Winters follows a single Croatian family living in Zagreb throughout the vicissitudes of the nation's history between 1945 and 2011. It was first performed in the Lyttelton auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 3 December 2014 (previews from 26 November) and went on to win the 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

The play's action is set in and around the Kos family house in Zagreb, Croatia, in three alternating time periods: November 1945, January 1990, and November 2011 (with the exception of the first scene, which takes place in an office in Zagreb in 1945). In 1945 we see Rose, with her mother, husband and their baby daughter, Maša, moving into a partitioned house at the time of the victory of Tito’s communist partisans. By 1990, Maša and her history-teacher husband, Vlado, are occupying the same house, with their young daughters, at the very moment when Croatia and Slovenia are about to break up the dominant Yugoslavian communist regime. Finally we meet the Kos family in 2011 when Maša’s youngest daughter, Lucija, is about to marry an avaricious entrepreneur and Croatia is on the brink of joining the capitalist club of the European Union.

In an article published on the National Theatre's blog (http://national-theatre.tumblr.com/post/103126868756/tena-%C5%A1tivi%C4%8Di%C4%87-on-3-winters), Štivičić writes: 'The very first moments of inspiration for this play came from stories in my family. My mother’s, my aunt’s, my grandmother’s and even my great grandmother’s when I was very little. These women spoke in very different voices, each with a different set of tools, or in fact, lack of tools to express their circumstances and articulate the plight of their life.'

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Howard Davies and designed by Tim Hatley. It was performed by Charlotte Beaumont, Lucy Black, Susan Engel, Siobhan Finneran, Daniel Flynn, Hermione Gulliford, Jo Herbert, Alex Jordan, Gerald Kyd, James Laurenson, Jonny Magnanti, Jodie McNee, Alex Price, Adrian Rawlins, Sophie Rundle, Bebe Sanders and Josie Walker.

The Absence of War

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Absence of War offers a meditation on the classic problems of leadership, and is the third part of a critically acclaimed trilogy of plays (Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges) about British institutions.

Its unsparing portrait of a Labour Party torn between past principles and future prosperity, and of a deeply sympathetic leader doomed to failure, made the play hugely controversial and prophetic when it was first presented at the National Theatre, London, in 1993.

Absolutely! (Perhaps)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Absolutely! (Perhaps) is a sparkling comedy on the elusive nature of reality, in which truth is negotiable and identity is performed. It is an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s first play Così è (Se Vi Pare), and opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre in 2003.

In a small Italian town lives Signor Ponza, his wife and his apparent mother-in-law Signora Frola, who he will not allow to visit. With the neighbours gossiping over his cruelty, Signor Ponza claims that Signora Frola is mad and refusing to accept that her daughter is dead, and that he now lives with his second wife. Signora Frola counters the accusation, claiming that Ponza has unwittingly re-married his first wife. Impossibly, the Signora Ponza in question claims to be both daughter and second wife, plunging the play into a tangle of fractious theatricality.

After Darwin

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Millie, a director, discusses with her actors, Ian and Tom, how to interpret two famous historical figures from the nineteenth century. It's 1831. The naturalist Charles Darwin is invited to travel with Robert Fitzroy into uncharted waters off the coast of South America aboard 'The Beagle'. Their five year journey is fraught with philosophical and personal tensions. Fitzroy, a staunch Christian, has faith in the unquestionable authority of the Bible; Darwin begins to explore a more radical vision, his theory of natural selection. A meditation on history and human relationships, After Darwin links past and present through these five characters, and raises timeless questions about faith, friendship and how we interpret the past.

After Darwin was first performed in July 1998, at Hampstead Theatre, London.

After Haggerty

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Gathering together the political and social concerns of an era, After Haggerty addresses with breadth and complexity the politics of theatre and personal liberation at a time when social certainties were being rapidly destabilised.

Bernard Link, a socialist middle-aged theatre critic, has leased a flat in London from Mr Haggerty without having met him. Claire, who is sharp, brittle and American, storms into the flat expecting to find the father of her child, but finds Bernard instead. He is having the flat done up by a couple of jobbing decorators, including an out-of-work homosexual actor. The unhappy cohabitation of this mixture of people is punctuated by excepts from Bernard’s pan-European lectures on Marxist theatre, cryptic telegrams from Haggerty in Paris, and the off-stage squalling of Claire and Haggerty’s baby, Raskolnikov. Then Bernard’s father visits, his reactionary, bigoted views clashing with what suddenly feels like a household.

After Haggerty was first presented in 1970 at the Aldwych Theatre, London.

An Afternoon at the Festival

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An Afternoon at the Festival is an elegantly-structured and reflective meditation on failure.

Leo Brent is an egotistical, successful and middle-aged film-maker. While he is waiting for the four o’clock showing of his new and last film, he spends the morning with a prostitute, Anita: more to find somewhere to sit down than to sleep with her. Back at the house where the film was set, the star — Leo’s ex-wife Dana — is drinking Chablis with his brother, Howard. The play splices these two disconsolate conversations with scenes from Leo’s new film, set in the Victorian era, about the abrasive and eventually violent relationship between a boy and his stepmother. The suggestion, only voiced by Dana, that Leo’s talent is running out sits at the heart of this subtle play.

An Afternoon at the Festival was first presented by Yorkshire Television in 1973.

Afterplay

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

1920s Moscow, a small run-down café. Uncle Vanya's niece, Sonya Serebriakova, now in her forties, is the only customer. Until the arrival of Andrey Prozorov, the put-upon brother from Three Sisters.

Afterplay revisits the lives of two characters from Anton Chekhov's plays. It was first produced, with The Bear (also after Chekhov), at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in March 2002.

Alaska

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alaska is a tale of prejudice, sex and aggression, a portrait of unabashed racism.

The audience is introduced to Frank as a drug-dealing self-righteous History student. Having dropped out of university, he works at a cinema kiosk, where his colleagues are attracted to his tense and sullen manner. But brought into contact with Mamta, an Asian co-worker, he soon emerges as a hostile white supremacist, supporting his pseudo-intellectual prejudices by twisting history and quoting Biblical mistranslations. The play’s downward spiral of lies and violence unravels Frank’s desperation and obsession, and discusses identity and race in modern Britain.

The play was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2007.

All of You Mine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All of you Mine is a mysterious drama set in a mining community, near 'any one of fourteen ex-pit villages around Doncaster, South Yorkshire, whose pits were closed either as a planned programme, or as a direct result of the 1984 miners' strike.'

Twelve years on from the mining accident which precipitated the closure of the mine and the breaking of the strike, a memorial is being erected to the five men who died. The Cade family lost and gained much from that accident: daughter Verna, now 37, lost the father of her son, while her older brother Danum gained the site for the garden centre which he still runs prosperously at the play's opening. Meanwhile, at the head of the family stands their half-blind mother Cissy, who sees more, and knows more, than she is willing to share freely.

This mysterious family drama, which slowly builds to the revelation that the disaster may not have been so accidental, was described at the time as an eloquent lament for an eclipsed mining community. It premiered at the Bush theatre, London, in 1997.

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