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Plays

After The Rainfall

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Throughout history, the study of ants (myrmecology) has been used as an analogy for human behaviour. This piece uses myrmecology as a prism through which to view the present day. Navigating the arid Egyptian desert, continental Europe, the British Museum and a quiet village green, this piece is a patchwork of multidimensional narratives about the aftermath of the Empire.

curious directive conjure a world where multimedia, movement and sound unpick Britain's relationship to artefacts, mining and the secret life of ants.

An epic, thumping, passionate story asking questions about the relationship between our past, present and into eternity, After the Rainfall was a collaboration between curious directive, Watford Palace Theatre and Escalator East to Edinburgh and was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012.

The Age of Consent

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Age of Consent places in counterpoint two acutely uncomfortable monologues about childhood, responsibility and the shattering of innocence.

One voice is a teenager awaiting his release from a correctional facility after serving his time for the murder of a child. The other is the young mother of a child performer, ruthlessly scheming for fame and fortune, and making sure her daughter will do absolutely whatever it takes.

The characters are united by a sense of denial, as well as the humanity that can exist behind even the most monstrous abuse. Morris’s controversial and powerful play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2001, and was condemned and acclaimed for tackling the subject of child killers.

Bouncers (1990s Remix)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

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

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

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

Can't Stand Up for Falling Down

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

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

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

Clockwork

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Old friends Carl and Mikey must say their farewells this evening as Mikey makes plans to leave the care home that has become their new stomping ground. Troll Face just wants to keep things running to time and Etienne is forced to see out his community service with two old geezers scrounging for fags.

Shut away from a world where pensioners steal in order to feed themselves and dreaming of a youth spent in the dingy corner of a seedy club, two lifelong friends are forced to say their goodbyes. When memory is fading and the past is clouded with a lifetime of drink and drugs, what is true and how to live are called into question.

Laura Poliakoff’s debut play is a powerful call-to-arms for a generation of twenty-year-olds not considering their own old age. How we care for our elderly, where we put them and the sacrifices that are made fuel this often comic yet touching play. Clockwork was first presented at the sixth HighTide Festival in Suffolk on 4 May 2012

Easy Access (For The Boys)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Easy Access (For The Boys) is a hard-hitting and uncomfortable play about victims of child abuse, and the challenging complexity of their relationships with their abusers.

Michael and his friend Gary were both sexually abused by their fathers. Michael, a young prostitute, is making a video diary with Gary’s help – an attempt to understand his past and the lies he has been told by his father and by himself. When his dad gets a new assistant and she and her young son move in with him, Michael’s determination to protect the child leads him to revisit the past in more ominous detail. Mixing video footage and on-stage conversations, this is a story of blame, love and confusion, in which the sufferings of the past spill over into the rage of the present.

Easy Access (For The Boys) premiered at the Drill Hall in 1998.

Horse Country

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bob and Sam are two regular guys chewing the fat, putting the world to rights over a bottle of Jack Daniels and a game of poker, apparently trapped in an empty bar-room in this latter-day American Waiting for Godot. Conversation is rapid-fire and ranges from God and fishing to gambling and art, building to a deeply-felt exploration of the values of mainstream America. What emerges through their extraordinary dialogue is a portrait of a culture caught in a painful flux; a dichotomy between a nostalgic, reactionary sentiment and a desire to forge ahead with something new.

Horse Country was a fringe hit at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002, winning the Best of the Fringe Firsts prize, before transferring to the Riverside Studios, London

King of Scotland

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

King of Scotland is an award-winning dark comedy, and a free adaptation of Gogol’s ‘Diary of a Madman’.

Twenty-eight consecutive years of unemployment notwithstanding, Tommy McMillan becomes the poster boy for the Department of Social Inclusion’s ‘Training For Work’ scheme – but the Department gets more than they bargained for when they discover the true extent of his aspirations.

A foul-mouthed but sympathetic character, Tommy McMillan offers an interesting role for performance. After his performance in the 2011 revival of the play, Jonathan Watson was praised in the Guardian for 'his particular sensitivity to the portrayal of mental illness', as well as his 'credentials as a comic performer and his feel for the Glasgow patter'.

Featuring trouserless bankers, talking dogs, flying taxis and a razor-sharp parody of the workings of politics, King of Scotland is an outrageous Fringe First winning monologue. King of Scotland was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000.

Mess

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Josephine is putting on a play – Boris and Sistahl help. The play is about anorexia but we are exhorted not to let put us off – they are used to the big issues, and today they will tackle a particularly thin elephant in the room.

In her note on the play, Caroline Horton write: 'I started to think about making a piece about my experience of anorexia and recovery in 2005. I was at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris and Gaulier pointed out to the class that our own stories were worth telling. Later that week, when I began to tell part of the story, he showed me that I would need to find a light form – in order to carry the heaviness of the subject.'

Described by Scotland on Sunday as a 'touching insight into the cruel grip of an eating disorder and a sense of the near impossibility of curing it in anything but the most patient and painstaking way', Mess, a play with songs, opened at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe on 3 August 2012.

Pornography

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

One week in July 2005. Live 8. G8. London 2012 Olympic bid. 7/7.

Britain feels like the centre of the world. World-changing politics, gigantic charity concerts, the chance to host the Olympics; everything’s happening, and everyone’s talking about it. In schools, offices, streets, shops, parks and homes – there’s a buzz in the air, a sense of anticipation. The world’s eyes are focused on Britain and you can feel the energy and possibilities. But in less than an hour in central London, everything will change.

Pornography is the stark and shattering play by Simon Stephens that captures Britain as it crashes from the euphoria and promise of the 2012 Olympic announcement into the devastation of 7/7. Each monologue or playlet focuses on a different individual, walking in their shoes in the run-up to the tragedy.

The play was first presented in 2007 at Hanover, Germany; the UK premiere was in 2008 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The word derives from the Edinburgh Festival, where groups led by Glasgow Unity appeared outside the auspices of the first official programme to press the case for greater Scottish representation. A critic noted that one of these shows had happened on the ‘fringe’ of the Festival. The following year playwright Robert Kemp used the word again, and it was then taken up by all concerned. The term was popularized by the Cambridge Footlights’ Beyond the Fringe revue (1960). The fringe compares with the US Off-Off-Broadway movement, whose work was showcased at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and London’s Quipu, Open Space and Royal Court. This encouraged the growth of the fringe, which flourished in the counter-cultural ‘underground’ of the late 1960s and 1970s. The Arts Lab, Inter-Action, the Brighton Combination, the Soho Poly and others hosted happenings, performance art, lunchtime theatre, and the emergent fringe theatre groups. The original aesthetic of both groups and venues was to be inexpensive, collective, hostile to mainstream theatre, presenting an anarchic, subversive combination of artistic events, enabled in part, at least, by the 1968 abolition of theatre censorship. Eventually, some groups and venues began to achieve more attention and funding than others, and the Edinburgh Fringe and venues like the Bush, Orange Tree and King’s Head became more established, and distanced from their origins, for which alternative is often the preferred term.

from Dan Rebellato, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).