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Plays

Celestina

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Fernando de Rojas's Celestina, originally known as the Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea (Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea), is a work that is neither truly a play nor a novel, but something of both. First published in 1499, it comprises a series of dialogues that tell the story of a noble bachelor, Calisto, who uses the services of Celestina, the madam of a local brothel, to help him seduce Melibea, a beautiful young woman being kept in seclusion by her parents. Using all her wiles, and with the help of two greedy servants, Celestina goes about weaving her spells, with tragic results.

The original work is generally considered too lengthy to work satisfactorily on the stage: it would run to something like nine hours. But it has been performed in abbreviated versions written for the stage, and has come to be known after its famous central character, the procuress Celestina (in Spain, La Celestina).

This translation by John Clifford was published by Nick Hern Books in its Drama Classics series in 2004, and was first performed at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, on 16 August 2004, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. The production was directed by Calixto Bieito, with Kathryn Hunter in the role of Celestina.

James II: Day of the Innocents

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James II: Day of the Innocents is the second in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. The play depicts a violent royal playground from the perspective of the child King.

The James Plays (also comprising James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock and James III: The True Mirror) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

In James II: Day of the Innocents, James II becomes the prize in a vicious game between Scotland’s most powerful families. Crowned when only six, abandoned by his mother and separated from his sisters, the child King is little more than a puppet. There is only one friend he can trust: William, the future Earl of Douglas. As James approaches adulthood in an ever more threatening world, he must fight to keep his tenuous grip on the crown while the nightmares of his childhood rise up once more.

In an introduction to the published script, Munro writes: 'In the delightful possibility that you are reading these plays with the view to giving them further production, here are some guidelines and warnings. All stage directions are suggestions only, you can take enormous liberties with those and emerge unscathed. Lines are very definitely not, tweak at your peril, you’ll find you’re pulling on a thread that could unravel all your plans. These texts represent a version of what was staged by the original production. Various solutions were found to represent some large moments and staging problems which are quite baldly stated in the text. As an example, we solved the problem of how to involve very small children in bloodshed and horrifying, murderous events in Day of the Innocents by using puppets. Feel free to find your own solutions.'

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Daniel Cahill as the Earl of Douglas, Ali Craig as Crichton, Blythe Duff as Isabella Stewart, Nick Elliott as John Stewart, Peter Forbes as Balvenie, Andrew Fraser as David Douglas, Sarah Higgins as Meg, Stephanie Hyam as Joan, Gordon Kennedy as Livingston, David Mara as Hume, Rona Morison as Annabella, Andrew Rothney as James II and Mark Rowley as William Douglas.

James III: The True Mirror

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James III: The True Mirror is the third in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. The play, like James III himself, is colourful and unpredictable, turning its attention to the women at the heart of the royal court.

The James Plays (also comprising James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock and James II: Day of the Innocents) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

In James III: The True Mirror, Scotland comes dangerously close to civil war. Charismatic, cultured, and obsessed with grandiose schemes that his nation can ill afford, James III is by turns loved and loathed. The country's future may be decided by his resourceful and resilient wife, Queen Margaret of Denmark. Her love and clear vision can save a fragile monarchy and rescue a struggling people.

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Daniel Cahill as Jamie, Ali Craig as Sandy, Blythe Duff as Annabella, Andrew Fraser as Ross/Tam, Sofie Gråbøl as Margaret, Gordon Kennedy as John, Rona Morison as Phemy, Andrew Rothney as Cochrane, Mark Rowley as Ramsay, Jamie Sives as James III and Fiona Wood as Daisy.

James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock is the first in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. It explores the complex, colourful character of James I, poet, lover and law-maker.

The James Plays (also comprising James II: Day of the Innocents and James III: The True Mirror) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

Captured at the age of 13 and crowned King of Scots in an English prison, James I of Scotland is delivered home 18 years later with a ransom on his head and a new English bride. The nation he returns to is poor: the royal coffers empty and his nobles ready to tear him apart at the first sign of weakness. Determined to bring the rule of law to a land riven by warring factions, James faces terrible choices if he is to save himself, his Queen and the crown.

In an introduction to the published script, Munro writes: 'These plays are set within a period of Scottish history which is virtually unknown. I feel a certain responsibility, therefore, to alert you to the fact that some small liberties have been taken with known events in order to serve our stories. Certain characters represent amalgamations of many characters or stand for political forces within Scotland. Certain events have had their timelines altered to maximise the drama. However, as far as narrative imperatives allow, I’ve followed history and used primary sources. We cannot know the character and thoughts of these dead kings and queens and long-gone Scots. We can speculate a whole series of possibilities from the few hard facts we can rely on, the slim historical evidence of their actions. However, I feel robustly certain that whatever their thoughts and feelings might have been, human nature is exactly the same now as it was then. Only culture and circumstances have changed.'

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Cameron Barnes as Big James Stewart, Blythe Duff as Isabella Stewart, Peter Forbes as Balvenie, Sarah Higgins as Meg, Stephanie Hyam as Joan, Gordon Kennedy as Murdac Stewart, James McArdle as James I, Andrew Rothney as Walter Stewart, Mark Rowley as Alisdair Stewart and Jamie Sives as Henry V.

Mankind

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The eponymous character of Mankind is a plain, honest farmer struggling against worldly and spiritual temptation in a morality play that is remarkable for its bawdy and energetic humour. The instructive sermon from the figure of Mercy which opens the play is soon interrupted by mocking Mischief, the three comedic Vices and the malicious devil Titivillus, who hijack the play and lead the audience through a whirl of lewd jokes, bawdy song and theatrical tricks which compromise the spectators as much as they do the character of Mankind. The competition for Mankind’s soul between Mischief and Mercy allows the play to move between riotous exuberance and careful theological discussion, showing by example and instruction the right way to live a Christian life.

The Wardrobe

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Sam Holcroft's The Wardrobe is a play exploring British history, how the country was shaped, and how connected we are with our past. It was commissioned as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival and premiered by youth theatres across the UK.

The play's action is set in different time periods across several centuries, all within the same large wardrobe. In each scene, a group of children climb into the wardrobe, seeking sanctuary of one sort or another. There are twelve scenes in all, ranging from the bedchamber of Elizabeth of York on 27 October 1485, to 'a museum, somewhere in Britain, 2014'.

For the first performances, given as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival in 2014, groups were required to select nine of the possible twelve scenes to perform; they were free to choose their preferred scenes. An author's note included in the playtext states that 'This rule can also be applied to subsequent productions of the play.'