1900-1910

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Plays

An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A monologue about an inexperienced young woman, An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side is a clever monologue describing the growing incomprehension of a critic of the Suffragette movement as she struggles to undersand why she was against votes for women in the first place.

Described in her introduction by Naomi Paxton as ‘charming, clever . . . a fantastic monologue for an actress, full of character, well written and enjoyable to play’, An Anti-Suffragist or The Other Side was first published by the Actresses’ Franchise League (AFL) in 1910.

At the Gates

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

At the Gates dates from and is based on the events of the same year when the Women’s Freedom League picketed the House of Commons from July 5th to October 28th, 1909: “an example of patient endurance which should go far to silence the foolish cry of “hysteria” as applied to the Suffrage Movement”.

Chapin was actually in prison when the play was first scheduled to be performed at the Albert Hall in December 1909. However, it was cancelled due to the “lateness of the hour” following a long programme. Based on the experience of a young woman’s 540-hour picket, it presents a series of encounters between her and various passers by, including: a male sympathiser, an embarrassed waiter, two well-disposed policemen ardently interested in politics, cynical about most of their rulers and one of them a great theatre-goer who likes serious drama. Others include: small boys and grown men who jeer; a drunk (who boasts that he has the vote while she does not); a seamstress (who works in a sweatshop and is battered by her husband) and who supports the suffragists as a means to gain the power, it is implied, to change her circumstances; an elderly, self-described “womanly woman”, who attacks the male sympathiser with her umbrella. The line: “These Antis are so militant”, spoken by the heroine, was added to the play between the submission of the manuscript to the Lord Chamberlain’s office and the play’s publication. It is interesting dramaturgically in its attempt to give theatrical form to a durational experience and find a theatrical language to describe an experience of multiple brief encounters, rather than a defining dramatic collision of different viewpoints. The piece makes reference to the biblical Book of Esther comparing the arbitrary exercise of power by the tyrannical King Ahasuerus who ordered the slaughter of the Jews of Persia to that of the government of the day – but “Ahasuerus was a gentleman. He did hold out his sceptre . . . He didn’t keep her waiting either”. The published play is rare and has attracted little critical attention

A Change of Tenant

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

The play examines the reasons why Squire Brooks has decided to evict his long-standing tenant of 30 years, a widow, Mrs Basset, despite the fact that she is an industrious, reliable tenant who pays her rent on time and looks after his property well. The Squire reluctantly agrees to her visit to plead her case. He reveals that the insuperable problem is her sex. Not having a vote, she will not be able to support his son in winning a highly marginal election. In the meeting that follows with his prospective new tenant, John Smith, the Squire is forced to question the wisdom of the ‘Mrs Bassets’ being disenfranchised when the ‘John Smiths’ of the world have a say in government. John Smith is a drinker and a fool, in debt and ignorant, and when he has bothered to vote at all, he has spoiled his voting papers. The piece is weakened by the stereotypical portrayal of both John Smith and Mrs Basset. In choosing to make Basset unremarkable, merely the embodiment of reasonable ordinary civic virtue, the author bases her argument on justice: she is visibly no less worthy of a vote than a similar man in her circumstances, no less worthy than was her husband. She is a version of a virtuous, suffering (albeit middle-aged) heroine, victimised by the heartless squire. Her ordinary virtues: concern for her neighbours, maintaining and improving the property, are contrasted to Smith’s fecklessness and selfishness. However, she also reveals more dynamic virtues in her response to the situation – a determination to be given the reasons for her removal and an intelligence and adaptability. She understands the processes of political persuasion ‘talking to people, giving away papers’, in contrast to Smith, and is willing to earn more, take in washing rather than keep chickens, if required, but finally these cannot make up for her inability to vote. She is sent away for ‘a vote is a vote, and nothing else however good and necessary can make up for the lack of a vote’. It is only when faced with Smith’s record of rent arrears that the Squire relents in his decision.

audio The Cherry Orchard

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Chekhov’s masterful last play, The Cherry Orchard, is a work of timeless, bittersweet beauty about the fading fortunes of an aristocratic Russian family and their struggle to maintain their status in a changing world. Alternately touching and farcical, this subtle, intelligent play stars the incomparable Marsha Mason.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring: Marsha Mason as Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Ranyevskaya Hector Elizondo as Leonid Andreyevich Gayev Michael Cristofer as Yermolay Alekseyevich Lopakhin Jennifer Tilly as Dunyasha (Avdotya Fyodorovna) Joey Slotnick as Semyon Panteleyevich Yepikhodov Christy Keefe as Anya Ranyevskaya Amy Pietz as Varya Ranyevskaya Jordan Baker as Charlotta Ivanovna Jeffrey Jones as Boris Borisovich Semyonov-Pischick Charles Durning as Feers John Chardiet as Yasha Tim DeKay as Pyotr Sergeyevich Trofimov John Chardiet as Passer-By

Translated and adapted by Frank Dwyer and Nicholas Saunders. Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Jordan Baker, Jon Chardiet, Michael Cristofer, Tim DeKay, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo,Jeffrey Jones, Christy Keefe, Marsha Mason, Amy Pietz, Joey Slotnick, Jennifer Tilly

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring: Marsha Mason as Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Ranyevskaya Hector Elizondo as Leonid Andreyevich Gayev Michael Cristofer as Yermolay Alekseyevich Lopakhin Jennifer Tilly as Dunyasha (Avdotya Fyodorovna) Joey Slotnick as Semyon Panteleyevich Yepikhodov Christy Keefe as Anya Ranyevskaya Amy Pietz as Varya Ranyevskaya Jordan Baker as Charlotta Ivanovna Jeffrey Jones as Boris Borisovich Semyonov-Pischick Charles Durning as Feers John Chardiet as Yasha Tim DeKay as Pyotr Sergeyevich Trofimov John Chardiet as Passer-By

Translated and adapted by Frank Dwyer and Nicholas Saunders. Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Jordan Baker, Jon Chardiet, Michael Cristofer, Tim DeKay, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo,Jeffrey Jones, Christy Keefe, Marsha Mason, Amy Pietz, Joey Slotnick, Jennifer Tilly

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring: Marsha Mason as Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Ranyevskaya Hector Elizondo as Leonid Andreyevich Gayev Michael Cristofer as Yermolay Alekseyevich Lopakhin Jennifer Tilly as Dunyasha (Avdotya Fyodorovna) Joey Slotnick as Semyon Panteleyevich Yepikhodov Christy Keefe as Anya Ranyevskaya Amy Pietz as Varya Ranyevskaya Jordan Baker as Charlotta Ivanovna Jeffrey Jones as Boris Borisovich Semyonov-Pischick Charles Durning as Feers John Chardiet as Yasha Tim DeKay as Pyotr Sergeyevich Trofimov John Chardiet as Passer-By Translated and adapted by Frank Dwyer and Nicholas Saunders. Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles."

Featuring: Jordan Baker, Jon Chardiet, Michael Cristofer, Tim DeKay, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo,Jeffrey Jones, Christy Keefe, Marsha Mason, Amy Pietz, Joey Slotnick, Jennifer Tilly

The Cherry Orchard (trans. Murphy)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Chekhov’s tragicomedy of inertia and loss – perhaps his most popular play – an aristocratic family cling to their sheltered lives in a picturesque estate while the forces of social change beat on the walls outside.

Completely bankrupt, Lyubov Ranyevskaya returns with her daughter Anya from Paris to her childhood home, to the beautiful cherry orchard outside the house and to her grief. The estate is paralysed by debt, but she and her billiard-playing brother refuse to save their finances by having the vast orchard cut down to build holiday cottages. Hopelessly paralysed, incapable of decisive action, they put the estate up for auction, and find their world is brought crashing down by powerful forces rooted deep in history and in the society around them

Chekhov maintained that the play was a cheerful and frivolous comedy, but audiences have found its tragedy irresistible. The comedy is poignant; the tone is ambiguous, both farcical and piercing. While remaining faithful to the original, Tom Murphy’s adaptation reimagines the events of this classic play in a language that resonates with wit, clarity and verve. It was first performed in 2004 at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Deirdre of the Sorrows

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Deirdre of the Sorrows is based on an ancient Irish myth, a story of a beautiful young woman, Deirdre, and her equally handsome lover Naisi, one of three brothers sworn to protect each other - and the young lovers - from Deirdre's betrothed, the ageing king Conchubhor.

Almost finished upon Synge's premature death, and published posthumously after revisions by Synge's fiancée, the actress Mary 'Molly' Algood, and poet and theatre-manager W. B. Yeats, Deirdre of the Sorrows is a vivid reimagining of the Deirdre myth, complete with Synge's distinctive lyric style.

audio The Doctor's Dilemma

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The blowhards, the know-it-alls, the scrupulous and the impecunious are all targets for Shaw’s incisive wit in his classic satire of the medical profession. A well-respected physician is forced to choose whom he shall save: a bumbling friend or the ne’er-do-well husband of the woman he loves.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston and Paxton Whitehead.

Includes a conversation with Dr. Neil Wenger, the Director of the Healthcare Ethics Center at the University of California-Los Angeles

The Doctor’s Dilemma is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

Featuring: Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston, Paxton Whitehead

A Flea in Her Ear

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear (La puce à l’oreille) is a classic French farce, first performed at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris on 2 March 1907.

Stephen Mulrine, in his introduction to this translation by Kenneth McLeish, describes A Flea in Her Ear as 'perhaps Feydeau’s best-known play, certainly to English audiences, and its intricate choreography draws together two classic farce plots – that of the suspicious wife who sets a trap to expose her faithless partner, and the venerable comic device of mistaken identity. And the latter complicates the former to such a degree that by the end of Act II, the spectator is almost as exhausted, mentally, as Feydeau’s characters are, physically, by their manic pursuit of each other across the stage, in a flurry of whirling doors and spinning beds.'

Mulrine also observes that 'Feydeau’s plays are a form of perpetual motion, and almost impossible to summarise, but taken by itself, the mistaken identity plot is comparatively straightforward: the supposed unfaithful husband, Chandebise, bears an uncanny resemblance to a drunken porter, Poche (both parts are played by the same actor), and when circumstances bring the two into proximity, in the seedy Hotel Casablanca, all hell breaks loose. Those circumstances arise through the workings of the main plot, set in motion with the entry of the principal characters, midway through Act I, when Chandebise’s wife Raymonde confesses to her friend Lucienne that she suspects her husband of infidelity, while Chandebise himself, a little later, complains to Dr Finache about a worrying, and inexplicable, loss of sexual vigour.'

Her Vote

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Naomi Paxton writes: ‘Her Vote features a young suffragist whose plans to attend a political meeting are disrupted by an unexpected proposal from her young man. It is an unusual suffrage play as the character of the Girl, a suffragist, is portrayed rather more like that of an anti-suffragist. When questioned by the Clerk she is unable to elaborate on her views about the Suffrage and the issues surrounding it and instead responds by repeating words and phrases that she has heard but clearly doesn’t really understand. Her firm resolve at the beginning of the piece to attend a Suffrage Meeting that night counts for nothing when a much more desirable offer arises . . . the play provides an interesting male viewpoint on the movement, criticizing the Girl for wanting to be part of a political movement without really knowing about it or understanding it – a criticism more often levelled at anti-suffragists in suffrage drama.'

Her Vote was first performed at Terry’s Theatre, London, on 13 May 1909 and was first published the follwoing year by Samuel French.

How the Vote Was Won (ed. Paxton)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In her introduction, Naomi Paxton writes: ‘How The Vote Was Won was and remains one of the most popular and well known suffrage plays. A brilliant ensemble piece, it is set in the living room of Horace and Ethel Cole in Brixton, London, on the day of a general women’s strike called by Suffragettes because the Government has said that women do not need votes as they are all looked after by men. All the women who have previously supported themselves agree to leave their jobs and homes and instead insist on support from their nearest male relative. As Horace’s female relatives arrive at his house one after the other, he comes to realize something must be done and rushes to Parliament, along with all the other men in London, to demand “Votes for Women” as soon as possible.'

How the Vote Was Won was first performed at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 13 April 1909, and was first published by The Woman’s Press that same year.