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Plays

Abortive

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's Abortive is a short radio play first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 4 February 1971.

Roz and Colin are having a difficult time with sex, largely because of an invisible yet forbidding barrier between them. Roz became pregnant after being raped and had an abortion. Roz is not sure she made the right decision and Colin is not altogether convinced his wife was raped.

The BBC Radio 3 production was directed by John Tydeman, with Prunella Scales as Roz and Dinsdale Landen as Colin.

audio Absent Forever

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A bright and politically-engaged college student goes missing after a demonstration turns violent. But as her grieving mother begins her search, she uncovers a dark side to her daughter which she never knew existed.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring: John de Lancie, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Al Ruscio and Jennifer Warren.

Directed by Peggy Shannon and recorded before a live audience by L.A. Theatre Works.

Featuring: John de Lancie, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Al Ruscio, Jennifer Warren

Accounts

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A rural counterpart to the urban Rents, according to author Michael Wilcox, Accounts touches on the same themes of homosexuality, money, and survival that the former play introduces. As teenage brothers Andy and Donald Mawson cope with the death of their father, learning how to run a farm with their widowed mother, Mary, the play primarily concerns the family’s processes of discovery – both in being independent land owners for the first time, and in terms of the brothers’ development during adolescence.

A bildungsroman, of sorts, Accounts details the daily routine of the family within their first year on the farm, and specifically demonstrates how Andy and Donald must mature quickly to take responsibility for its financial performance. With this mental maturity comes bodily maturity, as well; the audience becomes privy to Andy and Donald’s awakening sexuality, and in the case of Donald, emerging homosexuality. As a result, Accounts is a ‘coming out’ experience in the Scottish countryside, in the same way that Rents was in Edinburgh, for the play’s characters, the audience, and Wilcox, himself.

Accounts premiered at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre Club in May of 1981, with performances at the Fringe Festival following shortly after. The play made its way over to the US in 1983, and was shown in New York City’s Hudson Guild Theater.

Adult Child/Dead Child

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

How do we cope without love? The need for love and care, and the trauma that’s brought about by its absence is at the heart of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child/Dead Child.

The unnamed protagonist of this one-person show is confronted throughout her life with excessive discipline and punishment from her parents. Whether it’s the eye-for-an-eye punishment her father insists upon, or the hours of claustrophobia and inactivity spent corralled in the cupboard under the stairs, throughout the play we see the building tension that comes from living with parents who would rather chastise than show love.

Her only comfort comes in the shape of her imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.

Adult Child/Dead Child won a Time Out award in 1988, with Time Out magazine describing it as ‘A strangley exhilarating experience as well as a subtle exploration of a personality under siege.'

Adult Child/Dead Child was first presented at the Finborough Theatre Club, London, on 5 June 1987, before embarking on a national tour of the UK. Performed by the author, it was directed by Dowie’s long-time collaborator Colin Watkeys.

The After-Dinner Joke

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill’s The After-Dinner Joke is a satire on the charity business, written for television. It was first broadcast on BBC 1 on 14 February 1978 as part of the BBC's Play for Today series.

Told in 66 short, episodic scenes, the plot follows Selby, a young woman who quits her secretarial job in a big corporation to pursue her passion for ‘doing good’. As a charity worker, she studiously avoids becoming embroiled in political issues, only to discover during the course of the action that this is impossible.

The BBC production by directed by Colin Bucksey, with a cast including Paula Wilcox as Selby.

audio Agnes of God

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this contemporary murder mystery, set within the confines of a convent, Agnes is a devout, innocent young nun accused of infanticide. As a psychiatrist, herself a lapsed Catholic, and the Mother Superior struggle over Agnes' fate, the play plunges deeply into the mystery of faith and the consequence of truth.

Includes an interview with Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson, author of "Why Do Catholics Do That.”

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Barbara Bain, Emily Bergl and Harriet Harris.

Featuring: Barbara Bain, Emily Bergl, Harriet Harris

The Art of Success

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Eighteenth century London. The world of art is on the brink of transformation, about to spread from the drawing rooms of the rich to public houses across the country. Compressing the events of ten tumultuous years into a single night, Nick Dear uncovers the hidden world of seminal artist William Hogarth. The Art of Success is a raucous play with resonant debates about gender, sex, hedonism in the face of censorship and the responsibility of the artist.

The Art of Success by Nick Dear was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 1986.

Bailegangaire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Bailegangaire, an endless folk story told by a senile old woman is woven through her granddaughters’ arguments and struggles to free themselves from her.

Night after night, in lyrical and relentless detail, Mommo begins to relate the story of a laughing competition in Bailegangaire and how the town came by its name – ‘the town without laughter’. Of her two granddaughters, she only recognises Dolly, and not Mary who does most to look after her. The younger women yearn to be free of the past in order to make a new beginning, and Mary comes to believe that to do so the story of Bailegangaire has to be concluded.

In Mommo, Tom Murphy has created one of the greatest female characters of twentieth-century Irish literature. The play was first performed by Druid Theatre Company, Galway, in 1985.

Barnes’ People: Eight Monologues

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Barnes’ People is a series of wonderfully varied monologues from deeply imagined individuals. Whether their stories are historical, fantastic or familiar, they are always intimate and human.

‘Confessions of a Primary Terrestrial Mental Receiver and Communicator: Num III Mark I’ is spoken by a man who finds a meaning for his life through covert correspondence with aliens.

‘The Jumping Mimuses of Byzantium’, spoken by an aged hermit, is based on a legend of a tumbling jester and a wanton prostitute with a nocturnal secret.

‘The Theory and Practise of Belly-Dancing’ is about finding a way to survive the everyday.

‘The End of the World – And After’ is spoken by William Miller, a preacher who amassed a large following by predicting that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1844.

A one-hundred-and-thirteen year old woman tells an interviewer about her calmly scurrilous life in ‘Yesterday’s News’.

‘Glory’ is the final oration of Peregrinus Proteus, an Ancient Greek philosopher famous for parricide, before he steps on to his own funeral pyre.

In ‘No End to Dreaming’, an old man tells his psychoanalyst about growing up in the Cracow ghetto and about his dreams.

The monologues were presented by BBC Radio 3 in 1981.

Bazaar & Rummage

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Sue Townsend’s heartfelt comedy, three severely agoraphobic women have left their houses for the first time in years, and made it to a jumble sale. The sale has been organised by their social workers, the young trainee Fliss and the ex-agoraphobic volunteer Gwenda, though as the afternoon progresses, the distinction between them and the anxious people they are supposed to be looking after becomes less and less clear.

As Margaret, Bell-Bell and Katrina prepare to meet the public, armed with the suits of a deceased husband, old sequinned show dresses, bric-a-brac and a standard lamp, nerves and neuroses are running high, and a sensitive portrait of the suffering behind their phobia emerges.

Bazaar and Rummage was first presented in 1982 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London.