Timberlake Wertenbaker

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Plays by Timberlake Wertenbaker

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.

The Ash Girl

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

When an invitation to The Ball arrives at the Ash girl's house, from Prince Amir, she can't bring herself to believe that she, like her sisters, can go. With her mother dead and her father away, she must learn to fight the monsters that have slithered and insinuated their way into her heart and mind. In this wondrous drama Timberlake Wertenbaker explores the beauty and terror inherent in growing up.

The Ash Girl premiered at Birmingham Rep in 2001.

The Break of Day

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In The Break of Day Timberlake Wertenbaker turns a sharp and beady eye on three women and their partners. The century is coming to an end and a feeling of dissatisfaction and unease seizes the group. Is it too late to have children? Were they wrong to focus so much on work? These questions force each of them to recast their future.

The Break of Day premiered in an Out of Joint production at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, in 1995.

Credible Witness

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A young man flees to a distant land and vanishes. His mother follows, certain she will find him, but in this unfamiliar place all certainties seem to crumble. In this story of love and loss, Wertenbaker explores passions simmering in contemporary Britain: the longing for identity, the despair of fragmentation and the fragile hopes of lives redefined.

Credible Witness premiered at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs of the Royal Court, London, 2001

The Grace of Mary Traverse

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Tired of confinement to her father's house, Mary Traverse, a young eighteenth-century woman, decides to see more of the world.

The Grace of Mary Traverse premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in October 1985.

The Line

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

How did you learn to draw a line that is so ferocious and so supple?

There is no question Mademoiselle.

You are one of us.

From unexpected quarters in nineteenth century France, a bright new talent emerges: confident, penniless, and a woman. But circumstance is no obstacle to Suzanne Valadon. For the great Edgar Degas, his ambitious protégée proves the biggest challenge of his life.

Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Line premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in November 2009.

The Love of the Nightingale

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In return for aid in war, King Pandion of Athens gives his daughter in marriage to Tereus, King of Thrace. But once in Thrace, Procne misses her sister Philomele and sets out to fetch her from Athens. On the way back Tereus deceives and seduces Philomele, silencing her by tearing out her tongue.

Timberlake Wertenbaker combines elements from Greek myth and the history and drama of classical Greece to make a play that is as original as it is modern.

The Love of the Nightingale was first premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Other Place, Stratford upon Avon, in October 1988.

Three Birds Alighting on a Field

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In these days few individual works of art can be as expensive as paintings. Auction houses and galleries vie with each other to make them so, sometimes discreetly helping purchasers to match their bids with cash. Some paintings are valuable as well as expensive – but which? This question weighs heavily on the central characters of this play, an artist who, after years of success, is inescapably confronted with it.

Three Birds Alighting on a Field was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in September 1991.

Timberlake Wertenbaker's plays include New Anatomies (ICA, London, 1982), Abel's Sister (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 1984), The Grace of Mary Traverse (Royal Court), which won the Plays and Players Most Promising Playwright Award in 1985, Our Country's Good (Royal Court and Broadway), winner of the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988 and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best New Foreign Play in 1991, The Love of the Nightingale (RSC's Other Place), which won the 1989 Eileen Anderson Central TV Drama Award, Three Birds Alighting on a Field (Royal Court), which won the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Writers' Guild Award and London Critics' Circle Award in 1992, The Break of Day (Out of Joint production, Royal Court and tour, 1995), After Darwin (Hampstead Theatre, 1998), The Ash Girl (Birmingham Rep, 2000), Credible Witness (Royal Court, 2001), Galileo's Daughter (Theatre Royal, Bath, 2004), Arden City (NT Connections, 2008) and The Line (Arcola Theatre, 2009). She has written the screenplay of The Children, based on the novel by Edith Wharton, and a BBC2 film entitled Do Not Disturb. Translations and adaptations include Marivaux's La Dispute, Jean Anouilh's Leocadia, Maurice Maeterlinck's Pelleas and Melisande for BBC Radio, Ariane Mnouchkine's Mephisto, adapted for the RSC in 1986, Sophocles's The Theban Plays (RSC, 1991), Euripides' Hecuba (ACT, San Francisco, 1995; BBC Radio 3, 2001) and Hippolytus (Riverside Studios, 2009), Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena (Peter Hall Company at the Piccadilly Theatre, 1998), Pirandello's Come tu mi vuoi, Gabriela Preissova's Jenufa (Arcola Theatre, 2008) and Racine's Brittanicus (Wilton's Music Hall, 2011).