NHB Modern Plays

Plays

Bloody Wimmin

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood’s Bloody Wimmin is a short play written for the Tricycle Theatre’s Women, Power and Politics season, staged at the Tricycle, London, in June–July 2010. The play examines the impact of the 1980s Greenham Common protests and the fight for nuclear disarmament. It was first performed at the Tricycle on 4 June 2010, in rep with short plays by Marie Jones, Moira Buffini and Rebecca Lenkiewicz.

It’s 1984 and the peace camp at Greenham Common is in full swing. Mother-to-be Helen is torn between her commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament and her expectant husband back home. Twenty-five years later and her now adult son, James, is an environmental activist, railing against what he perceives as sexual exploitation in the way the media is covering their protests.

The Tricycle Theatre production was directed by Indhu Rubasingham with a cast including Niamh Cusack, Stella Gonet and Kika Markham.

Blue Heart

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart consists of two related short plays, Heart's Desire and Blue Kettle, both examining strained family – and especially filial – relationships. It was first performed at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, on 14 August 1997 in a touring co-production by Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre.

In Heart’s Desire, Brian and his wife Alice, together with Brian's sister Maisie, are waiting for the arrival of their daughter Susy, who is returning home after some years spent in Australia. A simple domestic scenario is replayed over and over with widely differing developments – some heartbreaking, some wildly comical or surreal.

In Blue Kettle, a middle-aged man, Derek, and his girlfriend, Enid, are involved in a con trick, making a series of elderly women believe that Derek is the son they once gave up for adoption. But as the situation develops, the play's dialogue undergoes a radical distortion with characters using the words 'blue' and 'kettle', apparently at random, and to an extent that grows increasingly disruptive.

The Out of Joint/Royal Court touring production was directed by Max Stafford-Clark and designed by Julian McGowan, with a cast including Gabrielle Blunt, Jacqueline Defferary, Karina Fernandez, Barnard Gallagher, Valerie Lilley, Mary Macleod, Eve Pearce, Jason Watkins and Anna Wing. Following the performances at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, it opened at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 19 August 1997, and at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (at the Duke of York's) on 17 September.

Blue Stockings

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Blue Stockings follows the story of four young women fighting for education and self-determination against the larger backdrop of women’s suffrage written by director and writer, Jessica Swale.

1896. Girton College, Cambridge, the first college in Britain to admit women. The Girton girls study ferociously and match their male peers grade for grade. Yet, when the men graduate, the women leave with nothing but the stigma of being a ‘blue stocking’ – an unnatural, educated woman. They are denied degrees and go home unqualified and unmarriageable.

In Swale’s play, Tess Moffat and her fellow first years are determined to win the right to graduate. But little do they anticipate the hurdles in their way: the distractions of love, the cruelty of the class divide or the strength of the opposition, who will do anything to stop them. The play follows them over one tumultuous academic year, in their fight to change the future of education.

Blue Stockings premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2013.

Bodies  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Vivienne Franzmann's play Bodies is a family drama exploring the ethical and social dilemmas raised by surrogate motherhood. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, on 5 July 2017.

The play's action takes place over the course of nine months. White, middle-class TV producer Clem, age 43, is desperate for a baby. So she and her husband, Josh, pay £22,000 to an agency and find themselves locked into a global transaction in which a Russian woman’s egg is fertilised by Josh and implanted in the womb of an Indian woman. But Clem is increasingly estranged from her old-fashioned socialist dad, David, who has motor neurone disease, and who says she should be ashamed of herself. Her residual guilt surfaces in Skype conversations with the Delhi doctor supervising the surrogacy, and is compounded when legal difficulties arise.

The premiere production was directed by Jude Christian and designed by Gabriella Slade. It was performed by Lorna Brown, Brian Ferguson, Philip Goldacre, Salma Hoque, Justine Mitchell (as Clem), Hannah Rae, Manjinder Virk, Alexander Molony and Rohan Shinn.

born bad

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

debbie tucker green's born bad is an intensely theatrical play about a vicious family dispute. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre on 29 April 2003.

Dawta wants the family to talk. Furious, she calls out each member of her family, demanding they join in her outrage or, at the very least, recognise it. Some long-ago horror has occurred, and she demands information from her sisters, her mother and her brother. Meanwhile, the perpetrator – Dad – stays nearly silent.

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Kathy Burke and designed by Jonathan Fensom, with Jenny Jules as Dawta, Sharlene Whyte as Sister 1, Nadine Marshall as Sister 2, Alibe Parsons as Mum, Nicholas Pinnock as Brother and Ewart James Walters as Dad.

The play won debbie tucker green the Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Boys

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ella Hickson's play Boys is about a group of young men making the tricky transition from university to adult life. It was first performed at the HighTide Festival, Halesworth, Suffolk, on 3 May 2012, before transferring to the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, and Soho Theatre, London.

The play is set in the kitchen of a student flat in Edinburgh over an unusually hot summer. The class of 2011 are about to graduate and Benny, Mack, Timp and Cam are due out of their flat. Hedonistic Timp has been stuck in a dead-end job for as long as he can remember whilst Cam is struggling with the pressures of a nascent classical music career. Benny is just trying to make sure everyone is alright, much to the chagrin of cynical Mack. Stepping into a world that doesn’t want them, these boys start to wonder if there’s any point in getting any older. Before all that, though, they’re going to have one hell of a party.

The premiere production was directed by Robert Icke and designed by Chloe Lamford. The cast was Samuel Edward Cook, Danny Kirrane, Lorn Macdonald, Tom Mothersdale, Alison O’Donnell and Eve Ponsonby.

Bracken Moor

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alexi Kaye Campbell's Bracken Moor is a boldly theatrical tale of two families haunted by grief, set against the economic troubles of the 1930s. It was first performed at the Tricycle Theatre, London, on 6 June 2013 in a co-production between the Tricycle and Shared Experience.

The play's action takes place in the Yorkshire house of Harold Pritchard, a ruthlessly pragmatic mine owner, in the winter of 1937. Harold and his wife Elizabeth are playing host to their old London friends, Geoffrey and Vanessa Avery, whom they haven't seen for ten years. The reason for the long gap is that Elizabeth withdrew from life after the death of her 12-year-old son, Edgar, who fell down a disused mine shaft. All the old memories come to the surface when the Averys' 22-year-old son, Terence, appears to be possessed by the spirit of the dead boy, with whom he enjoyed an intense relationship.

The Tricycle Theatre premiere was directed by Polly Teale, artistic director of Shared Experience, with a cast including Daniel Flynn as Harold Pritchard, Helen Schlesinger as Elizabeth Pritchard, Joseph Timms as Terence, Simon Shepherd as Geoffrey Avery and Sarah Woodward as Vanessa Avery.

Brainstorm

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Brainstorm is an ensemble community play exploring how teenagers’ brains work, and why they’re designed by evolution to be the way they are. It was created by Ned Glasier and Emily Lim with Company Three (formerly Islington Community Theatre), in collaboration with neuroscientists Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Dr Kate Mills. The play was designed to be adapted and performed by a company of teenagers, drawing directly on their personal experiences.

A scratch version of Brainstorm was performed at Platform Islington in March 2013. The version of the show published by Nick Hern Books was first performed at Park Theatre, London, in January 2015, then at the National Theatre, London, in July 2015 and April 2016.

Originally formed as Islington Community Theatre in 2008, Company Three is a theatre company working with young people aged 11–19, all referred or nominated by teachers and youth workers.

The 2015 premiere of Brainstorm was directed by Ned Glasier and Emily Lim, and designed by Charlie Damigos. It was performed by Michael Adewale, Doyin Ajiboye, Sama Aunallah, Yaamin Chowdhury, Jack Hughes, Noah Landoni, Dylan Lubo, Gracia Kayindo, Romeo Mika, Kassius Nelson, Tyrel Phan, Serafina Willow and Segen Yosife.

A Breakfast of Eels

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Robert Holman's play A Breakfast of Eels is a two-hander about two young men trying to find their way in the world after the death of the man they thought of as their father. It was first performed at the Print Room at the Coronet, London, on 20 March 2015.

The play is set in the present day in Highgate, London, and in Northumberland. When the play opens, the two characters, Penrose (aged 21) and Francis (aged 35), are preparing for the funeral of Penrose’s father. They both refer to the deceased man as 'Daddy', but it becomes clear that he was not Francis's father. Penrose seems emotionally immature and fey, while Francis appears more confident, even protective of Penrose, insisting that Penrose dress properly for the funeral. As the play develops, Penrose tries to gift the ancestral manor he's inherited to Francis, together with a small fortune in cash. They banter, battle, and bond over the course of five Acts, and both are changed, not necessarily in ways they understand.

The Print Room premiere was directed by Robert Hastie and designed by Ben Stones, with Andrew Sheridan as Francis and Matthew Tennyson as Penrose.

In an introduction to the published script, Holman explains that he wrote the play specifically for Andrew Sheridan and Matthew Tennyson to perform (both had appeared in previous plays of his: Sheridan in Holes in the Skin and Jonah and Otto, Tennyson in the 2012 revival of Making Noise Quietly). Holman goes on to describe how each of them contributed to the play: 'When Making Noise Quietly was over, Tennyson and I went for a walk along the Thames. I said how, now and again, I’d had a go at writing parts for actors and would he be interested if I was to write a play for him, and that at some point I would need the name of his character. The only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted the play to be set in London (Tennyson is a Londoner) and would he show me his favourite part of London? ... We must have walked ten miles that afternoon in the drizzle without an umbrella. He said he would show me Highgate Cemetery, and a few days later said "Penrose". Penrose is a character I never would have written had Tennyson not said what he did.'

Broken Biscuits

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tom Wells's play Broken Biscuits is a coming-of-age story about three teenagers who decide to solve their personal problems by forming a band. It was first performed at Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 5 October 2016, at the start of a UK tour, in a co-production by Paines Plough and Live Theatre.

The play takes place in Megan's shed. Megan and her friends Holly and Ben are sixteen-year-old school leavers who by their own admission are 'total losers'. Determined to reinvent themselves for the start of the college term, Megan co-opts Holly and Ben into forming a band, armed with a drum kit and a tin of broken biscuits.

The premiere production was directed by James Grieve and designed by Lily Arnold, with songs by Matthew Robins. It was performed by Faye Christall as Megan, Grace Hogg-Robinson as Holly and Andrew Reed as Ben.

Nick Hern Books is one of the UK’s leading specialist performing arts publishers, with a vast collection of plays, screenplays and theatre books in their catalogue. They also license most of their plays for amateur performance.