8 February 2012

Traverse Reading Resolutions

Alan Wilkins has asked each of us in the Traverse Young Writers' Group to write a list of ten plays we resolve to read or watch this year. The plays should be classics that we've never quite got around to seeing.

As I've discussed on this blog before, it's actually quite easy for very famous plays to bypass one completely unless you go out of your way to obtain copies of the script. In summary, I'm a stingy old fish and only go to plays that I'm reviewing.

Although I have chosen ten plays, I only have interesting things to say about five of them, so here is the incomplete list:


1) Look Back in Anger by John Osbourne

Kenneth Tynan's review of Look Back in Anger is a bit of an icon in the history of theatrical reviewing, and I'm often to be found discussing it drunkenly with theatre reviewers in seedy bars.

The wonderful SJC produced it at the Fringe last year, but I was warned not to attend because of a market of fleas that had spread into the auditorium. (Blame was placed on a stuffed boar head used by another production sharing the space.) Being a creature of soft skin, I ended up passing on perfectly good opportunity to watch LBA. :-(

So you see between the Tynan review and knowing people who have been in it, I feel like I know a lot about this play except what actually happens in it.

2) Cockroach by Sam Holcroft

This was the first production of the National Theatre of Scotland and the debut of Holcroft, who I gather is an alumni of the Traverse Young Writers. We read the opening during a workshop with the new literary director of the NTS, and I was sufficiently grabbed to want to finish it. Rather fittingly, the purpose of the exercise was to study what makes a gripping opening.

3) What's Wrong with Angry? by Patrick Wilde

This was a Fringe to West End hit back in the day and clearly an important work in the history of gay theatre. The Fringe revival production was produced by the owner of a magazine I work on, and every time I stay with him in London the show poster is prominent in the hall to make me feel guilty.

4) The Chester Play of Noah's Flood

Although I'm on speaking terms with Renaissance drama and Classical theatre, I've been more of a smiler and nodder when it comes to what happened in between. The Chester Play is, according to the Norton Anthology of English Literature, "the most durable" of the medieval mystery plays, so I thought I'd give it a punt.

5) An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

I first encountered this beauty at a playwrighting workshop run by Peter Arnott and I've been gasping to read it ever since. It came up in the context of someone's play in development about earthquakes caused by oil mining, although I've yet to work out why it was relevant.

Luckily, I managed to avoid studying Inspector at GCSE through the simple expedient of not taking GCSEs, so the play hasn't been killed for me yet. In fact, I'm looking forward to reading this one the most out of all my list.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read 'An Inspector Calls?' yet? I never did write my play about earthquakes!

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