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Writers-in-Residence Season, Finborough Theatre 2003



Preview by Paul Nelson

THE season presents the first fruits of the new writers-in-residence programme, with four new plays - including two specially commissioned for the Finborough Theatre.

From December 2, Bright Angel, in association with Concordance, presents the world premiere of a specially commissioned new play, Young Emma, the secret memoir of W.H. Davies - adapted for the stage by Laura Wade, directed by Tamara Harvey, designed by Gabriela Csanyi-Willis with lighting by Emma Chapman and original music by Owen Leech.

Tamara Harvey, director of the UK national tour of The Graduate and the sell-out Something Cloudy, Something Clear, at the Finborough Theatre, returns to open the Finborough Theatre's writers-in-residence season.

"I have come to the conclusion that the manuscript must be destroyed and not get into the hands of strangers… Please don't try to persuade me to do anything different, as a book that is not fit to be published now can never be fit."

Young Emma is the brutally honest tale of a man's search for a young wife among the prostitutes of 1920's London. Unpublished for over 50 years and never brought to the stage … until now.

But who was its secret author? None other than the toast of the London literati, the one-legged Welsh poet, W.H. Davies, then famous for his adventures across America in his best-selling book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp.

Few knew that the author of such verse as 'What is this life if full of care / We have no time to stand and stare?' had decided to "trouble no more about respectable women but to find a wife in the common streets".

Young Emma tells the unflinching, bawdy tale of Davies' escapades, the many women he bedded, the venereal disease he developed, and his dream of escaping London life.

The Sunday Telegraph described the book as "a masterpiece, and stranger than any fiction", while Bernard Shaw called it "the record of a fully developed, vigorous, courageous, imaginative, and specifically talented adult - with the outlook of a slum boy of six or seven."

Writer-in-residence, Laura Wade, was born in 1977. Her other plays have been seen at the Bristol Old Vic, Sheffield Crucible and the Royal Court Young Writers' Programme.

This original adaptation of Young Emma has been commissioned for the Finborough Theatre by Artistic Director, Neil McPherson.

Tuesday, January 6 - Saturday, January 31 2004
In Extremis Theatre, in association with Theatre West and Concordance, presents the London Premiere of Lullabies of Broadmoor, a double bill of new plays by Steve Hennessy, directed by Caitriona McLaughlin, designed by Ann Stiddard, with lighting by Tim Bartlett.

Lullabies of Broadmoor weaves the stories of three notorious London murders into a picture of life in the "Gentlemen's Block", a wing of Broadmoor reserved for murderers who regarded themselves as a cut above the average killer.

 

The Murder Club is set in 1922. Murder is in the air. The British Government is engaged in a genocidal war in Iraq, using poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction, and two notorious murderers are meeting in Broadmoor for the first time.

Small time conman, Ronald True, has just murdered prostitute, Olive Young, in Finborough Road, just down the street from the theatre.

Embittered out of work actor, Richard Prince, murdered matinee idol, William Terriss, at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. Now, the two men have been put in charge of an evening of entertainment at Broadmoor.

The Murder Club has been specially commissioned by the Finborough Theatre to tell some of the infamous history of the local area.

Wilderness, also based on a true story, describes a journey from the battlefields of the American Civil War to the cells of 19th Century Broadmoor by way of one of the most famous murders in Victorian Lambeth.

This is the story of William Chester Minor, one time surgeon in the American Union Army, and a major contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a rich, dark, Gothic tragi-comedy about war, murder, madness and redemption. Strong language and sexual content mean these plays are not suitable for children.

Playwright, Steve Hennessy, was born in 1958, and has had 11 plays staged in Bristol and four radio plays broadcast in Britain and Ireland.

His play, Still Life, won the Venue Magazine Best New Play 2001 Award. In Extremis Theatre brings this production direct from its run in Bristol to the capital.

From Tuesday, February 3 - Saturday, February 28 2004 Concordance presents the world premiere of Allport's Revenge, by Anthony Melnikoff, directed by Caitriona McLaughlin.

Arnold Rosen has two sons, both of whom suffer from a genetic kidney disease.

Eight years ago, Arnold donated one of his kidneys to save his older son's life.

Now, the younger son also needs a transplant. And Arnold makes a proposal which would save his son, but kill himself.

The moral and ethical dilemmas are revealed against a background in which old grievances are aired and deep family divisions force their way to the surface.

Allport's Revenge was shortlisted for the Soho Theatre Company's 2000 Verity Bargate Award, and subsequently received two public rehearsed readings at the Soho Theatre.

Playwright, Anthony Melnikoff, was born in 1947. His other plays include Steinberg's Day of Atonement, first performed at Pentameters Theatre, London, in 1998, where it smashed 30 years of box office records; and Child of the Forest, first performed at the Finborough Theatre in 2000.

Both of these plays, which were directed by the Finborough's artistic director, Neil McPherson, were runners-up in the Arts Council's Meyer-Whitworth Award for New Writing.

Finborough Theatre, The Finborough, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 (five minutes from Earl's Court Underground and West Brompton Underground and National Rail). Tickets 020 7373 3842
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

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