Yes, I know to my college peers it’ll seem like I’m being smug, but I’ve been cracking on with my background reading for my modules which are due to start next month. Being brutally honest this is the first time that I’ve actually got disciplined to read through as much as possible before the module starts, and so to my peers I highly recommend you get on with some, as I’m finding it exciting and also feel like I know a little bit now about the subjects I’m about to study.
So over the last two weeks I’ve been reading through several of the plays I’m going to be looking at more in-depth, and it’s been great to be reading such a variety. Here are a few of the highlights:
Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, totally surprised me, I’d never heard of it or Joe Penhall. The background blurb mentioned that this play had won the Olivier for Best New Play in 2001. I absolutely loved it, it covers a subject (schizophrenia) that is close to my heart as a close friend suffers with this condition. More than this though, it’s so well written and “tight”, no line of dialogue is superfluous, and the conflict of interest between the three characters, really made me want to yell at the character Robert for being such an egotistical numpty!
I love it when the degree introduces me to great plays and playwrights, I can’t praise this play enough, and look forward to reading more of Joe Penhall’s work.
Next I read my first ever Terence Rattigan play last week. The Browning Version was the play and again I enjoyed this, it again had a link that I could identify with, as I went to a Grammar School. The character Millie is certainly up there with the list of “stage bitches” such as Hedda and Lady Macbeth. I found the introduction about Terence Rattigan at the start of the book, fascinating, his struggles, and life certainly make for a good read. I’m not sure what I’ll make of his other work but The Browning Version is certainly worth reading or seeing.
Into the Absurd with Jean Genet and his play The Balcony, I read this on the train during rush hour this week and I wonder what my fellow passengers thought as they read snippets over my shoulder. It’s set in a brothel and the first few scenes are rather “kinky” in places.
However as the play develops, Genet’s genius shines through, what or who is real? What is merely illusion? Who really has power? These are all questions he brings to the fore with this clever play, with sometimes uncomfortable answers. The absurdity of existence is shown in an entertaining and powerful play.
Other writers I’ve read are Ionesco, Pinter and Wesker, more on them in the not too distant future.
It’s great to be challenged, stretched and have my mind and eyes open to such a wealth of theatrical writing, bring on August when the modules start!