sat 18/11/2017

First Person

Out from the Darkness: painting out prison

When I was sent to an adult high security prison aged 14 all the normal colour, shapes and movement that I saw around me each and every day as a child disappeared. It wasn’t there. Prison does that; it’s all straight lines, hard on the eye, hard to...

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'Singers must act better than ever before'

"Vary the song, O London, change!" sings Tom Rakewell as he tires of the great metropolis. WH Auden and Chester Kallman's libretto for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress strikes a chord with me too. London has magnificent opera but, at the top end, it...

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Soldier On: a theatrical treatment of PTSD

I was invalided out of the army in 1986. I’d been an army scholar through school and had a bursary at university. I went on to drama school then became an actor, and subsequently a writer and director. But I’ve always been passionately interested in...

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'Their DNA is forever ingrained in the keys' - Roman Rabinovich on playing composers' own pianos

I was recently in the UK for some solo recitals and to make my debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. One of the highlights of the trip was playing a similar programme in two very different settings: first on some magnificent period...

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'This is how it happened': Tom MacRae on writing Everybody's Talking About Jamie

I’d always wanted to write a musical, but I didn’t start actually trying until four years ago. Now four years on, my first show, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, is about to hit the West End –  that’s four years to go from no show, no idea and...

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Fierce: the Birmingham festival which reaches out to Europe and beyond

Since its inception in 1997 Fierce, Birmingham’s International Festival of Live Art & Performance, has championed the work of performance makers not often seen in Britain. The pantheon of body artists under Mark Ball’s era as director included...

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'I come from there': how the Royal Court brought home plays from Ukraine, Chile and Syria

The autumn season of plays at the Royal Court leads with international work. B by Guillermo Calderón (from Chile), Bad Roads by Natal'ya Vorozhbit (from Ukraine) and Goats by Liwaa Yazji (from Syria) have a long history with our international...

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'First read-throughs have magic': Simon Stephens on Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

All theatre workers have a day that they dread. For actors there is a particular terror about a first preview that can fuel those performances with adrenaline. For playwrights - well, for me at least - it is the first time a play is ever read out...

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'I’d never written a play as a single action before': David Eldridge on 'Beginning'

My friend, the playwright Robert Holman, says that the writing of a play is always “the product of a moment”. Of course, he’s right, but sometimes you have to pick your moment.In autumn 2015 a TV writing gig hadn’t worked out in the way that I’d...

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'Fanny Price’s pained silences gave me the impulse to write music for her'

When I first read Mansfield Park, some 30 years ago, I heard music. That doesn’t always happen when I read, and it certainly didn’t happen when I read other novels by Jane Austen. There is something about this particular book that provoked musical...

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'Making it new' - Blake Morrison on adaptation, and how his new play came to life

Is there anything more terrifying for a playwright than the first day of rehearsals? For months, even years, you’ve been working and reworking the text, saying the words aloud to yourself in an empty room and imagining the actors saying them to a...

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'No matter where our intersections lie, we are all fundamentally connected'

Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress, the black actress, playwright and novelist, first opened at New York’s Greenwich Mews Theatre in November 1955. The show made Childress the first African-American woman to win an Obie Award for an off-...

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