Simon Callow on Legendary Playwright Peggy Ramsay

Peggy Ramsay (1908-1991) was the foremost play agent of her time. Her list of clients shows her to have been at the centre of British playwriting for several generations from the late 1950s on.
To her remarkable array of clients, her letter writing was notorious, marked by searing candour, both a wondrous motivation and an unforgiving scrutiny to be feared. To mark the release of Peggy to her Playwrights, the new book compiling a selection of Peggy Ramsay’s most notable exchanges, Simon Callow looks back on his friendship with one of the most influential agents in theatre history.

Simon Callow

As one descends into the vale of years, family, lovers, friends, colleagues inevitably and increasingly fall by the wayside. This is a source of real distress, which becomes worse rather than better as time goes on. As the sonneteer says,

Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s  dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:

Among the most precious friends thus hidden are my grandmother, Vera; the playwright Simon Gray; the actor Angus MacKay; and the play agent Peggy Ramsay. There are many, many others, of course, but when I lost those four I felt with each one that something of myself had gone, an important  part of me that would never return. And so it has proved. Sometimes, without warning, any one of them will suddenly fill my mind and the terrible frustration of not being able to pick up the conversation where we left off gives me pangs of real physical pain. It passes, but, like the poet, I find myself drowning an eye. What’s to be done? Nothing, really; c’est la vie.  One can at least write something, try to catch them on the page, keep them alive, somehow, convey to others who never knew them what it was like to be around them.

I have, indeed, written about all of them: most of all about Peggy, who is the heroine of my memoir Love is Where It Falls. Our relationship was particularly intense, a sort of love affair, unconsummated, physically, but profoundly fulfilled in many other ways. She was 70 when I met  her – I was 30 – and within days and for the rest of her life we were as passionately close as any two people could be without actually being lovers. Knowing her was an intoxication: her beauty, her vitality, her mercurial impulses, her wisdom, her poetry, her pain. I wrote my first book as a result of her connecting me with my first publisher; at a stroke she gave me a career as a writer. By the time my second book appeared, she was in decline, though still devoured it as avidly as ever. But her input was merely that of an interested reader. The truth is that she was essentially a play agent, and there was little for her to do for me, professionally speaking.

I knew many of her clients, of course, had acted in or directed many of their plays – Bond, Hare, Hampton, Ayckbourn, Russell – and they had told me of her astonishing interventions on their behalf, her uncommon proactivity with managers, directors, critics. They spoke of (and sometimes showed me) astonishing letters, inspiring, berating, mocking, consoling. I knew already how exacting her standards were, both literary and personal: she demanded that her writers judge themselves against the most exalted models, that they live and write from a position of profound engagement with their own humanity. She was also a demon negotiator, seeing the bargaining process as great sport. I wrote a little about all of this in my book; Colin Chambers, in the authorised biography, covered it in much greater depth. But if you wanted to know about Peggy as an agent, as she understood the job, you really needed to have read her letters. Very shortly after her death, before I had ever thought of writing anything about her myself, Willy Russell suggested to me that someone should put together a selection of her letters. The idea – so obvious, and so obviously right – stayed with me, but for all the usual reasons I did nothing about it.

Meanwhile, Laurence Harbottle and I created the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, using Peggy’s fortune to benefit playwrights – with the additional purpose of keeping her name and what it stood for alive.  In this I think it has succeeded; over the 25 years of its existence, innumerable writers and theatres have been helped – in some cases, saved – by infusions of dosh in times of need or distress. But I have often wondered whether the recipients of the awards have any real idea of the woman after which they are named. Colin’s book and mine are a help, I think, in giving an impression of what she was like, but nothing we wrote can fully convey her unique approach to encouraging writing for the theatre, and how far beyond conventional agenting it went. Only her letters can really do that. And so I started, some years ago, to mount a campaign to get then into print, and thence into the hands of writers and managers and directors, and, yes, agents. Finally, after overcoming doubts, resistance, even, from various quarters – who, they not unreasonably asked, would want to buy a book of letters by a long-dead agent? – we have a splendid and representative selection of her correspondence, edited by Colin, which not only brings Peggy back to life, they give a glimpse of what being an agent could possibly be. Of course the world of the theatre has changed. The world has changed. Forces of nature like Peggy are no longer easily accommodated. Nor were they then, truth to tell: her passion, rooted in a hard-won sense of the meaning of life and the purpose of art, often prevailed, but she fought many desperate battles before it did. And when it did, her extraordinary charm made her victories endurable to the vanquished. All this is in Peggy to her Playwrights, to which I can now at last turn when I want to have a conversation with her. They ring out across the years; Peggy lives.

Peggy to her Playwrights edited by Colin Chambers and introduced by Simon Callow is out now at Oberon Books.


On Wednesday 30 May, join Simon Callow, Christopher Hampton, Maureen Lipman and Colin Chambers at the National Theatre to discuss and read some of Peggy Ramsay’s letters to her remarkable array of clients, taken from Peggy to her Playwrights.
Tickets can be booked here.


Oberon’s First Ever Digital Only Collection: Continued

Roy SmilesRoy Smiles is a comic playwright occasional actor. On 24th April 2018 we published Oberon Books’ first ever digital only collection, featuring ten of Roy Smiles’ never-before-seen plays. Following on from his blog piece last week, Roy continues to reveal the inspiration behind these fantastic pieces of work.

Roy Smiles: The inspiration for my play Working for Mammon came about whilst I was on a train with my son during the London Riots in 2012. The train had come to a halt as Hackney was involved in a riot below us. I was so afraid for my son I sent him home to his mother in Kent that very night. The shame of being afraid for my son in the city of my birth led me to write a very angry play on the subject. The teacher featured in the play is as close as I have ever come to writing autobiographically.

Reading Gaol allowed me to pay tribute to two of my play-writing heroes: Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. The plays on Wilde are legion but I don’t believe there is Reading Gaolone set in Reading Prison or with Shaw. If I’ve got anywhere near their style I am most grateful to the writing gods. I found them both astonishing talents. Wilde went to jail because he did not believe he was guilty of any crime and British society punished him for it with hard labour that broke his health. He was a hero then and is a hero now.

The VIP takes me back to damaged genius. Richard Burton meant a lot to my family as a child; they were working class Geordies, and Burton was seen as one of their own, as, despite being Welsh, he’d come from the same background. His brothers, like my grandfather, went down the mines. His marriage to Elizabeth Taylor made him half of the most famous couple on the planet. But all the riches in the world could not temper his sense that he had betrayed his own talent. Nor could he forget the family he had left behind or the mother he never knew. The cameo from Peter O’Toole, by the by, is one of my most joyful pieces of writing in my career.

The Weight of Days is my tribute to Albert Camus. A man in conflict with himself over the Algerian Civil War. Camus was Algerian-French. His mother, brother and uncle still The Weight of Dayslived in Algiers as the war for Algeria raged. The play concerns his literary and political feud with Jean-Paul Sartre; A man who approved of the violence of the FLN terrorists in Algeria. ‘For anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.’ Camus’s last days indeed weighed heavy on him. The conflict between love for his family and the love of freedom tearing him apart. He stands with Orwell as one of the two writing giants in my life. The play was a labour of love.

Waugh in Winter is a very different play for me. I was always used to writing plays about people I admired: George Orwell, Kurt Cobain, Spike Milligan, Bobby Kennedy etc. But Evelyn Waugh was an obnoxious snob and deeply appalling human being. I set myself the challenge of writing about someone I despised though I have always admired his literary talent. My way into sympathy for him was in his loneliness. Such was his contempt for the world he found himself in an ivory tower of his own making. Alone and looking down at a 1960’s world he loathed. Damned by his own contempt to be forever lonely. (Post-note: it’s funnier than it sounds…)

Well, that’s how my plays in the collection came to be. I am very proud of them. Most have only had readings, and so if they have a chance of further exposure that would be amazing. For, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, ‘they are all my sons…’

Roy Smiles: Ten Plays is out now. Click here to buy the collection.

Introducing Oberon’s First Ever Digital Only Collection, Roy Smiles: 10 Plays

Oberon Books is thrilled to announce the release of a hilarious new digital only Roy Smiles Ten Plays (2)collection Roy Smiles: 10 Plays. In a first for Oberon Books we have published straight to eBook format, giving our readers a chance to enjoy previously never-before-seen work. Smiles’ unique style of comedy unfolds as he asks his audience to think again about some of the celebrated figures that have come to dominate the collective imagination in recent history. Here, the author takes a moment to talk a little more about the project and reveals the stories behind the first five of these works.

“I have written often about comedians and comedy. For four and a half painful years I was a jobbing stand-up comic. This was after college and my attempt to get an Equity card and earn a living until I could become a writer. I was spectacularly unsuccessful, but coming home after many an indifferent gig I often took solace in listening to my Lenny Bruce albums. A childhood addiction to the movies of the Marx Brothers, encouraged by my grandmother and aunties, led me to the theme of my first play Schmucks, which charts a fictitious meeting between Lenny Bruce and Groucho Marx in a diner in New York City during the 1965 blackout. It was first performed at Battersea Arts Centre in 1992 but was significantly rewritten under the guidance of director Terry Johnson, while I had a writing attachment to The National Theatre in 2000. It was finally staged in the US in 2009 at The Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia. I suppose I have always been attracted to heroes who were flawed. This was certainly the case with Lenny Bruce, a long term drug addict who died too young.

My brother and I were obsessed with Radio 2 on Sundays because it repeated a lot of the classic radio shows of the 1950’s. This brought me to the comedian Tony Hancock, who inspired my play The Lad Himself. Although I wrote it with the intention of performing it myself, I never had the confidence to try it out; and it was staged excellently at the Brighton Festival in 2012 with the amazing Mark Brailsford as the lead. Tony Hancock’s problem was he reasoned his comedy to death. He could not leave well alone. Eventually he reasoned himself into such a position he had nothing left but alcohol and himself, hence taking his own life in Australia. Alan Galton and Ray Simpson, the writers of Hancock’s Half Hour, were very complimentary about the play which made my heart glad as they are two of my heroes also.

I am a history graduate and my next play, Bombing People, came about due to my obsession with the Enola Gay. I wanted to write a Catch 22 style piece about the atom bombing of Hiroshima and it worked very well when staged at Jermyn Street Theatre with the excellent Michael Fitzgerald in the lead role. I would say the influence of Joseph Heller is strong on the piece but also (once more) the Marx Brothers in their 1933 comedy Duck Soup.

Baghdad Boogie is a play set during the Iraq Crisis. I had a great success with untitledmy Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious piece Kurt & Sid at The Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End and the acting of Shaun Evans and Danny Dyer was so astonishing I was eager to try another two-hander. Lenny Henry was very keen on being in this play and I nearly had a West End production with it but it fell through alas. It remains one of my more powerful pieces however and the two parts are tour de forces for actors of the right age and range.

Reno comes back to my interest in damaged people. Marilyn Monroe was a fragile butterfly nailed up on the cross of her own fame; I was fascinated by her marriage to Arthur Miller: ‘The Egghead & The Movie Star’. The play is set in Reno during the making of what would be her last movie: The Misfits, the filming of which led to her divorce from Miller. Miller has had a hard time from critics over the years over his abandonment of Monroe. But some wounds cannot be healed and the childhood she faced with an abusive mother and appalling step-parents sealed her fate. I hope I have been fair to them both. Again it was staged at the Brighton Festival – this time with an astonishing performance as Marilyn from Lauren Varnfield.”

Be sure to join us on the blog later this week as we delve into the heroes, riots, wars and damaged genius that inspired the remaining five plays in the Roy Smiles collection.

Roy Smiles: Ten Plays hits the shelves today – click here to buy the collection.





Reasons to be Graeae: A Foreword From Mat Fraser


Graeae LogoGraeae Flyer 2Mat Fraser is an English rock musician, actor, writer and performance artist, Mat-Fraser-2who performed with Graeae’s Reasons To Be Cheerful at the 2012 London Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Ahead of this month’s release of Reasons To Be Graeae: A Work in Progress, Mat shares the story of how the UK’s flagship disabled-led Theatre Company changed the course of his career.
My mum invited me to a play called Ubu at the Ovalhouse Theatre, South London in 1994, by a disabled theatre company called Graeae. I had ‘come out’ as a disabled person in 1992 at thirty years old; I yearned to do something aligned with my disability politics and love of performing. As the son of two actors, I wanted to act but I had been put off badly by kids laughing at me in the school play audition at thirteen years old, the only disabled kid in my school. I had carried with me from then on the idea that disabled people on stage were nothing more than an embarrassment to most others. Acting was not a possible career for someone with as visibly different a body as mine.
Then I saw Jamie Beddard, a man with a good dose of cerebral palsy, shouting on stage at everyone else and showing his arse. He was spitting cake at a wheelchair using woman, Mandy Colleran, who was mocking him and a Deaf woman, Caroline Parker, who was signing. All manner of radically different things unfolded as the whole company romped their way through the most bawdy, anarchic, messy play I had ever seen. And the sold out, mostly non-disabled audience, loved it. No embarrassment but laughter, cheers, applause, and enjoyment. I’ve often tried to describe the feeling that came over me then, a disabled wannabe actor imprisoned by a notion of, ‘body not good enough’. My whole life exploded as I realised there was a place for me to be, to be equal, understood. I had a non-religious epiphany that night. I decided to leave my band the next morning and try to get an audition with Graeae. I was lucky that Ewan Marshall (then artistic director) saw potential in me. I became a member of the company, doing a three-month schools tour of forum theatre with Colette Conroy. I finally got a part in their production of Joe Orton’s What The Butler Saw with Dave Kent, Ilan Dwek, Daryl Beeton, and Jacqui Beckford in 1996-7. From there, I got an Equity card and worked off and on with Graeae for a few years before branching off to do my own work. This disabled theatre company had given me the confidence to perform and a belief that I, as a disabled person, had equal value as an arts creative.
Graeae grew over the next few years, got better funding, and Jenny Sealey took over as artistic director in 1997. Her influence included forming relationships with mainstream theatres, training hungry disabled people in basic theatre skills, and bringing in more and more what we might term, ‘inclusive design’, i.e. building accessibility into the show itself. Additionally, any Graeae show these days has BSL and audio description/stage text built into the script and other areas where possible.
From Nabil Shaban forming Graeae in 1981 to now as I write this thirty seven years later, the growth, output, professionalism, profile, and international relationships with other theatres and groups has grown to make Graeae the leader in disability-led theatre. I live in the US and there is nothing like Graeae here, although there are some that try to emulate it.

Reasons to be Graeae snap 2

– ‘Graeae are an inspiration to the entire industry. [Reasons to be Graeae] is a glorious read.’ – Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre 

Changes to the ethos, such as making the company inclusive in its casting; working on co-productions with mainstream theatres; and making more commercially accessible work have all proved to be successful in raising Graeae’s profile. They are now rightly the most well-known disability-led theatre company in the world. Perhaps more successful is that their influence has reached deep into mainstream UK theatre, which has seen much change although it needs to see and hear a LOT more!
Jack Thorne’s commissioned play The Solid Life of Sugar Water directed by Amit Sharma at the National Theatre, and The House of Bernarda Alba directed by Jenny Sealey at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, are two examples of the heights of the commercial, inclusive theatre profile that Graeae has attained in recent years. I feel super proud of their achievements and influence in UK mainstream theatre—Ramps on the Moon could not have happened without all of Graeae’s work, for example. My last performance work with them was as the drummer on the original tour of Reason to be Cheerful in 2010. I look forward to my next project with them because, as with all the disabled and non-disabled people who have passed through this great company, I will always be a member of their family.

Perseus himself could never have imagined the power those three women crips—the Graeae Sisters had, with only one eye and one tooth between them—when they became the theatre company that saved and made my artistic life, as they have for so many other disabled and non-disabled theatre practitioners.

Reasons to be Graeae: A Work in Progress will be published by Oberon Books on 26th April 2018. Click here to pre-order your copy now.

Reasons to Be Graeae U










Devil With the Blue Dress: An Explosive New Political Thriller

Devil With the Blue Dress

January 1998: America is rocked by one of the most infamous political sex scandals of all time.
Slyly exhuming the little blue dress that launched the biggest media circus of a generation, the five women who were at the centre of the Monica Lewinsky scandal collide on stage in a gripping new political thriller from Kevin Armento,

This explosive theatrical battle over exactly how it all went down asks who were the heroes and villains, and why, twenty years later, we’re only beginning to grapple with one of the most challenging questions in American political history: How do we respond to women seeking power, and the men who misuse it?
As the world faces a new dawn in how it thinks and talks about both historic and recent cases of abuse of power, we asked Kevin Armento and Joshua McTaggart [Artistic Director of The Bunker where DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS premieres later this month] to talk us through their top five pieces of theatre which explore this increasingly prevalent theme.

JOSHUA: KEVIN and I were sat in a pub talking about abuse of power in theatre and politics, which is a common topic we now discuss over a pint. As we thought about our personal favourite plays that explore these issues, we decided to ensure the five we write about in this blog are exclusively by female writers. In light of what we, two men, are discovering in our otherwise all female rehearsal room (cast, creative and production team), we think this list ought to also celebrate the incredible female voices writing in the theatre industry.


Paula Vogel has so frequently been ahead of her time, and her most well-known play is no exception. Exploring power dynamics, abuse, and so much more through the story of a teenage girl and her encounters with her aunt’s husband, the play brilliantly skates back and forth through time, as a means of exploring the dizzying and lasting nature of trauma – it never leaves you. Interestingly, the play premiered off-Broadway two weeks after Bill and Monica’s blue dress encounter. (Though no one knew so at the time.) – KA

POSH by Laura Wade 

Abuse of power is most often rooted in gender imbalances, but something else I think is important to consider is class, status, and wealth. With the growing conversation about the representation of working class stories on our stages, Laura Wade’s POSH, first seen at the Royal Court directed by Lyndsey Turner, whacks you across the face with a fundamental truth: Many of the men in our cabinet were groomed for power in their youth. But perhaps one of the most stomach-turning aspects of the young men in POSH is how we are drawn to them, their charisma, their charm, and their humour. And yet, they betray that audience empathy with inexcusable and abhorrent actions. Much like many of the men (and women) sitting in parliament this very day. – JM

FAR AWAY by Caryl Churchill

This is one of the best plays of the twenty-first century, full stop. As ever, the structure is totally unpredictable yet impeccably drawn, and the scope appears tiny until you’re sucked in close and then she blows the doors off the place. It’s hard to describe the plot of

Devil vid Bill Clinton

DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS takes us to the heart of the first sex scandal of the internet age.

FAR AWAY, but it’s essentially a dystopian drama that explores abuses of state power and terror, and its toxic effect on the citizen. And this play premiered at the Royal Court just seventeen days after America’s election that would see Al Gore lose to George W. Bush – a result many believe was in part due to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. – KA

THE NETHER by Jennifer Haley

When I saw this play at the Royal Court and the conceit of the play was revealed (SPOILER: Most of the action takes place in a virtual world that allows paedophiles to enact their fantasies on virtual avatars that are controlled by grown adults) I swore out loud. I’m not sure if the person next to me was more shocked by my language or the action on stage. Although the abuse that took place in the play was deemed to be consensual, the moral dilemma we were implicated in as an audience was extraordinary. Defining right and wrong became immediately blurred. The play was – in an unsettling way – presented without judgement. That is what we have tried to do in our production [of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS]: Present a morally dubious scenario without judgement, and allow audiences to make their own conclusions both during – and after – the performance. – JM

RUINED by Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winner is a searing portrait of Congolese women, set in a bar within a small mining town near the edge of the rainforest. The play unpacks various meanings of war against women, ultimately zooming out to examine women as the battlefield itself. It beautifully utilises specificity in character and setting to render an ecosystem writ large, one that echoes out far beyond the confines of Mama Nadi’s bar. RUINED premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on November 8, 2008, four days after Barack Obama was elected president – which he won, of course, after defeating Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. – KA


The play text of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS will be published to coincide with the shows premiere on 29th March. Click here to pre-order your copy.
DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS will be playing at The Bunker from 29th March – 28th April 2018. Click here for more information and tickets.

Making Dance Theatre – An Introduction

Award-winning choreographer Mark Bruce’s aim as an artist is to tap into the subconscious, our hearts; transcend our everyday lives and hopefully stumble upon some truth along the way.
Here he introduces his new invaluable new artists guide On Choreography and Making Dance Theatre, describing the essential ingredients that form the foundation for his Dance Productions.

A choreographer is an artist whose means of expression is movement. Whether to touch a viewer emotionally, challenge, entertain, tell a story, a concept – whatever they want; a professional choreographer should have the skill to open a viewer’s subconscious and communicate using movement as their primary tool. But to be a choreographer you can’t just be good at creating movement and putting it together. There are many other skills and knowledge one needs to produce a piece of work. If I was to describe the basic foundation or ingredients of my version of dance theatre I would state: Movement, drama, sound and vision. You can spend your whole life studying just one of these crafts. A choreographer has to study all of them to the best of their ability and learn how to combine them.

Leonard Cohen wrote of ‘The Tower of Song’. In my mind this tower, lonely as it is, is full of a thousand great songwriters. The tower of literature must be heaving with great writers, the tower of painting, theatre, music, film… but the tower of choreography? In my mind this would be a lonely place. Dance is a powerful art form. Like music, it can communicate beyond words. It is ritual. It is animal. It is ancient and universal and has been around since man first started to draw on cave walls; maybe even before. But once you remove traditional dance, why is the art form of choreography so young? ‘Modern dance’ was only officially invented in the last century whereas literature has evolved since it was invented. Look at the journey of music. The wealth and range – you can’t begin to fathom it. Film, only possible within the last hundred years or so has grown, despite the great expense and logistics of producing it, and there are thousands of ground-breaking films out there, many great film makers, and any number of books written about how sophisticated and diverse the methods of producing it are.


– The Mark Bruce Company Performing Their Current Adaptation of Macbeth

How many books are written about choreography compared to those written about other art forms? How many ‘experts’ on choreography are there? Make a list of great choreographers, then write another of great writers. The writers’ list is going to go on and on and back through the centuries. You could spend your whole life reading great writers and only scratch the surface of what is out there. But I suspect your great choreographers list will run dry pretty soon and all will be within the last hundred years.
There are great choreographers. But not thousands of them. Choreography is an obscure and rare talent. Knowledge, experience and craft can produce better, even good, choreographers. But real talent, that ‘something else’, I suspect one is born with.

There are many skills needed to become a professional choreographer, and they don’t always sit well together. I will write about the skills I need as I go through the process of making a dance work from scratch, and highlight how, despite making work for several decades, I feel I have so much more to learn.
But something to think of: Muhammad Ali had the two basic prerequisites to becoming a choreographer. He had a keen mind, but he had the talent and discipline to put his mind to rest and dedicate himself to the laborious rigours of physical training he needed to become a skillful, creative and powerful animal able to step into the ring and beat the crap out of anyone, and dance as he did it. In short, he could compete in two rings – that of the mind and that of the body.

On Choreography and Making Dance Theatre by Mark Bruce is out now.
Click here
to buy the book.

On Choreography Small

The Mark Bruce Company is touring their adaptation of Macbeth until
Friday 18th May. Click here for further details.

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DumbWise Theatre Presents: Sophocles’ Electra

Electra Banner

With their national reputation for re-imagining classic and modern stories into ground-breaking shows, DumbWise are one of the most exciting theatre companies currently creating new works for contemporary audiences. This month they bring their reinvention of the murderous Greek myth Electra, told as a lyrical modern epic with a live punk-rock score, to London’s newest Off-West End theatre The Bunker. We caught up with DumbWise Artistic Director John Ward on his inspiration for this brilliant new musical work.  

A few years ago I saw Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother, and it blew me away.
The opening was incredible; a string orchestra hovering in mid-air, suddenly hijacked by a full-throttle metal band which levitated above them, while down on the bare stage a troupe of dancers fizzed and crackled with energy. There was a punk-like energy to the choreography which was astonishingly original and very addictive. I’d never seen ‘dancing’ like it before, nor since. The world of music was also incredibly rich. Beautiful middle-eastern scales blended seamlessly with hard-rock drum rhythms and classical music; demonstrating perfectly how sound worlds can create vivid and pregnant theatrical atmospheres. As a director who works with actor-musicians and pursues the boundaries between live music and theatre, I always love seeing productions where the energy and the sound of the music are integral to the ‘life’ of the production.

Electra Rehearsal

Backstage on the Promotional Photo Shoot for Electra

The sheer scale and ambition of the piece was breath-taking, but there was more to it than that. Even though the cast was huge, it celebrated a kind of ‘poor theatre’ that is very brave; bodies in the space, music and layers of meaning. I was dreaming up our latest production of Electra at the time, and the themes of revolution, oppression and liberation chimed strongly with our adaptation. This production gave me the confidence to explore these themes through language and live music, and the license to do so whilst embracing DumbWise’s own brand of ‘poor theatre’.

Electra is playing at The Bunker theatre 27th February – 24th March.
Click here to buy tickets.
The play text will be published by Oberon Books on 27th February.
Pre-order your copy here.



The Bunker