5 plays to take a closer look at

For drama students, in particular those studying for  London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA)  examinations, the ability to analyse and discuss the text,  its time-period and the writer’s style is an essential component of acting and performing.

We asked the PYT team what plays they think deserve a deeper look and our former Company Stage Manager, Lux Nieve, ran with the idea. Read on to find out our recommendations.

Happy Days by Samuel Beckett

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I am deeply stirred by Beckett’s writings, and in Happy Days he makes a masterpiece on loneliness and inner monologue. It has very interesting staging: the first time I saw it -made by Caín Teatro, in Madrid (ES) – the mount where Winnie is buried was made out of newspaper papier mâché, which flowed all over, with her emerging from it like a flower. It is, as other plays by Beckett, an exercise on a metaphor (a most visual one: disappearance), where he touches -with this sour, eerie humour he has- on daily routines, the female role, emptiness of language and his timeless nihilism. This play is a bit more modern and basically a continuous monologue for a female, contained in an unmoving body.

http://www.sparknotes.com/drama/happydays/

And the complete text: https://samuelbeckettshappydays.wordpress.com/happy-days/

Recommended by Lux Nieve, Company Stage Manager

Caligula by Albert Camus

It is a fantastically pertinent play today, partaking of the absurd, specifically towards morality, centred on the figure of the legendary politician. In the abridged version from the Architecture School Theatre Group in Madrid (ES), the character was played by three actors, who shared a costume made of burlap and mud, and embodied different shades of his personality. This play, in its timeframe, echoed the collective angst sprung after the Second World War, a feeling I find pertinent today “in the dust of this planet”. These feelings resonate now in a different tune, and certain nihilism covers everything like a thin airplane blanket, both in pop and high culture. It is thrilling to watch Caligula, this magnetic tyrant blazing his deranged authority in a realm that crumbles around him. And he is a very well written character, hypnotizing to watch: his firm grasp on logic, his ever changing, twisted intentions, and his brutally open game of power.

Full play http://faculty.cbu.ca/philosophy/caligula/script.htm

First act: http://faculty.cbu.ca/philosophy/caligula/act%20one.htm (strategic plan three quarters in, a majestic monologue)

Recommended by Lux Nieve, Company Stage Manager

King Lear, by William Shakespeare

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This is a play written in a time of political crisis, after the death of Elizabeth I -and her cultural era-, facing an uncertain future. Shakespeare posits this text to support the establishment, the “natural order”, in a storyline built around the question of authority as opposed to chaos. The characters are beyond grotesque, they are super human: hating and loving and dying like baroque fireworks. It is set in a mirroring convulse scenario: exile, betrayal, madness, a storm, the war. There is one monologue** where Edmund speaks passionately about the right of birth and what it means to be a bastard… a claim for justice granted to give goose bumps every time. **http://www.inexplicabledumbshow.com/shakespeare-monologues/male/kl-1-2-1-edmund.pdf

Recommended by Lux Nieve, Company Stage Manager

Eclipse, by Simon Armitage

The play was inspired by the real-life disappearance of a girl in Hebden Bridge, and set at the time of the 1999 solar eclipse in Cornwall. Six friends are interviewed by the police after the disappearance of Lucy Lime, the strange unnerving girl whom they met on the beach beneath the cliffs. Each in turn goes into an interview room and makes a statement about the version of events which is either the one being remembered or the one being created. Between the monologues there is a series of flashbacks to the day when the eclipse occurred and Lucy Lime appears and disappears. A really eerie play, made even more-so by the fact it’s based on real life events.

Recommended by Rosie Dwelly, Marketing Manager

Equus, by Peter Shaffer

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Written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses. It has some great scenes for both male and female performers, especially speeches for young male actors. I saw it first on a school theatre trip when I was 15 years old and then went on to perform in a production of it, about three years later. It has so many layers and controversial topics inside of it, and really pushes a performer to explore and step out their comfort zones.

Recommended by Sinead Phelps, PYT Intern

 

 

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