On June 6th, Nick Hern Books will be holding a free panel event and Q&A at the Almeida Theatre, titled 'Having A Play: playwrights on playwriting in the last 25 years'. On the panel will be four NHB-published playwrights:
- Alecky Blythe, whose work includes the recent National Theatre hit, London Road
- Lucy Kirkwood, whose latest play Chimerica premieres at the Almeida Theatre, 17 May-29 June
- Conor McPherson, whose highly acclaimed play The Weir has just been revived at the Donmar Warehouse, prior to his new play The Night Alive premiering at the same venue from 13 June
- Nicholas Wright, is the author of many original plays as well as adaptations, and co-author with Richard Eyre of Changing Stages: A View of British Theatre in the 20th Century
The panel will be chaired by Michael Attenborough, former Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre. The event runs from 5.30pm-6.30pm, Thursday 6 June. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance; visit the Almeida Theatre website or phone the Box Office on 020 7359 4404 to book.
Having A Play forms part of Nick Hern Books' 25th anniversary celebrations. We're running a range of promotions, competitions and events throughout the year, including a 25% discount on all orders through our website, our ongoing Silver Ticket Giveaway, and an upcoming special publication, My First Play: An Anthology of Theatrical Beginnings. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss them!
Fiona Doyle's play SO Gay has been announced as the winner of A Play for the Nation's Youth.
This national competition was organised by Salisbury Playhouse, Nick Hern Books, Out of Joint, BBC Writersroom and the National Association of Youth Theatres and received more than 60 submissions.
SO Gay follows a group of teenagers at a multi-cultural, mixed sex secondary school. Katie, Eamon, Leanne and Sarah face the battles of growing up and the challenges of difference and acceptance amongst the obstacles of their peers, parents and teachers.
The plays were read in several rounds by representatives of each partner organisation but also, crucially, by young people of the age for which the plays were written. SO Gay impressed the judges with its theatrical potential and engaging subject matter. Moreover, Fiona’s story, language and characters were ones that a company of young actors related to and wanted to explore the most.
Fiona Doyle, from Kerry, Ireland, studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths College. She has won the £1000 seed commission and will now receive support from the partner organisations to develop the script prior to workshops and a rehearsed reading.
Doyle, 34, says “This is really unexpected. I’m totally thrilled. I’ve only been writing seriously since 2012 and this is the best thing to happen with my work since then. I am currently based in both Kerry and London so that I have time devoted to my writing. Winning A Play for the Nation’s Youth is a clear example of how this is working for me”.
The UK has a thriving network of youth theatres who often struggle to find expansive plays that both captivate and challenge. This new partnership was set up to discover a new play that could be performed by a large cast of young people and to engage an exciting playwright with the nation's young actors.
Max Stafford-Clark, Artistic Director of Out of Joint (and author of several books published by NHB) says, "It is rare to see a good, gritty, original play for young people, written in and about the here and now, with characters as young as those who will perform them. This lively play redresses this, and I think it will also be very enjoyable to perform. I wish it well and look forward to seeing it staged".
Nick Hern Books has a strong tradition of publishing plays for young people, including works by leading playwrights such as Fin Kennedy and Stuart Paterson. Recent publications include Ali Taylor’s adaptation of Robert Westall’s Carnegie medal-winning novel The Machine Gunners, Mike Kenny’s dramatisation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale The Wind in the Willows, and Helen Edmundson and Neil Hannon’s version of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, which was nominated for the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards 2012.
On Wednesday (1 May), renonwned director Peter Brook appeared on the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight to discuss the Shakespeare authorship question and his new book The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare.
In the book, he takes issue with those who claim Shakespeare's plays were written by someone other than Shakespeare: 'there were many other writers [at that time], and they were as bitchy and jealous as all other writes are anywhere', he points out. 'And nobody wrote a little pamphlet, left a little note or stood at a street corner or stood up in a pub to say, "this guy's a fake"?
He also insists the realities of the rehearsal process - where a script is often questioned by the actors, and rewrites made - means that the pretence would have been impossible to maintain. As he says in The Quality of Mercy: 'No-one smelt a rat...? I'm sorry, academics - if you'd have been part of any rehearsal process you would think differently.'
Brook also spoke to Newsnight about his long, varied and illustrious career, his opinion of the curent state of British theatre and a number of other topics. The interview is now available to view on the BBC News website: click here to watch.
Additionally, on Monday (29 April), Brook was the focus of a National Theatre Platform, held in a sold-out Lyttleton Theatre. Interviewed by culture journalist Mark Lawson, he discussed topics raised in the book, and also answered questions from the audience on subjects such as acting, Shakespeare in translation and the benefits of mixing different theatrical cultures. Click here to read an IdeasTap piece on the Platform.
His new book, The Quality of Mercy, addresses a wide range of Shakespearean topics, as well as revisiting some of the plays he has directed with notable brilliance, such as King Lear, Titus Andronicus and, of course, A Midsummer Night's Dream. A celebration of a great director's relationship with our greatest playwright, it has received an enthusiastic critical response, with the Guardian praising it as 'modest and brilliant... should be required reading'. An extract of the book is available to read now on the Guardian's website; click here to get a taste.
Brook will also be talking about The Quality of Mercy on BBC Radio 3's programme Night Waves in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for more information.
As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, we've put together a visual timeline telling the story of Nick Hern Books so far. Featuring key titles and milestones in our history, it's an enjoyable guide through the last two-and-a-half decades not just of Nick Hern Books, but of theatre in Britain.
UPDATE - 12:05, 3/5/13: THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. LOOK OUT FOR ANOTHER SILVER TICKET GIVEAWAY SOON.
We’ve been publishing great scripts alongside their production since 1988, and this year is no exception. So to celebrate our anniversary, we’re teaming up with theatres and producers to offer you a chance to win a pair of tickets to some of the shows we’re involved in, plus a free copy of the playscript.
May's Silver Ticket Giveaway show is:
Once: The Musical by Enda Walsh, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
We’ve got two top-price tickets to give away to a performance of the show (restrictions apply).
For more information, including how to enter, click here.