Stage Blood: the mysteries of Ngaio Marsh

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Ngaio_Marsh_by_Henry_Herbert_Clifford_ca_1935,_cropSome – or perhaps most – books one reads for the sake of what it say on the tin – algebra text-books for the sake of algebra, romance novels to enjoy a love story… Then there are those books one reads for… something else.

Take for instance Ngaio Marsh’s mysteries. Continue reading

The Fun of the Game

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BryherHerselfI told you about Bryher’s The Player’s Boy, didn’t I?

Well, to this lovely, melancholy novel my Paris Press edition adds a wonderful afterword, consisting of a letter that Bryher wrote to a friend to explain her fascination with Elizabethan literature and history. It’s a charming little piece about growing up, reading, cultivating one’s imagination, finding strength in literature and history, and being slightly eccentric… It’s well worth reading in its entirety.

My favourite part, though, has to be the final musing on the historian’s perspective: Continue reading

Shaw on Imagination

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English: George Bernard Shaw, Nobel laureate i...When it comes to George Bernard Shaw… well, it’s complicated.

His Plays Pleasant, Caesar and Cleopatra, Saint Joan and a few more are a good part of why I became a playwright. And back in secondary school I talked my classmates into staging You Never Can Tell (not that we went far), and later directed a student production of the Man of Destiny while in College, in which I also played the Strange Lady, and bought a huge, sturdy, very heavy second-hand volume of the complete plays in Edinburgh, and lugged it around Scotland for weeks, and translated three of his short plays into Italian, and was recently startled to find out just how much Saint Joan still colours my perception of Joan of Arc – and yet… Continue reading

RE:CON

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ResearchAh, the joys and sorrows of research…

We all know how it goes. A story – be it a trilogy of door-stoppers, a play or a tiny short – is a world, and, to misquote Benedick, the world must be researched. And you can not find the stuff you need, or you can find too much and get lost in the meanders of it, or you can think you found the right stuff – and painfully discover later that you didn’t… Continue reading

Marlowe according to Albert Decaris

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Untitled 13Dear Saint Lucia,

I’m not sure I’ve been  good enough so far for this – but, were you by any chance wondering about what  I might wish for December, here is an idea: I’ve discovered the existence of this lovely edition of four plays of Christopher Marlowe, published in the mid Sixties by Limited Edition Club and then Heritage Press, and illustrated by French artist Albert Decaris.

As you can see from the Tamburlaine here left, the illustrations are a wonder, and the whole book seems to have been conceived with much flair, design-wise… Continue reading

Bryher – The Player’s Boy

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BryherMy acquaintance with Bryher‘s work is, I must say, limited to one book – but what a book!

The Player’s Boy tells the story of an apprentice who doesn’t become an actor in the early reign of James VI and I. Bryher had both a researcher’s interest and a passionate fondness for the golden era of Elizabethan theatre, and this novel tells it decline with a kind of haunting intenseness.  Continue reading

Reciting Poetry in the Dark

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QuillLast night, after rehearsals, it was far too hot to go home – and, the rehearsals having gone passably well, we weren’t in the mood to disperse yet anyway. So we sat, more or less in the dark, in the garden of our makeshift rehearsal room. We sat in a circle, and began to tell each other the combination of Sonnets 55 and 81 that ends the play.

We all said it in turn, the game being to do it as differently as we could from the person before us. Again and again we said it… Continue reading

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