Second Time Around: Three Plays about Marriage

139 TUTOR: Fleur Lloyd

Comedy, tragedy and tragicomedy. Who could ask for anything more? During this course, you will read together as a group, August Strindberg's Creditors as translated by Howard Brenton, NoŽl Coward's Private Lives and After the Dance by Terence Rattigan. These plays, written between 1888 and 1939, are a classical portrayal of secrets, lies, seduction, power and passion. To enrich your reading, you will watch some enthralling and varied screenings of key scenes as well as documentaries about the playwrights. This will generate comparison and discussion of social mores, man's folly, the role of women and the enduring institution of marriage, which has been the mainstay of theatre from Greek Drama to the present day.

2 PM
PM course

Course Notes

Three very different plays that deal with marriage - or more specifically - second marriage.

We will read them in chronological order, before viewing some scenes form each on screen.

Creditors (Swedish: Fordringsšgare) by August Strindberg is a naturalistic tragicomedy. It was written in Swedish during August and September 1888 in Denmark. It was first published in Danish in February 1889 and appeared in Swedish in 1890. It premiered at the Dagmar Theatre in Copenhagen in March 1889. It is seen as one of Strindberg's most powerful plays. Strindberg himself, writing in 1892, described it as his "most mature work." Interestingly in 1891, Strindberg accused Henrik Ibsen of plagiarising Creditors in Hedda Gabler (1890). The recent production at the Jermyn Street Theatre translated by Howard Brenton was described by The Guardian as "a wickedly enjoyable black comedyĒ and it is this version that we shall be studying.

Private Lives is a comedy of manners in three acts by NoŽl Coward. After touring the British provinces, the play opened the new Phoenix Theatre in London in 1930, starring Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Adrianne Allen and Laurence Olivier. A Broadway production followed in 1931.

Constantly revived, the leading roles have attracted a wide range of actors; among those who have played Elyot are Robert Stephens, Richard Burton, Alan Rickman Matthew Macfadyen, Simon Callow, Alex Jennings and Toby Stephens and those playing Amanda have included Tallulah Bankhead, Elizabeth Taylor, Elaine Stritch, Maggie Smith, Kim Cattrall, Penelope Keith, Lindsay Duncan and Anna Chancellor. The play was made into a 1931 film and has been adapted several times for television and radio. It is hard to believe that originally, its second act love scene was nearly censored in Britain as too risqué. Coward wrote one of his most popular songs, "Some Day I'll Find You", for the play.

After the Dance by Terence Rattigan premiŤred at the St James's Theatre, London, on 21 June 1939. It was not one of Rattigan's more successful plays, closing after only sixty performances, a failure that led to its exclusion from his first volume of Collected Plays. Critics have tended to attribute this relative contemporary failure to the play's darkness which may have reminded audiences of the approaching European war. However, the 2010 revival of the play was a commercial and critical success with The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington stating that Thea Sharrock's production starring Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed that Rattigan is one of the "supreme dramatists of the 20th century". Cumberbatch made a documentary about Rattigan and this play and we will have a chance to view this amongst other screenings.

You will provided with copies of all three texts.

I look forward to welcoming you on this new course

Course Tutor

Fleur Lloyd

About Fleur

Fleur Lloyd tutor, has worked for The Old Vic, The National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe as well as teaching both literature, drama and creative writing in schools, colleges and universities. She has taught at Marlborough Summer School for 15 years.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

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