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  • Title: James Saunders - English playwright
    Descriptive info: .. bibliography.. |.. obituaries.. James Saunders - English playwright.. James Saunders (1925-2004) was born in Islington, North London.. Educated at Wembley County School and Southampton University, he became a chemistry tutor by day at Davis's, Holland Park (London) and a playwright by night, until devoting all his time to writing.. He received an Arts Council playwright's bursary for.. The Ark.. in 1960, and became a full-time playwright in 1964.. His early plays led him to be considered one of the main.. British exponents.. of the.. Theatre of the Absurd.. Later works continued to explore the limits of traditional theatre.. In 1984 he was awarded a Major Bursary.. Next Time I'll Sing To You.. ran at the Criterion Theatre 1962-63, winning for him an.. Evening Standard.. award for Most Promising Playwright (1963) and since then his plays have enjoyed enormous success both in the West End and with amateur theatre clubs.. A Scent Of Flowers.. was staged at the Duke of York's in 1964,.. The Travails Of Sancho Panza.. at the National Theatre in  ...   by the Orange Tree and in 1991 they presented his adaptation of Vaclav Havel's.. Redevelopment.. Retreat.. (1995), his last play, was premiered by the Orange Tree Company in their new theatre.. An unofficial and incomplete.. covers a period of forty years and includes details of more than 35 plays written for radio, theatre and television.. The.. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.. (HRC) has a partially catalogued collection containing notebooks, playscripts, television and film scripts, miscellaneous notes, correspondence, articles, essays, theses, programs, and reviews covering the period 1952-1992.. Resources are provided for those wishing to access them directly or remotely.. For many years his literary agent was Margarent Ramsey (he was her first client), but all enquiries should now be directed to.. Tom Erhardt.. of.. Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited.. National House, 60-66 Wardour St, London W1V 4ND - tel 020 7287 4450 - fax 020 7287 9128.. HRC Papers.. Casarotto Ramsay.. weed's home page.. photo lower right taken by Sarah Saunders.. comments to.. weed@wussu.. com.. revised 25 January 2013.. URL: http://www.. jamessaunders.. org/index.. htm..

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  • Title: James Saunders - English Bibliography
    Descriptive info: James Saunders.. HRC James Saunders Papers.. James Saunders - English bibliography.. please send additions and corrections to.. Moonshine.. 1955.. (first stage play).. Dog Accident.. 1958.. Playforms.. Cambridge University Press 1997.. Alas, Poor Fred.. 1958.. Studio Theatre 1960.. Neighbours other plays.. Deutsch 1968.. Heinemann 1968.. Who Was Hilary Maconochie.. 1959.. Savoury Meringue other plays.. Amber Lane 1980.. Barnstable.. New Directions.. Hutchinson 1961.. Samuel French 1985.. Return To A City.. Committal.. A Slight Accident.. 1961.. Double, Double.. 1962.. Blackie 1964.. Samuel French 1964.. Deutsch 1963.. Heinemann 1965.. Dramatist's Play Service 1966.. Four Plays.. Penguin 1971.. Gimlet.. 1963.. (radio play).. The Pedagogue.. new performance available for.. download.. (.. 1.. ).. Watch Me I'm A Bird.. 1964.. (television play).. Deutsch 1966.. Heinemann 1966.. Dramatist's Play Service 1970.. Neighbours.. Trio.. Pay As You Go.. 1965.. Monkey Nuts.. Triangle.. Blue Moccasins.. 2.. 1966.. Tickets Please.. The Italian Girl.. 3.. 1967.. Samuel French 1969.. Parking Meter.. The Unconquered.. 4.. 1968.. A Man's Best Friend.. 1969.. Mixed Doubles.. Methuen 1970.. The Borage Pigeon Affair.. Deutsch 1970.. Heinemann 1970.. Plastic People.. 1970.. Savoury Meringue.. 1971.. Games.. Samuel French 1973.. After Liverpool.. Grass God.. 1972.. (television play, Granada 1973).. Craven Arms.. 5.. (tv mini-series, Granada -.. "Country Matters" s01e01.. The Mill.. 6.. "Country Matters" s01e02.. Black Dog.. 1973.. "Country Matters" s02e02.. Act.. Fun Art Bus.. Eyre Methuen 1973.. Hans Kohlhaas.. Bye Bye Blues.. Fringescripts 1973.. Bye Bye Blues and other plays.. Poor Old Simon.. Samuel French.. Random Moments In A May Garden.. The Girl In Melanie Klein.. 7.. (radio play,  ...   Menocchio.. 1984.. Best Radio Plays 1985.. Menthuen/BBC 1986.. The Magic Bathroom.. 1987.. A Day At The Dentist's.. (radio play, BBC R4 ".. Fear On Four.. ", 13th Mar 1988).. The Confidential Agent.. A Child Crying.. 1988.. ", 2nd April 1989).. Redevelopment or Slum Clearance.. 12.. 1990.. Faber and Faber, London, 1990.. Making It Better.. 1991.. Samuel French 1992.. 1995.. First Writes 1995.. The Old Man Who Liked Cats.. ?.. Hello, I Love You.. Slight Exit.. The Emperor's Waltz.. also various essays and articles;.. also adaptations dramatisations of stories and works by -.. D.. H.. Lawrence (six adaptations of stories for Granada, 1965).. Alexander Dumas, David Garnett, Graham Greene, Patricia Highsmith,.. Henry James, Olivia Manning, V.. S.. Pritchett, Thomas Love Peacock.. (1) produced by Nigel Deacon (7 July 2010).. (2) by D.. Lawrence - adaptation.. (3) co-author Iris Murdoch - adaptation.. (4) by Somerset Maugham - adaptation.. (5) by A E Coppard - adaptation.. (6) by H E Bates - adaptation.. (7) by Ronald Harwood - adaptation.. (8) completing John Vanbrugh's four-act fragment.. (9) adaptation of "The Avenue" by R M Delderfield (4 of 120 episodes).. (10) by David Garnett - adaptation (film script).. (11) rehearsal script available for episode 6 (not filmed because of the death of Richard Beckinsale).. (12) by Václav Havel - English version by James Saunders from a literal translation by Marie Winn.. several of these plays are available from.. Samuel French - London.. literary agent -.. Casarotto Ramsay Associates Limited.. comments to:.. revised 16 May 2013.. org/jsbib..

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  • Title: James Saunders - obituaries
    Descriptive info: James Saunders - obituaries.. Playwright with a gift for subverting theatrical conventions.. - Jim Irvin, The Guardian, 5 Feb 2004.. Playwright James Saunders.. - Richmond Twickenham Times, 6 Feb 2004.. - The Telegraph, 31 Jan 2004.. revised 17 January 2008.. org/jsobit..

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  • Title: Absurd Drama - Martin Esslin
    Descriptive info: Absurd Drama - Martin Esslin.. Introduction to "Absurd Drama" (Penguin Books, 1965).. 'The Theatre of the Absurd' has become a catch-phrase, much used and much abused.. What does it stand for? And how can such a label be justified? Perhaps it will be best to attempt to answer the second question first.. There is no organised movement, no school of artists, who claim the label for themselves.. A good many playwrights who have been classed under this label, when asked if they.. belong.. to the Theatre of the Absurd, will indigniantly reply that they belong to no such movement - and quite rightly so.. For each of the playwrights concerned seeks to express no more and no less his own personal vision of the world.. Yet critical concepts of this kind are useful when new modes of expression, new conventions of art arise.. When the plays of Ionesco, Beckett, Genet, and Adamov first appeared on the stage they puzzled and outraged most critics as well audiences.. And no wonder.. These plays flout all the standards by which drama has been judged for many centuries; they must therefore appear as a provocation to people who have come into the theatre expecting to find what they would recognize as a well-made play.. A well-made play is expected to present characters that are well-observed and convincingly motivated: these plays often contain hardly any recognizable human beings and present completely unmotivated actions.. A well-made play is expected to entertain by the ding-dong of witty and logically built-up dialogue: in some of these plays dialogue seems to have degenerated into meaningless babble.. A well-made play is expected to have a beginning, a middle, and a neatly tied-up ending: these plays often start at an arbitrary point and seem to end just as arbitrarily.. By all the traditional standards of of critical appreciation of the drama, these plays are not only abominably bad, they do not even deserve the name drama.. And yet, strangely enough, these plays have.. worked.. , they have had an effect, they have exercised a fascination of their own in the theatre.. At first it was said that this fascination was merely a.. succès de scandale.. , that people flocked to see Beckett's.. Waiting for Godot.. or Ionesco's.. Bald Primadonna.. merely because it had become fashionable to express outrage and astonishment about them at parties.. But this explanation clearly could not apply to more than one or two plays of this kind.. And the success of a whole row of similarly unconventional works became more and more manifest.. If the critical touchstones of conventional drama did not apply to these plays, this must surely have been due to a difference in objective, the use of different artistic means, to the fact, in short, that these plays were both creating and applying a different.. convention.. of drama.. It is just as senseless to condemn an abstract painting because it lacks perspective or a recognizable subject-matter as it is to reject.. because it has no plot to speak of.. In painting a composition of squares and lines an artist like Mondrian does not.. want.. to depict any object in nature, he does not.. to create perspective.. Similarly, in writing.. Beckett did not intend to tell a story, he did not want the audience to go home satisfied that they knew the solution to the problem posed in the play.. Hence there is no point in reproaching him with not doing what he never sought to do; the only reasonable course is to try and find out what it was that he did intend.. Yet, if tackled directly most of the playwrights in question would refuse to discuss any theories or objectives behind their work.. They would, with perfect justification, point out that they are concerned with one thing only: to express their vision of the world as best they can, simply because, as artists, they feel an irrepressible urge to do so.. This is where the critic can step in.. By describing the works that do not fit into the established convention, by bringing out the similarities of approach in a number of more or less obviously related new works, by analysing the nature of their method and their artistic effect, he can try to define the framework of the new convention, and by doing so, can provide the standards by which it will become possible to have works in that convention meaningfully compared and evaluated.. The onus of proof that there is such a convetion involved clearly lies on the critic, but if he can establish that there are basic similarities in approach, he can argue that these similarities must arise from common factors in the experience of the writers concerned.. And these common factors must in turn spring from the spiritual climate of our age (which no sensitive artist can escape) and also perhaps from a common background of artistic influences, a similarity of roots, a shared tradition.. A term like the Theatre of the Absurd must therefore be understood as a kind of intellectual shorthand for a complex pattern of similarities in approach, method, and convention, of shared philosophical and artistic premises, whether conscious or subconscious, and of influences from a common store of tradition.. A label of this kind therefore is an aid to understanding, valid only in so far as it helps to gain insight into a work of art.. It is not a binding classification; it is certainly not all-embracing or exclusive.. A play may contain.. some.. elements that can best be understood in the light of such a label, while other elements in the same play derive from and can best be understood in the light of a different convention.. Arthur Adamov, for example, has written a number of plays that are prime examples of the Theatre of the Absurd.. He now quite openly and consciously rejects this style and writes in a different, realistic convention.. Nevertheless even his latest plays, which are both realistic and socially committed, contain some aspects which can still be elucidated in terms of the Theatre of the Absurd (such as the use of symbolic interludes,.. guignols.. , in his play.. Spring '71.. Moreover, once a term like Theatre of the Absurd is defined and understood, it acquires a certain value in throwing light on works of previous epochs.. The Polish critic Jan Kott, for example, has written a brilliant study of.. King Lear.. in the light of Beckett's.. Endgame.. And that this was no vain academic exercise but a genuine aid to understanding is shown by the fact that Peter Brook's great production of.. took many of its ideas from Kott's essay.. What then.. is.. the convention of drama that has now acquired the label of the Theatre of the Absurd?.. Let us take one of the plays in this volume as a starting point: Ionesco's.. Amédée.. A middle-aged husband and wife are shown in a situation which is clearly not taken from real life.. They have not left their flat for years.. The wife earns her living by operating some sort of telephone switchboard; the husband is writing a play, but has never got beyond the first few lines.. In the bedroom is a corpse.. It has been there for many years.. It may be the corpse of the wife's lover whom the husband killed when he found them together, but this is by no means certain; it may also have been a burglar, or a stray visitor.. But the oddest thing about it is that it keeps growing larger and larger; it is suffering from 'geometric progression, the incurable disease of the dead'.. And in the course of the play it grows so large that eventually an enormous foot bursts from the bedroom into the living-room, threatening to drive Amédée and his wife out of their home.. All this is wildly fantastic, yet it is not altogether unfamiliar, for it is not unlike situations most of us have experienced at one time or another in dreams and nightmares.. Ionesco has in fact put a dream situation onto the stage, and in a dream quite clearly the rules of realistic theatre no longer apply.. Dreams do not develop logically; they develop by association.. Dreams do not communicate ideas; they communicate images.. And inded the growing corpse in.. can best be understood as a poetic image.. It is in the nature both of dreams and poetic imagery that they are ambiguous and carry a multitude of meanings at one and the same time, so that it is futile to ask what the image of the growing corpse stands for.. On the other hand one can say that the corpse.. might.. evoke the growing power of past mistakes or past guilt, perhaps the waning of love or the death of affection - some evil in any case that festers and grows worse with time.. The image can stand for any and all of these ideas, and its ability to embrace them all gives it the poetic power it undoubtedly posseses.. Not all the plays of the Theatre of the Absurd can be described simply as dreams (although Adamov's.. Professor Taranne.. in this volume actually came to Adamov as a dream, Albee's.. Zoo Story.. is clearly far more firmly anchored in reality) but in all of them the poetic image is the focus of interest.. In other words: while most plays in the traditional convention are primarily concerned to tell a story or elucidate an intellectual problem, and can thus be seen as a narrative or discursive form of communication, the plays of the Theatre of the Absurd are primarily intended to convey a poetic image or a complex pattern of poetic images; they are above all a poetical form.. Narrative or discursive thought proceeds in a dialectical manner and must lead to a result or final message; it is therefore dynamic and moves along a definite line of development.. Poetry is above all concerned to convey its central idea, or atmosphere, or mode of being; it is essentially static.. This does not mean, however, that these plays lack movement: the movement in.. , for instance, is relentless, lying as it does in the pressure of the ever-growing corpse.. But the situation of the play remains static; the movement we see is the unfolding of the poetic image.. The more ambiguous and complex that image, the more intricate and intriguing will be the process of revealing it.. That is why a play like.. can generate considerable suspense and dramatic tension in spite of being a play in which literally.. nothing.. happens, a play designed to show that nothing.. can.. ever happen in human life.. It is only when the last lines have been spoken and the curtain has fallen that we are in a position to grasp the total pattern of the complex poetic image we have been confronted with.. If, in the traditional play, the action goes from point A to point B, and we constantly ask, 'what's going to happen next?', here we have an action that consists in the gradual unfolding of a complex pattern, and instead we ask, 'what is it that we are seeking? What will the completed image be when we have grasped the nature of the pattern?' Thus in Arrabal's.. The Two Executioners.. in this volume we realise at the end of the play that the theme is the exploration of a complex image of the mother-son relationship; in Albee's.. it is only in the last lines of the play that the idea of the entire dialogue between Jerry and Peter falls into place, as an image of the difficulty of communication between human beings in our world.. Why should the emphasis in drama have shifted away from traditional forms towards images which, complex and suggestive as they may be, must necessarily lack the final clarity of definition, the neat resolutions we have been used to expect? Clearly because the playwrights concerned no longer believe in the possibility of such neatness of resolution.. They are indeed chiefly concerned with expressing a sense of wonder, of incomprehension, and at times of despair, at the lack of cohesion and meaning that they find in the world.. If they could believe in clearly defined motivations, acceptable solutions, settlements of conflict in tidily tied up endings, these dramatists would certainly not eschew them.. But, quite obviously, they have no faith in the existence of so rational and well ordered a universe.. The 'well-made play' can thus be seen as conditioned by clear and comforting beliefs, a stable scale of values, an ethical system in full working condition.. The system of values, the world-view behind the well-made play may be a religious one or a political one; it may be an implicit belief in the goodness and perfectibility of men (as in Shaw or Ibsen) or it may be a mere unthinking acceptance of the moral and political status quo (as in most drawing-room comedy).. But whatever it is, the basis of the well-made play is the implicit assumption that the world does make sense, that reality is solid and secure, all outlines clear, all ends apparent.. The plays that we have classed under the label of the Theatre of the Absurd, on the other hand, express a sense of shock at the absense, the loss of any such clear and well-defined  ...   the radio plays.. All that Fall.. Embers.. Words and Music.. , and.. Cascando.. have an equal enigmatic power.. Jean Genet (born 1910) lacks Beckett's discipline, intellect and erudition, but he too is a poet, endowed with the wellnigh magic power of creating beauty from evil, corruption and excrement.. If the evanescence of man in time and the mystery of human personality and identity are Beckett's main themes, Genet's chief concern is with the falseness of human pretensions in society, the contrast between appearance and reality, which itself must remain for ever elusive.. we see the servants bound in a mixture of hatred and erotic dependence to their mistress, re-enacting this love-hate in an endless series of ritual games; in.. The Balcony.. society itself is symbolized in the image of a brothel providing its customers with the illusions of power; and in.. The Blacks.. we are back with the underdog acting out his hatred for his oppressor (which is also a form of love) in an endless ritual of mock-murder.. Jean Tardieu (born 1903) and Boris Vian (1920-59) are among the best of the French dramatists of the Absurd.. Tardieu is an experimenter who has systematically explored the possibilities of a theatre that can divorce itself from discursive speech to the point where language becomes mere musical sound.. Vian, a devoted follower of Jarry, wrote a play,.. The Empire Builders.. , which shows man fleeing from death and loneliness in the image of a family moving into ever smaller flats on higher and higher floors of a mysterious building.. In Italy Dino Buzzati and Ezio d'Errico, in Germany Günter Grass (known as a novelist for his monumental.. Tin Drum.. ) and Wolfgang Hildesheimer are the main exponents of the Theatre of the Absurd.. In Britain, N.. F.. Simpson,.. , David Campton, and Harold Pinter might be classed under this heading.. N.. Simpson has clear links with English nonsense literature, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.. James Saunders, particularly in.. Next Time I'll Sing to You.. , expresses in dramatic form the thought of the existential philosophers.. Pinter, who acknowledges Kafka and Beckett among his literary heroes, combines realism with an intuition of the absurdity of human existence.. In his later work he has shed some of the allegorical symbolism of his beginnings, but even in seemingly realistic plays like.. The Collection.. there is an absense of motivation and solution, a multple ambiguity and a sense of non-communication which transforms the seemingly realistic account of humdrum adultery into a poetic image of the human condition.. Behind the Iron Curtain, where socialist realism is the official creed in the theatre, there would appear to be no room for an avant-garde trend of this type.. Yet there is one country where the influence of the Theatre of the Absurd has produced some astonishingly successful plays: Poland, an area of relative artistic freedom since the defeat of the Stalinists by Gomulka in the autumn of 1956.. A strong surrealist influence was present in Poland even before the war (Gombrowicz and Witkiewicz are two dramatists who might be regarded as among the most important immediate precursors of the Theatre of the Absurd) so that the soil was fertile for a development which was further fostered by the ability of drama of this kind to express political comment in a suitably oblique form.. A number of young dramatists, notably Slawomir Mrozek and Tadeusz Rozewicz, have produced outstandingly original work in the convention of the Absurd.. Three of the playwrights represented in this volume are Parisian exiles.. Eugène Ionesco is undoubtedly the most fertile and original of the dramatists of the Absurd, and also, in spite of a streak of clowning and fun for its own sake in his work, one of the most profound.. He is moreover the most vocal of the dramatists of the Absurd, the only one who is prepared to discuss the theoretical foundations of his work and to reply to the attacks on it from committed left-wing realists.. The critique of language and the haunting presense of death are Ionesco's chief themes in plays like.. The Bald Primadonna.. The Lesson.. The Chairs.. The Killer.. Rhinoceros.. Exit The King.. Amédée or How to Get Rid of It.. (1953) is Ionesco's first full-length play and contains one of his most telling images.. It is also characteristic in its alternation between states of depression and euphoria, leaden oppression and floating on air, an image which reappears through his work and which culminates, in this particular play, in Amédée's floating away at the end.. Arthur Adamov today belongs to the camp against which Ionesco directs his harshest polemics, the socialist realists whose organ is the periodical.. Théâtre populaire.. , but he started out as a follower of Artaud, a self-confessed neurotic, an alien in a senseless world.. Adamov's development from one extreme to the other is a fascinating artistic and psychological case history, in which.. occupies a key position.. Adamov's progress can be seen as a process of psychological therapy through writing.. Unable to face the reality of the outside world, he started out by projecting his oppressions and anxieties on to the stage.. Nothing would have induced him, he has since confessed, to mention any element of the real world, such as a place-name in one of his plays; he would have regarded that as a piece of unspeakable vulgarity.. And yet, when he committed to paper the dream which is now the play.. , he realized that a real place-name, that of Belgium, had occurred in the dream.. Truthfulness in transcribing the dream thus forced him to compromise on one of his fundamental artistic principles.. And from then onwards reality kept breaking through into his writing in ever more insistent form, until today he is a thorough-going realist of the Brechtian school.. That is to say, by writing his obsessions out of his system, Adamov acquired the ability to face and to control the objective world from which he had withdrawn into neurosis.. It might be argued that the projection of neurotic obsessions is both more interesting and more illuminating in providing insights into the dark side of the human mind than the accurate transcription of historical events, and that therefore Adamov's absurdist plays are more fascinating, more successful than his later efforts.. But this is a matter of taste as well as of ideological bias.. The fact remains that.. and the somewhat more realistic.. Ping Pong.. are undoubtedly among Adamov's best plays.. Fernando Arrabal (born 1932) is a Spaniard who has been living in France since 1954 and now writes in French.. He is an admirer of Beckett, but sees his roots in the surrealist tradition of Spain, a country that has always been rich in fantasy and the grotesque (El Greco, Goya) and that in more recent times has produced such outstanding representatives of the modern movement as the painter Picasso (who has himself written two plays in an absurdist vein) and the writers Lorca and Valle Inclàn.. Arrabal's own contribution to the absurdist spectrum is a highly original one: his main preoccupation is with the absurdity of ethical and moral rules.. He looks at the world with the incomprehemsion of a child that simply cannot understand the logic of conventional morality.. Thus, in.. The Automobile Graveyard.. there is a prostitute who follows her profession simply because religion demands that one be kind to one's neighbours; how then could she refuse them the ultimate kindness of giving herself to them? And similarly in.. the rebel son who objects to the tortures that his mother inflicts on his father is faced with the dilemma of several contradictory moral laws: obediance to one's father, the human goodness that prompts one to save the suffering victim from his torturers, and the need to honour and obey one's mother.. These moral laws are here in obvious conflict, as it is the mother who has the father tortured.. Clearly the situation in which several moral laws are in contradiction exposes the absurdity of the system of values that accommodates them all.. Arrabal refuses to judge; he merely notes the position and shows that he finds it beyond his comprehension.. Edward Albee (born 1928) is one of the few American exponents of the Theatre of the Absurd.. An adopted child, he shares with Genet the orphan's sense of loneliness in an alien world; and the image of the dream child which exists only in the adoptive parents' imagination recurs in a number of his plays, notably.. The American Dream.. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.. The latter, which has earned him an enormous success on Broadway, is undoubtedly one of the finest American plays since the heyday of Eugene O'Neill.. It is a savage dance of death reminiscent of Strindberg, outwardly realistic in form, but in fact, as in the case of Pinter's best work, existing on at least two levels apart from the realistic one: as an allegory of American society, a poetic image of its emptiness and sterility, and as a complex ritual on the pattern of Genet.. The Zoo Story.. (1958), one of Albee's earliest dramatic ventures, has a similar complexity: it is a clinically accurate study of Schizophrenia, an image of man's loneliness and inability to make contact, and also, on the ritual and symbolic level, an act of ritual self-immolation that has curious parallels with Christ's atonement.. (Note the names Jerry - Jesus? - and Peter).. The plays in this volume, like the plays of the Theatre of the Absurd in general, present a disillusioned, harsh, and stark picture of the world.. Though often couched in the form of extravagant fantasies, they are nevertheless essentially realistic, in the sense that they never shirk the realities of the human mind with its despair, fear and loneliness in an alien and hostile universe.. There is more human reality in the grotesquely extravagant images of.. than in many far longer plays plays in a convention that is a mere photographic copy of the surface of life.. The realism of these plays is a psychological, and inner realism; they explaore the human sub-conscious in depth rather than trying to describe the outward appearance of human existence.. Nor is it quite correct that these plays, deeply pessimistic as they are, are nothing but an expression of utter despair.. It is true that basically the Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy.. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it.. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair.. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely.. because.. there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world.. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief.. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.. - Martin Esslin, Introduction to "Penguin Plays - Absurd Drama" (Penguin, 1965).. "Martin Esslin was born Julius Pereszlenyi on 6 June 1918 into a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary.. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the Great War, he became Austrian by default and in 1920 the family moved to Vienna where he was educated at the Bundesgymnasium II.. In 1936 he went to the University of Vienna where he studied Philosophy and English.. He also studied directing, acting and dramaturgy at the Reinhardt Seminar of Dramatic Art.. He was about to begin his theatrical career in Vienna when the Nazis invaded Austria.. He fled, spending a year in Brussels before reaching England where he became a scriptwriter and producer for the BBC s European Services in 1940.. He wrote numerous radio features on political, social and literary subjects and in 1955 was appointed assistant head of BBC European Productions, and in 1961, assistant head of Drama (Sound).. In 1963 Esslin was appointed head of BBC Radio Drama.. By the mid-1960s the Radio Drama department at the BBC was originating between 400 and 500 plays a year.. In 1977 Esslin turned to teaching.. He became Professor of Drama at Stanford University, California, for two quarters annually, until 1988, and after that Professor Emeritus.. He had also been visiting Professor of Theatre at Florida State University (1969-1976).. He achieved much recognition as the author of two of the most influential books dealing with the post-war theatre, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) and The Theatre of the Absurd (1962) a term coined by Esslin.. Esslin was awarded the OBE in 1972.. ".. from.. austrian cutural forum.. Martin Esslin links.. Stanford Report.. - drama professor and theater critic (obit).. Guardian Unlimited.. - illuminating writer and radio drama producer (obit).. Stanford Magazine.. - he found meaning in absurdity (obit).. Voy Forums.. - Martin Esslin, drama critic, teacher, author (obit).. Joanne Karpinski (Regis Univ).. - The Theatre of the Absurd (Martin Esslin extract).. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.. - theater of the absurd (Martin Esslin article).. other Theatre of the Absurd links.. Vahid Norouzalibeik.. - quotes,.. essays.. original writings.. revised 4 July 2013.. org/jsesslin..

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  • Title: Next Time I'll Sing To You - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: Next Time I'll Sing To You - by James Saunders (1962).. First performed at the Questors Theatre, Ealing (London, England), in 1962 with the following cast -.. MEFF.. DUST.. LIZZIE.. RUDGE.. THE HERMIT.. - Lawrence Irvin.. - Laurence Nixon.. - Jo Arundel.. - Peter Whelan.. - George Ritchie.. On 23 January 1963 the play was presented at the New Arts Theatre, London (England), by Michael Codron with the following cast -.. - Michael Caine.. - Barry Foster.. - Liz Fraser.. - Michael Bryant.. The play transferred to the Criterion Theatre on 25 February 1963 with the following cast -.. - Victor Winding.. - Peter McEnery.. - Denys Graham.. Directed by Shirley Butler.. Designed by Timothy O'Brien.. Original music by Don Kincaid.. programme - Criterion Theatre, 25 February 1963.. 1963 James Saunders.. published by.. Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1963.. forward by Raleigh Trevelyan.. The Hereford Plays, Heinemann Educational Books (London, England), 1965.. ISBN-10: 0435227904.. ISBN-13: 978-0435227906.. introduction by Elizabeth Haddon.. Published by.. Dramatist's Play Service, 1966.. ISBN-10: 0822208148.. ISBN-13: 978-0822208143.. Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1971.. - James Saunders).. ISBN-10: 0140481125.. ISBN-13: 978-0140481129.. also contains.. +.. A Scent of Flowers.. "The best play in London," said.. Harold Hobson.. in.. The Sunday Times.. , and other critics agreed.. Robert Gellert, in.. The New Statesman.. , praised its "nervous and sophisticated brilliance", and.. Kenneth Tynan.. found it "a series of grotesque and disturbing observations on the nature of illusion and reality.. One of the five characters in the play says "The problem of identity has been the hobby of the intelligensia for at least two millenia", and it is this problem which the play explores, the problem being made concrete in the person of the hermit.. He existed in real life: Alexander James Cameron of Great Canfield, Essex, who lived as a recluse for forty-two years.. Why did he choose to live like that? Was he different from us? Was he an idiot or a saint or a dirty old man? A playwright called Rudge, and three actors called Lizzie, Meff and Dust, take the stage in order to work out an answer, and revolve round the hermit like moths round a flame.. The existence of Alexander James Cameron first became generally known when Raleigh Trevelyan wrote his biography.. - The Hermit Disclosed.. Mr Trevelyan has now written the foreward to James Saunder's play.. In publishing the play we hope that it will reach a wide new public who may not have had the chance to see it, and we are confident that the public will find it as exciting, amusing and lyrical as did the critics and the audiences in the theatre.. - (cover, Deutsch, 1963).. "No matter how I reach out towards you or you reach towards me, we are still locked in our skulls as before," says Rudge early in this play.. Can we ever find a purpose in another's existence? Have we any right to attempt to do so?.. The man who inspired the theme of.. - the exploration and acceptance of man's inescapable solitude - was Jimmy Mason, the hermit of Great Canfield, Essex.. For half his life he had been seen by virtually no one except his brother Tommy, who brought him food.. On January 17th, 1942, he died in his barricaded hovel at the age of eighty-four.. His birth was  ...   had become a hermit, what for instance were his feelings towards Fanny, whether he could even have been a miracle-worker.. But back to the play.. "There lies behind everything a certain quality which we may call grief," says Rudge.. By this time in the play, the caperings of Meff, the naiveté of Lizzie and the cynicism of Dust have fallen into shape, and we realize that apparent non-sequiturs have been vital to the whole development of the theme.. The appeearance of Rudge brings in a new, intensely moving element, that of anguish and rebellion.. Man, says James Saunders, is not free.. He is powerless to resist his destiny, which is to end in extinction.. No one sees the hermit's suffering, "no one gives a damn and there's no reason why anyone should".. And it is left to Lizzie to have the final word: "One thing about us - at least we're not dead.. - Raleigh Trevelyan (foreward, Deutsch 1963).. The play begins as a search for the meaning of the life of one man, the Hermit of Great Canfield, who spent his last 36 years living in a hut in a field, cutting himself off from the outside world; but as the investigation proceeds it is suggested that we are none of us so very different: we are all essentially alone inside our skulls, and life in general is pretty meaningless.. These gloomy conclusions are reached in exhilarating - often hilarious - discussion, mingling crisp wit and brilliant passages that are deeply moving.. Though at first sight an incoherent anti-play, it is in fact carefully shaped and full of effective 'theatre'.. - Elizabeth Haddon (introduction, Heinemann, 1965).. Saunders experiments with his characters as he does with the medium, trying to find out more about the basic components of their existence and their motivations.. , Rudge is doing all he can to reach an understanding of the Hermit.. "All I want to do is understand the purpose of existence; of one man - not of the population of Liverpool, you understand, just of one man.. And he thinks he'll then be able to argue from the particular to the general:.. "Examine him and we shall see ourselves.. - Ronald Hayman (from the commentary,.. Neighbours and other plays.. , Heinemann, 1968).. Like other exponents of the theatre of the absurd, James Saunders feels that the senselessness of life cannot be adequately expressed by a rational approach.. The four plays in this volume have been widely acclaimed for their combination of understanding and humour.. They explore different aspects of the breakdown in communication between human beings and make an abrasive comment on the hypocrisy to be found in our public and private lives.. - (back cover, Four Plays, 1963).. The best play in London.. It has remained with me ever since: I am unable to forget it.. - Harold Hobson (The Sunday Times).. Its ostensible hero is an historically authenticated hermit who died in Essex at the age of 84, after spending 36 years in voluntary solitude behind a barricade of ditches and fences; but he is merely a peg upon which Mr Saunders hangs a series of grotesque and disturbing observations on the nature of illusion and reality.. A witty and gifted writer has unquestionably arrived.. - Kenneth Tynan.. revised 29 August 2009.. org/jsnext..

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  • Title: A Scent of Flowers - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: A Scent of Flowers - by James Saunders (1964).. First performed at Wimbledon Theatre, 1964.. Presented by Michael Codron, in association with Richard Pilbrow, with the following cast at the Golders Green Hippodrome on 14 September 1964 and at the Duke of York's Theatre on 30 September 1964 -.. ZOE.. FRED.. SID.. GODFREY.. SCRIVENS.. EDGAR.. GRANDMOTHER.. AGNES.. DAVID.. - Jennifer Hilary.. - Graham Haberfield.. - Drewe Henley.. -.. Ian McKellan.. (Clarence Derwent Award: best supporting actor).. - Peter Howell.. - Mark Dignam.. - Yvonne Manners.. - Phyllis Calvert.. - Derek Bond.. programme - Golders Green Hippodrome, 14 September 1964.. photos from the play.. 1965 James Saunders.. Andre Deutsch, 1965.. ISBN 0 233 95777 4.. The Hereford Plays, Heinemann Educational Books (London, England), 1966.. ISBN-10: 0435227912.. ISBN-13: 978-0435227913.. Penguin (Harmondsworth, England) 1971.. Dramatist's Play Service, 1970.. ISBN-10: 0822209950.. ISBN-13: 978-0822209959.. Mr Saunders unfolds the story of a girl, and why she killed herself.. He does it with all the intelligence, wit and sense of theatre of his first West End success,.. , and with a new tenderness which is very moving.. Zoë is a girl any of us might know, a gay, gentle, vulnerable creature ready for love and happiness.. She is not the victim of evil intent, but simply of the failures and misunderstandings of ordinary life, and this makes her a deeply poignant figure, both on the stage and within the covers of this book.. - (inside cover, Andre Deutsch, 1965).. This play is about compassion, about kindness and pity, and it examines, ruthlessly, what we have done with them.. Eager for life on our own terms, for emotional non-involvement, for security - that insulated strait-jacket - we have placed a cruel constraint upon the exercise of these virtues.. And, in our greed for self-protection, what vanity, what trivial, pitiable vanity we take home to ourselves -.. "We met once.. Briefly, I'm afraid.. I'm afraid we didn't get to know each other very well.. But I tried.. It doesn't matter now.. I shall go home with the thought that there was someone I tried to know, and failed; but that it doesn't matter.. Is this all we can say of someone we helped to drive to death? Is this all that Agnes can say of the stepdaughter entrusted to her care? If there is anyone so little involved in mankind that he is not roused to passionate repudiation, then he should leave this play unseen, unread.. For the rest, if there are any who dare not examine their store of kindness, who dare not know that they did not give of it when it was needed, this play is not for them.. They are the strong who can be broken only on the wheel.. This play is for the frail, who are broken to pieces by a cry till pity spills like spikenard.. Let them imagine, as James Saunders has in this play, a young girl, Zoe, eager, passionate and vulnerable; imagine her hurt by her first real brush with life, perplexed afraid, alone.. To whom should she turn? Her family, her friends, her priest? How dare they live if they deny her comfort? Yet a bird with a broken wing is more sure of succour from the human race than is a girl with a wounded heart.. It is not that her father, her stepmother and stepbrother lack concern for her.. All are, to some degree, concerned, ready with help - but the help is wrong because the motive is wrong.. They offer the help they deem necessary, not that which her need demands.. "Be kind to me," she pleads with Gogo; but his idea is the new film at the Academy, or a lighthearted scientific investigation of her problem, to "take you out of yourself".. None of them realizes that interest, concern, even love, are not the same as compassion and charity (.. caritas.. No one is prepared to share her suffering, to suffer with her, to descend into hell and to be with her during the long climb out of it.. Even the Church, upon whose ultimate mercy she throws herself, into whose care she commits herself, interposes between her and the source of all compassion the harsh doctrine of denial.. Denial there may have to be, but the medical treatment  ...   kind hands grope for mutual comfort, his kind blood rises, his kind fingers clench.. )".. What else could one expect from the man who, though he was able to cheer Zoe's childhood with fairy tales, has buried whatever feelings he ever had under a heap of throw-away philosophy summemd up in his speech before the funeral -.. Well, what shall we take as the text for today? Do you have any fancies, any special requests, our only aim is to please.. What about St John of the Sonnets: "Consider not for whom the bell tolls - as long as you can hear it, it must be for somebody else.. The gale of laughter which greets this in the theatre is memorable, but longer to be remembered is the silence of cught breath as the realization takes hold: against such brutal buffoonery is Zoe's fragile tragedy played out.. Not a laugh, not a jest is wasted in this play.. Sid's absurd story about the complications of his personal life - an uneasy threesome who holiday together, and spend evenings playing cards because Sid is in love with a girl whose husband in his turn is "sweet on" Sid - is hilariously funny until one perceives how, in its casual amorality, this relationship marks the gulf between slipshod licence and the anguished desparation of such love as Zoe had experienced.. For Zoe the casual, the slipshod, the half-hearted, are impossible.. If she gives, she must give wholly.. When she discovers that the giving of her love compromises the giving of her faith, the conflict threatens her with disintegration.. It is because those to whom she turns for help, guidance, support, are themselves content with compromise, satisfied to be disintegrated and half-hearted, that they can neither understand nor help her.. What James Saunders is restating is that, since we are inescapably members one of another, if one member suffers and the others refuse their compassion, refuse to suffer with, then that member is cut off and must, in the temporal sense, perish.. Zoe is deserted not by God but by the Church and by us.. The emphasis on this aspect of the tragedy is increased as Zoe moved further from "life" and nearer to "death".. As the distance between her and "the living" lengthens, so her compassion for them grows and deepens.. She understands her father's helpless silence, the silence which had hurt her once so much -.. "Inside the barriers are broken; there's no logic any more, no cause and effect, just a surging and lappiong of his grief across the broken barriers, splashing against the shell of his breeding, looking for a way out.. She understands Gogo's emotional outburst, but is able now to stand clear -.. "You can't share grief; you're on your own.. Go home and cry into your pilllow; your pillow will comfort you.. I envy you your tears; however short-lived they may be.. If only there had been one among the living who could have had such understanding in Zoe's grief, to allow her to go apart with it, to respect, to envy, the depth of her feeling.. But now it is what we call "too late".. It is for Zoe herself, liberated from the inhibitions of the conventions which surrounded her, to show understanding, to grow even beyond compassion.. What she extends to Gogo is mercy - and forgiveness that he will so soon forget her.. Yet something of him will always be touched by her and by the pain of mortality: ".. any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved with mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.. - Elizabeth Haddon (Introduction, Heinemann, 1966).. A Scent of flowers.. , Gogo, arguing that heartaches and soul-searchings have no scientific validity, asks whether the force that joins two lovers together is electromagnetic or gravitational.. There is usually a single moment to which a serious playwright can look back and say '.. That.. was when the public accepted me'.. For James Saunders it may have been the fifteen curtain calls at the West End opening of.. - The Observer.. He communicates 'a loveliness, a glimmering joy, an affection, a yearning after good' in a play which forms 'a unique, an unforgettable experience'.. org/jsascent..

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  • Title: The Travails of Sancho Panza - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: The Travails of Sancho Panza - A Play for the Young - by James Saunders (1969).. A National Theatre Christmas Production 1969-70.. 1970 James Saunders.. Heinemann Educational Books (London, England), 1969.. ISBN-10: 043523787X (435237888 paperback).. ISBN-13: 978-0435237875.. "Cervantes's story of Don Quixte and his long-suffering servant Sancho Panza has a universal and timeless appeal.. James Saunders has taken some favourite episodes from it and woven them into a boisterous and humane comedy.. (from Heinemann Educational Books 1969).. revised 4 February 2007.. org/jssancho..

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  • Title: Bodies - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: Bodies - by James Saunders (1977).. Commisioned by the Richmond Fringe Theatre at the Orange Tree, Richmond (Surrey, England), who first staged it on the 29th April 1977, with the following cast of characters -.. ANNE.. HELEN.. MERVYN.. - Ruth Goring.. - Geoffrey Beevers.. - Isobil Nisbet.. - Rio Fanning.. Directed by Sam Walters.. A revised version was presented at the Hampstead Theatre on the 20th February 1978, with the following cast of characters -.. - Gwen Watford.. - David Burke.. - Anne Stallybrass.. - Dinsdale Landon.. Directed by Robin Lefèvre.. Designed by Tanya McCallin.. The Hampstead Theatre production was transferred to the Ambassadors Theatre, London on 23 April 1979, with the following cast -.. - Angela Down.. Costumes by Lindy Hemmings.. Lighting by Alan O'Toole and Gerry Jenkinson.. Presented by Ray Cooney.. programme - Ambassadors Theatre, 23 April 1979.. Samuel French, 1979.. ISBN-10: 0573110565.. ISBN-13: 978-0573110566.. Dramatist's Play Service, 1979.. ISBN-10: 0822201291.. ISBN-13: 978-0822201298.. Amber Lane, 1979.. ISBN-10: 0906399106.. ISBN-13: 978-0906399101.. ".. is James Saunders' fourth play to appear in London's West End.. - from the back cover of the Amber Lane edition.. is a play for two men and two women.. Mervyn, Anne, David and Helen are "middle-class, rate-paying" couples "approaching  ...   difference to their manner of life: but David supposes that the other couple will not have changed much.. The meeting leads to a discussion in which a very great deal of the inner lives, opinions, prejudices and outlooks of the four protagonists - and indeed, perhaps of all of us - is laid bare.. In the first act dialogues between the couple in their separate houses alternate with monologues from each character in which earlier events are recalled.. The second act is set in Mervyn and Anne's home, in a more straightforward style, on the evening of that significant meeting.. - from the back cover of the Samuel French edition (1979).. is a play which, when we have laughed at its wit, have been held in the grip of its drama and revelled in the colours and layers of its language, still raises echo after echo in our minds and hearts.. - Bernard Levin, The Sunday Times.. "This play by James Saunders positively glitters with rhetorical brilliance.. - Felix Barker, Evening News.. "Saunders writes with a fastidious wit and subtle cadence that delights the ear.. - International Herald Tribune.. "His best play to date.. - Frank Marcus, Sunday Telegraph.. revised 20 February 2011.. org/james_saunders_bodies..

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  • Title: Fall - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: Fall - by James Saunders (1980).. Commissioned and first staged by the Orange Tree Theatre (Richmond, Surrey England).. Presented at the Hampstead Theatre (London, England) on 6th September 1984 with the following cast -.. ROCHE (FOX).. ANN.. KATE.. MARY.. - Roland Oliver.. - Sylvestra le Touzel.. - Julie Covington.. - Cecily Hobbs.. Directed by Robin Lefevre.. Decor by Sue Plummer.. Lighting by Leo Leibovici.. Won the Molière Award after its Paris production (1988?).. The play is set in a suburban garden on an afternoon in late summer.. Time - the present.. 1984 James Saunders.. Samuel French (London, England), 1985.. ISBN-10: 057311076X.. ISBN-13: 978-0573110764.. "On an Indian summer day three sisters, Kate, Helen and Ann, meet at the house of their mother Mary to await the death of their father.. During the  ...   refuses to recognize her situation as a problem: Kate seeks endlessly to find herself and an end to uncertainty via I Ching, Zen, yoga etc: Helen, childless and with a failed marriage behind her, tries to solve the problems of others through Marxism and social work.. Their mother has the ability and clear sight to keep her worries in perspective.. Throughout, Fox, the observer's comments give depth and tone to the atmosphere.. This is a play which requires and more than repays a high degree of concentration from all involved in viewing, reading and performing it.. (from Samuel French 1984).. the three character-studies of the sisters are masterly.. The play is a beautiful still life" -.. Financial Times.. "James Saunders has a spiky pen and a provocative mind" -.. Standard.. org/jsfall..

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  • Title: Redevelopment - or Slum Clearance - by Vaclav Havel, translated by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: Redevelopment - or Slum Clearance - by Václav Havel (1987).. English version by James Saunders (1990).. from a literal translation by Marie Winn.. Characters -.. ZDENEK BERGMAN, Principal Project Director, fifty-ish.. LUISA, architact, about 40.. ALBERT, architect, about twenty-five.. KUZMA PLEKHANOV, architect (male).. ULCH, architect.. MRS MACOURKOVA, architect.. RENATA, secretary, about twenty.. SPECIAL SECRETARY.. FIRST SECRETARY.. FIRST INSPECTOR.. FIRST DELEGATE.. SECOND DELEGATE.. FIRST WOMAN.. SECOND WOMAN.. 1987 Václav Havel (author).. originally published by.. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag Gmbh (Reinbeck bei Hamburg).. 1990 James Saunders (English version).. Faber and Faber (London, England), 1990.. ISBN-10: 057114265.. ISBN-13: 978-0571142651.. "This is  ...   in a historic town in Eastern Europe.. Supervised by a state functionary and led by an emotionally chaotic project director, a group of architects struggle to come up with a high-rise building scheme that will destroy the ancient town's character and incidentally clear away its slums.. On the realistic level, the play is about a universal architectural dilemma.. But it also works as a political metaphor about the whimsical arbitrariness of autocracy.. This is vintage Havel: creating a work that is both specific and universal, tragic and comic.. - Michael Billington (Guardian).. revised 11 February 2007.. org/jsredev..

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  • Title: Retreat - a play by James Saunders
    Descriptive info: Retreat - by James Saunders (1995).. First presented at the Orange Tree Theatre (Richmond, Surrey, England) on May 4th 1995 with the following cast -.. HAROLD.. HANNAH.. - Tim Pigott-Smith.. - Victoria Hamilton.. Designed by Ti Green.. Lighting by Mark Doubleday.. 1995 James Saunders.. First Writes (London, England), 1995.. ISBN-10: 095241595X (0952415941 limited edition).. ISBN-13: 978-0952415954 (978-0952415947 limited edition).. published in France as ".. Le Refuge.. A middle-aged man and a 19 year old girl together in a room late at night take each other on a journey of exploration into the realms of grief and guilt.. As layer after layer is stripped away we see how they can find comfort and healing from each other.. This is one  ...   play about grief and guilt.. is a subtle disturbing drama of confrontation between a middle-aged man and a young woman, both bereaved and dangerously shaky.. " -.. The Times.. "James Saunders concentrates his obvious strengths beautifully in this incisive psycho-drama.. The way its two tragedy-stricken characters lock horns across the generation and gender gaps is riveting.. "With subtle skill and well-orchestrated dialogue, Saunders links these two troubled souls in a dark web of complicity and deceit - though the approaching dawn suggests that redemption is never far away.. What's On.. "A fine work which displays Saunders' mastery at creating characters whose lacerating humour is a vain defence against both tragedy and vacuum.. The Financial Times.. revised 18 February 2008.. org/jsretrea..

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  • Archived pages: 51