Theatre

Peace Mom

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We print eclusive extracts from Dario Fo's new one-person play about Cindy Sheehan, translated by Tom Behan.

Part One

Many times I've found something my son once said echoing around my head: 'I want to go to university, and the only chance I've got is to join the United States army. It'll be the army that'll pay my fees. There's no other way I can do it.'

A month after he left for his zone of operations an army cheque came through payable to Casey Sheehan - this money would pay his first round of fees. Three days later another letter: 'Today, 4 April 2004, your son Casey was killed during disturbances in Iraq.'

The cheque was of no use now.

National Debate

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David Edgar's drama Playing with Fire was attacked by critics. In this counterblast, theatre producer Michael Kustow argues Edgar is the Dickens of our stage.

The National Theatre under its director Nicholas Hytner has paid fierce attention to the sore points of the body politic - privatised railways (David Hare's The Permanent Way), the invasion of Iraq (Hare's Stuff Happens), the updating of classics (Shakespeare's Henry V in the era of the Gulf wars) and, in Mike Leigh's recent 2,000 Years, the effect on one Jewish family of the erosion of Zionism, the occupation of Iraq and the tug of war between rationality and religious belief.

The play's the thing

Harold Pinter: Prize Fighter

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Theatre critic Mark Brown welcomes an unexpected Nobel Prize laureate.

When it was announced on 13 October that Harold Pinter, who recently turned 75, was to be the 2005 Nobel laureate for literature, there was surprise (not least on the part of Pinter himself) followed by celebrations and recriminations, according to one's cultural and political tastes. Deliciously, it also cast a shadow over Margaret Thatcher's eightieth birthday party, which was held on the same day.

Interview of the Month: Reliving the War in an Irish Town

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Journalist and playwright Richard Norton Taylor tells Pat Stack about his dramatisation of the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

On the face of it, inquiries seem unlikely settings for dramas, but they've worked very well for you. What drew you to the idea?

Nicholas Kent, a committed director at the Tricycle theatre, first had the idea when I was covering the Scott arms to Iraq inquiry. Writing a few hundred words one day, and then a few hundred more a couple of days later, was getting disjointed. We thought we'd put it all together into one package with an audience, and it would lead to a much greater understanding of the whole thing.

What attracted you to the Bloody Sunday inquiry?

Obituary: A Miller's Tale

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Arthur Miller lit up the darkest days of the 20th century.

When I heard that Arthur Miller had died I felt a pang which I normally only feel for people I knew personally. I have known of his work since I was a teenager. My school play in 1967 was Death of a Salesman, generally recognised as Miller's masterpiece. And we knew that Miller's other most famous play, The Crucible, used its subject of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s to attack that modern US witchhunt, the McCarthy hearings.

Women on the Front Line: Keeping Torture at Bay

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Victoria Brittain speaks to Matt Foot about the issues behind her new play Guantanamo.

What made you want to write a play about Guantanamo Bay and what does the title, Guantanamo: 'Honour Bound to Defend Freedom', mean?

I simply wanted to do it as soon as the director, Nick Kent, offered it to me. It is such an outrageous situation just in terms of the obvious illegality of the whole thing. Anything that could draw attention to what was happening, I thought, would be a contribution.It's the title that they had written up outside Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo. You know, like in Auschwitz they had 'Work makes men free'.

Theatre Enters Stage Left

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Theatre can be a forum for debate and encourage collective action.

Recently I was rereading some of John McGrath's essays on political theatre in his book 'Naked Thoughts That Roam About'. McGrath, who died last year, set up the 7:84 theatre group (7 percent owning 84 percent of the wealth) to create an agitprop theatre for the generation of anti Vietnam War protesters.

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