012 – Footnotes 1
This episode is a selection of the Footnotes that we’ve compiled during the research and conversations that we’ve had so far on the podcast. It is a recorded smorgasbord of fragments, with titbits of information in the best tradition of footnotes, as well as additional observations of my own on each play. So if you’re interested in:
- How many copies of A Doll’s House were sold when it was first published
- Who Tennessee Williams chose as his favourite writer(s)
- What Samuel Beckett thought of the Lord Chamberlain
- Why lipstick is important to the mothers of Aberfan
- Where Shakespeare’s real life inspiration for The Tempest came from
- The significance of the island of Torcello to Robert and Emma in Pinter’s Betrayal
- How an Icelandic volcano lay behind Duncan Macmillan’s meditations about climate change in Lungs
- Why Peggy Ashcroft felt naked as Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea
- How going to work on an egg might turn you into a footballer rather than a famous cook
- What the “beholders’ share” is, or
- Where the “pesto triangle” is
among many other trivial and profound footnotes, join me for our ragbag review of the plays that we’ve talked about over the past eleven episodes.
PS You are of course also welcome to read the full set of Footnotes for each episode here on the website.
Suggest a play
We’re always open to suggestions about plays to talk about, so if you’d like us to discuss a favourite of yours, please email us at email@example.com. Let us know why you think we should cover it, and if you know anyone who’d be excited and qualified to talk about it with us (even yourself if modesty permits!).
You might also be interested in …
It is September 1941. German physicist Werner Heisenberg is visiting his friend and former colleague, Danish physicist Niels Bohr at his home in Copenhagen. Denmark is occupied by the Third Reich, and both men are under surveillance by the Gestapo. What is the purpose of their meeting at this charged time? Did they confer about the potential to build weapons based on the emerging knowledge of nuclear fission? Did Heisenberg wish to warn Bohr about the growing threat to Danish Jews? These questions and more are explored in Michael Frayn’s absorbing play Copenhagen. I’m delighted and honoured to be joined in this episode by the playwright himself.
John Webster’s 400-year-old play The Duchess of Malfi is a potboiler of courtly love, intrigue and murder. It has endured not just for its bloody plot, but for its poetic language and the indomitable character of its protagonist. The Duchess remains a female paradigm for a patriarchal world. Joining us to explore this classic anew is Professor Emma Smith from Hertford College, Oxford, an expert on early modern drama.
David Mamet’s play Oleanna about the abuse of patriarchal power caused intense controversy and divided audiences when it was first produced in 1992. It is now being revived at the Theatre Royal Bath. How will we see the sensitive issues it raises differently nearly 30 years on in the light of the #MeToo movement? The acclaimed director of this new production, Lucy Bailey, joins me to explore this explosive work.
Note: this episode contains some strong language.
Before the theatres went dark this month I was lucky enough to see Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Bridge, and spend more than seven hours in thrall to Robert Lepage’s Seven Streams of the River Ota at the National. Plus, some thoughts on what we miss when there is no theatre.
Another great mix of shows this month, from Tom Stoppard’s new play, to Ibsen, Beckett and newer plays in smaller London venues.
The January roundup included both classic plays, such as The Duchess of Malfi, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters, as well as recent musicals Dear Evan Hansen and Girl from the North Country …