Josh Finan as Cain in Shook
(Photo: The Other Richard/Southwark Playhouse)
022 – Shook, by Samuel Bailey
Samuel Bailey’s play Shook is set in a young offenders’ institution, where three young men have signed up for a vocational class. But they have not chosen the usual options of carpentry or bricklaying. They’re being taught parenting skills – how to look after a baby – because these three teenagers are, or about to become, fathers. Within the confines of a single bare room in the detention centre, Bailey gives us a glimpse of the challenging lives of young men who are still boys caught in a cycle of criminality as a result of their dysfunctional families, macho models of masculinity, and social prejudice. The play is sharp, funny, thought-provoking and very moving. It is all the more remarkable for being Sam’s full-length debut work.
Shook won the 2019 Papatango New Writing Award, and was produced by Papatango at the Southwark Playhouse in November 2019, before a short UK Tour. It was scheduled to transfer to the Trafalgar Theatre in London’s West End in Spring 2020, but sadly this run was cancelled by the Covid lockdown. Papatango released a filmed version of their production of Shook online in February 2021, which is available to view until 28th March 2021 on the Papatango website. Click here to visit Papatango.
I’m delighted to welcome the playwright Samuel Bailey, as well as George Turvey, the Artistic Director of Papatango and director of their production of Shook, to talk about this exceptional new play.
Note: this episode contains strong language.
Samuel Bailey was born in London and raised in the West Midlands. He began writing plays in Bristol and developed work with the Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Theatre West before moving back to London. He is an alumnus of the Old Vic Theatre’s Old Vic 12 program and of the Orange Tree Writers’ Collective. His play Shook won the 2019 Papatango award. He currently has a new play in progress for Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth, as well as a film script for Peter Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty.
George Turvey trained as an actor and has appeared on stage and screen in roles as diverse as the world première of Arthur Miller’s No Villain at the Old Red Lion Theatre and Trafalgar Studios, and Batman Live World Arena Tour. George co-founded Papatango in 2007 and became the sole Artistic Director in January 2013. As their dramaturg, he has led the development of all of Papatango’s productions. Credits as director include Shook (Papatango, UK tour), Hanna (Papatango, UK tour), The Annihilation of Jessie Leadbeater (Papatango at ALRA), After Independence (Papatango at Arcola Theatre, 2016 Alfred Fagon Audience Award, and on BBC Radio 4), Leopoldville (Papatango at Tristan Bates Theatre), and Angel (Papatango at Pleasance London and Tristan Bates Theatre). George is the co-author of Being A Playwright: A Career Guide For Writers, published by Nick Hern Books.
The Footnotes to our episode on Shook include more observations on our prejudices against people from different classes or circumstances, parenting as empathy, and the heartbreak of long-distance childbirth.
Tom Stoppard’s ambitious new play Leopoldstadt is a sweeping work of history and ideas which charts the diaspora and decline of an Austrian Jewish family through the convulsive events of the first half of the twentieth century. It addresses profound moral questions of identity, memory and prejudice that are insistently relevant in our time. It is not only a towering intellectual achievement, it is also very personally poignant because it is based partly on Stoppard’s own remarkable family history.
Leopoldstadt opened in the West End in January 2020, only to be closed prematurely by the pandemic a few weeks later. Happily it has returned to the London stage this Autumn, and I am privileged and delighted to talk in this episode with the director of the London productions, playwright Patrick Marber.
Footnotes Volume 3 is a recording of the facts and observations that we’ve published on the website to supplement the plays that we’ve covered in episodes 24-31. A smorgasbord of trivia and analysis ranging from Greek Tragedy to the stock characters of Commedia dell’Arte , through the music of Bob Dylan, the filming of Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone during lockdown, and the theatrical installations of Samuel Beckett.
A compendium of dramatic intelligence!
Samuel Beckett’s third great dramatic masterpiece Happy Days is a timeless exploration of existential threat and personal survival. It’s central image of Winnie buried in a mound of scorched earth also speaks to our own time when many have endured enforced confinement in a world struck by collective disaster.
Irish actress and Beckett scholar Lisa Dwan, fresh from her triumphant performance as Winnie at the Riverside Studios in London, joins us to share her unique experience of playing Beckett and this majestic play.
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 …