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.
The dramatic tragedy of a wife who murders her own two sons in a desperate act of grief and revenge remains as disturbing and deeply moving as when it was written nearly 2,500 years ago. Medea by Euripides is timeless not only because of our fascination with Medea’s horrific crime, but for the poetry of its language, and its unflinching portrayal of a woman all but powerless in a patriarchal world. The play was recently revived at the National Theatre with a stunning performance by Helen McCrory in the title role, which is now available to view on the National Theatre at Home. I’m joined by renowned classical scholar Edith Hall to explore our enduring fascination with Medea.
The main characters in Nina Raine’s play Consent are barristers contesting a brutal rape case. As the case unfolds the lawyers’ marriages come unravelled and they themselves cross the line of honour or even of the law. Consent explores some of the most charged issues of our time: the sources of sexual betrayal and violence, the ambiguities of consent, and the failings of the justice system to account proportionally or sensitively with cases of sexual abuse. I am delighted and honoured to be joined in this episode by the author of Consent, Nina Raine, and by actor Adam James, who appeared in the National Theatre production in the role of Jake.
Footnotes Volume 2 is a selection of facts and observations culled from the library of information that we’ve compiled to accompany each of the plays in the past ten episodes. These include fascinating bits of trivia as well as more extended exploration of specific aspects of the plays. A smorgasbord of dramatic intelligence befitting of the best kind of Footnote.
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 …