The Footnotes to our episode on William Shakespeare’s Othello include notes about the source of Shakespeare’s plot, the meaning of the terms “Barbarian Moor”, more on the form and settings of the play, how the changing view of race has been reflected in the performance history of the play, examples of how the language of colour codifies racism, and some final thoughts on the tragic ending of the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming include notes about Vivien Merchant as the original Ruth, Ruth and Lenny not visiting Venice, the sibling rivalries on display, and Pinter’s “comedy of menace”.
The Footnotes to our episode on Federico Garcia Lorca’s tragedy The House of Bernarda Alba include observations on the opening scenes of the play, the limited opportunities for women in the villages of Spain, and the character of the madwoman in the attic, Bernarda’s mother, Maria Josef.
The Footnotes to our episode on Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts include more on the storm that greeted the original publication of the play, an appreciation of Ibsen’s mastery of structure, his use of sexual disease as a moral metaphor, Mrs Alving missing out on “the joy of life”, and the symbols that enrich this naturalistic drama.
The Footnotes to our episode on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion include an intriguing fact about a special guest at the premiere of the play, more observations on the ending of the play and what happened afterwards to Eliza, and a tribute to the genius of Alfred Doolittle.
The Footnotes to our episode on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream include observations on the forest as a setting for love and dreams, on the play as democratic drama, and on the not-so-hidden meanings in the names of the rude mechanicals.
The Footnotes to our episode on Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa include more on the meaning of dancing in the play, as well as some observations on the characters of Kate and Father Jack.
The Footnotes to our episode on Noël Coward’s Private Lives include observations on what kind of love is on show in the play, on Sybil and Amanda as different kinds of women, and on the verbal precision of Coward’s language.
The Footnotes to our episode on Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire include more on the autobiographic sources for the play, observations on the character of Blanche’s young gay husband, and on the social context in the time the play was written.
The Footnotes to our episode on Michael Frayn’s comic masterpiece Noises Off include extracts from the fictional programme to Nothing On, the play-within-the-play, and a reprisal of one of the best jokes in the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on George Bernard Shaw’s romantic comedy Arms and the Man include further observations on Shaw’s satire of social pretensions, as well as references to a few of the great names who have taken on the role of Major Sergius Saranoff.
The Footnotes to our episode on C.P.Taylor’s Good include observations on Halder’s solipsism, his shameful betrayal of his friend Maurice, and how individual moral paralysis writ large can sanction a political crusade.
The Footnotes to our episode on Spring Awakening include observations on how Wedekind’s own life reflected events and values contained in the play; notes on how the first production was finally able to take place fifteen years after the play was written; and some of the parallels with Goethe’s Faust.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Crucible include some facts about the Salem Witch Trials and Miller’s invention; the meaning of the title of the play; and the instinct for self-preservation that drives many of the characters’ behaviour.
The Footnotes to our episode on Jerusalem include thoughts on the choice of Byron for Rooster’s surname, his retinue of Lost Boys, and the wonders of the stagecraft in the play and London production.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Caucasian Chalk Circle include notes on the origin of the chalk circle, the Soviet setting of the Prologue, Brecht’s views on the purpose of art, and the pleasures of the language in the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Seagull by Anton Chekhov include how the Moscow Arts Theatre adopted the seagull as their emblem, Chekhov’s active love life, the principle of Chekhov’s Gun, who is Masha’s father, and the comedy and tragedy of Konstantin.
The Footnotes to our episode on Patrick Marber’s play Closer include observations on the chronology of the scenes in the play, Marber’s clever manipulation of time and space in staging, the Newton’s Cradle prop, and the meaning of the title.
The Footnotes to our episode on Much Ado About Nothing include more on the meaning of the title, the rhetoric in play in the verbal tennis of the dialogue, and the changing perception of Beatrice through the ages.
The Footnotes to our episode on Middle include the significance of Crouch End, the sources of our personal life goals, and what the musical selections in the play signal.
The Footnotes to our episode on All My Sons include Miller’s sources of the story in the play, observations on his critique of the American Dream, and the characters of Ann and George Deever.
The Footnotes to our episode on Clybourne Park include listening for the echoes of the first act in the second half of the play, the small things that reveal the characters’ unconscious bias, and how we define the tribes we belong to.
The Footnotes to our episode on Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer include observations on the elusive faith of the healers and the healed, and on the emotional truth of our memories.
The Footnotes to our episode on Blasted include observations on the sources of the title of the play, and on the writers that infuenced Kane as she wrote it.
The Footnotes to our episode on Doubt include observations on the cat and mouse duel between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn, and the journey for Sister James from innocence to doubt and confusion.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time include observations on the dramatic irony at work in the play – ironically it’s not as simple as we may think – as well as the uncommon and common challenges of parenting, and the peeling away of labels.
The Footnotes to our episode on Best of Enemies include observations on how TV brought the conventions of 1968 and the conflicts on the streets of America and in Vietnam into people’s living rooms in full colour; how the issues of the day then still preoccupy us today; and how the bruising encounter between Buckley and Vidal haunted both men ever after.
The Footnotes to our episode on Macbeth include observations on the unnatural, propulsive pace of the play, and on the origins and interpretations of Shakespeare’s three ‘weird’ sisters.
The Footnotes to our episode on Blue/Orange include some further thoughts on the significance of the slightly awkward back slash in the title of the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on Hamlet include further thoughts on the nature of Hamlet’s ‘madness’, why the flawed hero retains our sympathy throughout the play despite some aspects of his behaviour, and how we can draw a credible psychological path for Ophelia’s descent.
The Footnotes to our episode on Our Country’s Good include observations on the parallels with the play-within-the-play, The Recruiting Officer.
The Footnotes to our episode on George Farquhar’s classic Restoration Drama The Recruiting Officer include observations on the multiple meanings of the play’s title, and the extraordinary story of its first production in Australia in 1789.
The Footnotes to our episode on Tom Stoppard’s majestic play Leopoldstadt include observations on the origins of its title, the metaphoric resonances of the child’s game, Cat’s Cradle, and how Gustav Klimt’s art is an apt choice to help paint the play’s story.
The Footnotes to our episode on Samuel Beckett’s timeless play Happy Days include observations on the power of Beckett’s theatrical imagery, as well as the indeterminate nature of time in the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on Caryl Churchill’s prophetic play Escaped Alone include further thoughts on Churchill’s uncanny prescience, as well as some background on the experience of filming the play during lockdown.
The Footnotes to our episode on Shelagh Delaney’s classic A Taste of Honey include thoughts on the sins of the mother, and Delaney’s radical portrait of real people in 1950s Britain.
The Footnotes to our episode on Girl from the North Country include brief thoughts on Elizabeth’s ability to see and say the truth, more on the echoes of Chekhov in Conor’s play, and the melding of Bob Dylan’s songs with the play.
The Footnotes to our episode on Present Laughter include thoughts on the real Garry Essendine, and the morality of the amorous liaisons that they all prosecute.
The Footnotes to our episode on A Servant to Two Masters and One Man Two Guvnors include a cast list of Commedia dell’Arte characters, notes on the harlequin’s hunger and cross-dressing for power in a patriarchal world.
The Footnotes to our episode on Medea include further observations on the danger a woman like Medea represented to the men of ancient Athens, and the emotional experience Greek tragedy exacts.
The Footnotes to our episode on Nina Raine’s play Consent include observations on the ritualised performance of barristers in the courtroom, the resonances of Greek tragedy in the characters’ modern-day dramas, and the epistemology of intent or how they don’t know why they do what they do.
My 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.
Our Footnotes to The Glass Menagerie include Tennessee Williams’ innovative ideas about lighting as an element of what he called his “plastic drama”; the endearing ambiguity of the character of Jim, the gentleman caller; the infinite distance of memory; and the explosive times the play was written and set in.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is such a rich play that we have a lots of Footnotes to supplement our episode on the play. These include more on the origins and meaning of the famous title; some play-by-play analysis of George and Martha’s battle; the symbolic contrast between history and biology which George and Nick represent; the absence of model parents, or children at all; the thrill of the play’s language; and the censors who took offense at this “filthy play”.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Welkin include more on symbols in the sky, the life of the wife of a poet, and the apt sound of the butter churn.
The Footnotes to our episode on Copenhagen include more on the atomic metaphors that resonate through the play, the real-life drama that played out at Farm Hall country house in 1945, and the darkness of Elsinore.
The Footnotes to our episode on The Duchess of Malfi include John Webster and the business of funerals, visions of the afterlife in the play, and our favourite metaphors in Webster’s metaphysical verse.
The Footnotes to our episode on Oleanna include a clue to the arcane title of the play, a reminder of one of the real-life sources of the play’s gender politics, and how the theatre may reflect our national sub-conscious.
Our brief Footnotes to our episode on The Father expand on the subjects of the changing set in the play, and the significance of Andre’s watch.
The Footnotes to our Rockets and Blue Lights episode explore the Turner paintings that partly inspired the play, the Zong massacre that inspired Turner, the ghosts that haunt the play, and the litany of victims that Thomas pays tribute to in his closing speech.
The Play Podcast Blog
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 …