Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

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Nick Hern

Nick Hern

Nick Hern

Nick is the founder of Nick Hern Books, the play publishers who have led the UK in championing the best new playwrights for the past 30 years. His catalogue includes many of our leading contemporary playwrights, from Howard Brenton, Mike Bartlett, and Jez Butterworth to Caryl Churchill, Lucy Kirkwood and Phoebe Waller-Bridge to name but a very few.

I am delighted to welcome him to The Play Podcast to talk about Conor McPherson’s new adaptation of Uncle Vanya, which he publishes of course, along with Conor’s other plays.

Visit Nick Hern Books here

Recommended Play(s)

Nick recommended any play by Caryl Churchill!
He also recommended Shook by Samuel Bailey – see episode 22.

 

 

 

002 – Uncle Vanya, by Anton Chekhov

002 – Uncle Vanya, by Anton Chekhov

Show notes

To coincide with Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s new adaptation of the Chekhov classic, and its West End run, we talk with his publisher Nick Hern. When in 1889 Chekhov presented the first version of the play that would eventually become Uncle Vanya it was a devastating failure. The playwright withdrew the play and didn’t write another play for five years. Yet the four great plays that followed sealed Chekhov’s reputation as one of the fathers of modern drama. What was different about his plays that changed the way we view theatre? Why are they billed as “comedies” when the characters are so unrelentingly unhappy? How are his portraits of the idle Russian aristocracy at the turn of the 20th century still relevant today? Nick and I try to answer these questions, and share our love of Uncle Vanya and Chekhov.

Nick Hern

Nick is the founder of Nick Hern Books, the play publishers who have led the UK in championing the best new playwrights for the past 30 years. His catalogue includes many of our leading contemporary playwrights, from Howard Brenton, Mike Bartlett, and Jez Butterworth to Caryl Churchill, Lucy Kirkwood and Phoebe Waller-Bridge to name but a very few.

I am delighted to welcome him to The Play Podcast to talk about Conor McPherson’s new adaptation of Uncle Vanya, which he publishes of course, along with Conor’s other plays.

Visit Nick Hern Books here

Recommended Play

Nick recommended any play by Caryl Churchill!
He also recommended Shook by Samuel Bailey – see episode 22.

Photo © Marc Brenner

We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode about Uncle Vanya include observations on Chekhov as comedy, his prescient concern for the environment, Sonya’s unrequited love, Chekhov and Stanislavski, his minor characters and finally his lasting influence.

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080 – Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill

080 – Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O’Neill wrote his autobiographical magnum opus, Long Day’s Journey into Night, in 1941, but because of the personal revelations it contained he gave explicit instructions that it was not to be published until 25 years after his death and that it should never be staged. In the event his widow allowed both to occur in 1956, only three years after his death, when the play won O’Neill his fourth Pulitzer prize.

As we record this episode, a powerful new production of the play is playing in London, with Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson heading the cast. I am delighted and privileged to talk with the production’s director, Jeremy Herrin, about O’Neill’s monumental play.

Photo by Johan Persson.

079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

A new Jez Butterworth play is a theatrical event. The Hills of California is currently running at the Harold Pinter theare in London’s West End, directed by Sam Mendes. Do not be misled by the title, however, we are not in sunny California, but in the back streets of Blackpool, where four daughters come together to say goodbye to their dying mother. The play is a portrait of lost dreams, of deeply ingrained patterns of love and hurt within a family, and of suppressed and mutable memories.

I’m joined to explore this major new work by Sean McEvoy, author of Class, Culture and Tragedy in the Plays of Jez Butterworth.

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

We have a double-bill in this episode of two short plays written by Harold Pinter in the early 1960s: The Lover and The Collection, both of which explore sexual compulsion and the manipulation of truth within marriage or partnerships. As we record this episode a new production of both plays is playing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, directed by Lindsay Posner.

I’m delighted to welcome Lindsay back to the podcast to talk about these two Pinter gems.

Claudie Blakley and David Morrissey in The Lover
Photo by Nobby Clark