Many thanks to David H, Michael F, Linda and Martin for contributions to this page.
The Grapes of Wrath. The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck’s masterpiece, set in 1930s America. Dramatised by Steve Chambers, with John Schwab as Tom Joad. The Grapes of Wrath is a novel published in 1939 and written by John Steinbeck, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Set during the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they sought jobs, land, dignity and a future.
Two versions are available:
V1 from 2012 dramatised by Donna Franceschild.
V2 from 2001-2002 dramatised by Steve Chambers.
Bell in the Ball. Comedy drama by Lloyd Peters. What actually happened? He was having some banter with a Millwall fan and the next minute he was blind. He tries to reconstruct events in his mind, but he quite recall what happened. Danny was a sports journo – and an active man. Now his biggest sporting achievement is getting off the sofa. At first Danny resists – he hates cricket. But then he gets sucked into the camaraderie and the competitiveness. His team – the Scorpions – get to the knockout final. Danny is desperate to be there, but so is his new blind friend Floyd. So what does he do? Stab his friend in the back?
Black and White Riot. By Edson Burton. It’s April 2nd 1980. Inside the notorious Black and White Café in St Paul’s, Bristol, local hustler Reagan is drinking whisky and playing dominoes with his friend Carlos. Outside, Reagan’s daughter Ross is keeping an eye on her Dad’s beloved Cadillac and playing tag and shoot-out with Levi, a Rastafarian, and the ‘biggest kid you can imagine’. He’s been ‘away’ for a while and she’s delighted to see him back, even though he’s a grown up and she’s only eleven. To Ross, the ‘Black and White’ is a place where her Dad is King, and she’s a princess. There’s always a party going on. But today is going to be different. Today he’s going to lose his crown. The Black and White Café in Bristol was notorious (even in Jamaica) as a place where you could buy illegal drink and drugs. The Café is the setting for this exciting new play by award-winning playwright Edson Burton which marks thirty years since the St Paul’s Riots. The St Paul’s Riots in Bristol were the first in a series of infamous inner-city confrontations between police and mainly Black communities in Britain in the 1980s. Close to the heart of the city centre, yet isolated by poverty and White fear, the tiny parish of St Pauls replicated in concentrated form the forces that ignited those riots, leading the way for Brixton, Handsworth and Toxteth. In this subtle, exhilarating and revealing play, Edson Burton brings a new perspective to the conventional explanations of police racism, white oppression and poverty as factors in why people rioted that day in Bristol. He tells the story of the Black criminals busy exploiting their own people: the rioters struck out against them too. And many people recall a carnival atmosphere as the police retreated and the looting began.
Gone. By Debbie Tucker Green. What people saw – or think they saw, saw wrongly, presumed through glimpses of her at different times – reveals more and more about the woman and what happened on the last day she was seen. As these unconnected people try to recollect what happened, each of them is fairly confident they know what they saw, but the story shifts with every new bit of information. We learn who these unreliable witnesses are and at what point in their lives we are meeting them. We also hear from the woman herself and gain some sense of how she got to where she did and what went on when there were no witnesses. The different versions of events slowly build to a disjointed version of who the woman was and what may have happened to her as the fragments of truth are drawn together. As well as a fascinating study of the impossibility of discovering one objective version of reality, ‘gone’ is a series of beautifully detailed vignettes of the intimate lives of an group of individuals, revealing their troubling secrets, their cruelties and their joys.
Hive Mind. By Simon Bovey. Spring in 2019 is not the riot of colour it used to be. The honeybee is now officially extinct. Farmer Sam Clark struggles to raise a crop worth a damn. But man has adapted. Every spring an army of migrant workers, led by foreman Amra Walczak, descends on Sam’s farm to pollinate by hand. It is a laborious process but it works. This spring, however, science offers a new solution, Honeybots, tiny robots that are effectively crawling bees, and Sam’s put his farm forward for a trial. Once released, thousands of Honeybots course through the fields, pollinating the flowers in a fraction of the time it takes Amra and her team. Their job done they return automatically to their hive chest. They are quick and efficient. That evening, however, dead birds and mice are found in the fields the Honeybots have worked…
Love My Rifle More Than You – memoirs of a female American soldier in Iraq. By Kayla Williams. An unsparing self-portrait of a rebellious patriot, Kayla Williams’s story offers an unprecedented and no-holds-barred young woman’s perspective into the U.S. Army and the war in Iraq. “A woman soldier has to toughen herself up” writes Kayla Williams in this fiercely honest account of what it’s like to be part of the female 15% of today’s Army. “Not just for the enemy, for battle, for death. I mean to toughen herself to spend months awash in a sea of nervy, hyped-up guys…” By turns irreverent, vulnerable, angry, and humane, Williams describes what it’s like for a young woman to be surrounded by an ocean of testosterone, respected for her skills and qualifications, but treated variously as a soldier, a sister, a mother, a bitch, and a slut. During her five years of service — including a year of deployment to Iraq during and after the invasion — Williams and her female peers navigate both extreme physical danger and emotional minefields. As a specialist in Military Intelligence, fluent in Arabic language skills, Williams finds herself at the forefront of the troops’ interaction with local people. Brave and patriotic, with a strong sense of duty to her country and her fellow soldiers, she is unafraid to level complaints and criticism against the inefficiencies and errors of the military — sketching a blunt portrait, inspired by Ayn Rand, of the U.S. Army as “a vast communist institution.” Taking us from Baghdad to Mosul to a remote mountainous outpost on the Syrian border, Williams demonstrates a keen eye for the complexity of the U.S. military’s evolving and ultimately deteriorating relations with the Iraqis. Before she leaves the country, she witnesses death up close and sees soldiers cross the line in the handling of prisoners. Through it all — the violence, boredom, and fear as well as the light-hearted moments of humour, camaraderie, and flirtation — Kayla Williams brings home with vivid intensity and empathy what it is like for a woman soldier to serve her country today. Kayla Williams was formerly a sergeant in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division.
Mountain of Light. By Simon Bovey. 1851: London buzzes with the wonders at The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. To John Rayverne, housebreaker par excellence, it’s harvest time as fine houses stand empty while the occupants attend the spectacle. But his activities have come to the notice of a Governor of the Bank of England, George Galloway. Galloway has Rayverne abducted In return for not to hand him over to the police – and in order to protect the people he cares about – Rayverne is forced to agree to the impossible. He must steal one of the Exhibition’s most famous exhibits: the world’s largest diamond, the Koh-i-Noor. Galloway professes idealistic reasons for the theft: he fears cutting the diamond to fit the centrepiece in the Queen’s crown (where it has its place today) will degrade the priceless original. But the theft appears impossible. By day the gem is sealed in an iron cage, at night it sinks into a vault. Rayverne, hounded by the police, spends much time among the mechanical wonders of the Exhibition looking for the necessary technical inspiration to carry out the theft. But has he bitten off more than even he can chew?
No Particular Place to Go. By Robert Rigby. Iraq veteran, Alex, is finding it hard to adapt to his latest mission as an undercover security guard patrolling the floors of a provincial department store. And shoplifter Simon has his own tactics and escape and evasion plans.
God’s Clothing Firm. Jim Nostrand, proprietor of Cheap Threads, a church-owned clothing firm in Minnesota, becomes the scapegoat when news-reports implicate the company in a child-labour scandal. Four thousand miles away, in a boarding school in the British countryside, troubled twelve-year-old loner Ben, seems obsessed with school-shootings and vengeance. In India, British/Asian journalist Prem Sharma is making a radio documentary for the BBC about children working in factories. But after rescuing a young boy and taking him back to his village, the reception he gets there is not what he expected. Over three episodes, these three stories interweave and revolve around each other revealing connections and layers as they build to one climatic resolution.
If Thy Hand Offend Thee. Second part of John Dryden’s epic story of inter-connected lives, set on three continents. When journalist Prem Sharma rescues a child working in a textile factory outside Delhi, seven thousand miles away in Minnesota, Jim Nostrand, proprietor of church-owned clothing firm Cheap Threads, becomes the scapegoat. Meanwhile, in a private boarding school in England, troubled twelve-year-old Ben seems obsessed with school-shootings and vengeance.
The Reckoning. Vengeance is all that’s on schoolboy Ben’s mind as he pieces together the events surrounding his father’s death. Four thousand miles away in India, journalist Prem is drawn deeper into a dangerous world of exploitation and corruption. In the US, as Jim’s life takes a nose-dive and he is gradually stripped of all he holds dear, his unquestioning faith turns to simmering rage. As these three stories converge, they build towards a terrifying and climatic resolution.
Christopher Marlowe, generally considered the greatest of the University Wits, influenced playwrights well into the Jacobean period, and echoes of Tamburlaine’s bombast and ambition can be found in English plays all the way to the Puritan closing of the theatres in 1642. While Tamburlaine is considered inferior to the great tragedies of the late-Elizabethan and early-Jacobean period, its significance in creating a stock of themes and, especially, in demonstrating the potential of blank verse in drama, are still acknowledged.
Tamburlaine the Great is a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur “the lame”. Written in 1587 or 1588, the play is a milestone in Elizabethan public drama; it marks a turning away from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists, and a new interest in fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity. Along with Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, it may be considered the first popular success of London’s public stage.
Tamburlaine. A new production of Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century play about the growth to tyrannical power of a Scythian shepherd. Tamburlaine is a classic drama said to have changed the course of British drama and to have influenced the young Shakespeare.
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story – Drama Page 50, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe’s death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.
Two versions are available one from 1970, the other from 1993.
Dido, Queen of Carthage, in full The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, published in 1594, is based on the story of Dido and Aeneas as told in the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. In the play, Dido, the queen of Carthage, is in love with Aeneas, who has taken refuge in Carthage after the fall of Troy. He refuses to marry her, however, and as he sails from Carthage, the despairing Dido kills herself. The play adds a significant character from Greek legend to Virgil’s story: Iarbas, a barbarian chieftain who himself wants Dido for his bride. From 1993.
More Greco Roman dramas on the Greco-Roman Page.
The Massacre at Paris, was written in 1593 about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, when three thousand Protestants were killed in one night in 1572, in a ruthless act of state terrorism by the Catholic government. The aftermath of this massacre led to the murder of a king and a sea-change in French history. Alex Johnston’s adaptation enhances Marlowe’s play for the 21st century, using a mixture of new and borrowed material. Terrorism, ethnic cleansing, the politics of bigotry, corruption in high office, spin doctoring and party political broadcasts augment this withering examination of human frailty. From 1993.
Raffles. By E. W. Hornung. The Raffles stories, created by E. W. Hornung, the brother-in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, concern gentleman burglar A. J. Raffles and his accomplice Bunny Manders. The short stories were first issued at the turn of the century and rivalled the popularity of Sherlock Holmes. Raffles established the prototype for the Saint, James Bond, and other gentleman/rogue types of modern fiction.
Ides of March. Bunny is desperately in need of some ready cash to repay a gambling debt. His old schoolfellow, the celebrated English cricketer A.J.Raffles, knows just the person to help a fellow out. He’s a jeweller in Bond Street – and funnily enough, Raffles had planned to pay him a surprise visit that very night.
Gentlemen and Players. When Raffles and Bunny are engaged for cricketing weeks at country estates, the playing of cricket can hardly be said to be their chief preoccupation. Bunny is an incorrigible ladies man, while Raffles takes an understandable professional interest in his fellow guests’ portable property.
A Costume Piece. Reuben Rosenthall has made his millions in the diamond fields of South Africa, and it seems only right and proper to Raffles that some of this wealth should be redistributed. But Raffles’s attempts to seize the Rosenthall diamonds do not you might say – quite go according to plan.
Nine Points of Law. An advertisement in a daily paper offers £2,000 reward for anyone qualified to undertake a `delicate mission’ and prepared to run a certain risk. This proves more than sufficient bait for those intrepid risk-takers Raffles and Bunny – even though the mission turns out to be not entirely legal…
Wilful Murder. Such is the nature of Raffles professional life that he is often required to work at night. So it is no surprise to Bunny when Raffles announces he has plans for the evening ahead. The surprise – and the horror – comes when Raffles calmly declares he is planning to commit murder…
The Chest of Silver. With Inspector MacKenzie’s suspicions about Raffles professional life growing, A.J.decides the time has now come to visit Scotland. But Bunny is not to go with him: he has the responsibility of guarding Raffles illegally acquired silver plate.
The Rest Cure. Raffles and Bunny take a break. But the lure of loot means mixing work with pleasure is a dangerous business. Mixing work with pleasure – the gentlemen thief invites Bunny to take a break.
The Criminologists Club. Appalled Bunny joins the gentlemen thief for some fun at the expense of a group of amateur crime sleuths.
The Field Of Philippi. The cricket-loving villain indulges in a little ‘re-distribution of wealth’ at a school reunion.
A Bad Night. Planning revenge by robbery – the gentlemen thief is called on to bat for England, so Bunny must step in.
A Trap to Catch a Cracksman. When a prize fighter claims his trophy room is impregnable – the gentleman cracksman seizes the challenge.
The Gift Of The Emperor. The gentlemen thief plans the theft of a valuable pearl – but will he live to regret his daring enterprise?
No Sinecure. Raffles is dead and Bunny has to face the world alone. Then an advert appears in the Daily Mail that changes his life.
To Catch a Thief. London’s High Society suffers some audacious jewel robberies, but for once the cracksman is not Raffles.
An Old Flame. Raffles has had many adversaries within the sporting and criminal arenas, but none as formidable as Jacques Saillaid.
The Raffles Relics. Bunny is appalled to hear Raffles announce that he intends to visit Scotland Yard to view an exhibition of his own craftsman’s tools. The gentlemen thief decides to re-equip in a most unconventional manner – then joins a manhunt.
The Knees of the Gods. Raffles and Bunny leave England to fight in the South African War. For one, there will be no return.
The Last Word. Raffles is dead and Bunny is inconsolable, until a chance meeting with an old friend changes the course of his life.