In January 2018 Black Stripe Theater plans to stage two plays by Edward Bond . Derek and At The Inland Sea.
Edward Bond (born in 1934) is one of the greatest playwrights of postwar Britain. His work is extraordinary in a number of ways: for its resolute honesty, the poetry and directness of its language (there is no ‘sub-text’), the power of its dramatic imagery, and the power of its movement, in scene and throughout the play as a whole. He is also a natural and hugely imaginative story-teller, and his plays are often savagely funny. His plays for young people are remarkable for the respect they show to his intended audiences: very serious themes are addressed, and there is no hint of sentimentality or condescension. Although either originally performed or intended for young people, both Derek and At the Inland Sea are very adult plays in their themes and in their treatment of these themes.
Derek, which Bond himself describes as a farce, was first performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Youth Festival at The Other Place, Stratford upon Avon in 1982, and was subsequently toured throughout the nation by the RSC. The play tells how a young aristocrat who is too stupid to take up the traditional family career of politics persuades, or rather coerces, a working-class genius into swapping brains with him…
At the Inland Sea was first presented by the theatre-in-education company Big Brum in 1995, and was toured by the company to schools throughout the Midlands. It tells the story of a young boy, the son of a single mother, who is preparing to go to school on examination day. But a strange woman, carrying a baby, appears in his bedroom and begs him to save her baby from the soldiers who are rounding her people up…. It is a play that has haunted me, as the woman and her baby haunt the boy, ever since I first read it some years ago, and it should be of great interest in Japan since, as I said in a lecture on ‘The Noh Drama and the Modern Stage’ to the Asiatic Society of Japan, it is the ‘contemporary Western play that… comes closest in spirit to the Noh. … In the figure of this nameless woman, Bond has created a being who stands with the characters who appear in kyōjo-mono, plays about deranged women such as the mother in Sumidagawa; and in the movement of the play, with its building tension, its climax and liberating release, he has created, without any obvious reference to the Noh or any hint of pastiche, a truly modern work that comes as close to the Noh as it is possible to come without using the conventions of Noh performance.’
The two Edward Bond plays will be directed by Timothy Harris. Tim has produced, directed and acted in a number of Shakespeare plays, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Richard II and Edward III. He has taken roles in Black Stripe Theater’s productions of The Homecoming, The Hothouse, The Lesson, The Pillowman, The Possibilities, The Dresser and Dealer’s Choice. He has directed Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Ashes to Ashes, One for the Road and A Life in the Theatre for the company.