Composers and their stage works 


Black Angel

Drama. Michael Cristofer. Based on a true story. 10 men, 1 woman. Exterior.

The action is set in a small village in France where Martin Engel, a former SS officer accused of officiating over the massacre of 247 Jews in that very town during World War II, has come (after being released from prison) hoping to build a house and live out his days in peace and solitude. Although the war crimes authorities are satisfied that Engel has paid his debt to society the local townspeople are not of the same mind and his presence becomes a growing irritant. In his conversations with the local mayor, his only friend in the village, it becomes a clear that Engel is a thoughtful and intelligent man who served his country out of duty rather than desire, and who had actually given orders only to keep peace among the villagers and not to slaughter them. But the massacre did happen, and Engel cannot absolve himself ftom guilt by association. In the chilling climax of the play, therefore, he offers no resistance as the hooded figures of the townspeople, bearing torches, close in for his execution - raising questions not only of guilt and expiation, but also of how widely shared this guilt must be and whether such punishment, with its disquieting reflection of the cancerous hatred unleashed by the Nazis, might not hurt the hangmen as well as the victim.
ISBN: 0-8222-0124-0

Black Coffee

Play. Agatha Christie
M10 (30s, 60s) F3 (20s, 50s). A library.

Lucia, wife of Sir Claude Amory's son Richard, Dr Carelli and Barbara are all having coffee when Sir Claude announces that a new explosive formula has been stolen from his safe and that he has sent for Hercule Poirot. To enable the thief to replace the formula he orders the lights to be turned out but when they are switched on again and as Poirot enters, Sir Claude is found poisoned. Poirot sets about his investigation, foils the murderer in a second attempt and cleverly tricks him into betraying himself.
ISBN 0 573 61885 2

Black Girl

Play. J.E. Franklin. 2 men, 6 women, 1 boy, 1 girl. Interior.

Trapped in a life which can lead nowhere, Billie Jean has dropped out of school and secretly taken a job as a dancer in a local bar, her ultimate goal being to become a ballet dancer. But her ambitions bring her into conflict with her envious sisters, both of whom have been locked into dreary marriages too early, and her mother, who has given up on her own children and now lavishes her care and affection on her "foster daughters" -industrious girls to whom she has transferred her own frustrated hopes. Billie Jean must fight a multiplicity of prejudices - family, sex, colour, class and economic - to win an education and forge her own identity. But with her grandmother's strength and trust to embolden her, Billie Jean breaks free, establishing at last a tenuous but hopeful relationship with her mother and taking the first sure steps toward a life which will, at least, be of her own making.
ISBN: 0-8222-0125-9

Black Chiffon

Lesley Storm : Drama 3.M 4F Interior set

On the eve of her beloved son's society wedding, the highly respected Alicia Christie makes one defiant criminal gesture - a cry for help - when she steals a black chiffon nightdress from a reputable department store. This play is a psychological study of a woman driven finally to the edge due to the cumulative stresses and strains placed upon her by her demanding and divided family. The results are absorbing and deeply moving to witness.
ISBN: 0856760749

The Black Prince

Play. Iris Murdoch
M3 F4. Extras, either M3 or M2 Fl. Three living-rooms.

Former tax inspector Bradley Pearson is a writer who has published nothing; his maxim is wait unlike his best friend Arnold Baffin who is a prolific, highly-successful writer of second-rate novels. Now Bradley is to retire to his seaside cottage to write his masterpiece. In a series of smartly comic scenes, his departure is thwarted by a succession of unwelcome visitors and crises. `... a convincing and resilient play about love, not to mention art, pain, joy, death and the whole damn thing.' Observer
ISBN 0 573 01724 7

Black Sheep

Comedy: Elmer Rice. 5 men, 7 women. Interior

Penelope Porter, engaged to Milton Abecrombie, is about to welcome her fiancé's mother into he home. At just the wrong moment, her prodigal brother, Buddy, returns without any money and in the company of a mysterious Mrs. Lloyd. Whether or not they are married is a question the scandalised family cannot answer. Just as Buddy is being thrown out, Mrs. Abecrombie arrives and recognises him as the famous author known as "Tom Hatch." The family is dumb-founded, but welcomes the Black Sheep home. Buddy is surrounded with everything that a doting mother and proud father can offer. But Mrs. Lloyd fears for the future. Buddy charms all those around him, especially the susceptible Dorothy, engaged to Buddy's brother, Freddie. Buddy has also made an impression on the widowed Mrs. Abecrombie. When Buddy decides to elope with Dorothy, Mrs. Lloyd takes steps to turn things around. She lays down the law to Dorothy and makes an easy conquest of Milton, offering to run away with him. Buddy is shunned and threatens to marry Mrs. Abecrombie, but when Mrs. Lloyd tells him she is eloping to South America with Milton, she so inspires Buddy that he swears that he and Mrs. Lloyd will take the first steamer. This is exactly what she wanted; and she has already has the steamship tickets and a little cash in hand!

Black Snow.

Play. Keith Dewhurst, adapted from the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov
Large cast may be played by M10 F5 with extras. Various interior settings.

This bitingly funny adaptation of Bulgakov's modern Russian classic novel of 1936 was premiered at the Royal National's Cottesloe Theatre in 1991. Set between 1924 and 1925 it is an hilarious send-up of Stanislavsky's famous 'Method' and the acting profession in general and was based on fact - the mutilation of Bulgakov's play Molière for which Bulgakov blamed Stanislavsky. `.. the funniest and cleverest new play I have seen for a very long time.' Financial Times

Sergei Maxudov is reluctantly working as a newspaper man and has written a novel everyone is sure will never pass the censors. In despair, Maxudov is about to commit suicide when he is interrupted by the mysterious Rudolfi, a publisher who wants to buy the novel. But after the novel's first instalment appears in print, Rudolfi unaccountably disappears, leaving Maxudov in the lurch. But Maxudov's bleak literary prospects are rescued once again, when a note is slipped under his door requesting him to come immediately for a talk with Ilchin, the holder of a long string of artistic titles at the renowned Independent Theatre. Maxudov accepts an offer to adapt his novel for the stage, and sets off on a roller coaster ride in the tumultuous world of the Independent Theatre. Seeing his play advertised alongside Shakespeare and Sophodes, Maxudov is overcome with giddiness at his new fame, but the experience soon takes a darker turn when he meets the theatre's artistic director, the formidable Ivan Vasilievich. Ivan decides he must personally oversee the production, and inflicts his legendary Acting method upon the rehearsals. Maxudov soon discovers he is contractually manacled to the eccentric whims of the theatre's management, and has no power to stop their meddling with his creation. Maxudov becomes increasingly frustrated by the artistic hypocrisy of the theatre, which itself is subject to government oppression. Reduced to another cog in the workings of the labyrinthine theatre bureaucracy, Maxudov is forced to choose between artistic compromise or suicide.

ISBN: 0-8222-1371-0

Black Widow

Play. Paul Thain
M4 (any age, 30s, 60s) F6 (teens, 30s-60s). Doubling possible. A bare stage.

Lord Arlington is dead, poisoned by a corned beef sandwich. His daughter Emily, obsessed by Hamlet, becomes convinced that her mother Cressida and old family friend Richard Harker are responsible for Lord Arlington's death, and she sets out to exact a terrible revenge. Madness, murder, passion, ghosts and retribution are all themes of this complex and compelling drama, set in the Edwardian era but with a very modern sensibility.
ISBN 0 573 01727 1

Blade to the Heat

Drama. Oliver Mayer. 7 men, 1 woman. Interior.

Boxer Pedro Quinn, an introverted loner, wins a surprise split-decision against the reigning middleweight champion, Mantequilla Decima. Used to winning, Mantequilla grows embittered by the loss of his title. Worse, he starts hearing one of the most common insults of the Latino community used against him for the first time: the implication that he's a "queer" and that's why he lost.These comments follow Mantequilla, even into the ring where in a match between him and a vicious fighter, Wilfred Vinal, Vinal accuses Mantequilla of being gay, and also publicly scorns Pedro for the same thing. Mantequilla is infuriated, but in Pedro's case the accusation becomes increasingly relevant. Earlier, for example, Pedro sneaks out of his victory party and goes to the home of his best friend Garnet, a small time lounge singer who aspires to be the next James Brown. Comparing the art of boxing to that of putting on a great soul performance, Garnet cannot help but express his admiration for Pedro's talent, but it's only later that we see the sensuality of their togetherness blossoming into a sexual tussle. Pedro stops when he realizes how disturbed he is by his own desires and he runs out on Garnet. Later he returns to him, but Garnet won't be fooled twice and won't talk to Pedro. At the gym, Mantequilla's coach, Alacran, realises Pedro is not like other boxers, and is disgusted that the championship was given to a sexual "deviant." In fact, Alacran is going to make sure Mantequilla wins the belt back, even if it has to be a dirty fight. At last the big fight arrives, and all the brutality and prejudice that the play has explored comes together in a deadly boxing match where Pedro, close to death, it seems, defeats Mantequilla with a blow that kills him. In a haunting tableau, Pedro cradles the dead Mantequilla in his arms, erasing all the supposed differences between them.
ISBN: 0-8222-1562-4

Bleeding Heart

(in Spanish Plays) : Antonio Onetti. Trans O. Ceballos & M. Peate : 2m. Short drama. Flexible staging.

This short dark comedy takes place during the Holy Week Festival in contemporary Seville where Winston, a naive, middle-aged transvestite encounters a petty thief nicknamed 'sour face'. Premiered in a reading at the Royal Court, 1998.

Blessed Assurance

Laddy Sartin. 3 men, 2 women. Unit set

It is the turbulent Freedom Summer of 1964. Olivia, the cook for the Whitehouse café, has shocked her small southern town by marching up the courthouse steps demanding to register to vote. Because of this she is attacked from all sides, even by those closest to her heart. Harlan, the owner of the café, who is like a son to Olivia, accuses her of listening to outside agitators and following along "like cows being led to slaughter." This damnation incites Olivia to challenge Harlan's personal beliefs, and his allegiance to her, by sitting at the counter of the café where she has worked most of her life and requesting to be served. When Harlan asks her what she thinks she's doing, she says "I think they call it a sit-in!" BLESSED ASSURANCE shows Olivia, and the people close to her, how her choice to stand up for her rights forces them all to confront the hatred, ignorance, and injustice of the town. We see the quiet heroes of this troubled time trying their best to cope with a world which is forcing them into painful decisions. This play, set entirely in the café, offers a racially mixed cast, and presents the universal message of healing through laughter, tears, and brotherly love as the characters struggle to resolve their differences. It is a story about values, the politics of the old south, friendship, and ultimately about faith and "Blessed Assurance."
ISBN: 0-8222-1714-7

Blithe Spirit.

Improbable Farce. Noel Coward
M2 (40, middle-age) F5 (young, 45, middle-age). A living-room.

Charles Condomine, whose first wife Elvira has been dead for seven years, has been reasonably happy with his second wife Ruth. After he invites Madame Arcati, a local medium, to conduct a seance at their home, Elvira returns from the dead. Determined to get Charles to herself forever, she arranges several `accidents', one of which culminates in Ruth joining Elvira. Now plagued by two jealous squabbling spirits, Charles bids them both farewell and his two wives are left petulantly tearing the house apart.
ISBN 0 573 01044 7

Blood Money

Thriller. The Heather Brothers
Ml (40s) F3 (20s-40s). 1F extra. 1M 2F voices only. A lounge.

Seven years ago, Mike Mason, star of TV's 'Bargain Basement' and his wife Liz killed young Carol Mitchell in a hit-and-run car accident - and now it seems they have at last been found out. A mysterious telephone caller claims to be Carol Mitchell and her name appears in blood on the wall; Liz is certain she has been followed; then a car draws up outside the house and shots soon ring out ...
ISBN 0 573 01753 0

Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole

Comedy. James Goldman and William Goldman. 10 men, 2 women. Interior.

For a battle hardened combat soldier the peacetime Army can hold terrors that make him wish he were back in action again. Take the case of 1st Lieutenant Stanley Poole, a career Sergeant who earned a battlefield commission and is now assigned as Supply Officer on an old-line Army Post in the Middle West. It isn't that the life is unpleasant, but only that the Army has decided that its officers should pass tests indicating the equivalent of two years of college study - which makes things rather uncomfortable for a man who never even finished high school. To hold on to his cherished silver bar, Lt. Poole has been bribing Capt. Mal Malcolm, the Education Officer, with the best items that his supply room has to offer - and these have been converted into the cash necessary to buy Capt. Malcolm his heart's desire, a red Jaguar convertible. Now an inspection is in the offing, and Lt. Poole's problems are compounded by the added threat of having his pilfering exposed. The arrival of Private Oglethorpe, a gun-shy young draftee with a psychological aversion to Army life seems hardly to come at the right moment but Oglethorpe, a "brain from Oberlin College, has an idea. Why not prepare for the dreaded exam, pass it legitimately, and send Capt. Malcolm on his way? After all there are a lot of old-time sergeants on the Base who are faced with the same problem, and between them they can replace the missing supplies and then some. The plan is put into action with "Professor" Oglethorpe in chargé of the wildest, toughest and funniest group of students ever. Their "tuition" soon has the supply room back on an even keel. Poole takes the exam and passes - or so he thinks. His undoing is the vindictiveness of Capt. Malcolm, who deliberately fails him and, in so doing, sets the stage for the hilarious climax of the play.
ISBN: 0-8222-0127-5

Blood Sweat and Tears.

Play. John Godber
M2 (30s, 40s) F3 (20s). Composite set on 2 levels: a burger bar, a judo hall.

Louise Underwood's life revolves around the hamburger restaurant where she works, and a night club: then she discovers judo. This inspiring play charts Louise's progress to Black Belt. Her personal journey involves numerous sacrifices, crises of confidence and battles with more experienced players who think she has no chance of success. A play about the opportunities given to ordinary people to be something special.
ISBN 0 573 01725 5

Blood Wedding

Play. Federico Garcia Lorca. Translated by Gwynne Edwards
M9 F11. Various simple settings.

A young couple from rival clans plans to marry, much to the distress of the bridegroom's mother whose husband and other son have previously been murdered through clan rivalry. As the wedding day draws nearer the tension mounts and after the bride meets and elopes with former lover Leonardo, who is also married, the bridegroom's mother is caught in a dilemma of conscience, wondering whether she should cry for vengeance and bloodshed or protect the life of her remaining son. In a violent ambush Leonardo and the bridegroom are killed leaving the bridegroom's mother, the bride and Leonardo's wife united in their grief.

Bloody Poetry

Play. Howard Brenton
M3 (20-30s) F3 (18-20s). A bare stage.

Staged to critical acclaim in both New York and London, first at the Hampstead Theatre in 1984 and subsequently in a revival at the Royal Court Theatre in 1988, this is a portrayal of the lives of Shelley, Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont. Set between the summers of 1816 and 1822 the play opens with their flight from England to Switzerland and Italy where, for the first time, they encounter Lord Byron.

Blue Heart

A double bill by Caryl Churchill.
M2 F7, with doubling. Child extras.

Two related short plays, both teasingly entertaining and brilliantly executed, one about a father and daughter, the other about a mother and son. In Heart's Desire, a family await the return of their daughter after a long sojourn in Australia. In Blue Kettle a middle-aged man and his girlfriend are involved in a con trick, making elderly women believe they are the man's long-lost mother. But neither play is what it seems. Something catastrophic is happening which disrupts and destroys them.  

Heart's Desire
M2 F4 with doubling. Child extras. A kitchen.

Blue Kettle
M2 F6. Various simple settings. 

Blue Heaven

Fantasy/Comedy. Reginald Denham in a free adaptation of the Spanish play El Cielo Dentro de Casa by Alfonso Paso. 2 men, 2 women. Interior.

Laura and Julian are a middle-aged couple whose marriage has begun to sour. Laura confuses her selfishness with sensitivity, and is increasingly convinced that Julian doesn't "understand" her. There is also the added irritant of Daniel, who is Juliau's assistant and (as Julian suspects) Laura's lover. After a stormy session with Julian she decides to leave him and go off with Daniel. She is obliged to return briefly, however, and it is here that the midsummer madness of the Eve of San Juan takes over. When Laura tiptoes back she is more than slightly perplexed to find that not a few hours later at all - but ten years in the future. An atomic war has intervened, Spain is under Russian control, and Julian is living with another woman. The old comforts are gone, but Julian is a happy man at last and his changed situation fills Laura with the truth of her own past failures as a wife and a person. But then we are suddenly back in the present and a sobered Laura pleads vainly with Julian for a second chance. Again Time is turned upside-down, and now it is the past which is evoked as Julian confronts Laura as she was during their wartime marriage. Just as Laura had learned from the "future" now Julian realizes from what once was that he too shares responsibility for the bitterpess of the present. The result is reconciliation and renewed awareness of what is really important in life - plus utter confusion for Daniel, who blunders in and out of each episode, struggling to make sense of the goings-on.
ISBN: 0-8222-0128-3

Blue Murder.

Double bill. Peter Nichols
M5 F2.
Foreign Bodies: composite set: a study, a sitting-room
A Game of Soldiers: an elegant room.

Subtitled 'a play or two', Blue Murder opens with Foreign Bodies, where Swinging London meets bourgeois Shrewsbury in 1963 and the drinks are laced with cyanide. The second half, A Game of Soldiers, is a Whitehall farce taking place in St James's Palace. A dramatist has brought his completed play to be censored but the Lord Chamberlain's Men have a few shameful secrets of their own ... Period 1963 and 1967  

Blue Night In the Heart Of the West

(in Star-Gazy Pie Two Plays) James Stock : 2m 2f, doubling. Drama. Minimal set, lighting & sound required.

A Scottish traveller becomes involved with the daughter of a farming family from Iowa. But this is no ordinary family. In this whacky and provocative play, which premiered at The Bush in 1991, nothing is as it seems, and the theatrical possibilities are endless.

Blue Remembered Hills

Play. Dennis Potter
M5 F2. Composite setting: wood, field, barn.

This apparently simple tale relates the activities of seven-year-olds on a summer afternoon during World War II. The children (all played by adult actors) and their world become a microcosm of adult interaction. Willie tags along as burly Peter bullies Raymond and is challenged by fairminded John. Audrey is over-shadowed by Angela's prettiness and wreaks her angry frustrations on the boys. All of them gang up on the terrified `Donald Duck' who, abused by his mother and ridiculed by his peers, plays his own dangerous game of pyromania which ends in tragedy.
ISBN 0 573 01699 2

Blues For an Alabama Sky

Drama. Pearl Cleage. 3 men, 2 women. Unit set

It is the summer of 1930 in Harlem, New York. The creative euphoria of the Harlem Renaissance has given way to the harsher realities of the Great Depression. Young Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., is feeding the hungry and preaching an activist gospel at Abyssinian Baptist Church. Black Nationalist visionary, Marcus Garvey, has been discredited and deported. Birth control pioneer, Margaret Sanger, is opening a new family planning clinic on 126th Street, and the doctors at Harlem Hospital are scrambling to care for a population whose most deadly disease is poverty. The play brings together a rich cast of characters who reflect the conflicting currents of the time through their overlapping personalities and politics. Set in the Harlem apartment of Guy, a popular costume designer, and his friend, Angel, a recently fired Cotton Club back-up singer, the cast also includes Sam, a hard-working, jazz-loving doctor at Harlem Hospital; Delia, an equally dedicated member of the staff at the Sanger clinic; and Leland, a recent transplant from Tuskegee, who sees in Angel a memory of lost love and a reminder of those "Alabama skies where the stars are so thick it's bright as day." Invoking the image of African American expatriate extraordinaire, Josephine Baker, as both muse and myth, Cleage's characters struggle, as Guy says, "to look beyond 125th Street" for the fulfillment of their dreams.
ISBN: 0-8222-1634-5