Composers and their stage works 


The Prescott Proposals

Play: Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse A combination of melodrama and love story; with the United Nations as background.
12 men, 3 women (of the 12 men, some are bit parts). Interiors.

Mrs. Mary Prescott, the U.S. delegate to the U.N., has presented proposals that a U.N. committee should discuss the areas of agreement between the member countries, rather than the differences. On the night Mary is to make an important speech on the proposals, the Czech delegate, with whom she had once had a romantic affair, comes to her home, where he dies of a sudden heart attack. A few minutes after this, the English, French, Russian and Pakistani delegates arrive at Mary's apartment for cocktails. The four delegates remove the body to the Czechoslovakian headquarters where it can be found without compromising Mary or her proposals and they all pledge secrecy. However, one of the four delegates breaks his oath and phones the police. The resulting international complications threaten to wreck the proposals and the lives of those involved, until the guilty delegate reveals his basic humanity and vindicates Mary. There is also a romance between Mary and a radio commentator who has reserved judgement on her proposals, and during the course of the play she wins both the commentator and his approval of her political action.
ISBN: 0-8222-0909-8

Present from the Past

Play. Richard Everett
M3 (40s, 69). F2 (40s). A living-room, a hallway.

Frances, Howard and Rachel have always believed that their father, David, died in a boating accident when they were children ... but he didn't. When the three siblings, along with Rachel's husband Colin, gather to clear out the house of their recently deceased mother, several long hidden secrets are revealed, but none of the skeletons to fall from their collective closets is more tangible or more shocking than David, who arrives with the news that the house is, in fact, his.
ISBN 0 573 11361 0

Present Laughter

Light comedy. Noel Coward
M5 (30-40) F6 (23-40). A studio.

Popular actor Garry Essendine revels in being a temperamental prima donna and is the archetypal self-obsessed actor, hugely talented, a bit fey, charming, libidinous and emotionally immature. In his agitation over a pending tour of Africa, he has wound his life to a pitch of turbulence which is starting to swamp his closest friends and associates. His estranged but still loving wife, Liz, his secretary Monica, and his business associates, Roland and Henry, are all drawn into the swamp of histrionic anxiety which he creates around himself. As he fusses about his departure, he indulges in brief love affairs to soothe his vain worries at having turned forty. Two of the women concerned, Henry's wife Joanna and Daphne, a young girl, show discomforting tenacity in pursuing him. The ensuing emotional chaos, which is made worse by the pestering of a mad young man obsessed with Gary, leads the actor to flee back to his wife on the very eve of his departure for Africa.

The Price

Arthur Miller : Drama
3M 1F Interior set

As outlined in Variety, "...the conflict, the basic jealousy and the lifetime of, if not hatred, at least corrosive, though unacknowledged anger, is between two brothers, as well as resentment against a selfish, child devouring father. The siblings meet, after a 16-year estrangement, in the attic of the family residence, where the old furniture is to be disposed of. The first is a policeman who sacrificed his education and probably a career as a scientist to care for his ruined, invalid father. The other, who arrives late, is an eminent surgeon who walked out on the demands of family to concentrate on medicine and personal success. Miller works up to the showdown scene slowly. The policeman and his wife first talk of the past and present to fill in some of the background. Then there is a very long, richly amusing, curiously revealing and enjoyable scene between the officer and a marvelously crotchety, humorous and wise old Jewish dealer who has come to buy the furniture but refuses to set a price without prolonged philosophic conversation. When the surgeon arrives, the brothers take a little time for amenities and feeling each other out before the basis of their long alienation and mutual bitterness emerges into short, blunt, enraged accusations. It is a taut, exciting and superbly theatrical scene, and it reveals the characters, including strengths and weaknesses, of the brothers to each other and themselves - as well as to the audience."
ISBN: 0-8222-0911-X

The Primary English Class

Comedy. Israel Horovitz.
5 men, 4 women. Interior.

The setting is a classroom where an eager young teacher is about to tackle her first assignment - teaching basic English to a group of new citizens, not one of whom speaks the same language as another. Included are an excitable Italian, an over-eager Frenchman, a near-sighted German, an elderly Chinese woman and a Japanese girl. The one thing that they manage to convey to each other is that their respective names all mean "wastebasket" but, struggle as she will, the teacher, Debbie, is hard-pressed to bring them beyond this point of communication. Fortunately the voice of an off-stage translator enables the audience to understand what those on-stage cannot comprehend, but this does not help the sorely pressed Debbie, whose frustration is increased by her fear of a mugger lurking outside the door. Rigid and pedagogical at first, she becomes more frantic and desperate as her lack of success with her charges mounts, and the wonderfully funny misunderstandings multiply, until, at last, all self-control (and sanity) vanish into total, and totally hilarious, panic.
ISBN: 0-8222-0913-6

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Play. Jay Presson Allen
M4 (young, middle-age) F5 (young, middle age). 4 girls non-speaking (11-12); 7 girls non-speaking (8-11).

Jean Brodie, teacher at the Marcia Blaine Academy, incurs the disapproval of her colleagues by her unconventional teaching methods, her favouritism among her pupils, and also by her admiration for Mussolini and Italy. Scandals increase, chiefly involving the art teacher and the music teacher. One member of her group of favourites is killed while running off to fight for Franco. Her chief protégée, Sandy, denounces her as a murderer. Period 1930s
ISBN 0 573 61427 X


Play. Andrew Davies
M3 (30s, 40s) F3 (20s, 30s, 50s). An academic office.

Prin, the principal of a teachers' training college, has spent thirty years in the pursuit of excellence; however, she seems more concerned with the 'prima donnas' than with nurturing the 'job lots'. When it appears that she may be losing her job, she shuts out reality with the same myopic view that she takes of life outside herself. Her inability to compromise leaves her contemplating the ruins of her personal and professional lives.
ISBN 0 573 01861 8

Princess Ascending

Play. Norman Holland
F 12 (16, 20, 37, middle-age). An open stage.

The play follows the course of English royal history from Lady Jane Grey, through the reign of Queen Mary, to the accession of Elizabeth I. The framework of the chronicle is provided by four Ladies-in-Waiting, who serve as a combination of chorus, commentators and other participants in the events. The audience are taken to represent the Commons of England. Against the simplest of scenic backgrounds, the story is unfolded, through Elizabeth's darkest years to her accession to the throne. Period sixteenth century
ISBN 0 573 03011 1

Principia Scriptoriae

Richard Nelson
Drama 8M Flexible staging

The play opens in 1970 in a Latin American country where two aspiring young writers are thrown into prison for distributing subversive leaflets. The second part of the play is set fifteen years later when the right-wing dictatorship has been replaced by a left-wing revolutionary government. The political tables have turned and the 'principles of writing' have ironically altered. The two men now find themselves on opposite sides of the conference table bargaining for the release of a poet held by the new leftist government. Within this context, Richard Nelson explores and questions the relationship between the two men when principles of a more creative and personal nature are undermined by political pressures and literary ambition.
ISBN: 0 85676 130 3

The Prisoner

Drama. Bridget Boland.
3 men, several non-speaking parts. Simple styalised interiors

The story is one of destruction of one man by another. The Prisoner is a Cardinal in the Catholic Church of a middle-European country. The Interrogator represents the totalitarian government which has taken over that country, and which finds it necessary to destroy the Cardinal whose independence of spirit constitutes a danger to the government. The play is a series of scenes between The Interrogator and The Prisoner, both of whom respect the other, but cannot accept what the other stands for. The Interrogator attacks The Prisoner first in one area, then in another, without effect; his faith and his integrity are so strong they cannot be touched by ordinary means. At first it is The Interrogator who shows the strain of the interviews; he becomes desperate in. his search for some weapon to break The Prisoner's spirit. The relationship between the two men is a complex one, almost that of friendship. The Interrogator believes so deeply in what his government is doing that he feels he is actually trying to bring The Prisoner to the truth; it is as if he were the priest, trying to save a soul. The Prisoner's knowledge of the real truth remains intact until The Interrogator discovers his antagonist's one vulnerable spot -his deep sense of personal guilt. Playing on that, The Interrogator is able to undermine The Prisoner's belief in his vocation, in his right to be a priest - and eventually so twists and confuses him that the confession is signed and The Prisoner is destroyed. But in destroying The Prisoner's faith, The Interrogator has destroyed his own in his government, and in what he has been doing. He realizes that what he has ruined was something more noble than his own cause.
ISBN: 0-8222-0916-0

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

Comedy. Neil Simon
M2 (40s, 50s) F4 (40s, 50s). A 14th floor apartment.

When Mel is made redundant he starts to fight a battle with the environs of New York: the pollution, the paper-thin walls of the high rise apartment. When his apartment is burgled and his psychiatrist dies with $23,000 of his money Mel has a nervous breakdown. It is on recovery that we come to esteem him all the more. For Mel and his wife and people like them have the resilience, the grit to survive.
ISBN 0 573 61429 6

The Prisoner of Zenda

Play. Matthew Francis, adapted from the novel by Anthony Hope
M 17 (can be played by M9) F2, 1 child. Various interior and exterior settings.

Anthony Hope's fine imperialist adventure is brought vividly to life in Matthew Francis's stirring adaptation which plunges straight into the heart of the Ruritanian dynastic conflict. Rudolph Rassendyll, young English gallant, is distantly related on the wrong side of the blanket to the Ruritanian royal family. When the Crown Prince is drugged by Black Michael, Rudolph steps in and takes the Prince's place at his coronation. Early twentieth century
ISBN 0 573 01865 0

Private Contentment

Play. Reynolds Price.
9 men, 4 women. Unit Set

It is 1945 and Logan is on leave from the army, from a unit ready to ship out to Japan. He's been called home after the sudden death of his mother. The day after the funeral, Logan's father, Paul, a piano salesman, decides they both need to get away together, to go on a selling trip and look to the future. To his own surprise, Logan agrees. On this trip, Logan is puzzled by his father's determination to head in one particular direction and soon Logan is introduced to a schoolteacher, Lena, in a town a few hours away. She surely has bought pianos, but she also seems to be a genuine, long-term friend of his fathers; and when Lena's daughter, Gail, 14, returns from school she is also very comfortable with Paul and feels a strange familiarity with Logan. Without many words, it is evident that Logan and his father are staying for dinner, and possibly longer, since through the course of the evening, Logan learns his father has had a second family for 17 years; a caring family who accepted his first family and never intruded upon them. Logar realises he is being asked if it is all right with him. In his hurt, he asks his father why and how, and Paul finally discusses his life with his son. Since his life may be in the balance very soon - the threat of war pervading the play - Logan wants to hold on to what he can. He doesn't want to lose to anger his father and perhaps his new sister, so Logan forgives enough to realise he wants to find out more, and to be part of a family again.
ISBN: 0-689-11455-9

Private Eyes

Drama. Steven Dietz.
3 men, 2 women. Unit Set.

Private Eyes is a comedy of suspicion in which nothing is ever quite what it seems. Matthew's wife, Lisa, is having an affair with Adrian, a British theatre director. Or perhaps the affair is part of the play being rehearsed. Or perhaps Matthew has imagined all of it simply to have something to report to Frank, his therapist. And, finally, there is Cory-the mysterious woman who seems to shadow the otherswho brings the story to its surprising conclusion. Or does she? The audience itself plays the role of detective in this hilarious "relationship thriller" about love, lust and the power of deception.
ISBN: 0-8222-1619-1

Private Lives

Intimate comedy. Noel Coward
M2 (30 ) F3 (young, 30). A balcony, a living-room.

Sybil and Elyot arrive at a hotel in France for their honeymoon. Amanda, Elyot's first wife, happens to take the adjoining suite with her new husband Victor. When Amanda and Elyot met they elope but together they veer between happiness and bickering which turns into physical fighting. Victor and Sybil discover them rolling on the floor and a four-handed quarrel begins during which Elyot and Amanda steal away. Period 1930
ISBN 0 573 01357 8

Privates on Parade

Play with songs. Peter Nichols. Music by Denis King
M10 (20s, 35, 45, 50s) F1 (28). Several simple settings on an open stage.

Designed in the form of a variety show, the production of an Army Concert Party show in Malaya is intermingled with the story of their adventures, comic and tragic, as they tour the jungle-type countryside, menaced by Communist guerrillas. Among the varied company are an aggressive, dishonest Sergeant-Major, a raw newcomer, an earnestly religious major, and a colourful homosexual. Finally, bruised, battered but still ebullient, the survivors board ship for England and home. Period 1948
ISBN 0 573 11347 5