Composers and their stage works 


A State of Affairs

Quartet of plays. Graham Swannell

This comedy quartet, witty and penetrating, treats its theme of adultery and marriage with a moving and unforgettable compassion. 'Sharp, funny and pleasingly idiomatic.' Financial Times ' ... full of pitiless observation and compassionate hilarity.' Sunday Times  

M 1(30s) F1 (30s). A bedroom.

Terence's interest in sex has begun to pall. He just doesn't have the energy any longer to satisfy his wife's needs. But how to tell her? He practises in front of a mirror, remembering a wonderful time they had in Stuttgart. Caroline, however, is not prepared to let Terence ease up and manufactures another Stuttgart - thigh-high black boots, sexy underwear and all ...!

M 1 (40) F2 (30). An hotel bedroom.

Jack and Frances are having an affair, meeting each week in a seedy hotel. Frances wants the affair to blossom and confesses to being in love with Jack. He, wanting it to be just a 'ding-dong', backs off, but Frances has told her husband and he has spilled the beans to Milly, Jack's wife. Milly arrives, to be told the affair is over, but will Milly, strong and firm, allow Jack to forget it ... ?

Day of the Dog
M3 (30s) F2 (30s). A pub courtyard.

Allen has confided a momentary infidelity to his wife. Instead of the hoped-for respect he has been thrown out. Two beery mates in a sun-drenched pub back garden console him before picking up a couple of sunbathers and leaving Allen to seek solace in his whisky.

M 1 (30s) F2 (30s). A kitchen.

A bickering couple, sitting in their (permanently) half-finished kitchen, exhausted by the demands of child-rearing, wistfully fantasise about their friends 'having fun' when one of the envied friends arrives, shattered by her husband's departure with the couple's nanny.

State of Revolution

Play. Robert Bolt
M20 F5, some doubling possible. Extras. Multiple scenes on an open stage.

The play tells the story of the Russian Revolution and its chief personalities through the life of Lenin, opening at Gorky's villa on Capri in 1910 and ending just after Lenin's death. Period 1910-20
ISBN 0 573 11430 7

States of Shock

Sam Shepard : Light Drama
3M 2F Interior set

The evening begins with a bang. The deceptive calm of a family restaurant, filled with two disgruntled customers and an inept waitress, is disrupted by off-stage sounds of war and destruction. The real disruption begins with the entrance of the Colonel, a middle-aged brute of a man wearing the medals and uniform of a commander, who wheels on Stubbs, a mute paraplegic veteran who served with the Colonel's son. According to the Colonel, they have come "to toast the death of my son and have a nice dessert." While the customers, named only White Man and White Woman, and the waitress, Glory Bee, watch, the Colonel dominates and tyrannizes the stage. Stubbs slowly regains the power of speech and memory, and the tables turn when he reveals his enormous battle scar and hints that he is the Colonel's son. In increasingly bizarre and violent scenes, including a whipping and a food fight, States of Shock reaches its shattering conclusion.
ISBN: 0 8222 1075 4


Play. Nell Dunn
M 1 F6. The Turkish rest-room of a public baths.

First seen at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, London in 1981, transferring to the Comedy Theatre later in the year. Set in a dilapidated Turkish Bath somewhere in the East End of London where five women of all conditions come to bare their bodies, souls and fantasies, Steaming is a warm-hearted, often humorous portrayal of women coming to know the nature of each other's lives. '... full of lively, ribald humour.' Evening Standard ' ... a lovely play suffused with affection.' The Times

Steel Magnolias

Play. Robert Harling
F6 (19, 25, 40s-60s). Beauty parlour.

Hilarious and touching, this play for six women is set in a beauty parlour in Louisiana. Through four scenes spanning three years the staff and customers engage in small-town gossip but we see a deep strength and purposefulness emerge when Shelby - a diabetic - dies following a kidney transplant operation. ' ... warm-hearted and sentimental ... ' Guardian
ISBN 0 573 13010 8

Steel Magnolias

Comedy/Drama. Robert Harling.
6 women. Interior

The action is set in Truvy's beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are "anybody" come to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (who is not sure whether or not she is still married), the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the towns rich curmudgeon, Ouiser, ("I'm not crazy, I've just been in- a bad mood for 40 years"); an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee, who has a raging sweet tooth; and the local social leader, M'Lynn, whose daughter, Shelby (the prettiest girl in town), is about to marry a "good ole boy." Filled with hilarious repartee and not a few acerbic but humorously revealing verbal collisions, the play moves toward tragedy when, in the second act, the spunky Shelby (who is a diabetic) risks pregnancy and forfeits her life. The sudden realization of their mortality affects the others, but also draws on the underlying strength-and lovewhich give the play, and its characters, the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and marvelously amiable company in good times and bad.
ISBN: 0-8222-1078-9

The Stendahl Syndrome

(in Dutch Plays) - Frans Strijards. Trans D.Couling
6m 6f. Drama. Single interior set.

A funeral party is taking place for a rich but irresponsible financier, who seems to have committed suicide. Strijards explores the way the characters relate to each other and their ultimate failure to communicate how they feel about their lives. The action develops like a dance as the characters circle around each other.
ISBN 1 85459 289 0

Stephen Foster or Weep No More My Lady

Romantic Play with music. Earl Hobson Smith.

This play unfolds the beautiful romance between Stephen Foster, America's great song composer, and Susan Pentland and Jane Denny McDowell, at one time Pittsburgh's most dashing young ladies. 7 men, 5 women. Interior.

Stephen and Susan have always loved each other and are engaged to be married. But Jane, too, has always loved Stephen. Stephen's unsympathetic family, however, force him to leave for Cincinnati to take a job in his brother's shipping yards, to forget his desire to write songs, and finally to prove that he can support a wife. While he is away, his rival, Andrew Robinson, woos, wins, and marries Susan. Stephen is determined to live his own life in the face of all opposition. He returns to Pittsburgh, learns what Susan has done, and marries Jane. This does not alter Stephen's love for Susan, nor Susan's for Stephen. But Jane's charm and understanding saves the situation. Time also draws Susan to Andrew's standards, thus helping Stephen to fall out of love with Susan and in love with Jane. This romantic story of the most interesting part of Foster's life, dramatic in itself, is made doubly attractive by the inclusion of all the most famous Foster songs.

Stephen Vincent Benét's Stories of America

Narrative Theatre. Andrew Leslie.
3 men, 3 women, Flexible casting, minimum of 3 men. Open Stage.

Partly spoken, partly acted, partly mimed, the program uses basic theatre techniques to project the spirit, poignancy, humour and excitement of America's developing years, while achieving a remarkable pertinence to the present day.

Drawing on the lively and fanciful American tales of Stephen Vincent Benét, the substance of the program ranges from the Colonial years and the Revolutionary War to the opening of the West and the burgeoning of the American heartland. Using creative theatre concepts to bring the stories alive on stage, with short poems and simple musical interpolations to enhance and heighten the flow of action, it not only captures the vitality and humour of Benéts imaginative creations, but also makes the lesson of their wit and wisdom powerfully relevant to the present troubled times.
ISBN: 0-8222-1080-0

Stepping Out

Comedy. Richard Harris
M1 (40s) F9 (1 Black or Asian) (19, 35-50s). Optional extras. A church hall.

Stepping Out, which enjoyed a hugely successful West End run and won Evening Standard Best Comedy Award for 1984, is a warm and very funny play about the lives of a group of women (and one man) attending a weekly tap-dance class in a dingy North London church hall. As the play progresses, the class's dancing improves to such an extent that by the climax, a grand charity show performance, they have been transformed into triumphant tappers, worthy of any chorus line.
ISBN 0 573 11415 3


Play. Hugh Whitemore, from the works of Stevie Smith
M 1 (youngish) F2 (middle-age to elderly). A sitting-room.

The play follows the life and career of the poetess, Stevie Smith. Stevie's tragicomic life is portrayed by means of 'naturalistic' dialogue scenes, by her own reminiscences and comments, and by numerous examples of her poems, spoken mainly by herself but sometimes by the Man who also plays several parts. The passage of time extends from the 1950s to the 1960s, up to her death at the age of sixty-nine, time changes in the simple set being indicated by lighting cues.
ISBN 0 573 11418 8

The Steward of Christendom

Drama. Sebastian Barry
M5 (13, 18, 20s-30s, 50, 70s) F4 (17, 20-32, 50s) A bare room.

Set in Baltinglass, Co. Dublin, in about 1932, The Steward of Christendom sees Lear-like Thomas Dunne, ex-Chief Superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, trying to break free of history and himself. The play took London by storm when it premiered at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in March 1995. Since then it has won Sebastian Barry numerous awards. 'An authentic masterpiece ... I venture to suggest that not even O'Casey or Synge wrote better than this.' Guardian. Period c. 1932
The fifth play in,a cycle of plays about the author's Irish family,The Steward of Christendom is a freely imagined portrait of the author's great-grandfather, Thomas Dunne, the last Chief Superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, an organisation devoted to the British crown but then disbanded after the Irish war of independence of the 1920s. Considered by some to be a traitor to Ireland, after some seven years of confinement in the County Home Dunne is a broken man, both mentally and physically. Alone in a barren room, barely clothed and in little control of his faculties, Dunne, at 75, re-enacts scenes from his past, taking refuge in the memory of his three daughters and a son who died in World War I. The parallels between Dunne's family life and the political life of Ireland are all too apparent. Chaos and murder resulted from the revolution and Dunne could only stand watching as his way of understanding the world dissolved. Similarly, he was an aloof father who couldn't tell his son how much he loved him until it was too late. Near the end of the play, the arrival of Dunne's daughter, Annie, puts the last nail in the play's thematic coffin as her anger and resentment over her father's neglect compete with her pity for this elderly man who now needs her the way a baby needs its mother. Bereft of any solution to his life, Dunne recounts a childhood memory about his own father, in which he seems to be asking us for forgiveness and understanding.
ISBN: 0-8222-1609-4

Still Life

Play. Emily Mann.
1 man, 2 women. Open Stage.

Shaped by the author from conversations with the people whose experience she sets forth, the play explores the way in which Vietnam has affected three lives: a Marine veteran; his estranged wife; and his mistress. Seated at a table, with slides used occasionally to amplify and. illustrate their comments, the three tell their various stories. The man confesses that he killed a Vietnamese family in cold blood and, carrying the seeds of violence with him, returned home to brutalize his pregnant wife. The wife, disillusioned and unhappy, wants to ignore the terrors that haunt her husband, believing that, in time, the awful memories will fade, while the mistress, an angry feminist, blames the man's destructiveness on the forces which conditioned him before he went to Vietnam. In the end these three become a metaphor for the nation as a whole - still trying to understand, and overcome, the lingering trauma which is the bitter legacy of the Vietnam experience.
ISBN: 0-8222-1081-9