Composers and their stage works 


Whale Music

Play. Anthony Minghella
F10 (17, 20s, 40s). Various simple settings.

An acutely sensitive, moving portrayal of the lives of a group of women which reflects the attitudes and feelings of women today, depicted in a series of settings which flow gently into each other. Caroline pregnant by one of her boyfriends, escapes to her seaside birthplace where she is visited by friends. The reaction of these women to each other whilst awaiting the birth is sympathetically told and we become totally involved in the heights and depths of their collective emotions and thoughts.
ISBN 0 573 13015 9

The Whales of August

Play. David Berry.
2 men, 3 women. Interior

The scene is a beach house on an island off the Maine coast, where two widowed sisters, Sarah Walker and Elizabeth Strong, have been summering for many years, Elizabeth, the eldest and now blind, has grown increasingly reclusive and irritable, as she progressively closes down each of her senses while awaiting "the escort" who will carry her off to join her late husband. Sarah, much younger and still incurably romantic, now tends her sister, repaying the debt which was incurred when their mother died and the older sister assumed maternal responsibilities. Wistful and autumnal in mood, the play focuses on the seemingly insignificant events of their ordered lives: whether to install a picture window in order to get a better view of the whales who pass by at summer's end; and Elizabeth's guarded reaction to the charming Russian emigre who, in need of a place to stay, works his wiles on the still impressionable Sarah. In the end the play concludes as quietly as it began, but the two sisters have come to decisions which, for them, are both momentous and filled with the bittersweet recognition that life, despite the alterations of time, must continue as best it can.
ISBN: 0-8222-1234-X

What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Comedy. Peter Coke
M4 (20s, 60s, old) F6 (young, 40, middle-age). An antiques showroom.

Isabel Merryweather runs an antique shop with her Rear-Admiral father. One of her eccentric customers leaves a baby temporarily in the shop and Isabel's strong maternal instincts are aroused. Assisted by her most eccentric visitor of all she sets about an unconventional adoption plan. The unexpected results are astonishingly successful, and the ensuing flood of babies leads to frenetic complications and eventually to a highly original, if questionable, plan of operation, affecting not least the Rear-Admiral.
ISBN 0 573 11483 8

What Every Woman Knows

Comedy. J. M. Barrie
M7 (20s-40s, 60s) F4 (young, 20s). Four interiors.

The Wylie family are concerned about Maggie who is still unmarried. Then one night Maggie finds the local railway porter, John Shand, surreptitiously studying in their library. Alick, Maggie's father, offers to help, provided that after five years John will offer himself to Maggie as a husband. Years later, Maggie finally wins John's heart for real by proving just how much his success has been owed to her wit and humour. Period 1900
ISBN 0 573 01475 2

What I Did Last Summer

Play. A.R. Gurney.
2 men, 4 women. Unit Set

The setting is a well-to-do vacation colony on the shores of Lake Erie: the time 1945, during the final stages of World War II. Charlie, an incipiently rebellious 14-year-old, is spending summer with his mother and sister (his father is fighting in the Pacific) before going off to an expensive boarding school in the autumn. Although he intended to spend the summer loafing and socializing with his friends; the need for spending money forces him to take a job as handyman for an iconoclastic, bohemian art teacher, Anna Trumbull, a former member of the "upper crust" who has lost both her fortune and her regard for the ideals of her upbringing. Sensing a kindred spirit in Charlie, she tries to stretch his mind by teaching him painting and sculpture - and exposing him to "radical" ideas about life and love which, in time, persuade Charlie to reject the notion of going back to school. The result is a family crisis and, more specifically, a showdown between Anna and Charlie's conservative mother; a clash of philosophies which raises as many questions as it answers and, in the end, stimulates the selfawareness which will shape the man Charlie is destined to become.
ISBN: 0-8222-1236-6

What I Did in the Holidays

Play. Philip Osment
M5 (11, 17, 19, 20s, 60s) F3 (20s, 40s). Various simple interior and exterior settings.

On a dilapidated West Country farm in 1963, Morley is coping with puberty and the tangles of love within his family. Mother has temporarily walked out and Morley is drawn to Andy, one of a pair of Scottish hitchhikers who seek shelter at the farm. But things are not as they seem on the surface and Morley's habit of telling tales on his seniors hastens the crisis.
ISBN 0 573 01937 1

What the Butler Saw

Black comedy. Joe Orton
M4 (middle-age) F2 (young, middle-age). A room in a private clinic.

Dr Prentice is a psychiatrist who believes that the best way to interview a girl for a job is to seduce her. Geraldine does her best to comply. Mrs Prentice, who has seduced a page boy, brings him home with her, just as a state inspector pays a visit. What ensues is a wild melee of disappearances, disguises and discoveries as husband and wife try to hide their prizes from one another and the state inspector.


Drama. Julian Sheppard.
5 men, 3 women (flexible casting). Unit Set

Daphne, Roy and Jen have all slept with the same man, Carlo, unsafely. Carlo had been dating Jen, and Roy and Daphne's affairs with him had been secret. When they learn Carlo is HIV positive, secrets find their way into the light. Daphne and Roy both start relationships with new men. Craig, whom Roy had introduced to Daphne, seems to be a solid, dependable guy. But, after a few dates, Craig learns that Daphne might be positive, and he cannot handle it. Jen meets Adam and thinks he's perfect for Roy. Their first date is right after Roy has learned that he is HIV positive, but Adam is willing to try a relationship. Jen learns she is negative - Daphne, that she's positive. Everyone tries to pick up the pieces of their lives. Adam seems unaffected by Roy being positive. Craig tries to win Daphne back into his life and fails. Daphne, trying to repair her relationship with the media-hungry Jen, goes on a talk show, but due to Jen's machinations, the appearance backfires. Jen and Daphne stop speaking. Adam reveals that he is drawn to the idea of being the one to take care of Roy when he becomes ill. Jen, racked by self-loathing, seeks to cauterise her emotions through a self-destructive act. Craig tries one last time to convince Daphne that he can be there for her. Plagued by self-doubt, she succumbs to him. Craig sees the extent of Daphne's uncertainty and need and pulls away from her even as she clings to him.
ISBN: 0-8222-1610-8

What's Wrong With the Girls?

Comedy. Conrad Seiler.
4 men, 3 women. Open Stage.

Professor Delwyn C. Coots, the great authority on the young women, begins his famous lecture, "What's Wrong With the Girls." Being a truthful man as well as a scientist, the professor finds plenty wrong: the way girls walk, talk, dress, fall in love, marry, etc. To make his lecture more telling the professor has two actors demonstrate all these faults. However, this scientific demonstration is interrupted by a young woman, Miss Hazel Duckworth, who indignantly gets up from her seat in the audience and challenges the professor's facts. Then with the assistance of two other actors, she shows up the human male as considerably worse than his female counterpart.
ISBN: 0-8222-1237-4

Tge Wheeler Dealers

Comedy. E Andrew Leslie from the novel by George Goodman.
9 men, 4 women (9-16 men and 4-7 women, with doubling). Open Set

From the top of his Stetson to the tip of his fancy cowboy boots, Henry Tyroon, independent oil wild-catter, is pure wheeler dealer - a larger-than-life-sized combination of supersalesmanship, big ideas, and an unerring instinct for a quick profit. From his natural habitat of Texas, Henry comes to New York in search of "mullets" (which is Texas-talk for well-heeled potential investors) but his attention is diverted when he meets the attractive Molly Thatcher, a struggling young Wall Street securities analyst. Molly's interest in Henry derives from the fact that she hopes to sell him shares in Universal Widget, a mysterious little company which has been turned over to Molly as her last chance to make good and hold her job. Henry's interest in Molly is of a more romantic sort, but he is delighted to chat about widgets (for openers), after which it's on to a series of wild escapades - ending up first in the clutches of the Justice Department (they are innocent, as it turns out) and then in each other's arms.
ISBN: 0-8222-1238-2

When Did You Last See Your Trousers?

Farce. Ray Galton and John Antrobus. Based on a story by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
M6 F3, with doubling. An apartment.

This hilarious farce begins quietly enough with Howard and Penny asleep in bed, when a burglar enters and steals various items, including Howard's suit! Awakening, Howard announces his intention to get back to the wife; but how is he to make it to Esher without his trousers, having been left only vest and pants by the burglar'? '... Brilliantly constructed farce ... achingly funny ... ' Guardian
ISBN 0 573 01667 4

When Five Years Pass.

Federico Garcia Lorca. Translated by Gwynne Edwards
M 14 F6. A library, a bedroom, a forest.

Of all of Lorca's plays this is perhaps the most experimental, demonstrating his strong interest in surrealism. In the play dreams are mixed with reality, characters and events are presented in no particular order and there is no definable plot. Time is also uncertain. The dreamlike quality of this play offers excellent opportunities for sound, lighting and set design.

When I was a Girl, I Used to Scream and Shout

Play. Sharman Macdonald
M 1 (young) F3 (30s, middle-age). Split set: a rocky beach and prom.

'Sharman Macdonald recounts with sympathy and deliciously rude detail, the sexual misadventures and misconceptions of Fiona, growing up with her repressive mother and best friend Vari in 1950s Scotland. She shows how the girls' excitement and expectations atrophy, so that in their thirties they have become sober stereotypes of the modern woman.' Time Out. Sharman Macdonald won the Evening Standard Drama Award for the Most Promising Playwright in 1984.

When She Danced.

Play. Martin Sherman
M3 (l9, 20s, 30s) F5 (17, 40s). A large room.

Isadora Duncan, way past her prime as a dancer and haunted by the death of her two children, has to rely on her legendary reputation to raise money for the founding of dancing schools in Europe. Her marriage to Russian revolutionary poet Esenin and her multi-lingual Bohemian household in 1923 Paris are deftly recreated and a sprightly dialogue illuminates a wide variety of subjects: the thrill of destructive passion; language and understanding; and the transience of fame.
ISBN 0 573 01934 7

When the Barbarians Came.

Play. Don Taylor
M8 (20s-50s, 70s) F4 (20s, 70s). Various simple settings.

In an unnamed country at an unspecified time, the Barbarians seize power in a bloodless coup. Insidiously, they take over institutions, reintroducing slavery with the weak crushed and democracy dead. Adrian, a playwright/artistic director, fears for theatre's survival and sells his soul to provide the bloodthirsty, crude, vulgar fare the Barbarians demand-a gala performance of Oedipus with the actor on stage literally blinded and Richard III with a real death.

When the Cat's Away.

Comedy. Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke
M2 (middle-age) F4 ( 25, middle-age). A living-room.

Based on the popular TV sit-corn George and Mildred, this is a riotously funny comedy. Mildred has organised a second honeymoon in France for herself and George but he is not keen on her idea. Mildred's sister, Ethel, turns up, having left her husband Humphrey. Then Humphrey arrives, so the women set off for France. It isn't long before Humphrey gets George into trouble involving a date with two girls and the unexpected return of their wives!
ISBN 0 573 69131 2

When the Wind Blows.

Play. Raymond Briggs
M 1 (60s) Fl (60s). Extras. A small cottage and garden.

Raymond Briggs's stage version of his famous anti-nuclear cartoon parable is passionately on the side of sanity and survival. Jim and Hilda Bloggs, a retired couple, hear on the radio that a pre-emptive strike is on the way. Armed with Government leaflets, in which he places all his faith, Jim constructs a refuge for them both, and gathers emergency rations. They emerge after the bomb to find a devastated post-holocaust world.
ISBN 0 573 11496 X

When We Are Married.

Yorkshire farcical comedy. J. B. Priestley
M8 (young, middle-age) F7 (young, 20s, middle-age). A sitting-room.

Twenty-five years ago, the Helliwells, the Parkers and the Soppitts were married on the same day by the same parson. They gather at the Helliwell home to celebrate their silver wedding. The new chapel organist tells them that he recently met the parson who conducted the triple wedding ceremony - he was not authorised to do so. Pandemonium breaks out when these pillars of society believe they have been living in sin for twenty-five years. Period 1900
ISBN 0 573 01476 0

When We Dead Awaken

Drama. Henrik Ibsen, translated by Michael Meyer
3 men, 3 women. Unit Set

After four years abroad, Arnold Rubek, a sculptor renowned for his statue "Resurrection Day," and his young wife Maja are staying at a mountain resort where Maja becomes interested in another guest, the virile bear-hunter Ulfheim. Also at the resort is Irene von Satow, whom Rubek recognizes as the model for the work that had made him famous. He learns from her that she had loved him passionately at that time. On his part, however, he had merely used her to inspire his art. Irene invites him up into the mountains, and this expedition coincides with a plan made by Maja and Ulfheim. As they proceed, Rubek confesses to Irene that he has been tortured by the realisation that his rejection of her was a denial of life, for which art has proved a poor substitute. He begs her to give him another chance, saying that his marriage with Maja has become unbearable. Irene rejects his plea, telling him that they are both dead and that there is no resurrection in this life. Urging him on to the heights, Irene leads Rubek upward. They pass the other couple, who are descending to escape an oncoming storm. Rubek now calls on his lost love to awaken so that they may live life to the fullest before they go to their graves. Striving toward the sunlit peak, Rubek and Irene are buried in an avalanche as Maja's song of freedom rings out from farther down the mountain.
ISBN. 0-413-46360-5

When You Comin' Back Red Ryder?

Play. Mark Medof.
5 men, 3 women. Interior.

The scene is an all-night diner in a sleepy southwestern town, the time early Sunday morning, when the night attendant, young Stephen (Red) Ryder, is about to turn his duties over to his daytime counterpart, Angel. Her friend Lyle, who runs the filling station-and motel across the road, stops by for breakfast, followed by an affluent young couple en route to New Orleans. With the arrival of another couple, Teddy and Cheryl, the existing calm quickly vanishes. Their car, in which they are smuggling marijuana into California, has broken down, and while they wait for it to be repaired, Teddy begins to taunt and then bully the others in the diner. With black, sardonic humour he gets at each in turn, stripping away their pretensions and exposing their innermost secrets and fears. They are soon his helpless victims, too terrified to resist as he binds and robs them before heading off down the highway, this time alone. In the end the others, after freeing themselves, realise that they have come through their ordeal without serious harm - at least physically. But for each a searing moment of truth has been faced and, in a deeper sense, they know that they have been changed more than they would have the desire, or perhaps courage, to admit.
ISBN: 0-8222-1240-4

Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone?

Play. Terrence McNally.
3 men, 3 women. Unit Set

Constructed as a series of vignettes, skits and brief incidents, the play portrays the life and attitude of one Tommy Flowers - irrepressible cut-up, determined freeloader, and disenchanted rebel against society. In the course of his adventures he befriends a destitute old actor, acquires an over-sized sheep dog (his best friend), and finds love with a beautiful music student (whom he meets in the ladies' room at Bloomingdale's). But as Tommy moves from scene to scene, his bright red shopping bag at the ready for pilfering and his agile wit poised to hoodwink everyone in sight, we also glimpse the root causes of his alienation - his ailing, complaining mother back home; an unhappily married brother; a former girl friend who has settled for a suffocating domesticity; and a venturing forth which has brought more rejection than acceptance. In the end, betrayed yet again, but still buoyantly defiant, Tommy devises his final rip-off - a bomb to blow him, and at least some small portion of a world he cannot accept, into oblivion.
ISBN: 0-8222-1241-2

Where's Daddy?

Comedy. William Inge.
3 men, 3 women. Interior

As Richard Watts, Jr. comments, Although Mr. Inge is fair and sympathetic to both sides, it would seem that he inclines slightly to the cause of the older generation. This, however, is one,'of the deftest touches in 'his treatment of the subject. For maturity, as it may be described at least technically, is represented by two unlikely prospects, a foolish, innocent and bewildered mother and a matronly bachelor unhampered by any illusions of masculinity. Yet how likeable both of them turn out to be! They are confronted by quite a problem, too. A boy, who happens to have been adopted by the bachelor, and a girl,.who is the unworldly lady's daughter, have got themselves married and are about to have a child, and the thought alarms the young pair. The boy wants his freedom and the girl wants to prove her independence by giving it to him, and they have agreed to send the baby to an institution for adoption when it arrives. And it arrives unexpectedly, and amid great alarm...Mr. Inge is good-naturetí but he is also sharp and can be witty. Instead of getting in the way of the seriousness of his point of view, the humour emphasizes it ...The foolishness of the girl's naive, mother is made honestly moving, the sentimental reconciliation of the boy and girl is believably touching, and the scenes of the peculiar bachelors are downright hilarious."
ISBN: 0-8222-1242-0

The White Devil

John Webster
15m 4f. Jacobean Tragedy. Multipurpose set.

The Italian Court is rich with corruption. The Duke Brascino is openly seducing a married woman, Vittoria, while plotting the murder of his own wife. Vittoria's brother, Flamineo, a cold-blooded murderer, tries to exploit his position as Brascino's servant and pander. Finally, Brascino's enemies, outraged by his perversions seek a vicious revenge. First performed in 1612, most recently revived by the RSC in 1997.
ISBN 1 85459 345 5

The White Rose

Drama. Lillian Garrett-Groag.
7 men, 1 women; interior.

In 1942 a group of students of the University of Munich chose to actively protest the atrocities of the Nazi regime and to advocate that Germany lose the war as the only way to overthrow Hitler's regime. Asking for resistance and sabotage of the war effort, among other things, they published their thoughts in five separate anonymous leaflets which they titled "The White Rose," and which were distributed throughout Germany and Austria during the summer of 1942 and the winter of 1943. When captured, the police inspector of the town, Robert Mohr, is intrigued by Sophie, the youngest of the conspirators, and the only girl among them. Mohr, who doesn't really take the crime of passing leaflets so seriously, knows that the Third Reich does, and is pressured by a superior, Mahler, to obtain a conviction. Mohr wants to save Sophie from certain execution and tries to get her to sign a confession saying she didn't know what she was doing and that she was misled by the others. But Sophie counters with why she is fighting for what is right, the meaning of pride and when it counts and the loyalty she feels to the others, especially her brother who is a leader in the group. The conversations between Sophie and Mohr, and the interrogation scenes of the other conspirators reveal a complex group of people, all clinging to beliefs which ultimately can not be fulfilled at this point in time. In the end, all in The White Rose group are executed, and the Nazi regimes continues its devastation until the end of World War II.

The White Sheep of the Family

Felonious comedy. L. du Garde Peach and Ian Hay
M5 (young, middle-age, elderly) F4 (young, 20, 30). A living-room.

James is head of a criminal family. To their horror, son Peter falls in love with Angela, daughter of Assistant Commissioner Preston of Scotland Yard, and decides to go straight. James discovers the identity of a mystery thief: it is none other than Angela. With such a bride, there is no need for Peter to go straight; the Winters can be a united family once more.
ISBN 0 573 01482 5

A Whitman Portrait: Staged Reading

Paul Shyre.
3 men, 1 woman. Unit set.

As Thomas Lask describes: "It is not a collection of anthology pieces, but a sketch of what Whitman, his personality and his life were like. The passionate faith in man, the buoyant egalitarianism, the humanitarian, the mystic and prophet, the man who affirmed the body as well as the soul, who saw old age and death part of the cycle of life, the great yea-sayer are all celebrated in Mr. Shyre's dramatization. He tracks Walt from his early days on Long Island and in Brooklyn, including his affection for New York (he was an early and con firmed Manhattanite) through what was the central experience of his life and that bf his generation - the Civil War. Walt's misery as he sits 61 watching the wounded and dying is movingly conveyed and the graphic account of Lincoln's assassination is easily the high point of the evening Walt's writing of "Leaves of Grass," and what the book meant to him, his illness and decline, and his calm acceptance of death occupy the second half of the evening ..." and round out, with poignant effectiveness, this portrait through his own words of one of our most memorable, vital and exultant poets.
ISBN. 0-8222-1246-3