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Friday, 04 May 2018


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I am embarrassingly ignorant of theater and can't comment on the lack of good modern playwrights, but have noticed there's an upheaval in the arts that interacts with that in politics:

So there's that added to the misdeeds of producers, actors, conductors, television performers and so on. We live in interesting times.


The following clip comes from the film 'The Way To The Stars' the screenplay of which was actually written by Rattigan. It is a perfect illustration of how to play the private inner turmoil you were talking about. I don't think that anyone will ever do this better than John Mills.

Thanks for that, Richard, because the film was very loosely based on his play 'Flare Path' and it's interesting that he used the same device in both, that is, one character reading an emotionally-charged letter to a lady written by her loved one who has since been killed in action. In the play, we meet Doris, an ex-barmaid married to a Polish pilot flying with the RAF, Count Skriczevinsky. He fails to return from a mission and she has a letter written by him to her only to be opened in those dire circumstances. The play is set in a small country hotel next to the RAF air base, and Doris finding it impossible to read the letter herself, asks an American visitor, Peter Kyle, to read it out loud for her.

It is a brilliant theatrical device which I used to best advantage in my production by sitting Doris on a settee facing the audience whilst Peter Kyle was in a chair facing up-stage. So, with all eyes on her, the actress then had the tricky job of showing her intense pain and distress by the very slightest movements of her facial muscles - weeping, wailing hysterics would not be in keeping with Rattigan's spirit of stiff upper-lip, British fortitude. Happily, the Count returns later that evening having been rescued from the Channel where he had been shot down. According to Wiki, "Churchill said the play was "a masterpiece of understatement ... but then we are rather good at understatement, aren’t we?" Well, he wasn't but a lot of us are!

Of course, as a confirmed homosexual in an age hostile to such relationships, Rattigan knew all too well the difficulties of hiding real feelings and suffering in silence. Most of his plays feature this predicament and that is what makes them so powerful.

Oooops, sorry for boring on but I just love his plays.

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