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The Play Podcast

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. In each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We discuss the play’s origins, its plot, themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Visit www.theplaypodcast.com for more information, including extra Footnotes on each episode and a complete list and profiles of our guests. Visit www.patreon.com/theplaypodcast to become a Patron and enjoy additional content and generously support the podcast. Thank you. Also, listen to The Play Review for reviews of some of the current shows on stage in London.

Location:

United Kingdom

Description:

Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. In each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We discuss the play’s origins, its plot, themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Visit www.theplaypodcast.com for more information, including extra Footnotes on each episode and a complete list and profiles of our guests. Visit www.patreon.com/theplaypodcast to become a Patron and enjoy additional content and generously support the podcast. Thank you. Also, listen to The Play Review for reviews of some of the current shows on stage in London.

Twitter:

@theplaypod

Language:

English


Episodes
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The Play Podcast - 080 - Long Day's Journey into Night, by Eugene O'Neill

5/10/2024
Episode 080: Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Jeremy Herrin Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Eugene O’Neill wrote his autobiographical magnum opus, Long Day’s Journey into Night, in 1941, but because of the personal revelations it contained he gave explicit instructions that it was not to be published until 25 years after his death and that it should never be staged. In the event his widow allowed both to occur in 1956, only three years after his death, when the play won O’Neill his fourth Pulitzer prize. As we record this episode, a powerful new production of the play is playing in London, with Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson heading the cast. I am delighted and privileged to talk with the production’s director, Jeremy Herrin, about O’Neill’s monumental play.

Duration:00:53:20

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The Play Podcast - 079 - The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

4/19/2024
Episode 079: The Hills of California by Jez Butterworth Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Sean McEvoy Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. A new Jez Butterworth play is a theatrical event. The Hills of California is currently running at the Harold Pinter theare in London’s West End, directed by Sam Mendes. Do not be misled by the title, however, we are not in sunny California, but in the back streets of Blackpool, where four daughters come together to say goodbye to their dying mother. The play is a portrait of lost dreams, of deeply ingrained patterns of love and hurt within a family, and of suppressed and mutable memories. I’m joined to explore this major new work by Sean McEvoy, author of Class, Culture and Tragedy in the Plays of Jez Butterworth.

Duration:00:54:11

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The Play Podcast - 078 - The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

4/5/2024
Episode 078: The Lover and The Collection by Harold Pinter Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Lindsay Posner Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. We have a double-bill in this episode of two short plays written by Harold Pinter in the early 1960s: The Lover and The Collection, both of which explore sexual compulsion and the manipulation of truth within marriage or partnerships. As we record this episode a new production of both plays is playing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, directed by Lindsay Posner. I’m delighted to welcome Lindsay back to the podcast to talk about these two Pinter gems.

Duration:00:51:48

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The Play Podcast - 077 - The Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen

3/7/2024
Episode 077: An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Kirsten Shepherd-Barr Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People is a fable of truth and lies, politics and power, and the challenge and costs of pursuing an unpopular crusade to speak truth to power. It’s a story of ‘fake news’, manipulation of the media, the dangers of populism, and the environmental cost of capitalism. No wonder it strikes a chord in our time, for as we record this episode there are two major new productions of An Enemy of the People on the world stage. I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast, Ibsen expert, Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, who I was privileged to talk with in episode 74 on Ibsen’s play Ghosts.

Duration:01:05:38

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The Play Podcast - 076 - Othello, by William Shakespeare

2/13/2024
Episode 076: Othello by William Shakespeare Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Farah Karim-Cooper Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Shakespeare’s devastating exploration of race, reputation and jealousy, The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice was a popular success when it was first performed during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but in the centuries since it has provoked a wide range of responses as successive generations have grappled with the racial identity of the eponymous character. As we record this episode a new production of Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London views the play’s treatment of race through a contemporary lens, setting the play within the London Metropolitan police force, a topical environment for racial inspection. I am privileged to welcome as my guest someone especially qualified to help us navigate the tricky waters of Shakespeare’s play, Farah Karim-Cooper, Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kings College London, and the author of The Great White Bard – Shakespeare, Race and the Future.

Duration:00:56:29

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The Play Podcast - 075 - The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

1/26/2024
Episode 075: The Homecoming by Harold Pinter Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Matthew Dunster Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Harold Pinter’s disturbing exploration of toxic masculinity and sexual maneuvering, The Homecoming premiered in 1965. The play’s portrait of misogyny, and even more disturbing, the apparent female complicity, was shocking at the time it was written. Nearly 60 years on the sexual politics is if anything even more difficult to watch. So what was Pinter’s purpose in presenting such a provocative piece, and how do we process it in the post Me-Too age? I am joined by Matthew Dunster, the director of a scintillating new production of the play at the Young Vic in London, who can help us answer those questions about Pinter’s challenging classic.

Duration:01:04:42

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The Play Podcast - 074 - Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen

1/15/2024
Episode 074: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Kirsten Shepherd-Barr Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Henrik Ibsen’s dark family drama Ghosts provoked outrage when it was published in 1881, its treatment of sexual disease, incest and euthanasia too much for the critics. More than 140 years later its portrait of repressed truths and social hypocrisy remains as powerful as ever. As we record this episode a new adaptation of Ghosts by Joe Hill-Gibbons is playing in the Sam Wanamaker theatre at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London. Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Professor English and Theatre Studies at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, joins us to review Ibsen’s unflinching drama.

Duration:00:56:38

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The Play Podcast - 073 - The House of Bernarda Alba, by Federico Garcia Lorca

1/3/2024
Episode 073: The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Maria Delgado Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Federico Garcia Lorca’s unsparing drama The House of Bernarda Alba is not only a tragic family drama, but its portrait of oppression and social conformity also reflects the dangerous political landscape in which it was written. Lorca finished the play in June 1936, two months before he was murdered during the first days of the Spanish Civil War. As we record this episode a new adaptation of the play is on stage at the National Theatre in London. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to explore this inescapably powerful play, and its author, with an expert on both, Professor Maria Delgado.

Duration:00:59:37

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The Play Podcast - 072 - She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith

12/13/2023
Episode 072: She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Tom Littler Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘sentimental’ or ‘laughing’ comedy She Stoops to Conquer is both a romantic comedy and a deft social satire of town and country in late 18th century England. It’s merry-go-round of romantic intrigues comes complete with mistaken identities, stolen jewels and a midnight coach ride that ends mired in a horse pond. There is never much doubt however that in the end it is the women who will conquer. As we record this episode a sparkling new production is on stage at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond-upon-Thames, and I’m delighted to be joined today by its director, Tom Littler, who is perfectly placed to tell us why this play has proved so enduringly popular.

Duration:00:55:41

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The Play Podcast - 071 - Clyde's, by Lynn Nottage

12/4/2023
Episode 071: Clyde's by Lynn Nottage Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Lynette Linton Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Lynn Nottage’s play Clyde’s is set in a truck-stop diner on the outskirts of Reading, Pennsylvania. This is no ordinary diner though, because the short-order cooks that make the sandwiches that the diner is famous for are all ex-cons. The eponymous proprietor, Clyde, has not offered these characters a second chance out of the softness of her heart, but they discover some unexpected hope in their communal sufferings and support. Lynn Nottage has won the Pulitzer Prize for drama twice, and as we record this episode the European premiere of Clyde’s is on stage at the Donmar Warehouse in London. I am delighted to be joined by the show’s director Lynette Linton, who also directed Nottage’s last play Sweat at the same theatre in 2018.

Duration:00:49:20

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The Play Podcast - 070 - King Lear, by William Shakespeare

11/17/2023
Episode 070: King Lear by William Shakespeare Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Paul Prescott Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. The poet Percy Shelley called King Lear “the most perfect specimen of the dramatic art existing in the world”. It is a prodigious play in every sense. There are ten major roles, it has multiple significant plot lines, an elemental stormy setting, intense domestic conflict, and acts of war and violence which roll on with a propulsive tragic energy and conjure a challenging philosophical vision. As we record this episode a new production directed by and starring Sir Kenneth Branagh arrives in London’s West End. I am very pleased to be joined in this episode by Paul Prescott, who is an academic, writer and theatre practitioner specialising in Shakespearean drama.

Duration:01:08:12

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The Play Podcast - 069 - A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller

11/1/2023
Episode 069: A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller Host: Douglas Schatz Guests: Holly Race Roughan Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge tells the tragic story of Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman who works on the docks under Brooklyn Bridge. Eddie lives with his wife Beatrice and 17-year old niece, Catherine, whom they have cared for since she was a child. But Catherine is no longer a child, and her natural desire to pursue her own life will tragically rupture the lives of this family and the close-knit immigrant community of Red Hook. As we record this episode a new production of A View from the Bridge is touring the UK, and I’m delighted to talk with its director, Holly Race Roughan, about this powerful play.

Duration:01:07:55

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The Play Podcast - 068 - Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw

10/17/2023
Episode 068: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Host: Douglas Schatz Guests: Ivan Wise Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Pygmalion is arguably George Bernard Shaw’s most famous play, partly because it spawned the even-more famous musical My Fair Lady. The enduring popularity of the play can be attributed to the romantic arc of its central story, and to the fact that it offers two iconic parts in the characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. As a new production of Pygmalion opens at The Old Vic in London, Ivan Wise returns to the podcast to help us assess whether Shaw’s charming social parable remains as entertaining or as relevant more than a century after it was written.

Duration:00:59:38

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The Play Podcast - 067 - Red Pitch, by Tyrell Williams

9/27/2023
Episode 067: Red Pitch by Tyrell Williams Host: Douglas Schatz Guests: Tyrell Williams and Daniel Bailey Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Tyrell William’s award-winning, debut play Red Pitch is set on an inner-city fottball ptich in South London. It is a coming-of-age story, with teenage boys fighting to believe in their dreams, and to find a way up, and perhaps out, of their changing community. The play premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in February 2002, winning several awards, and is currently enjoying a sell-out revival at the Bush. Tyrell Williams, and the show’s director, Daniel Bailey, join me to explore this joyful and poignant new play.

Duration:00:50:26

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The Play Podcast - 066 - The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh

8/24/2023
Episode 066: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Professor Eamonn Jordan Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Martin McDonagh’s 2004 play The Pillowman is an unsettling mix of gruesome fairy tales, child abuse, and murder, overlaid with McDonagh’s signature black humour. McDonagh’s blend of extreme violence and ironic comedy divides opinion, although the popularity of the current revival of the play in London’s West End is testimony to its enduring fascination. I am joined in this episode by Professor Eamonn Jordan, to help us come to terms with the impact and intent of McDonagh’s work.

Duration:01:00:32

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The Play Podcast - 065 - Accidental Death of an Anarchist, by Dario Fo and Franca Rame

8/1/2023
Episode 065: Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo and Franca Rame Host: Douglas Schatz Guests: Tom Basden and Daniel Raggett Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo and Franca Rame is both an hilarious farce and a biting satire. Written in 1970 as an “act of intervention” in response to the unexplained death of a prisoner in police custody in Milan, it became a huge global hit. An acclaimed new adaptation that updates the setting and scandal to modern-day Britain is currently playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, and I’m delighted to be joined by its writer, Tom Basden, and the director, Daniel Raggett, to talk about their adaptation and the enduring relevance of Fo’s original.

Duration:00:59:38

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The Play Podcast - 064 - A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare

6/29/2023
Episode 064: A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Emma Smith Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has all the ingredients of classic romantic comedy: a magical setting, a merry-go-round of earnest young lovers, a fairy King and Queen, and a troupe of hapless comic actors, all given a supernatural spin in the course of a single moonlit night. But is the dream-like world of the wood outside Athens as benign a place as we imagine? As we record this episode a new production of the play is part of the Summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, with Michelle Terry giving an outstanding performance as the sardonic sprite Puck. My guest to help explore Shakespeare’s wondrous ‘visions’ is Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford.

Duration:00:59:13

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The Play Podcast - 063 - Dancing at Lughnasa, by Brian Friel

5/24/2023
Episode 063: Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Josie Rourke Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Brian Friel’s magical memory play Dancing at Lughnasa is set at the time of the harvest festival in rural Ireland in 1936. It’s account of the events of that summer in the house of the five unmarried Mundy sisters is filtered many years later through the memory of Michael, the son of the youngest sister. His memory is undoubtedly unreliable, but it is also funny, poetic and profoundly poignant. Josie Rourke, who directs the gorgeous new production of the play currently playing at the National Theatre in London, joins us to explore Friel’s spellbinding masterpiece.

Duration:01:13:14

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The Play Podcast - 062 - Private Lives, by Noël Coward

4/27/2023
Episode 062: Private Lives by Noël Coward Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Oliver Soden Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Noël Coward’s play Private Lives is both a dazzling dramatic comedy and an excoriating portrait of love and marriage among the disaffected elite of the Jazz Age. Coward himself starred in the premiere production in both London and New York, the critics acclaiming the show’s construction and wit, but predicting that it would not last. As a new production opens at the Donmar theatre in London, I ask Coward’s newest biographer, Oliver Soden, why the play has aged so well.

Duration:01:02:15

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The Play Podcast - 061 - Sea Creatures, by Cordelia Lynn

4/13/2023
The Play Podcast - 061 - Sea Creatures by Cordelia Lynn Host: Douglas Schatz Guest: Cordelia Lynn The Play Podcast is a podcast dedicated to exploring the greatest new and classic plays. In each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing. Cordelia Lynn’s play Sea Creatures is a poetic exploration of loss and grief, its setting betwixt the sea and shore rich in metaphoric resonances. As we record this episode, Sea Creatures is playing at the Hampstead Theatre in London in a spellbinding production directed by James Macdonald. I am delighted to be joined by playwright Cordelia Lynn to talk about her fascinating new play.

Duration:01:00:21