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Bloody Poetry Oct 18, 1989

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Array Frederic Wood Theatre
BLOODY
POETRY Discovery is the theme -
when you visit the UBC Bookstore.
BrOWSe through over 70,000 titles in our seven
bookshops.   ilCK_Up that special present from
our Pens & Gift shop. I ULLll your paper and office
supply needs in the comprehensive Stationery
department .  LiXplOre the many   colours of  the
Arts  &  Graphics  department.      uCC  what's
new   in   electronic  gadgetry  in   our   Electronics
department.   1FV on the latest varsity fashions
at the Sportswear department.
Discover the campus department store called
the UBC Bookstore,where everyone is welcome.
BOOKSTORE
19 15-1990
6200 University Boulevard • 228-4741
Computer Shop Direct Une * 228-4748
ANNIVERSARY
University of British Columbia
Frederic Wood Theatre
presents
Bloody Poetry
By
Howard Brenton
Directed By
Gerald Vanderwoude
October 18-28
1989 A Note
on
HOWARD BRENTON
Howard Brenton was bom in 1942 in Portsmouth, England. His
father was a policeman who later changed careers to become a Methodist Minister. Although well-educated at Chichester Grammar School
and Cambridge University, where he read English, Howard Brenton's
major early influence may well have been his father who acted in, and
directed, plays at the amateur level. Indeed, one of his most magical
theatrical memories was a visit with his father at age six to see
MOTHER GOOSE. By the time he was nine years old he had written
his first play, based on a character in the EAGLE comic. Brenton acted
in plays at school and university and while there wrote mostly poetry
and fiction. He regards this unpublished work as his necessary writing
apprenticeship.
After Cambridge, he worked as an Assistant Stage Manager for a
number of repertory theatres. He wrote extensively for fringe
companies and for unusual spaces. GUM AND GOO was conceived for
a teachers' conference; SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC was realized in
Bradford's Ice-Rink. Sadly, Brenton's idea of an adaptation of MOBY
DICK to be "staged" in a municipal swimming pool did not receive
enough support for its production to go ahead.
Brenton's first major success was REVENGE. The play probes the
corruption of authority figures, an obsessive theme in Brenton's
political work. In terms of support, he received two years of Arts
Council subsidy following this play's success. He then went on to be
Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre. He has been a full-time
writer ever since.
Brenton, like Edward Bond, David Edgar, Trevor Griffiths and
David Hare (with all of whom he has close professional association), is
a committed socialist. He joined a collective of writers to be able to
work on a project dealing with the Irish question. ENGLAND'S
IRELAND which charts the transformation of an innocent bystander
into a fully fledged member of the IRA found few companies prepared
to perform it, so intense was the political heat at the time. Brenton's
later play THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN, unfortunately distorted by the
furore over the "buggery scene", is perhaps the writer's most reasoned,
though largely allegorical, statement on England's political failure in
Ireland.
Political failure in his own country also drives much of Brenton's
writing. THE CHURCHILL PLAY is a bleak vision of 1984 England
as a political concentration camp. WEAPONS OF HAPPINESS
develops as an argument between different kinds of resistance to
oppression. It was written at a time of deep disillusion with the Labour
Government. A SHORT, SHARP SHOCK uses the techniques of agitprop to criticise the euphoria that accompanied Margaret Thatcher's rise
to power. THE GENIUS tries to deal specifically with the dangers of
scientific knowledge converting to military secrets and weapons. The
play ends with protesters outside a Cruise Missile base.
In his career, Brenton has moved his work from tiny fringe venues to
the largest theatrical spaces available in England. He wishes to be anti-
establishment within the theatrical establishment. He has chosen this
"conventional" path to communicate his socialist ideas to as wide an
audience as possible.
Brian Mcllroy
Brian Mcllroy teaches Film History & Criticism in the Department of Theatre at
UBC. A Note
on
BLOODY POETRY
Howard Brenton is one of England's leading marxist/radical
playwrights, or in the words of one reviewer, "the theatre's leftist
sex 'n' violence merchant." He composed BLOODY POETRY in
1984 and it has come to be included as part of a loose trilogy
called "Three Plays for Utopia", the other two works being SORE
THROATS and GREENLAND. How does a play primarily about
Shelley and his encounters with Byron fit into a Utopian trilogy?
According to Brenton, these poets "were Utopians trying to live
a juster, different life. They failed but I loved their attempt. Hence
BLOODY POETRY" (Plays & Players, April 1988). The title
itself springs from Brenton's recognition of what he calls "the
philistine playground attitude to poetry and...its cost - literally in
blood" (P & P). Accordingly, the play examines the poet and his
poetry as a voice of revolution in which blood and suffering are an
inevitable part of the price to be paid for a new millenium.
BLOODY POETRY is very much concerned with examining the
poet's relation to revolution, or more expansively, art's role in the
making of history, relying heavily in the process upon Shelley's
own work. Brenton quotes liberally from such poems as "Mount
Blanc" (1816), "Julian and Maddalo" (1818), "The Mask of
Anarchy" (1819) and the ironically unfinished "Triumph of Life".
Read as an expletive, of course, the play's title also signals a
turning away in disgust from Byron's and Shelley's personal
callousness and cruelty, the work itself charting the complex interplay between personal accountability and social and political
revolution. It should be noted, however, that Brenton himself
insists that "I didn't make any moral judgements. Shelley was a
fierce man without any small talk"   (P &P).
Nor should one ignore the parallels drawn in the play between
Shelley and his chronicler, the committed marxist, Brenton, both
writing as it were during a politically reactionary period. Through
Shelley's reflections upon Wordsworth and his poetry of defeat
following the debacle of the French Revolution, Brenton records
his own frustration at the failed revolutions of the 1960s. And in
this as in much else he was influenced by his major source, The
Pursuit (1974), Richard Holmes's biography of Shelley. According
to Holmes, "my own Shelley has a distinct touch of post-sixties
itinerant radical, looking for the ultimate commune in the sun."
Brenton's recognition of the parallel between his own experience as
a radical and those of Shelley is most aptly signalled by the
quotation from Holmes included on the title-page of BLOODY
POETRY: "Shelley's life seems more a haunting than a history".
Sheila Stowell BLOODY POETRY
by
Howard Brenton
Directed by Gerald Vanderwoude
Set Design by Robert Gardiner
Costume Design by Mara Gottler
Lighting Design by Don Griffiths
Sound Design by Darryl Patterson
CAST
Percy Bysshe Shelley  Peter Wilds
Claire Clairemont Michelle Porter
Mary Shelley Beverly Bardal
George Gordon, Lord Byron Barry Levy
Dr. William Polidori Neil Gallagher
Harriet Westbrook Susan C. Bertoia
PRODUCTION
Technical Director Ian Pratt
Set Construction  Don Griffiths, John Henrickson
Robert Moser
Costume Supervisor Chelsea Moore
Cutters  Jean Driscoll-Bell, Leslie White
Properties Sherry Milne
Stage Manager Nik Von Schulmann
Assistant Stage Manager  Jo Howitz
Lighting Operator  Lisa Roy
Sound Operator  Jeff Rankin
Scenic Artist Robert Gardiner
Scene Painting Theatre 352
Assistant Set Designer Cricket Price
Props Assistants  Celine Boucher, Karen Gunther
Wardrobe Mistress Nancy Canning
Costume Accessories  Carin Christensen, Jo Howitz,
Eileen Lumley, Glynis Lumley,
Decima Mitchell, Laura Morrison,
Nancy Canning, Jeanna South,
Christine Tan, Carta Weaver,
Barbara Wilson
Make Up Nick Davis
Hair Stylist Elizabeth Nichol
Crew   Jacqueline Bazley, Ken Kaneko,
Lynda Phillips, Noyus Poon,
Barbara Wilson
Program Book Coordinator  Nadene Rehnby
Box Office  Carolyn Preiswerck, Mariascha Wright
Business Manager  Marjorie Fordham
Production Manager Robert Eberle
Acknowledgements
The Vancouver Playhouse
Corinne Nurse Design Sketches by ROBERT GARDINER
Costume Sketches by MARA GOTTLER BOOK CORNER
HOUSE CALLS
ROD MENZIES, the Theatre Department's voice teacher, played
Mercutio this summer in a production of Shakespeare's "Romeo
and Juliet" with Canada's only horse-drawn company, "Caravan
Theatre".
***
ROBERT EBERLE, the production manager of the Frederic
Wood Theatre, toured South America in July to recruit new talent
for the Vancouver Childrens' Festival.
***
Ten Further Plays by Howard Brenton
Revenge
1969
Christie in Love
1969
Scott of the Antarctic
1971
Hitler Dances
1972
The Churchill Play
1974
Epsom Downs
1977
The Romans in Britain
1980
Sleeping Policemen
1983
The Genius
1984
Pravda
1985
The plays of Howard Brenton are published by Methuen.
They can be ordered through the UBC Bookstore.
CHRISTOPHER GALLAGHER from the Department's Film
Division has just completed principal photography for his new
feature movie "Where is Memory" in Germany and France.
***
Last year's MFA graduate BRUCE DOW is in Toronto on a 8-
month stint with the sell-out production of "Les Miserables".
*** Frederic Wood Theatre
Coming Attractions
SHE STOOPS
TO CONQUER
by OLIVER GOLDSMITH
November 15-25
Directed by Kevin Orr
SWEENEY
TODD
Music and Lyrics by
STEPHEN SONDHEIM
Book by HUGH WHEELER
January 17 - February 3
Directed by French Tickner
HERR PUNTILA
AND HIS
SERVANT MATTI
by BERTOLT BRECHT
March 7-17
Directed by Arne Zaslove
BOX OFFICE
228-2678
Department of Theatre
The University of British Columbia

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