Brief Encounter with Fraser Grace
Date: 26 May 2010
What made you choose this subject for the play?
It's a great story! I've known and been fascinated by the story of King David, Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, all my life – even as a child I could smell intrigue and skullduggery. So when it occurred to me to write a play on a classical tale (and a classical scale), it was an obvious contender. I went back to the Bible and found quite a different David – not the shepherd-turned-giant-slayer I remembered, but a ruthless killer. That was a surprise, and it got me hooked.
Other than the biblical story, what research (if any) did you do?
Most of my other plays have involved masses of research – which is fine by me. One of the perks of being a playwright is that you get to explore worlds you know nothing about. But the process for this play has been very different. I did look at George Peele's play of 1587 The Love of King David and the Fair Bethsebe – it's one of the few theatrical treatments of the story. But mostly, it's been reading the Old Testament, and soul searching (aka staring out of the window, thinking), then making dinner (more thinking) and so on, until thinking spills into writing (and more thinking) and a lot of sleepless nights.
Does the story of David have contemporary relevance and if so, what?
This play has no relevance whatsoever to today's world – unless you've noticed that our world is full of people who believe God is on their side – and that their (our) killing is therefore not only justified, but heroic, glorious, divine. The play even asks whether we would be better off with no god at all – a proposition many people find attractive, myself included at times – until we read about Stalin, Pol Pot, and so on. These were leaders who rejected the idea of there being any higher power than themselves. The results weren't pretty. So, the play sits squirming in the lap of one of the biggest issues we, our children and our children's children – should there be a world left for them – will face: is it better to have a god whose judgments we can follow, or to trust in human justice and mercy alone? The jury, as they say, is out.
How did you come to be a playwright?
Writer – student – actor – performance poet – playwright.
What other plays have you written and for which theatres?
Lots, but here's three: Perpetua for the Birmingham Rep and the Soho Theatre. It was joint winner of the Verity Bargate Award and this was the play that got me going, professionally. Breakfast with Mugabe for the RSC, which won the John Whiting Award and later transferred to the Soho Theatre and the Duchess Theatre in the West End – probably the play that has been my most successful with two subsequent productions here and in the US, where there will be a new production in autumn 2010. The Lifesavers for Theatre 503 and the Colchester Mercury Theatre. That was the play which introduced me to Dee Evans and this fantastic Mercury ensemble.
What's next in your pipeline?
I'm currently working with the composer Andrew Lovett on an opera. It's called Don't Breathe A Word and is very scandalous. It's under development with the Royal Opera House at the moment; we're hoping it will surface sometime in 2011.
- by Anne Morley-Priestman
Related ContentBack to Southeast Homepage
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
|Infographic: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK |
When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t...
|Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth|
Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d...
|Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner|
Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo...
|Titus Andronicus (RSC)|
This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p...
|Take Five: Britain's outdoor theatres|
With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ...
|West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month|
West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar...
|Robert Sean Leonard: 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders'|
Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K...
|To Kill A Mockingbird|
Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in...
|X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 |
The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L...
|Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus |
The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...