A Script in the Hand...Date: 23 March 2011
Quite a lot of us may wander around with iPads or Kindles these days, but actors still need to carry a paper script through the read-through and rehearsal periods. Sometimes these are readily available to the producing company, especially where a well-known classic drama is concerned.
But how do you go about finding copies of less-well known plays from the prolific 18th and 19th century repertoires? No problem, of course, if you’re mounting a revival of The Rivals or The School for Scandal. There are a host of critically annotated editions to choose from. But what if you want to stage a comedy by Elizabeth Inchbald or a tragedy by George Lillo?
The Georgian Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has an ongoing programme of Restoring the Repertoire from “the long 18th century” as artistic director Colin Blumenau describes it. As well as full-staged productions, there have been a series of Script in Hand presentations ever since the restored theatre reopened in 2007, and next week (29 March to 1 April) even a lunchtime production – Harriet Cowley’s A Bold Stroke for a Husband.
So it’s not surprising that the theatre has teemed up with the independent play and musical publishers Stagescripts to launch an online download and licensing service devoted to these revivals. It’s often said that a book is the same whether in manuscript or in print, but a play only comes to life when acted. Academics across the world as well as theatre practitioners can access these plays in the acting versions pioneered by the Theatre Royal.
A comb-bound paper copy of the script costs £6.95, or the pdf version is available for £3.75 – but, of course, you have to print that out for yourself. Special security measures are in place in respect of copyright and performance licensing, Initially three plays, all given full-scale productions over the last few years, are available – two by Inchbald (Wives As They Were, Maids As They Are and The Massacre) and Thomas Holcroft’s He’s Much To Blame.
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