Saying we live in turbulent political times is probably a bit of an understatement, with the fractures in our society being more prevalent than ever. But great work has come from exploring these issues and, with it being International Literacy Day, we thought who better to recommend the best plays to read at the moment than some of our favourite playwrights?
Both a writer and an actor, Nathan was writer in residence at Paines Plough in 2015, having his first radio play Bilal’s Birthday produced in New York earlier this year by Naked Radio and Paines Plough.
THE GOOD DOG by Arinzé Kene
“He paints the picture of Tottenham as this interesting, busy, bustling, energised community which goes through the riots. The play takes you through the life of a young black boy, at times it’s so fucking painful and at times euphoric, we see his journey and every story is painted so fucking beautifully. When I grow up I want to write like that!
Artistic Director of Little Pieces of Gold, Suzette has also had her play The Sting produced at Southwark Playhouse and the Arcola Theatre, and Superman & Me ran at The Kings Head Theatre last summer.
SKIN A CAT by Isley Lynn
Producer, director and playwright of The F Word; which returns to the Drayton Arms Theatre this November following performances at The Edinburgh Fringe, Red Lion Theatre and Theatre503.
IPHIGENIA IN SPLOTT by Gary Owen
“In such a bizarre political climate with the class divide widening, arguably wider than it has been in years, it shows the human loss and sacrifice made by the average person who relies on public services, be that a local library all the way to the NHS, and tells the most harrowing story I’ve read in years. In an age of cuts from the state, it was the first time I really felt a play could be used as an act of protest and has really changed the way I write characters. If it doesn’t tickle your fancy, read any Gary Owen because he’s just fab.”
Hannah has just finished an attachment at Bush Theatre as part of Project 2036. Her most recent show, The Scar Test, was performed on tour and at Soho Theatre this July.
Hannah couldn’t pick just one (and who can blame her?) so we’ve got an extra one thrown in as a bonus…
“Adebayo transcribes the recording of the arrest of Sandra Bland in Texas on 10 July 2015. Sandra Bland was pulled over by a Police Officer for a failure to signal. Things escalated, she was forcefully arrested and three days later found hanged in her cell.
Adebayo reimages the exchange as “a requiem in words, to be spoken by a large cast of black women actors and a huge cast of all women who want to join in”. It’s as powerful a piece of political theatre as I’ve seen and it speaks to events that are happening right now that we need to urgently address.”
CATHY by Ali Taylor
“This was produced by Cardboard Citizens. A reworking of Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home for today. It’s a well observed, human and ultimately devastating play about how our society is set up to fail those in need. The power of this piece of writing is that it made me realise how fragile my own situation is, and see that it’s a mere few steps from a privileged ‘housed’ position to homelessness.
Milly is an actor and playwright whose plays Brutal Cessation and Dust ran at The Edinburg Fringe this year, with Milly receiving the Stage Edinburg Award for her performance in Dust.
OIL by Ella Hickson
And if that wasn’t enough reading for you, LPB have just launched our new book club for members. First up: Hamlet! Click here to find out more.
We’ve also provided links to everything the playwrights have recommended here using the Amazon Affiliates scheme. This means that if you buy anything from this list after clicking through our links, we’ll get a small percentage of the sale to help us keep running the blog, and it won’t cost you anything extra. So if you do end up buying any of these brilliant plays, we’d really appreciate it if you clicked through from here first. Thanks!