Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Aristocrats & Harvest & Monsterists

Saw Friel’s Aristocrats at the National. Left feeling slightly perplexed. I wasn’t particularly moved by the play and the pacing seemed slow but perhaps I simply just wasn’t engaging it on its level. I shall dwell on it. It certainly is meant to deal with “big” intergenerational themes of the “aristocratic” roman-catholic Irish seen through the conflicted children.

Richard Bean, writes on a big theme at the Royal Court from beginning of Sep in his new play Harvest: Yorkshire rural life from 1914 to 2005, as seen through four generations of the same family. Wilson Milam directs. There are at least 12 in the cast. Wow. As a relatively new writer, I don’t think I’d get away with 12 in the cast but maybe that’s why we have monsterists trying to change that…

Hull-born, Bean’s trademark at first was gritty work plays – Toast (Royal Court, 1999) and Under the Whaleback (Royal Court, 2003) – but he also writes politically incorrect black comedy: The Mentalists (National, 2002), The God Botherers (Bush, 2003) and Honeymoon Suite (Roayl Court, 2004).

He’s known for being a “monsterist” and was involved in the Monster Day Out at the Hampstead this year.

A group of writers who originally met during Trevor Nunn’s valedictory Transformations season at the National in 2002. Practitioners such as Richard Bean, Simon Bowen, Moira Buffini, David Eldridge, Tanika Gupta, Jonathan Lewis, Colin Teevan and Roy Williams issued the Monsterist manifesto ‘to promote new writing of large-scale work in the British theatre’.

The idea is to see new work that is large in theme and large in ambition (not necessarily large in cast size?!)

It’s interesting to ask what is a big play? how long should it be Michael Billington thinks he knows.

But “small plays” or rather small scale can actually turn out to have amazing “big ideas” in them, like Pinter, I wonder if these would fit the monsterist ideal. Probably not quite as they are aiming for large scale. More in another post.

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  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen