TRYING IT ON Will Embark on Autumn Tour
Prolific playwright David Edgar is directed in his professional performance debut by triple Fringe First Award-winner Christopher Haydon in a solo show considering the legacy of the events of 1968. In 1968, playwright David Edgar was 20 years old. It was also the year of some of the most important and formative events in modern history, including the Paris student revolt, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech, and the ongoing war in Vietnam. Trying It On is a new play written and performed by David Edgar, which reflects on the legacy of this momentous year, drawing on first-person interviews with some of the leading political figures of the time, as well as contemporary activists. The performance also marks David's first professional stage performance in this autobiographical one-man play.
Noted for his political dramas, which have been staged at The National Theatre and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the events of 1968 helped define David Edgar's politics and give focus to his writing. In Trying It On, the 70-year-old David is confronted by his 20-year-old self, asking whether they share the same beliefs, and if not, what has changed.
The text has been developed through interviews conducted by the playwright with activists past and present. The production will be directed by Christopher Haydon and produced by independent studio China Plate in partnership with Warwick Arts Centre. The production debuted in 2018 in the Midlands, transferred to the Royal Court and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 28 June.
Speaking about the project, David Edgar said "I was lucky enough to have been 20 in 1968, and it's been exciting - but also painful - to look back on those times and the subsequent decades and ask questions of myself and my generation. Speaking to people who shared my biography, I've discovered things about my life and times I never knew. I've tended not to write autobiographically, and the last time I performed on a stage was in the early 1970s. So this project will tick off two items on my bucket list at once. It's been great to work with a brilliantly creative team to make the show."
David's 70th birthday year (2018) saw a number of revivals of his work. Alongside his adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, his hugely successful adaptation of A Christmas Carol returned to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for a second sell-out run last December. Additionally, the RSC revived David's classic text Maydays, which explores how some of the radical 1968 generation defected to the right. David's other work includes the award-winning Nicholas Nickleby and Pentecost for the RSC, and Entertaining Strangers, The Shape of the Table, Albert Speer and Playing with Fire for The National Theatre. His plays for the Birmingham Rep include Mary Barnes and Arthur & George. Recent productions include Testing the Echo for Out of Joint and If Only at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Christopher Haydon was Artistic Director at The Gate Theatre from 2012-2017 and formerly an Associate Director at the Bush Theatre. Credits at the Gate include: Diary of a Madman (also Traverse Theatre), The Iphigenia Quartet, The Christians (also Traverse Theatre, winner: Fringe First), Grounded (also Traverse Theatre, Studio Theatre Washington DC, national and international tour; winner: Fringe First, Best Production - Off West End Awards) and Image of an Unknown Young Woman (winner: Best Production, Off West End Awards). Freelance directing credits include: On the Exhale (Traverse) The Caretaker (Bristol Old Vic/Royal and Derngate Northampton) and Twelve Angry Men (Birmingham Rep/West End).
Established in 2006, China Plate is one of the UK's most prolific and respected independent producers of contemporary theatre, producing work that engages 35,000 audience members annually. The company's central mission is to 'challenge the way performance is made, who it's made by and who gets to experience it.' China Plate has worked with some of the UK's most talented artists, including Caroline Horton, Inspector Sands, David Edgar, Chris Thorpe, Rachel Chavkin, Rachel Bagshaw, Urielle Klein-Mekongo, Dan Jones, Ben Wright, Contender Charlie, Ella Grace, Katie Lyons, and Joan Clevillé. China Plate are Associate Producers at Warwick Arts Centre, and partners with The Place, The NRTF and Take Art on the Rural Touring Dance Initiative. This autumn they are touring: Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin's Status, David Edgar's Trying It On, and All of Me, a new show by Caroline Horton