Warwick Arts Centre & China Plate Present TRYING IT ON by David Edgar
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 contemplative 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 as part of their new partnership with Warwick Arts Centre. The production will debut in the Midlands, where David was born and has lived for most of his adult life and includes dates at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where David's parents, both actors, met for the first time in 1938.
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 sees a number of revivals of his work. Alongside his adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (currently touring), his hugely successful adaptation of A Christmas Carol returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in December. Additionally, the RSC will revive David's classic text Maydays, which explores how some of the radical 1968 generation defected to the right. An appropriate companion piece to Trying It On, the two plays will run alongside each other at the venue this Autumn.
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: The Caretaker (Bristol Old Vic/Royal and Derngate Northampton) and Twelve Angry Men (Birmingham Rep/West End).