West End Highlights 2009

The first in V&A Channel's round up of highlights from leading West End productions

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Extract from ‘Jerusalem’ by Jez Butterworth, Royal Court Theatre:

Roehorns, beloved spongers, make merry, for tonight, like the flaming flock of snakes, we will storm from the top village and burn every house, shop and farm, and we’re going to behead the mayor…imprison the rotary club, pillage the funds, rob the tombola, and whip through a whirlwind of rabid army, of unwashed, unstable, unhinged, friendless, penniless, baffled bezerkers, with all their godforsaken towns, and together snout by jowl we’re going to rise up…and we’re going to ride on Salisbury, Marlborough, Devizes… until the old plain of Wiltshire dances to the tune of our minstrel. God damn the neighbour, and fuck the new estate.


From ‘Endgame’ by Samuel Beckett, Duchess Theatre

Hamm: Clov

Clov: Yes

Hamm: What’s happening?

Clov: Something is taking its course

Hamm: Clov

Clov: What is it?

Hamm: We’re not beginning to, to mean something?

Clov: Mean something, you and I mean something. That’s a good one.

Hamm: I wonder: just imagine if a rational being came back to earth again. Wouldn’t he be liable to get ideas into his head if he was to observe us long enough? Oh good, now I see what it is. Yes, now I understand it. But without going so far, we ourselves, we ourselves have certain moments to think that perhaps it might not all have been for nothing.


From ‘Seize the Day’ by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Tricycle Theatre

First speaker: You know, last night standing in that hall in front of two thousand black people, I felt fear right at my centre. I’ve always wanted to be a success, not loads of money or lackeys, but power and the kind that makes a difference. And there it was within my grasp, and just as I was about to accept the mantle placed before me, I saw you, Nidel, and I remembered you once called me a ‘white man’s bitch’, and that hurt because in many ways I’ve been rewarded for that time and time again. And there I was, about to be rewarded for being someone else’s… In that moment I heard you for the first time. How could I call myself a man when I constantly do the bidding of others, constantly slip in and out of the skins they give me, and as our eyes connected I found the strength to say no. I never say no. I found the strength to show the real me to the world, and not give a damn. You did that for me, Nidal.

Second speaker: Did you bring me all the way down here to say that, because trust me I had to pay five eighty on my oyster, and we could have chatted about this on the phone.


From ‘The Caretaker’ by Harold Pinter, Liverpool Everyman

I said to this monk, I said to him, look here mister, I said. He opened a door, big door, he opened it. Look here, mister, I said, I come all the way down here and I showed him these. You haven’t got a pair of shoes, have you? Eh, pair of shoes, enough to keep me on my way. Look at these, I said, this lot, they’re no good to me. I’ve heard you got a stock of shoes here. Piss off, he says to me. Look here, I said, I’m an old man, I said, you can’t talk to me like that, all I’m asking for is a pair of shoes. You don’t want to start taking liberties with me. Its taken me three days to get here, I said, three days without a bite. I’m worth a bite to eat aren’t I? Get off round the corner to the kitchen, he says, get off round the corner to the kitchen, and when you’ve had your meal, piss off out of here. I go round the corner to the kitchen. Meal they give me, a bird I tell you, a little bird, a tiny little bird, he could have eat it in under two minutes. Right, you’ve had your meal, now get off out of it. Meal, I said, what do you think I am, a dog? Nothing better than a dog?


From ‘Aladdin’ by Susie McKenna, Hackney Empire

[Chorus singing]

From modern classics to new drama, the V&A records highlights of London’s West End productions on film. Filmed by the museum’s Theatre and Performance department, these recordings of plays are kept within the National Video Archive of Performance forever. V&A Channel will be broadcasting a selection of short highlights of these recordings on a regular basis. This first selection sees former Globe Artistic Director Mark Rylance perform in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, and as Hamm in the acclaimed production of Beckett’s Endgame directed by and co-starring Simon McBurney.


Also featured are Jonathan Pryce's definitive performance as The Caretaker, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Seize the Day and a brilliant production of Aladdin.