(A shortened version of a lecture given on board Queen Elizabeth as part of the Cunard Insights programme January 2014)
Slavery is as old as civilisation itself and many ancient Empires, including Egypt, Greece and Rome, were built on slave labour. However, in the 17th and 18th centuries slavery took on a new more systematic form, in the wake of the voyages of exploration to and colonisation of the Americas by Europeans. The fertile land of the New World generated a demand for labour which far exceeded the supply of both indigenous peoples and migrants. Africa seemed to promise an unlimited supply of labour which the colonies needed and so the infamous triangular slave trade developed. Ships from Europe would take manufactured goods, including basic armaments, to ports in West Africa. There the products were offloaded and traded for African slaves, brought to the huge slave warehouses by unscrupulous traders, Continue reading „William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire“
The plot: Father Tim Farley, an elderly Roman-Catholic priest of Irish descend, is flabbergasted when he meets young head-strong seminary student Mark Dolson who insists on challenging certain rites and traditions of the Church. Accustomed to a good easy-going life, nice parishioners who follow him like sheep and spoil him with gifts such as bottles of good wine and other highly enjoyable things, he does not know what to answer when Mark questions his views on subjects as celibacy and whether women and gay men should be allowed to serve the Roman-Catholic Church as priests. “Weren’t it women who followed Jesus on his bitter way to Golgatha”, says Mark. Not to name Saint Veronica who wiped the face of Christ with her veil. As Mark’s speech goes on, Father Farley becomes extremely helpless and takes resort to a large glass of excellent white wine to calm down. What on earth does this young rebel want, the more so as he apparently is the son of affluent parents? Had he not better choose another job than Continue reading „„Mass Appeal“ – The Play by Bill C. Davis premieres at the English Theatre of Hamburg“
It is a great pleasure to see Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy “Relatively Speaking” again on the Mundsburg stage after a period of nearly fifteen years! As a matter of fact, the public loves this wonderful comedy best of all plays written by Britain’s most prolific playwright. What is its secret? In this play Ayckbourn reveals our human weakness when it comes to telling the truth in awkward situations. Be frank, dear reader, didn’t you ever tell your husband, wife, relatives or friends little white lies whenever you could avoid arguments? These lies – or shall we call them excuses – don’t hurt anybody. In our opinion it is more than justified to make use of them in the best possible way whenever harmony in relationships is at stake. Continue reading „„Relatively Speaking“ – The New Play At English Theatre of Hamburg“
Thrill as Thrill can: „Stone Cold Murder” by James Cawood – the new play at the English Theatre of Hamburg
Rejoice! This wonderful thriller comes at the very right moment before autumn arrives with fog, strong winds and rainy days. Just imagine an old hotel in the famous Lake District in north-east England at the end of the summer season. Robert and Olivia Chappell, the newly wed owners of this cosy but rather run-down place, are happy having got rid of their guests. Continue reading „„Stone Cold Murder“ the new play an the English Theatre of Hamburg“
Uta Buhr is glad to inform you about the new play which will premiere at the TET on September 5, 2013. James Cawood, a young British actor, already launched his first play – a thriller at that – in Vienna. “Stone Cold Murder” was greeted with applause by an enthusiastic audience. The romantic Lake District in mountainous North West England is the place of action of this gripping play about a young couple, a weird visitor and a stolen diamond. Out of these ingredients the author mixed a tasty and enthralling cocktail. We are absolutely sure that spectators in Hamburg will enjoy this excellent entertainment as much as their Austrian “colleagues.”
As usual, we shall come back on the play after the premiere on our website.
„BIG BOYS“ – THE NEW PLAY AT THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG, WRITTEN BY RICH ORLOFF
Did you ever hear of Rich Orloff? If not, it is high time to learn a good many things about this gifted playwright who likes to compose over-the-top comic fables as to what men value and desire. In fact, “Big Boys”, a screwball comedy which premiered in 1997 in the United States, became very quickly a great success nationwide. The subject of the play is as old as mankind itself: greed and man’s desire to dominate over other people. The relationship between a self-satisfied, bully, amoral and – of course – very successful boss and his new insecure, highly moral and unhappy assistant-to-be is dealt with in detail in this hilarious two-character comedy. Continue reading „„Big Boys“ – the new play at the English Theatre of Hamburg“
„Magic of the Paint-Brush“ Fine Art Exhibition of Witka and Dr. László Kova
It is something special when a married couple is doing the same by profession. About 30 years ago they met accidently in Hamburg/Germany: She came from Masuria/Poland and he had migrated from Budapest/Hungary. Both of them love the nature. With paint-brushes and palettes they travel the world and capture their impressions in colors. Galleries in Europe, the USA and Australia exhibit their works of art frequently.
This hilarious comedy by the British playwright Derek Benfield is just the ideal entertainment on a grey November evening and certainly the right thing for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
The fan club of the small but very nice stage will greatly enjoy this play which the author chose to dub “farce” instead of comedy. And a farce it is in fact since the plot is so commonplace and yet extremely funny. In the proper sense of the word touch and go is an aeronautic term, meaning the start of a plane. However, in the figurative sense it means risky or uncertain. That’s it: two couples, a fake Red Cross Nurse and coq au vin all combine to a really risky adventure! Continue reading „Touch And Go – The new play at the English Theatre of Hamburg“
Name one human being that does not want to be beautiful or at least good looking! But how does one describe beauty, and how important is it in everyday life? Neil Labute’s play “Reasons to be Pretty” – by the way the first one to be staged on Broadway – is all about physical attraction and how people deal with it. The plot centres around four young working class friends and lovers who become increasingly dissatisfied with their dull lives and each other. “Reasons to be Pretty” is the last – and weakest – installment of a trilogy that focuses on modern man’s obsession with physical Continue reading „„Reasons to be Pretty“ by Neil Labute“
„Moon over the Brewery“ by Bruce Graham – the new play at the English Theatre of Hamburg
The fabulous world that teenager Amanda Waslyk has built around her dull existence can by no means compete with that of Amélie, alias Audrey Toutou. Do you remember that gorgeous French film, showing those hot spots and old quarters around Montmartre? In order to cope with her loneliness in Beertown, a dirty coal town in Pennsylvania, thirteen year old Amanda invents Randolph, a smart and handsome Continue reading „„Moon over the Brewery““
Did you know that William Shakespeare, Britain’s greatest playwright ever, wrote one of the first “Sitcoms?” If you do not like this rather trivial modern word, just call it a farce. It is true that Shakespeare’s shortest and perhaps earliest comedy is based on the oeuvre by the well-known Roman citizen and comic playwright Plautus who lived around 250 B.C. The plot is quite intricate since two sets of identical twins are involved in the play, both being accidentally separated by birth on a boat totally damaged during a heavy storm in the Mediterranean Sea. Years Continue reading „“The Comedy of Errors“ by William Shakespeare“
Hilarious! The new comedy by the famous British playwright Terence Frisby is heart-warming and thus just the right thing for a dark and rainy day in the dead of winter. In the very beginning nothing seems to be funny for middle-aged Rosie Boston who has just learned about her husband’s infidelity. Piers Boston, a 53 year old business-man has madly fallen in love with his young and pretty secretary Larissa. He is planning to begin a new life with her in the couple’s posh London apartment overlooking the River Thames. Selfish as Piers is, he does not even seem to expect any objections from his wife either to share her home with Larissa or to move out for good. While Rosie is brooding over her problem, help comes from young Darren Tucker who insists on talking to her. Continue reading „A QUARTET IN TROUBLE: “FUNNY ABOUT LOVE ““
THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG CELEBRATES ITS 35TH ANNIVERSARY
BEWARE OF FOXES, LADIES – “THE FOX”, THE NEW PLAY BASED ON A NOVELLA BY D. H. LAWRENCE
What an error to believe that their life in the English countryside on their own farm would turn out to be easy going and even idyllic! Nellie March and Jill Banford, two young ladies and life-long friends, are totally frustrated. The villagers are gossiping about the women’s unconventional relationship and feel that their lifestyle is not acceptable to decent people. The play is set in the dead of winter in 1918, right after the First World War. The two girls’ farm is in a bad state, they are having trouble with their crops and their hens won’t lay. And to crown it all, a fox living in the nearby woods has been pillaging their henhouse.
While Nellie and Jill are sitting by the fireplace in their cosy cottage, seeking for a solution to make ends meet, footsteps can be heard in the courtyard. A knock at the door, and in comes a young attractive man, clad in a soldier’s uniform. He introduces himself as Henry Grenfel and pretends that he has just returned from his camp in Canada. He knows the farm, since he used to live here with his grandfather, the former owner of the estate. The intruder offers his services in exchange for food and shelter. Further he promises to kill the fox and assist the two ladies in running the farm. While Jill falls for his charms and invites him to stay, Nellie wants Henry to leave immediately. In the end, she gives in to Jill’s wish, and Henry becomes a member of the household. This ménage à trois, however, very soon proves to be a disaster. Continue reading „The English Theatre of Hamburg: „The Fox““
„ROSE’S DILEMMA“ AT THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG
From Uta Buhr
Did Neil Simon really write this play? Up to now we only knew the very worldly and sunny side of his character. However, in his latest Broadway hit the “grand seigneur” of comedy surprises us with kind of a mystery play dealing with love and loyalty that outwit death. Amazing! Just think of witty plays such as “Barefoot in the Park”, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, elegant “California Suite”, or the enchanting musical “Sweet Charity” with Shirley McLaine in the leading part – only to name a few comedies out of the author’s rich work. It seems as if Neil Simon, born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1927 has reached the age of wisdom. Let us hope that America’s most popular writer of comedy will continue to cheer us up with some new most entertaining plays in the future.
AN OLD NEW PLAY OR A NEW OLD PLAY AT THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG: GEORGE BERNHARD SHAW’S “MRS WARREN’S PROFESSION
“What a scandal – how shocking indeed!” This might have been the mildest criticism with regard to George Bernhard Shaw’s play about prostitution in Queen Victoria’s puritanical Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. As it is, the play “Mrs Warren’s Profession”, written by the author in 1894, was staged in 1902 when the virtuous ruler – Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India – had already been dead for a year. However, her high moral standards were still alive at all levels of society. What a cheek of a playwright – an Irishman at that – to stir up the hornet’s nest of dirt and prostitution which virtually did by no means exist at that time in the country. How daring! Anyway, under the severe theatre censorship of Her Majesty’s Lord Chamberlain the play was forbidden after its first performance. Later, when rules were a bit relaxed, Mrs Kitty Warren’s life as a “madam” of a string of brothels on the Continent became a great box-office success not only in Britain. Continue reading „The English Theatre of Hamburg: Mrs Warren`s Profession“
„DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME“ – THE NEW PLAY AT THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG
This hilarious play is a Christmas present for all spectators who appreciate the inborn British sense of humour. Britain boasts a great tradition in comedies. Just think of William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest dramatist ever, also known under the sobriquet “Swan of Stratford”, who not only wrote a number of tragedies, but also numerous, most entertaining comedies, such as “Twelfth Night”, “Winter’s Tale”, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and, last but not least “The Comedy of Errors.” When referring to Patrick Cargill’s “Don’t misunderstand me”, the various errors and misunderstandings between Solinus, Luciana, Lucie, Angelo and the rest of the “set” ring a bell. You may argue that Shakespeare who died nearly four hundred years ago, wrote about his contemporaries’ problems, and that Cargill’s work (the author died in 1996, aged 77) has absolutely nothing to do with the plays that his famous colleague once wrote. However, this is a fatal error. Both comedies in question deal with one and the same subject – love. If you want to learn more about the errors and tribulations resulting from marital love and secret affairs, buy a ticket and abandon yourself to the pleasure of a most amusing evening at the TET.
The English Theatre of Hamburg is happy to announce its new play „Don’t misunderstand me“, written by the famous British actor and playwright Patrick Cargill. Premiere on Thursday 25 November, 2010, at 7.30 p.m. This light-hearted comedy about Charles, the nice middle-aged family man, who desperately tries to escape his short-lived affair with a young American girl, is most amusing. Perfect entertainment for the dead of winter!
We shall come back on the play after the premiere.
THE NEW “POLITICALLY INCORRECT” PLAY AT THE ENGLISH THEATRE OF HAMBURG
Von Uta Buhr
Before you say anything about racism in today’s United States of America, think twice! This is the message of Neil Labute’s play “This is how it goes.” Most of us naïve Europeans were of the opinion that racial prejudice between black and white Americans had long been abolished. We even thought that the New World could teach Europeans a lesson concerning racial harmony. However, Neil Labute boldly opens up old wounds und shows us that crude racism still lingers below the surface of Afro-Americans and white Americans alike.
The plot is set in small town America and deals with the repercussions of an interracial love triangle. Cheerleader Belinda, a pretty middle-class blonde, meets Cody, the star of the high school track team, falls in love with him and marries the black athlete. After school Cody starts a remarkable career as a successful businessman while Belinda stays at home with their two kids. Her life as stay-at-home mom and the delicate balance of her marriage with an Afro-American is troubled when a former high school friend – simply called “the man” in the play – turns up in town and rents the small apartment over the couple’s garage. “The man” comes up with embarrassing questions about who Belinda and Cody want to be, who they are and what made them that way. It soon becomes obvious that “the man” is deeply attracted by Belinda. This worries Cody who threatens to throw “the man” out of his house. Continue reading „English Theatre of Hamburg:“This is how it goes““