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Sean O'Casey

SEAN O'CASEY

  (1880 - 1964)

Nationality:    Irish
email:    n/a     Website:    n/a

Literary Agent:    Macnaughton Lord Representation (Theatrical and Literary Agents)  

Sean O'Casey, a child of the Dublin slums, was born in 1880 to a Protestant family. He had a grim childhood of poverty, poor eyesight, and ill health. Although a chronic eye disease forced him to stay away from school because of his eye treatments, his passion for learning stayed with him. In his youth he read widely in the classics and in the Bible, and at 84 he was learning through radio sessions of the Schools Program of the British Broadcasting Corporation. His poor eyesight plagued him all his life, which he lived every day with the increasing threat of total blindness. As a child, he developed an ulcerated cornea in his left eye, the effects of which left his vision dim and filmy. His right eye took on the strain of his work and was also periodically affected. Several times a day he had to sponge his eyes with water as hot as he could bear in order to relieve the condition that severely hampered his vision. Sean O'Casey was an idealist with a strong sense of justice that marked his life and work. Early in his adult life he was caught up in the fervour of the Gaelic League and in the amateur theatre movement. O'Casey claimed he found his "faith" in the socialist ideals of Jim Larkin's crusade for the Irish working class. (The general strike of 1913 began the first demands for Irish liberation.) In his early forties, while continuing to support himself as a labourer, we wrote, in quick succession three realistic plays about the slums of Dublin. The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars were performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1923, 1924, and 1926 respectively. The first takes up the terrors of the Black and Tans in Dublin. The second has a Civil War theme, and the last is focused on the Irish Citizen Army and the Easter Rising. These plays provoked public outcry mainly because of O'Casey's consistent refusal to glorify the violence of the nationalist movement, instead mocking the heroics of war and presenting the theme that dead heroes were far outnumbered by dead innocent people. Frank O'Connor, in A Short History of Irish Literature: A Backward Look, says that what unifies these plays and sets them apart from O'Casey's later works is "the bitter recognition that while the men dream, drink, drivel, dress up and go play-acting, some woman with as much brains and far more industry sacrifices herself to keep the little spark of human life from going out altogether." O'Casey followed these plays of realism with The Silver Tassie, which was submitted to the Abbey Theatre in 1927. It was a play considered more symbolic and expressionistic than the previous Abbey plays. While three acts were in typical lively O'Casey style, the second act included chants and dance movement. The Silver Tassie was labelled a tragicomedy based on the cruel horrors of World War I. It showed the price which the common people have to pay for the stupidities of war. It was rejected for the Abbey Theatre by its directors, and in a formal letter from William Butler Yeats to O'Casey, Yeats suggested that O'Casey "had no subject" and that he was "not interested in the Great War." The controversy was carried to the public eye by O'Casey who, having copies of all the Abbey correspondence related to the decision to reject his play, sent the letters, along with his caustic reply to Yeats, to the London "Observer" and the "Irish Statesman." After this rejection, O'Casey offered no more plays to the Abbey Theatre. Most of his plays which followed, filled with symbolism and fantasy, were infused with the evangelical view that became the theme of the rest of O'Casey's life. These plays include Within the Gates, The Star Turns Red, Purple Dust, Red Roses for Me, Oak Leaves and Lavender, and Cock A Doodle Dandy. With the exception of Within the Gates, none of the later plays had the critical acclaim or success that were given his earlier work. O'Casey's alleged communism represents another aspect of his life and work which calls for interpretation. Brooks Atkinson, in his Introduction to The Sean O'Casey Reader, presents a balanced view of O'Casey's professed allegiance. Like other aspects of O'Casey's creativity, Atkinson saw him as an original in his thinking, for O'Casey saw Keats, Shelley, Dickens, Whitman, even Jesus Christ as Communists. "Any man who is honest and gives all he can to the community is a Communist," O'Casey said. His only humourless play, The Star Turns Red, put on by a leftist group in London in 1940, was his salute to Communism. As Atkinson points out, despite O'Casey's public comments, his play, and his articles for "The London Daily Worker," the author's "Communism had a flamboyant style. But it must have perplexed orthodox Communists. As usual, he made his own rules and preserved his personal independence." O'Casey's finest writing after his self-imposed exile from Ireland in 1926 is considered to be his six volumes of autobiography: I Knock at the Door, Pictures in the Hallway, Drums Under the Window, Inishfallen Fare Thee Well, Rose and Crown, and Sunset and Evening Star. They were written as stream of consciousness works and in a brilliantly subjective style and voice of the third person named Johnny Casside. David Krause, author of Sean O'Casey and His World, says of the autobiography: "Like the voluble characters in his plays, O'Casey can be profligate and exuberant with words, playing with their sounds and meanings, indulging in the Joycean game of puns, parodies, malapropisms and comic invective." Brooks Atkinson remarks that Sean O'Casey "wrote the most glorious English of his era - the English nearest in colour and strength to the Elizabethan. . .He had the moral courage of an idealist. Whatever his religious ideas may have been, I think God had reason to be proud of Sean O'Casey." - http://www.irish-society.org/home/hedgemaster-archives-2/people/o-casey-sean

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below is a list of Sean O'Casey's plays - click on a Play Title for more information

        Bedtime Story         Behind the Green Curtains         Bishop's Bonfire, The         Cathleen Listens In         Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy         Drums Of Father Ned, The : A Mickrocosm Of Ireland         End Of the Beginning, The         Figuro In the Night         Hall Of Healing         Harvest Festival, The         Juno And the Paycock         Kathleen Listens In         Moon Shines On Kylenamoe, The         Nannie's Night Out         Oak Leaves and Lavender, or A World on Wallpaper         Plough And the Stars, The         Pound On Demand         Purple Dust         Red Roses For Me         Shadow Of A Gunman         Silver Tassie, The         Star Turns Red, The         Three Shouts from Hill         Time To Go         Within the Gates



Bedtime Story

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Yugoslav-American Hall, NY    1952

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1951   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Anatole Burlesque 1 Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

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Behind the Green Curtains

Synopsis:
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1st Produced:
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY    1962

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1961   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Bishop's Bonfire, The

Bishop's Bonfire, The
A man stands firm against clErical oppression

Notes:
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1st Produced:
Gaiety Theatre, Dublin    1955

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1955   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Comedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Cathleen Listens In

Synopsis:
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1st Produced:

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1st Published:
-   -

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Genre:
Comic Fantasy One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

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Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy

Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy
A magic cock forces people to choose between liberation or repression

Notes:
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1st Produced:
People's Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne    1949

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1949   978-0861403428

Music:
-

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Genre:
Comic Fantasy Comedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

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Drums Of Father Ned, The : A Mickrocosm Of Ireland

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Lafyette    1959

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan 1960   B000ILGCW6

Music:
-

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Genre:
Comic Fantasy Comedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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End Of the Beginning, The

Synopsis:
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1st Produced:

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1st Published:
Published, 1935
Contained in: "O'Casey Five One Act Plays" published by Macmillan 1958   -

Music:
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Genre:
Farce One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

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Figuro In the Night

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Theatre de Lys, NY    1962

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1961   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Comedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Hall Of Healing

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Yugoslav-American Hall, NY    1952

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1951   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Farce One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Harvest Festival, The

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Never produced    -

Company:
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1st Published:
Colin Smythe, London, 1980   -

Music:
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Genre:
Three Acts Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Juno And the Paycock

Juno And the Paycock
Tragicomedy of the tenement dwellers in Dublin of 1922, a world invaded by the cruelties of war. While "Captain" Jack Boyle struts about from pub to pub like a "paycock," his long-suffering wife Juno struggles to make ends meet in their meagre home. their daughter Mary, having joined the workers' strike, is no longer providing money for food, and their son Johnny, armless and lame as a result of his part in the battle for independence, has become timid and afraid, especially when he hears of the violence in the street. It appears that the bullet-ridden body of Robbie Tancred, a young neighbour with whom Johnny vehemently denies any friendship, has been found. Although Juno and the Captain try to comfort Mrs. Tancred, they are not deeply affected by her tragedy. However, the news brought by Mary's new suitor, the lawyer Charlie Bentham, that they have inherited half the property of a rich relative, sets them to animated rejoicing. the Captain promises to change his ways, to stop drinking, at last to get a job,

Notes:
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1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1925   -

Music:
Cast recording of Cyril Cussack's production, Dublin: Seraphin Records

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Genre:
Tragedy

Parts:
Male:  12            Female:  6            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Kathleen Listens In

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
-   -

Music:
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Genre:
One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Moon Shines On Kylenamoe, The

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:
Theatre de Lys, NY    1962

Company:
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1st Published:
Published, 1961   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Comedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Nannie's Night Out

Synopsis:
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Notes:
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1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Contained in: "Best Short Plays Of the World Theatre 1958 - 1967" published by Crown Publishers   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
Farce One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Oak Leaves and Lavender, or A World on Wallpaper

Oak Leaves and Lavender, or A World on Wallpaper
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Notes:
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1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan 1946   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Morality Play

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Plough And the Stars, The

Plough And the Stars, The
Tragicomedy set in a Dublin tenement district late in 1915 and early in 1916, before and during the Easter Rebellion, whose participants fight under the banner of Irish independence, the plough and the stars. Peace-loving Nora Clitheroe, a pregnant young bride, tries to prevent her husband Jack from becoming a commandant in the Irish Citizen Army. their boarders and neighbours include Peter Flynn, an old Irish Patriot; "the Covey," an ineffectual Communist; Fluther Good, an easygoing Catholic; Bessie Burgess, a hymn-singing drunk who is loyal to the Crown; and Rosie Redmond, a tart. Jack leaves to take command of his troops, and Bessie, having surveyed the battle, reports that the city is full of looters. Loyalty to the cause of Irish independence seems to vanish when all the neighbours join in the plundering. Meanwhile, Nora frantically searches for Jack. He returns, only to leave her again to help a dying comrade-in-arms. With much of Dublin in flames, word comes of Jack's heroic death, but Nora, whose mind

Notes:
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1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1926   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Tragedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Pound On Demand

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
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1st Produced:
American Repertory Theatre, NY    1947

Company:
-

1st Published:
Published, 1951   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Farce One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Purple Dust

Purple Dust
An Off-Broadway hit. "a. . .harum-scarum piece of low comedy and poetic rhapsody. . .more like a gambol than a conventional play. . .Mr. O'Casey's knockabout humor and his purple prose have been blended into a theatrical entertainment." -NY Times. ". . .original admixture of superb lyricism and madcap farce. . .a very beautiful and richly comic play, with a kind of wild and unruly magnificence about it. . .a wild, gay exuberance, and, combined with the distinguished loveliness of his lilting prose, the result is wonderfully exhilarating." -NY Post.

Notes:
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1st Produced:
Boston Tributary Theatre, Boston    1944

Company:
-

1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1940   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Wayward Comedy Comedy

Parts:
Male:  11            Female:  3            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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Red Roses For Me

Red Roses For Me
the New York Times describes the play ". . .as based on a strike in Dublin in 1913-1914 that led to the 'bloody Easter Week Rising of 1916.' But as in all Mr. O'Casey's latter-day plays, the real theme is the life of man-his valor, his joy, his love, his religious devotion, his loyalty and his belief in the future. . ."

Notes:
-

1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan 1942   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Play/Drama

Parts:
Male:  21            Female:  9            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Shadow Of A Gunman

Synopsis:
Tragedy of the inadvertent involvement in war of a poet and a peddler, set in Dublin in 1920 during the guerrilla warfare between the insurgent Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British forces. the peddler, Seumas Shields, takes into his tenement quarters Donal Davoren, a struggling, self-proclaimed poet whom the neighbours mistake for a brave IRA fighter. Davoren enjoys his new-found notoriety, especially when Minnie Powell falls in love with the image of him as the romantic poet-gunman. Meanwhile, a real patriot, Shields's friend Maguire, secretly hides a bagful of homemade bombs in the unsuspecting Shields's room and then goes off to an ambush that proves fatal. Afterward, during the resulting curfew, the Auxiliary Guard descends on the tenement. Having discovered Maguire's bombs, both Shields and Davoren panic, but Minnie retrieves the bag and hides it in her room. As a result, she is arrested and in trying to escape is shot to death. It is the shock of Minnie's death that reveals to Davoren his cowardl

Notes:
-

1st Produced:

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1925   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
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Genre:
Tragedy

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Silver Tassie, The

Silver Tassie, The
Expressionistic tragicomedy about World War I containing a bitter indictment of war. Harry Heegan, a football hero who has won a coveted silver cup, the Silver Tassie, which for him symbolises victorious youth, loves beautiful Jessie Taite. Harry and Jessie drink the heady wine of love and victory from the cup before Harry must go back to the front. An expressionistic second act shows the horrors of the battlefield, and the succeeding two acts reveal the realistic consequences of that horror. the war kills and injures many who are dear to Harry, and he returns from it a wheelchair invalid whom Jessie drops for his healthy friend Barney. At a celebration of the Avondale Football Club after the war, the disabled wear their medals. Harry, symbolic of all soldiers, bitterly resents his lot, and in a moment of high ceremony he drinks wine, which resembles the blood shed in battle, from his old silver cup.

Notes:
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1st Produced:
Apollo Theatre, London    11 Oct 1929

Company:
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1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1928
Faber and Faber Ltd, London (2014) >>>    -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Tragi-Comedy Tragedy

Parts:
Male:  22            Female:  5            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Star Turns Red, The

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
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1st Produced:
Unity Theatre, London    1940

Company:
-

1st Published:
Macmillan 1940   -

Music:
-

To Buy This Play:
If Publisher (above) is underlined then the play may be purchased by direct click from the Publisher, otherwise (below) are AbeBooks for secondhand, signed & 1st eds and other Booksellers for new copies

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Genre:
Morality Play One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Three Shouts from Hill

Synopsis:
Revival

Notes:
-

1st Produced:

Company:
-

1st Published:
-   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Three Plays

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:

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Time To Go

Synopsis:
-

Notes:
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1st Produced:
Yugoslav-American Hall, NY    1952

Company:
-

1st Published:
Contained in: "Collected Plays volume Four" published by Macmillan 1949   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Morality Comedy One Act

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
-

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Within the Gates

Within the Gates
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Notes:
-

1st Produced:
Royalty Theatre, London    1934

Company:
-

1st Published:
Macmillan, London, 1933   -

Music:
-

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Genre:
Morality Play in 4 scenes

Parts:
Male:  -            Female:  -            Other:  -

Further Reference:
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