Play acting

18th September 1998 at 01:00
PLAYFORMS: seven scripts for secondary drama. By James Saunders and Robin Rook. Cambridge University Press Pounds 4.50.

A modern morality play, a fantasy set in suburbia and a farce of middle-class manners all feature in this short collection of scripts.

Some of the plays work better than others. "Naturalism" and "farce" lend themselves quite easily to contemporary render-ings, but "Brechtian" theatre might have been better served by a short piece of Brecht, and "absurdism" by an extract from, say, Adamov or Ionesco. Sim-ilarly, the authors' melodrama is not quite 19th-century pastiche nor does it sit comfortably in the present day where pupils' experience of melodrama is most likely to be in the form of an episode of EastEnders or Brookside. Genre is bound by history; pulled from their historicalcontexts, some of these examples seem a bit stranded.

It is good to see a volume that broaches the subject of dramatic genre and does so in such an accessible way. For some young readers it may be their first glimpse of the dramatic possibilities that lie beyond spontaneous role-play and improvisation.

David Hornbrook is arts inspector for the London borough of Camden.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today