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Our Country's Good

Our Country's Good
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Timberlake Wertenbaker
Publisher: Dramatic Publishing
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 102
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0871293420
ISBN-13: 9780871293428

About the Play:

Our Country's Good was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.

Winner of the 1988 Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award and the 1991 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best New Foreign Play

Our Country's Good is a full-length comedic drama by Timberlake Wertenbaker. In this dramatization of a real-life incident and Thomas Keneally's novel The Playmaker, it is 1788, and a Royal Marine lieutenant trys to transform a motley crew of criminals into an Acting Troupe. But with a dispirited cast, just two copies of the script, opposition from sadistic officers, a leading lady who faces the gallows, and the lovesick young lieutenant's uncontrollable passion for one of his convict players, Australia's first theatre production is in trouble from the start.

A leading London critic describes Our Country's Good as "highly theatrical, often funny and at times dark and disturbing, it sets an infant civilization on the stage with clarity, economy and insight [as] it relates the true story of the first theatrical performance in Australia." In June 1789 in the penal colony that was later to become the city of Sydney, a Royal Marine lieutenant decides to put on a play to celebrate the King's birthday. He casts the play with the English convicts who populate this distant Australian prison camp. Few of them can read, let alone act, and the play is being produced against a background of food shortages and barbaric punishments – brilliantly juxtaposed against the civilizing influence of theatrical endeavour. The "hangman," himself a convict, has been recruited along with a woman, wrongfully accused of stealing. Even as the play is being rehearsed, he measures her for a noose. Despite powerful and disturbing scenes, such as this, a London critic suggests "It's far from grim. Actually it's mostly funny!"

Our Country's Good was first staged in 1988 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, and won the Olivier/BBC award as London's best play of the year. The British director and cast then took the production to Sydney, and productions of the play became popular all over Australia. In America Our Country's Good was first produced by the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Remains Theatre in Chicago, and then the Hartford Stage. The Hartford Stage production was taken to Broadway in 1991, where it received six Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, and won the New York Drama Critics award as Best Foreign Play. The play has been widely produced in American regional, professional and academic theatres.

Cast: 5 women, 7 men

What people say:

"All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition." — The Times

"Our Country's Good is a triumph...a tribute to the transforming power of drama...It is heartening to find someone standing up for theatre's unique spiritual power." — The Guardian

"In the shared delight of her convict cast in the production of the play, [Wertenbaker] suggests, that turns a prison camp into a country." — The Telegraph

About the Playwright:

Timberlake Wertenbaker is a British playwright, screenplay writer, and translator, best known for her widely produced play Our Country's Good. Her background is as cosmopolitan as that of the variety of characters in her plays. She was born in the United States in 1951, and grew up in America and the French Basque region. She graduated from St. John's College in 1966, worked as a writer in New York, and taught French in Greece. In 1970 she moved to London where she began writing plays and working with several small theatre companies. Timberlake Wertenbaker is a British playwright who grew up in the Basque Country of France. She was Resident Writer for the Royal Court Theatre (1984-5).

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