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Whose Life is it Anyway?

Whose Life is it Anyway?
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Brian Clark
Publisher: Dramatic Publishing (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 82
Pub. Date: 1980
ISBN-10: 0871293293
ISBN-13: 9780871293299
Cast Size: 5 female, 9 male

About the Play:

Whose Life Is It Anyway? has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Female/Male Scenes, and Male/Male Scenes.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? is a full-length drama by Brian Clark. When does the individual's right to die supersede society's right to maintain life? After suffering hopeless physical impairment, the main character speaks out and raises difficult questions about who makes the final decision on how to live and when to die. Whose Life Is It Anyway? explores one of the most complex and controversial issues of our time.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? is the fundamental question posed by the central character in this extraordinary play. Ken Harrison (Claire Harrison in some later productions), a successful sculptor, has been so severely injured in a car crash that he is totally paralyzed; only his brain functions normally. He is being kept alive by support systems in a hospital. Outwardly he's cheerful and often very funny, but he's overwhelmed by the fact that he has lost control of his own life. He decides against being kept alive as a medical achievement – he wishes to die. This he could achieve by discharging himself from hospital but being wholly helpless has to gain the consent of the medical bureaucracy. A brilliant battle of wits takes place because his physician is utterly determined to preserve Ken's life, regardless of its quality. But whose suffering is really being eased? The patient's or the doctors', and whose life is it anyway? Finally, despite the pleas of the doctor and his involved nurse, Ken invokes the law of habeas corpus and a judge joins the battle to determine Whose Life Is It Anyway? More relevant than ever, this enormously witty and compassionate play continues to raise important issues of medical ethics and human dignity.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? was originally a television play seen as part of the ITV Sunday Night Theatre series in 1972 and quickly earned a showing on the American network PBS. The stage play premiered in 1978 at the Mermaid Theatre in London, before playing at the Savoy Theatre in the commercial heart of British theatre, the West End. It was a remarkable success, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play – the ultimate standard in British playwriting – and transferred to Broadway at the Trafalgar Theatre where it ran for a year and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 5 female, 9 male

What people say:

"A battle of ideas and a battle for life. It is a rare successful effort to use a tense and provacative argument, carried on in unashamed vigor and prolixity, with a play that lives and moves." — New York Times

"As relevant today as it was when it won the Society of West End Theatre's best play award." — London Theatre Guide

"A production that makes us grapple with a question so fundamental to our humanity deserves attention." — The Georgia Straight (Vancouver)

About the Playwright:

Brian Robert Clark (1932-2021) was a British playwright and the writer of some of television's most unlikely but exquisite successes. His writing career began when he was 40, with an overnight success, Whose Life is it Anyway?, a modest television play which became an international stage success and ultimately a Hollywood movie.