Monday, January 28, 2008

Wesker's Roots

In The Guardian, Arnold Wesker remembers how his play Roots (revived at the Manchester from Wednesday) overcame the initial doubts of George Devine and Tony Richardson's English Stage Company.
Devine and Richardson rejected it. They wanted me to rewrite the play combining the first and second act, making the existing third act into the second act, and to write a new third act in which Ronnie appeared. They argued, not unreasonably (but unsubtly) that the audience's interest in the boy had been aroused and now they wanted to see him. The brilliant men of the theatre had missed the point of the play - as they had done with Chicken Soup With Barley, which began its life at the newly built Belgrade Theatre in Coventry (50 years ago this coming July), and as they were to do with Chips With Everything, which also began its life at the Belgrade before transferring to the Court and later to the Vaudeville Theatre, where it ran for a year. Their suggestions for changing Roots shocked me somewhat; they were so banal. I rejected them and prepared to face the end of my career as a playwright.

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