Staging an ‘unbearable spectacle’: Joseph Conrad's Laughing Anne

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Abstract

Although completed in 1920 and published soon afterwards, Joseph Conrad's play Laughing Anne remained unperformed until June 2000, when the première was presented at the University of Glamorgan and toured Britain and the USA. Conrad's play was long neglected not least because of John Galsworthy's condemnation of the script as technically naïve and even, in places, threatening to present ‘an almost unbearable spectacle’. In producing this forgotten play, we faced the challenge of navigating through Conrad's alleged naïveté and implied obscenity for our performance. What we in fact discovered through rehearsal and in production is a play that is as avant-garde and eclectic as it is innocent or antiquated. Moreover, it proved impossible to stage Conrad's decidedly problematic tale of adventure without being influenced by—and alluding to—other deconstructions of heroism since 1920. Neither could we realise Conrad's script without acknowledging Conrad as a cultural icon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Volume21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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