RICHARD NIXON, OXFORD UNIVERSITY AND THE VIETNAM WAR TO COLLIDE IN A NEW PLAY BY JOURNALIST ALAN FRANKS AT THEATRE503
A WORLD ELSEWHERE
By Alan Franks
Tuesday 21 January – Saturday 8 February 2014
Former Times journalist, playwright and author of the recently acclaimed novel The Notes of Doctor Newgate, Alan Franks, will premiere his new play A WORLD ELSEWHERE at Battersea’s Theatre503. Set in an Oxford College in 1968, where Alan once studied alongside former US President Bill Clinton, A WORLD ELSEWHERE is a searing examination of the world on the brink of yet another war and the institutional politics of one of England’s oldest universities. The production is directed by Sally Knyvette, director of the acclaimed Judgement at Nuremberg at the Tricycle Theatre, and will run from Tuesday 21 January 2014.
Autumn 1968. A year on from the summer of love, America is exploding with rage against a long-running war in the Far East. In the timeless quads of Oxford, Vietnam is rousing students from their hedonism and the bitter run-up to the presidential election that will see Richard Nixon installed in the White House looms. The charismatic international post-graduate Elliott Farmer is leading the protests and what unfolds is a thrillingly intelligent drama of politics on all levels: from international statesmanship, through to the dirty tricks of old rivals, and the rule-free warfare of the bedroom.
Alan Franks’ previous plays include The Mother Tongue, starring Prunella Scales (Greenwich Theatre); Previous Convictions (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), and Augusta (New End Hampstead). His new novel, The Notes of Dr. Newgate, was recently made Guardian Book of the Week. Alan has worked as a feature-writer for The Times for more than thirty years, covering a wide of subjects and interviewing many world figures in the arts, including Arthur Miller, Stephen Sonndheim, Leonard Cohen, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Tom Stoppard and Jonathan Miller. Five albums of his songs have been released, performed by him and the singer Patty Vetta.
Sally Knyvette’s directing credits include Judgement at Nuremberg at the Tricycle Theatre, as well as 5 other productions at the venue as part of the Lawyers@Tricycle Company. Sally is also a well known actress best known for her performances as Kate Sugden in ITV’s Emmerdale and Jenna in the cult Sci-Fi series Blake’s Seven. Theatre credits include The Presidential Suite (Edinburgh Festival), King Lear (City Lit) and Dreams from the Pit (Palace Theatre).
Friday 24 January at 7.45pm
For more information, interviews, images and review tickets please contact James Lever at Target Live
A World Elsewhere by Alan Franks
Tuesday 21 January – Saturday 8 February 2014
Press night: Friday 24 January at 7.45pm
Directed by Sally Knyvette
Times: 7.45pm Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm Sundays
Venue: Theatre503, 503 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BW
Tube: Sloane Square then bus 319, South Kensington then bus 49 or 345, Vauxhall then bus 344
Train: 15 minutes walk from Clapham Junction (5 mins from Victoria or 7 mins from Waterloo) or take Grant
Road exit, then bus 49, 319, 344 or 345
Bus: 44, 49, 319, 344, 345 all stop outside the Latchmere
Tickets: £12 (£10 Concessions), pay what you can on Sundays
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
The Notes of Doctor Newgate
By Alan Franks
Coming across these, we soon find they are not medical notes about Dr. Newgate’s patients, but writing of an even more private sort. This is the chronicle of a middle-aged suburban GP whose life is undergoing a series of crises. The youthful ideology he brought to the profession has been replaced by despair at the reality of his work with an ageing but seemingly immortal caseload.
His home life is a set of estrangements from his troubled wife Imogen, his angry student son Ricky and the aupair Inez, whose presence in the house he can’t quite explain.
William Newgate is himself recovering from the serious condition of alcoholism and noticing that his peers in Alcoholics Anonymous have a better grasp of it than his medical colleagues. Though a non-believer, he finds himself immersed in a programme of spiritual renewal, whether he likes it or not.
His life is thrown into chaos by the arrival of a young patient called Serena, who is convinced he has the answers to her confused and abused life. In unspairing detail he records the development of their relationship – a dangerous and reckless liason which will almost certainly spell the end of his career, and more, if it comes to light – as it surely will.
The Notes of Dr. Newgate is a richly comic but profound study of addiction in its myriad forms – not just drink and drugs but also the lethal lures of gambling, power, lust, even love and faith themselves.
It is a subject that the author Alan Franksknows from the inside, having recovered from alcoholism and working with other sufferers over the past twenty five years.
His previous fiction includes the classic newspaper comedy Boychester’s Bugle, which the novelist Tom Sharpe found “brilliantly comic,” the Sixties family sagaThe Sins of the Sons and the award-winning Going Over. Among his many plays are The Mother Tongue, which starred Prunella Scales, Previous Convictions and The Edge of the Land, set in the great East Coast floods of 1953.
He wrote for The Times for more than thirty years, covering a wide variety of arts subjects and social issues. He interviewed such major music stars as Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie; world-famous authors including James Baldwin, Arthur Miller and Muriel Spark; leading actors and directors including Ian McKellen, Peter Hall, Judi Dench and Woody Allen.
In the 1980s he wrote a regular column for the paper, Alan Franks’s Diary, which became a book and then a Radio 4 series, which he read himself. He has twice been nominated for a British Press Award.
His poems have won several awards, including the Wigtown Prize, Scotland’s largest. Jo Shapcott, former president of the Poetry Society, has described his work as “intensely musical.” With the singer Patty Vetta he has recorded five albums of his own songs and given hundreds of performances at clubs and festivals throughout Britain. One of the songs, The Wishfulness Waltz, became the title track of a CD by the veteran English band Fairport Convention. The late Jake Thackray called his compositions “lovely, true, complex and addictive things.”