The theme for the 2020 Leatss Summer School is an exploration of time in theatre and drama. Works for theatre are full of time travel, mostly looking to the past and often jumping. Playwrights takes us back (and forward) in time, reverse time, condense it, accelerate it, turn it on its head and sometimes string it along. J.B Priestly devoted a series of plays concerning the concept of time. Beckett’s Endgame effectively starts the end (and ends at the beginning – of the end). Modern playwrights especially have explored changing time, such as reversing (Harold Pinter’s The Betrayal) or repeating (Caryl Churchill’s Heart’s Desire) or moving back and forth (Roland Schimmelpfennig’s The Woman Before). In John Cariani’s Almost Maine each scene (a separate story) takes place at exactly the same time. They all begin at ten to nine on one particular evening in the same small town. Underpinning all of this are Aristotle's unities of time and place.
There are as many songs about time but some examples are Time in a Bottle (Jim Croce), Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper) and of course, Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan. The Jason Robert Brown musical The Last Five Years deals with a five-year relationship between Cathy and Jamie. Her story begins at the end of the relationship whilst his begins at the start. Stephen Sondheims’s Merrily We Roll Along has a reverse narrative. Keeping time in music is crucial. Whilst common patterns are more easily recognised (e.g. the three-time pattern of the Waltz), we might not be so familiar with five-time (Brubeck’s Take Five).
At Summer School this year, the Theme courses will be looking at various aspects of shifting time and hopefully have a rewarding, interesting and joyful time exploring them.
The courses will be announced in early 2020.