Tuesday, 17 March 2009


After last night's sex and drugs orgy we return to the sedate world of death and war next week for Julian Armitstead's reworking of Sophocles' Philoctetes. Julian isn't the first to draw parallels between our current war-torn world and the Greek myths, but he is certainly one of the more esteemed. Julian recently saw off 124 other contenders to win the "Amnesty International UK and iceandfire Protect The Human playwriting competition" for After the Accident. He has also been commissioned by the bigwigs at BBC Radio 4 for their coveted Friday night, nine o'clock slot.

So, it should be good. Julian is also no stranger to the blogosphere, with no fewer than two blogs devoted to his work and thoughts. One of them is positively gnomic in its elucidations, but the other gives us some of the reasons for writing this:

"Sophocles' play has already become better known in the US, where, as a play about war and its terrible cost, it is being performed in front of veterans' groups. This, I find fascinating in the present context of a seemingly endless foreign war in Afghanistan, and where domestically, in the UK, approximately ten percent of homeless people are ex-service personnel. While I find myself wincing at every bit of news concerning British casualties, I am aware that the much longer story may be the injuries, both physical and mental, that soldiers will bring with them on their return. For me, and for our present time, this is most clearly what 'The Philoctetes' is about: and the need for society as a whole to own up to wounds that have been collected on our behalf".

With a stellar cast consisting of Tim Gambrell, Nick Ewans, Clive Greenwood, and a rare appearance for Chris Prior, it should be a bit of a sensation.


Peter T said...

If anyone can do it [re-write one of the Greek classics as a Play for Today] Julian can. But the PHILOCTETES story, as written by Sophocles, has such an implausible plot that great writing is not going to pull it round. Something radical must be done to turn it into a story about the Trojan wars of our own time. [Drop the interventions from Mt Olympus for a start]

Julian Armitstead said...

Thanks, Peter, for, ermm, laying down both the compliment and the gauntlet. I'm writing up my experiences of taking forward this project on my blog julianarmitstead.blogspot.com/. The evening at PP was great preparation for what surely lies ahead! You were all typically outspoken and wise in your criticism. J.