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Occasionally, Encore will bring to your attention some important theatre resources out on the web, usually newspaper articles, interesting discussions on other websites, etc. (See also our our links page).
Martin Crimp: Advice to Iraqi Women [>]
David Greig: French vs. British Theatre [>]

Advice to Iraqi Women

Five Iraqi women in black robes walking through a bomb-damaged street"Your house is a potential war zone for a child: the corners of tables, chip pans, and the stairs - particularly the stairs - are all potential sources of harm. Your house is a minefield. Your house is a minefield - you only have to think about the medicines in the medicine cupboard - or the hard surfaces in the bathroom - the bath - the enamel sink - these are very hard surfaces. Avoid slippery floors. Avoid slippery floors and at the first sign of unremitting fever, do call a doctor, call a doctor straight away. The doctor will come straight away at the first sign of unremitting fever. She will have the latest drugs and the most up-to-date skills. If necessary she will intubate. Don't be frightened to call out your doctor: she is waiting for your call, she has spent her whole life waiting for it."
For the Royal Court's 'War Correspondence' events which ran in early April, the playwright Martin Crimp (Dealing with Clair, Play with Repeats, The Treatment, Attempts on Her Life, The Country) wrote this short, terrifying piece, 'Advice to Iraqi Women', starkly performed by Stephen Dillane and Sophie Okonedo. There's a much longer extract available on The Guardian's website which you can access on our site here or on the Guardian site here.

If you didn't get to see it, do read it now. It's an extraordinarily powerful example of the way that the theatre's close attention to language can harass our emotional understanding of the world. Martin Crimp is one of our finest playwrights, and his work is marked by its harsh, satirical exposure of language, through an intensely close scrutiny of its clichés, its idioms, its lapses. Here, the banality of the advice is creased into horror by the insistence of the rhythm, the authoritarianism conjured by those repetitions and foreclosed sentences; these repetitions seem to activate a matrix of secondary meanings - "strapped", "slippery", "blade", "war zone", "red man" etc. - which create a bloody undertow to the piece, evoking a shattered world of threat, injury and harm.

Unsettlingly, the effect is also - dare we say it? - very funny.

:: Theatre Worker 4:49 PM [^] ::

The Gallic-Gaelic Connection

Scottish playwright David Greig (The Architect, Caledonia Dreaming, The Cosmonaut's Last Message..., Outlying Islands, San Diego) has written a powerful essay for The Guardian arguing that British theatre is impoverishing itself by turning its back on the influence of French writing. The 'realistic' mode in which so much work at the Bush, the Royal Court, and the Soho Theatre tends to be made is wilfully ignoring the great resources of imagination, metaphor, symbolism, and formal challenge that marks the work of French writers like Ionesco, Koltes and Vinaver. If you missed it, it's at


If you want to argue with this article, voice your agreement, develop its ideas, email us using the 'contact' tab at the top of the screen, and we'll publish any interesting responses.

David Greig's translation of Caligula by Albert Camus opened at the Donmar Warehouse on Wednesday 30 April 2003, in a fine, austere but haunting production by Michael Grandage, with a harsh and howling central performance by the wonderful Michael Sheen. Catch it if you can, and if you can't catch it, read it. The translation is published by Faber and Faber.

:: Theatre Worker 4:37 PM [^] ::

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