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6 - 1997 - Far Away

Elaine Aston
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
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Summary

'It's unofficial, unannounced and unbelievably overdue, but 1997 is the year of Caryl Churchill’, wrote David Benedict in an interview with the playwright in April 1997. 1997 was indeed a landmark year in Churchill's playwriting career, a year which saw major revivals of Light Shining in Buckinghamshire and Cloud Nine, the staging of three new works: Hotel, This is a Chair, and Blue Heart, and the announcement by Nick Hern of a third collection of plays. At the time when the first edition of this Churchill monograph went into production for publication, it was only possible to include a brief and incomplete postscript on her work in 1997. In the second edition it was possible to offer a fuller picture of Churchill's theatre in 1997 and to include commentary on her first play of the new century: Far Away, staged at the close of 2000.

When Hotel opened in April 1997, it was Churchill's first new work to be written and performed since The Skriker and the translation of Thyestes in 1994. Churchill explained in the Benedict interview that the three-year gap was due to having, temporarily at least, given up on writing:

I just got bored with it. That feeling of ‘Was I going to start thinking about another play just because I was a playwright?’ I've had it before. I remember that, in 1978, I decided I definitely wasn't going to be a writer any more. It took me about four months to get out of my head the idea that I was a writer and once I'd done it, of course, I started writing again.'…She looks at me, confidingly, her gaunt gravely beautiful head resting on one hand. ‘I think I wanted to wait until I missed it.

While Churchill took a break from her own writing in the 1990s, studies of her theatre continued to grow, among them a new edited collection of essays, as well as individual essays and articles concerned either with extending critical and theoretical debate on earlier works, or tracing new directions in the Churchill canon.

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Caryl Churchill
, pp. 103 - 120
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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