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Jazz and Music-Hall Transgressions in Theatre Workshop's Production of A Taste of Honey

  • Alec Patton

Abstract

Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey in the Theatre Workshop production of 1959 opened to the sound of a fast twelve-bar blues played on trumpet, saxophone, and guitar by musicians sitting in a box to the right of the stage. Though rarely mentioned by historians, the ‘Apex Jazz Trio’, as they were called, were a lively and unpredictable element in the production. Between the actors' open acknowledgement of the band, and Avis Bunnage's direct comments to the audience, the play shattered the ’realistic‘ conventions that still held sway in the West End, at the same time transgressing the distinction between ‘serious’ theatre and music hall (where the boundary of the proscenium was never respected obsequiously). Alec Patton, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, draws on original interviews with actors from the cast, a member of the first-night audience, and the leader of the band that accompanied the show to offer a re-assessment of the role of music and music hall in the original production of A Taste of Honey.

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Jazz and Music-Hall Transgressions in Theatre Workshop's Production of A Taste of Honey

  • Alec Patton

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