On the day that one of the most important British playwrights of the post-1960s generation celebrates his 70th birthday, he is also announcing his stage debut. Trying It On is a new play written and performed by David Edgar, which reflects on the legacy of the worldwide student revolt of 1968 (when David was 20 and at university), drawing on first person interviews with some of the leading political figures of the time, as well as contemporary activists.
Noted for his political dramas, which have been staged at the National Theatre and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the events of 1968 – including the Vietnam war, Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech and the assassination of Martin Luther King – helped define David Edgar’s politics and give focus to his writing. In Trying It On, the 70-year-old David is confronted by his 20-year-old self, asking whether they share the same beliefs, and if not, what has changed.
The text has been developed through interviews conducted by the playwright with activists past and present. The production will be directed by Christopher Haydon and produced by independent studio China Plate.
Speaking about the project, David Edgar said “The last time I performed on a stage was as Captain Bligh in a student production of Mutiny on the Bounty, in the early 1970s. Having spent most of the last 50 years writing things for other people to say, I thought it was time to have a conversation with myself. Performing – and seeing myself on film – has been a revelation. The autobiographical solo show has become an important theatre art-form of itself, and it’s great to be working with a brilliantly creative team to make it.”
David’s 70th birthday year sees a number of revivals of his work. Alongside his adaptations of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (currently touring) and A Christmas Carol (returning to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in December), another major David Edgar play is being revived in the autumn.
The Midlands-based playwright will debut Trying It On at Warwick Arts Centre (7-9 June) before moving to Birmingham Repertory Theatre (12-13 June), followed by The Other Place at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the Autumn (details announced May 2018), Midlands Arts Centre and London’s home of new writing, the Royal Court Theatre (24-27 Oct).