Log in
Book Now

Accolade

Emlyn Williams

11 - 18 May 2019

Derek Watts


Synopsis

“We all have one thing we’re ashamed of. All of us out there have. Even the judge has, who’ll be peering at you over his glasses, making you feel like dirt. His secret may be the nastiest of the lot. Only you have committed the sin of being found out….”

London, 1950. Private and public worlds collide when author Will Trenting’s knighthood attracts the glare of the British press. Will is forced to battle against the exposure of his secret life and the double standards of a society bent on destroying him. Emlyn Williams, one of the most popular writers of the 1930s and 1940s, had already had considerable success with his 1935 play, Night Must Fall and in the post-war period was a pre-eminent figure in British and American theatre as an actor, playwright and director. In Accolade, first seen in London on September 7, 1950, with Williams himself as Trenting, Williams reflects his personal life at a time when homosexuality was a crime. In fact, Williams was bisexual and his wife and family knew of his own double life. In his creation of Will Trenting, a married, successful novelist whose sexual proclivities provide material for his books, wins our sympathy despite the sordid revelations. Williams worked on the play while performing on Broadway in New York for almost a year. The play took longer to write than any of his previous works, as it had to be constructed with infinite care in order to sustain the suspense of the story and to avoid those aspects of Trenting’s character which audiences might find offensive. The play proved to be one of the most moving and provocative of the 1950s, having been surprisingly approved by the Lord Chamberlain without the removal of a single word. The play was revived in 2011 at the Finborough Theatre in London, at a time when the issues of secrecy, scandal and press intrusion in English society were the subjects of intense public debate once again. The central issue of the play – the clash between the personal and the public life of a celebrity figure – which Williams explores with such an emotional scalpel is that he gives the audience no clue as to how the trial is likely to turn out. Williams was always a master of suspense and leaves each playgoer the satisfaction of rounding off the story to his or her own liking and according to his or her own reaction to the character of Trenting. Williams, fascinated by abnormal psychology, created out-of-the-ordinary characters and for him, the important question is not the issue of Trenting’s guilt or innocence but the fact that he has learnt how difficult it is for successful people to survive the intense spotlight of the media. What could be more topical now, half a century later?

Audition

Audition Sat 17 November 2018 10:30am foyer

Audition Date: Saturday 17 November 2018 10:30am in the Lewes Little Theatre Foyer. Rehearsals will begin in the first week of March 2019. Scripts are available from Derek Watts on 01273 471680 or at derekw1943@gmail.com.

Accolade was first seen in London in September 1950, with Williams himself as Trenting. In the play Williams reflects on his personal life at a time when homosexuality was a crime. In fact, Williams was bisexual and his wife and family knew of his own double life. In his creation of Will Trenting, a married, successful novelist whose sexual proclivities provide material for his books, wins our sympathy despite the sordid revelations. The play was revived in 2011 at the Finborough Theatre in London, at a time when the issues of secrecy, scandal and press intrusion in English society were the subjects of intense public debate once again. The central issue of the play – the clash between the personal and the public life of a celebrity figure – which Williams explores with such an emotional scalpel is that he gives the audience no clue as to how the trial is likely to turn out. Williams was always a master of suspense and leaves each playgoer the satisfaction of rounding off the story to his or her own liking and according to his or her own reaction to the character of Trenting. Williams, fascinated by abnormal psychology, created out-of-the-ordinary characters and for him, the important question is not the issue of Trenting’s guilt or innocence but the fact that he has learnt how difficult it is for successful people to survive the intense spotlight of the media. The play offers a number of very strong acting roles with rich opportunities for character development.

Will Trenting - mid/late forties. Exudes physical and intellectual vigour and the temper of a brilliant child. Also has a disarming modesty – a major role for a leading man.

Daker - fifties. Shabby-genteel, precise, nervous, slightly shifty. If there is a villain, he is it. The ability to display drink having been taken while in control is essential.

Albert - thirties to fifties. Will’s ‘servant’, more of a personal assistant and ‘fixer’. Pleasant, quiet, with a humorous twinkle.

Rona Trenting - thirties to fifties. Will’s wife, an attractive, spontaneous personality with a mind of her own, yet devoted to Will.

Thane Lampeter - fifties to sixties. Will’s publisher. Suave, pragmatic, with the air of a successful barrister.

Marian Tillyard - thirties to fifties. Rona’s friend. Warm, unaffected, attractive, intelligent.

Ian Trenting - teenaged. Will and Rona’s son. Shy, sensitive, unselfsconscious. A significant role for a younger actor, including a major scene with his father.

Harold - late twenties. Will’s pub friend. Cockney, working-class, unashamedly out for a good time.

Phyllis - late twenties. Harold’s wife, similar type.

Parlour-maid - late teens to thirties. Small role with some lines.