BTC Monthly Play Reading

We are currently running monthly “virtual” play readings using Zoom. These are for adults only as not all the chosen plays are suitable for younger members. Our current plan is to run these readings every first Wednesday of the month at 8 pm throughout the rest of this year or until current lockdown and social distancing restrictions are lifted and theatre returns to normal – they may even go on longer than that if there is a demand for them.

The events are facilitated by Phil Cohen who, if you don’t know him, is a long-standing member of the theatre and often works with Bromley Little Theatre and South London Theatre as well. Phil also runs our Zoom socials on a Friday evening and would love you to join in with those too if you can!

Anyone is welcome to join these play reading groups – you don’t have to be a BTC member to come along – so, even if you are unfamiliar with using Zoom, don’t let this put you off as Phil would still be pleased to hear from you and will discuss how to get you set up with the Zoom program – it’s very easy once you know-how! The theatre also now has a Zoom Pro account so we have unlimited time online – useful as the readings can be of variable length!

March’s play reading takes place on Wednesday, 3rd March starting at 8 pm when we’ll be reading Chicken Soup with Barley by Arnold Wesker.

Here’s Phil to fill you in with some details about the play:

Our next BTC Zoom play reading will take place at 8.00 pm on Wednesday, 3rd March when we will be reading Chicken Soup with Barley, a 1956 play by British playwright, Arnold Wesker. It is the first play of the Wesker trilogy, the others being Roots and I’m Talking About Jerusalem. It was first performed on stage in 1958 at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, transferring later that year to the Royal Court Theatre in London. It is considered to be an important play in the history of post-war British Theatre and one of the few English plays with a sympathetic portrayal of a Communist family.

The play is split into three acts, each with two scenes. It spans 20 years in the lives of the Jewish, immigrant Kahn family living in London in 1936, and traces the downfall of their ideals in a changing world that runs parallel to the disintegration of their family.

The protagonists are the parents, Sarah and Harry, and their children, Ada and Ronnie. They are Communists, and Wesker explores how they struggle to maintain their convictions in the face of the Second World War, Stalinism and the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Sarah is an adamant Socialist; she is strong, family-minded, honest though bossy; Harry, her husband, is weak, a liar and lacks conviction; Ada is extremely passionate about what she believes in, especially Marxism and, like the others, is also a romantic, both personally and politically; and finally, youthful Ronnie is also romantic and an idealist.

The character of Sarah was based on Arnold Wesker’s own aunt, Sarah Wesker, who was a trade union activist in the East End of London.

A major revival, starring Samantha Spiro, was staged at the Royal Court in the summer of 2011.

If you would like to take part in this reading please let me know by dropping me a line at btcplayreadings@gmail.com. Please bring your own bowl of chicken soup and a copy of the Morning Star…