Bill Bryden's Cottesloe Company, which flourished at Peter Hall's
National Theatre, was the English theatre's only true ensemble of the
last thirty or so years. Impossible Plays tells the story of
the company and the many actors and musicians connected to it.
Co-written by Keith Dewhurst, author of eight plays for the group, and
Jack Shepherd, a founder-actor, it explains the ideas behind the
company's work and how the work was staged, and provides an
idiosyncratic, lively and deeply personal take on the company.
"The search was always to find a popular theatre, a form of
theatre that would draw into it people from all backgrounds, not just
the cultured and the educated."
Beginning with a Royal Court Theatre Sunday night performance in
1970, the story of one company's aim to create a popular theatre form
includes such milestone productions as The Mystery cycle of plays and Lark Rise to Candleford. With photographs by John Haynes, Michael Mayhew and Nobby Clark, Impossible Plays is a glorious and timely tribute to one of theatre's most innovative companies.
Jack Shepherd, a leading actor of his generation, was one of the founding actors of the Cottesloe Company as well as being a playwright. In 2005 his play Man Falling Down: A Mask Play was staged at the Globe Theatre, London, followed by Holding Fire! in 2007.
Keith Dewhust (b. Oldham, 1931) has been a yarn tester in a cotton mill, a football journalist, a TV presenter, an arts columnist for the Guardian, writer in residence at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and a member of the production board of the British Film Institute. Of his eighteen stage plays, six, including Lark Rise to Candleford, were premiered by the National Theatre and three by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. His extensive TV work includes a further eighteen plays and many episodes for series, including the original Z-Cars, The Edwardians, Fall of Eagles, Van der Valk and Casualty. In cinema he scripted The Empty Beach and with David Leland co-wrote Land Girls. He has published two novels and his latest play, King Arthur, was produced by Shapeshifter Productions at the Arcola Theatre, London in 2006.