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On from 06 Oct 2008 till 20 Oct 2008
Finborough Theatre
by William Saroyan
Genre(s): Classic


The Beautiful People refuse to play by the rules of a wicked world, steadfastly preserving their enchanted and – at times illegal – innocence, by any means necessary.

A philosophical father, a one-word boy novelist, and blessed Saint Agnes of the Mice battle the breaking of dreams, accompanied by a ghostly cornet player, a nostalgic clerk, an octogenarian drunk, a drunken priest, an almost-mother, and several literate vermin.

Cheques are stolen from a dead man. Mice are daringly rescued by a poet. Strangers become family. The prodigal son returns. And lost loves are finally and forever found.

At the time of its publication, Saroyan wrote: “Putting on this play was the happiest experience in the theatre I have ever known.”. A Broadway hit in 1941, The Beautiful People has been unseen in London since 1956.

One of America’s most famous writers, William Saroyan (1908-1981) was born one hundred years ago in Fresno, California, the son of Armenian immigrants. His Armenian heritage gives his work a unique flavour, resulting in a very different view of the American experience than his slightly younger contemporaries Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. Indeed, in 1991, he was the first and only individual to be jointly honoured by the USA and the former Soviet Union with his own commemorative postal stamps. He sprang to fame overnight in 1934 with his short story about a starving writer trying to survive the Depression, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, and his published writings include over 1,500 short stories, plays, and novels including The Human Comedy and My Name Is Aram. His most enduring achievements as a writer date from the late 1930's and early 1940’s when he won a Pulitzer Prize (which he refused on the grounds that “Commerce should not patronize art”), an Academy Award, and The Drama Critics Circle Award. From 1958, he lived mainly in Paris, and continued writing until his death in 1981.

The Finborough Theatre’s [ saroyan centennial season ], celebrating the centenary of the birth of William Saroyan, runs from September-December 2008, and also features rare revivals of two of Saroyan’s other plays – Sam the Highest Jumper of Them All and The Time of Your Life.

Director Mel Cook has staged work for SPID (Remember the Name, Walking Tales, In a Different Light), New Wimbledon Studio (Burying Your Brother in the Pavement), Theatre 503(Telltales), Southwark Playhouse (A Christmas Carol), and several start night productions for Hampstead Theatre. In the last year, Mel has assisted Gregory Doran on The Giant, Anthony Clark on Life After Scandal and Fiona Laird on Woyzeck. A 2008 graduate of Birkbeck’s MFA in Theatre Directing, and graduate of RADA’s three-year Acting course, Mel has devised work for Shakespeare’s Globe, the BAC, Glastonbury, Camp Bestival, ITV, and the BBC. She has also been a finalist for both the JMK and the Channel 4 Theatre Director awards.

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