Stephen Boxer as William Tyndale (left) and Oliver Ford Davies as Lancelot Andrewes (right).
Photo credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/8877461/Written-on-the-Heart-RSC-Swan-Theatre-Stratford-upon-Avon-review.html
Cut and pasted from the RSC website:
The Royal Shakespeare Company celebrates the 400th anniversary of the making of the King James Bible with a new play by acclaimed playwright David Edgar.
Written on the Heart marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, one of the most widely published texts in the English language.
Across an 80 year divide, two men (William Tyndale and Lancelot Andrewes) translate the word of God into the English tongue. For one, it means death at the stake. For the other, it could mean an archbishop's mitre.
After almost a century of unrest, the King James Bible was intended to end the violent upheavals of the English reformation. But deep-seated conflicts force a leading translator to confront the betrayal of his youthful religious ideals, for the sake of social peace.
More information on the production can be found here:
It was announced today that Written on the Heart is closing early on 19 May so if you want to catch this you need to go and see it NOW!
I am disappointed that the RSC has decided to close this early. This production is a hard sell - it is about the translation of the King James Bible and everything that went with it. But the RSC had the courage and the faith to bring the production to London, and I just wish that they had kept the faith and let the production run for the time it was originally intended to. It is an intelligent and intellectual piece on religion; it is the kind of theatre that I want to see in London in the West End (I don't just want musicals, much as I love them), and it is a real shame that it has not found its audience. If you do want the RSC in London (not just Matilda!) please come and support the production in the fortnight that it has left to run. Follow the link to book tickets:
I want the RSC back in London. I want them to have a permanent base here and I want them to transfer the majority of their Stratford repertoire down to London. They used to do this not so long ago, they had the Barbican, they had a committed and loyal following who wanted to see their work, and they were able to transfer most of their Stratford productions to London, and sell enough tickets to make it financially viable. An incredibly short-sighted decision saw them shut up shop in London. I want them back!
I don't want to comment on the production as a piece of theatre; what I want to say is that seeing the piece challenged my thinking on religion and Christianity, and made me treasure what I previously took completely for granted - the Bible in English.
Raks's Reaction to the Play
This is not a theatre review; it is a heartfelt and personal reaction to the play. I saw it on Friday 30 December in Stratford and Tuesday 8 May in London.
This play was the story of how the Bible was translated into English, my mother tongue. I have taken the fact that I can read the Bible in English for granted. But, having seen this piece, I now realise that the Bible in English was a long time coming - people were denied access to the Bible in their mother tongue for many centuries. I realise how many people died for it (Tyndale, one of the first translators of the Bible into English, and on whose translation the King James Bible is firmly based, was burnt for heresy; his crime being that he wanted to translate the Bible into English so that everyman could have access to it). I realise how every single word and nuance was considered, debated, contested and fought over. What this made me think was that we all need to be much more appreciative of the things that we have in today's modern world that were not available to our ancestors. The Bible in English did not fall from the sky. People fought for and died so that we could have it. I am ashamed to say I had never really thought about this until I saw this piece.
I saw it again for the second and final time today (Tuesday 8 May). Whatsonstage.com had a Q&A with the Director (Greg Doran), the playwright (David Edgar) and the cast immediately after the production. The Q&A, both the quality of the questions and the quality of the answers, was superb. Again, the debate and discussion was intellectual and high-brow. That is actually what I want. It really deepened my knowledge and understanding of the piece. I felt privileged and very lucky to be present for it. Definitely got my money's worth! Thank you RSC thank you Whatsostage.com!
My own personal feeling is that it is criminal that this is closing early. Ultimately, London theatre audiences will get the theatre that they deserve and the theatre that they are prepared to shell out for. I really pray that what we don't get is a West End which only has room for musicals.