- Written by Tim Firth
Tim's first ever play for Alan Ayckbourn's
Stephen Joseph Theatre.
- Tim was asked by Alan Ayckbourn
to write a studio
play and showed him studio which was also the theatre restaurant,
full of old ladies eating soup round tables. He came up with
play that was about putting letters on side of a building thinking
it would mean the actors would legitimately have to shout, (to
be heard over the slurping of soup) and you can't ignore a red
five foot high letter F so they'd have to turn round.
- Of course he didn't realise that
when a play was on, the slurpers turned all the chairs round
and made it into a theatre. But by then it was too late and Man
Of Letters was written.
- The commission came about
when Connal Orton, who eventually directed it, gave Alan Auckbourn
a student play of Tim's called Tale Of Two Yukkas - possibly
the only play ever to star two people and two talking houseplants
- AA wasn't sure about the play but liked the writing.
- A Comedy on the Edge of
- Frank, a well-worn northener,
with aspirations to write spy thrillers - plots of which he acts
out when alone - has erected signs for a commercial letterer
for twenty five years. On a ledge of his boss's building, assisted
by trainee Alan, he attempts to spell @Forshaw' - the letters
collectively forming the play's third "character".
Scroning help - "I don't need a plan for seven letters"
- he is nevertheless nonplussed when the right letters do not
appear. Dusk threatens, the building behind him grows cold, shorn
of people expected back from lunch - and realisation dawns. Frank's
opinion of the casual Alan changes as he learns that, unlike
himself, Alan has real talent. Asking to finish the job, Alan
makes the letters spell a different word ...
- First produced by Stephen
Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.
- FRANK - Jeffrey Chiswick
- ALAN - Gary Whitaker
- Directed by Connal Orton
- Designed by Juliet Nichols
- Original Frank was Jeffrey Chiswick
who used to be Maureen Lipman's husband in the old British Telecom
- Original letters still held at Stephen
Joseph Theatre and hired out to amateur productions to this day...
film version for BBC schools SCENE series was made with Keith
Barron and Sean Maguire...
- Left - A scene from the television MAN OF LETTERS...
- The play is available in print
- SAMUEL FRENCH: ISBN 0-573-04227-6
Scripts, CDs and DVDs of Tim Firth's work are available.