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Archive for the ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ Category

Third Edition

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014


Three weeks ago the team were performing The Anatomy of Melancholy in Cambridge. The gig went well with lots of knowing nods and similes and laughter at the latin before it was translated. Then after the show, in the bar, a gentleman approached the cast saying “I thought you may be interested in this” and, from a plastic supermarket bag he drew, “Burton’s Melancholy” A THIRD EDITION! It was published in 1628 whilst the author was still alive. Apparently the owner found it in a second hand book shop. He took it to the counter and proffered six pounds, the shopkeeper said “actually that’s a 9 not a 6 but I’ll let you have it for 6”. We’re selling our script edition for £6!

I’m so mad I wasn’t at this gig to get my mitts on the thing. Apparently they riffled through it and found lots of fragments of the show. ANYWAY, the whole point is they are in Wolverhampton tomorrow and Thursday so please come or send friends. If you’re consider bringing along any old editions of the book please only come on Thursday – because that’s when I’ll be there.

Burton In Action

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014


This morning I read in the New Scientist book Nothing about the nocebo – “the placebo’s evil twin” and found myself in the world of Robert Burton.

Curses and Hexes can be classed as nocebos and the author illustrates their power by recounting the case of Vance Vanders, who in 1938 is cursed by a witch doctor in an Alabama cemetery. He is taken badly ill. initially Drayton Doherty his doctor can do nothing for him, but on learning that the cause of the malaise is a hex he comes up with a ruse which suggests he may well have read The Anatomy of Melancholy. He calls the family to Vanders’ bedside and explains that he has confronted the witch doctor and learned that the curse has cause a lizard to hatch in the patient’s stomach, it is the lizard eating his insides which is causing the illness. The cure is simple, Doherty administers a stronger purger, Vanders vomits wildly and with a slight of hand the doctor produces a live lizard as if from the vomit (in fact from his black medical bag) and pronounces the lizard removed from the body and the patient cured. Vanders falls into a deep sleep and wakes both hungry and cured.

The team spent Thursday and Friday rehearsing up (very) similar tales for your delight on the Spring tour of The Anatomy of Melancholy which starts in Aberystwyth on Tuesday. Good luck everyone.

Melancholy is back

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

We’re pleased to be able to announce the Spring tour of The Anatomy of Melancholy, please check the list of dates to the right and check if they are either near you or near friends, it would be great to have some good crowds coming along.

As well as being entertaining and causing people to think about contemporary approaches to depression / low mood, the show does fill in some pretty esoteric areas of knowledge. Recently there have been reports of research suggesting that Alexander The Great may have been killed by our old friend, the upward purger, White Hellebore and in a recent edition of In Our Time about Plato’s Symposium who should be there lounging around with Socrates and everyone but the beautiful and popular (in his youth) Alcibiades. Stan’s Cafe – always with our finger on the pulse.


Monday, November 18th, 2013


On Saturday the show was in Bradford and today I follow up with a session at Leeds University. Their Drama Dept. (sic) has a great base in a converted chapel on the City Centre edge of campus. I spoke about the company, the show, the process that led to the show and how this relates to our wider approach. Then I fielded some questions, these were thoughtful and a useful way of gauging an audience’s reading of the show – all seemed on track. The final 90 mins. disappeared swiftly as the students addressed the challenge of adapting other ‘impossible scripts’. These experiments are always tantalizing as a host of possible shows present themselves and dissolve never to be made.

Tomorrow the University of Roehampton is in my sights.


Wednesday, November 13th, 2013


We had a very happy time at The REP last week. The Anatomy of Melancholy is 10% slimmer than it was for its Premiere at Warwick Arts Centre in March and feels more direct and manageable (thus moving it further from our source text). We played to houses over 80% full and we got lots of excellent feedback, with most expressing wonder at the performances. My sense is these will only get better as the tour goes on and they grow ever more familiar and even comfortable with the piece. On Saturday we’re in Bradford, before Lancaster, Lincoln and finally London. Different settings, different audiences, more chances for us to learn about the show.

In case you missed it, here is a link to The Guardian’s Preview of the show which came out last week.

All Change

Monday, November 4th, 2013


I am in awe of actors and their ability to remember lines. I am in double awe of actors who work on plays for which the script is fixed, but under constant revision. I am in quadruple awe of actors who work in these circumstances with a 400 year old text in which none of the phrasing conforms to our 20th Century expectations. So my respect for the Anatomy of Melancholy team is off the scale.

Continue reading “All Change” »

Bedlam Breaks Out

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

I admit to not being a great fan of The Choir on BBC TV, it looks like a fun – even powerful – thing to do but I’m not fussed about having it on my TV. HOWEVER: on Friday Eve and I were privileged to see The Choir With No Name perform at the launch of Bedlam: The Festival of Mad Ideas at The REP and they were brilliant, not conventionally musically brilliant, but brilliant nonetheless. It was great to hear a large group of people who normally have no voice and are usually ignored singing out with a big crowd gathered round to hear them. Continue reading “Bedlam Breaks Out” »

More or Less Happy?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

We are delighted to announce the line up for More of Less Happy, a ‘pre-show’ mini-symposium inspired by The Anatomy of Melancholy and part of the Bedlam: Festival of Mad Ideas at The REP. Continue reading “More or Less Happy?” »

Thank You

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Photo courtesy of Pete Ashton

Thank you to everyone who came to see Twilightofthefreakingods last week. We had a fun time and learned a lot from the show. It felt like a fitting farewell to the big space. Full credits and a selection of Graeme Braidewood‘s excellent images have just been posted up on the site. We (but mostly Craig and Jack) have spent the week cleaning up and clearing everything out. Now our attention is fully focused on The Anatomy of Melancholy, which goes back into rehearsals the week after next. Tickets for the Birmingham gig are selling well, why not join the rush? You may think you’ve already had your fill of Stan’s Cafe, but the last show had no words and this has lots; that had a smoke machine, this a lute; that had a cold auditorium and uncomfortable seats, this a warm auditorium and comfortable seats; that was performed in three spaces simultaneously so you were guaranteed to miss much, this is in one space so you’ll miss nothing; that had no 17th Century Clergy Librarians, this is written by a 17th Century Clergy Librarian.

Over Efficiency

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

So far The Anatomy of Melancholy has been going very well. Coming off stage after the performance the cast were buzzing with excitement about how much better it was to perform in front of real people and not just grumpy old me. The show is so presentational it feeds off its audience tremendously. The second performance included some small but significant tweaks that helped make it a good notch up on the opening night. The only real glitch has been that classic issue of over efficient cleaners confusing set and props for mess.

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