# 29348

BERKOFF, Steven (1937 - )

East : elegy for the East End and its energetic waste

$250.00 AUD

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[Adelaide : s.n., 1978]. Octavo (260 mm), illustrated wrappers, staple bound, [46] pp; printed on cheap newsprint paper; light foxing at edges, but a very good copy.

Rare theatre programme for the 1978 Australian tour of Steven Berkoff’s controversial play set in London’s East End, containing the complete playscript as well as an interview with the playwright and actor Berkoff.

In the late 1970s Berkoff’s approach to writing and acting changed the landscape of theatre in Britain and beyond, especially through the Promethean torrent of language – at once violent and sensuous – that characterises both East and Greek, plays in which Berkoff and his actors managed to tune the rhythm, sound and poetry of the Cockney dialect to an almost Shakespearean pitch.

East was first performed in Edinburgh in 1975, but the announcement of an Australian premiere by Berkoff’s London Theatre Group during the 1978 Adelaide Festival of Arts saw a call for its ban by the Liberal Party; Don Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, sagely ignored the call and the season was actually extended due to the increased interest generated by the media publicity. Berkoff’s company then performed the play in Sydney at the New Arts Theatre in another hugely popular season that ran from April 5 to May 27. It seems likely that this specially produced programme-cum-playscript was available to audiences in both Adelaide and Sydney.

Trove locates only two copies of this significant piece of Australian theatre history in Australian collections (SLSA; UQ)