Paddy Gormley's first plays, in the
late 1980s, were intended for impromptu
performance after dinner, and were written in rhyming verse. In
the 1990s, PG developed proseverse, a style of writing that flows
as fluently as prose but owes its lyrical quality to the use
of changing metres and hidden rhymes. Many of the projects
listed here are written in proseverse.
Paddy Gormley's development as a playwright owes much to his
membership, since 1999, of Actors & WritersLondon (AWL) and,
in particular, to his many opportunities for work with AWL's
professional actors and directors. Most
of the audio and video excerpts featured here or linked from
this page are based on live performances or readings by AWL
in left or right margins to return to the head of the page.)
WOLD WIDE WEB
Wold Wide Web was conceived in 2000 as an afternoon
play for radio. Paddy
Gormley revised the script in 2010 in readiness for a studio
recording by Milosh Drndarevic. This work has prompted
Paddy Gormley to think that the recording of The Wold Wide
Web could provide the soundtrack for an animated film.
Naive house spider Arac,
washed down a plughole in the bathroom, emerges into the wide
wold, where he is befriended by woldly wise spider Nid.
Nid teaches Arac about
life in the wold, drawing upon his extensive knowledge of wildlife,
gained by watching nature programmes on television during his
years as a house spider.
Arac's conceptual knowledge
of the world is derived exclusively from his years of listening
to the bathroom radio, so he is extremely keen to understand
the relationship between, say, the cricket on the radio and
the crickets he encounters in the wild and, as the title of
the play suggests, the relationship between the wold wide web
and the webs that he spins in the wide wold.
Click the image on the right for the Wold
Wide Website, including audio excerpts
from the rehearsed reading in June 2010 by Actors & Writers
London. The studio recording is not yet available.
II is Paddy Gormley's
mistranslation of Molière's Le
Misanthrope, The adaptation was written in 1995
Broadly speaking, Paddy Gormley's
text and plot are faithful to Molière's
masterpiece. The crucial difference is that Philinte is
determined to persuade Alceste to
build a better world by being less misanthropic. His
sustained campaign has an increasingly disruptive effect on
the action of the play.
II is remarkable for its language and innovative
verse technique. Alceste is
a pedant and a wordsmith, who delights in complex words
and constructions. Paddy
Gormley assigns different metrical schemes to each
character, reflecting their respective personalities.
Martin Cort, who directed
the rehearsed reading by Actors & Writers
London in March 2008, believes that Misanthrope
II deserves a major production. He has created
a promotional audio CD for producers, including excerpts from
the rehearsed reading, punctuated by his own commentary.
the image on the right for
II website, which includes a
click-to-play extract from the CD and a PDF showing excerpts
from the play alongside the corresponding text of Molière's
PREMIERE PRODUCTION ANDPUBLICATION OF PLAYSCRIPT BY LOGOS THEATRE COMPANY
23 PERFORMANCES IN 2011, UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE IN HIGHGATE
Climber is Paddy Gormley's 1996 adaptation (long forgotten but rediscovered and revised in 2010) of Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme.
The project was inspired by PG's observation that Molière's play is structurally inappropriate for modern theatre audiences. Specifically, the plot does not begin to unfold properly until
the third act, while the first two acts make extravagant and discursive use of musicians and dancers: Le Bourgeois gentilhomme was devised in collaboration with composer Jean-Baptiste Lully as a music-theatre spectacular for the court of Louis XIV.
Beginning this translation only a few months after the completion
of Misanthrope II, with its
pioneering verse techniques, Paddy
Gormley set about reinventing Molière's
text in lines of two and three feet, leavening the text by
virtue of the frequent rhymes and dancing rhythms.
The action of The Social Climber is played out in nine scenes extracted from, but not following the same sequence
as those of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme,
with the aim of making the play a more feasible proposition for 21st century
classical theatre companies.
Whilst PG does not seek to uproot Molière's play from its
17th century setting, he takes liberties with language, allowing
extensive use of idiomatic English.
Click below for the website
The project website includes full details, production photographs and a link to buy copies of the playscript.
TRAGEDY OF A FAT MAN
Tragedy of a Fat Man was commissioned by Simon
Fisher-Becker after he saw the first rehearsed
reading of Paddy Gormley's
verse play, Twenty-Twenty,
In this one-man show, Max Thornbury is
learning the part of Hamlet with
the help of a self-made recording of the play, despite his
grudge that directors invariably overlook fat people when casting
the role. As the action unfolds, his recording takes
on a life of its own, so that the characters of Shakespeare's
play become Max's
friends and contacts. Comedy turns to tragedy as the
dark secret of Max's life
Fisher-Becker gave the first performances of Hamlet:
Tragedy of a Fat Man in London's Etcetera
Theatre in the summer of 2002, directed by Kirsty
Bennett. Subsequent performances included
the Bullion Room Theatre at
the Hackney Empire in
An archive video recording of the original production has
recently come to light. Excerpts from this recording are
featured in the new website devoted to the play: fatmanhamlet.info:
click the image on the right.
IMPORTANCE OF BEING FRANK
Gormley composed The Importance
of Being Frank in the autumn of 1995 as "a bit
of light relief" from the rigours of working on Misanthrope
Clearly, The Importance of Being
Earnest was not in need of a translation into rhyming
verse. PG's project
was inspired by his musings on the question of how the play
might unfold if the action were to begin in Cecily's
garden, rather than in Half-Moon Street. Paddy
Gormley's Act 1 is based on Wilde's
Act 2, but ends with a chance find: Cecily discovers
the calling card of Ernest
Worthing, the "appallingly interesting rake that
dear Uncle Jack takes such great care to conceal from us
all", and determines to pay him a surprise visit.
The play received a rehearsed reading by Actors & Writers
London in June 2009. The new website, devoted to the play,
includes excerpts from the audio
recording of this reading.
Corner is a half-hour situation comedy series
for radio, devised
by Paddy Gormley in the 1990s. The central character
an unsuccessful poet, who seems doomed to face rejection
in everything he does. He lives with his daughter
(early twenties) and son (late teens), the respective products
of two failed marriages. Neither wife puts in a physical
appearance, but their nagging voices live on inside Peter's
head, such that they are significant characters in the
A demo recording of the pilot episode is available, based on a
rehearsed reading by Actors & Writers
London, directed by Martin
Cort. The recording includes a full soundscape
and live audience response. The Poet's
Corner website (click right) includes click-to-play
excerpts from the pilot episode, Hard
Times. A full copy
is available to potential producers from Paddy
Reverie is an ongoing project by Paddy
Gormley, based on The Wind
in the Willows, begun in 1996. Paddy
Gormley's adaptation is partly a transcription of Kenneth
Grahame's masterpiece into rhyming verse. The
action of the book is interspersed with Kenneth
Grahame's reflections on his own life, from the
perspective of the final years of his ill-fated marriage
to Elspeth Thompson.
Reverie is conceived as a series of twelve half-hour
episodes for radio with incidental music (not yet commissioned). Paddy
Gormley has drafted the first eight episodes.
Reverie website (click right) includes click-to-play
audio excerpts from the rehearsed reading of Episode 7, The
Piper at the Gates of Dawn, by Actors & Writers
London, directed and introduced by Lucy
Appleby. The recording includes the audience
discussion that followed the reading.
Lovers is a series of short radio plays (2001-2)
of about eight to ten minutes each. The plays, all
two-handers, consider various aspects of the relationship
game. The series title, Laconic
Lovers, derives from the shortness of the lines. Exchanges
consist exclusively of three-word speeches, two-word speeches,
single-word speeches and non-verbal speech sounds. This
device gives the plays remarkable pace and energy.
Lovers website includes a beautifully imaginative,
click-to-play radio production of the first of the plays, 3
2 1 Bang, in a Serbian translation by Milosh
Drndarevic, subtitled with Paddy
Gormley's original text.
Rats Away is
a church parable for primary/middle school performance, based
on the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Paddy Gormley wrote the words
in 1994. Barbara Gormley composed
the music, which is scored for flute, recorders, percussion,
piano, organ and children's voices, with hymns for audience. The
spoken parts of the play include nearly thirty colourful roles
for children, with an adult playing the part of the mayor. The
first performance was given in 2000 by All
Saints' C.E. School, Blackheath.
Rats Away was Paddy
Gormley's first verse play specifically written for
public performance. His fascination with the sounds and
rhythms of language is evident, not least in the prologue,
whose narration is punctuated by the percussive shouts of the
Out of the cavernous
stream forth audaciously,
filling the highways
and side streets and by-ways and
up from the gutters and
gnawing at shutters and
steps into nurseries...
The teaching resources for the project
include a detailed set of preparatory notes including information
about planning, casting, rehearsals and curriculum-related enrichment
written in 2000, was Paddy
Gormley's first verse play to be set in modern times. It
tells the story of Alec's love affairs with three women in
1960, 1980 and 2000 respectively. The three stories
are interconnected not only by virtue of the relationships
between the women but also because the three strands of action
are played out in parallel.
a further development in the sophisticated verse techniques
that Paddy Gormley began to
develop in Misanthrope II. In Twenty-Twenty,
the metrical schemes not only reflect the individual characters
but also the state of their respective relationships.
Adler and Peter Kenny performed
a public reading of Twenty-Twenty in
London's Bridewell Theatre in
2002, directed by Kirsty
Bennett, with Clive
Ward in the supporting roles.
Paddy Gormley has recently withdrawn the play, which he intends to relaunch, in an updated version, in 2020.
Avenue is a short play, written by Paddy Gormley for Actors
& Writers London in 2003 and adapted for radio
in 2006. It is an adaptation of Hamlet in
the style of a 21st Century television soap opera, supported
by intrusive pizza company sponsorship.
The audio player below right presents an excerpt from a
recording made at the Write for Radio showcase
production of Elsinore Avenue by
members of Actors & Writers
London in April 2006: Darren (James
Bradshaw) advises Kylie (Nicola
Stuart-Hill) to move out of her flat in Else's
house and into a local nunnery.
A full copy of this demo recording (12'20") is available.
HIS OWN IMAGE
In His Own
Image is a work-in-progress dramatisation of the story
of Frederick Rolfe, also known
as Baron Corvo. Paddy
Gormley's work is based on the "experiment in biography", The
Quest for Corvo, in which A J
A Symons discovers the elusive and obscure facts of Rolfe's
remarkable life by piecing together a series of clues.
my third Molière project,
dates from 1998.
The project began as an uncharted exploration of some of the
characters and themes of Molière's
Doctor plays, particularly Le Malade
Imaginaire. The extended first act was conceived
as a set of dialogues between Molière's
characters, in their own time. In the second act, never
satisfactorily completed,I brought the same characters forward
into the year 2000, specifically to explore the thesis that,
whereas men were omnipotent in the world of Molière,
women are now in charge, having captured the world of men without
yielding the stil unassailable fortresses of femininity and motherhood.
This incomplete project has sparked an idea for an eponymous series
of radio shorts, each consisting of two scenes: the first
from Molière, or closely based on an actual scene from Molière; the
second continuing the action 300 years later.
Restored (1997) was the last in a series of adaptations
of classical texts, in which Paddy
Gormley was primarily interested in the development
of new techniques for writing verse plays and not at all interesting
in updating the action to modern times.
Venice Restored is an amalgam
of seven Restoration plays, including The
Country Wife, All for Love and The
Beaux Stratagem, with PG borrowing
something from each of them. It was inspired by PG's
musings as to what might have happened if William
Wycherly's Pinchwife and
the eponymous country wife had encountered George
Farquhar's memorable rogues Aimwell and Archer.
When Paddy Gormley was writing
the play, the number seven became a theme in itself. The
plot is constructed in seven scenes, while each of the characters
has a personal metrical scheme based on seven feet. PG observes
that the metrical constraints enhanced the fun of the writing: "Characters
with conflicting schemes could play a continuous game of tug-o-war
with the rhymes and rhythms, grabbing the baton from someone
else and pulling the metre into their preferred shape. Characters
could borrow from one another's schemes as a mark of empathy,
as when Archer tries to
seduce Mrs Pinchwife in
the fourth scene, or to assist their disguise, as Aimwell does
when he appears as a parson in the final scene."
Mouse Mate is
a short story by Paddy Gormley (1995)
that appears to be in prose, but is actually in rhyming verse. It
tells how Sam, a young boy
or girl, finds friendship via the internet during a class at school. It
is designed to fit a quarter-hour broadcast slot.