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ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Peace In Our Time’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Peace in Our Time by Noël Coward

When Jeanie Hackett approached me about adapting Peace in Our Time to include music, a moment’s consideration was all I needed to agree.

With the international success of London’s Knee High Company’s Brief Encounter in mind, I’ve edited Peace and integrated some of Coward’s lesser known songs – most of them of, or around the period in which the play is set.

As exemplified by Brief Encounter, I see this exercise not as a “musical” in the Broadway sense of the term, but as a serious play with musical elements. In editing the play I’ve trimmed about thirty minutes from the text to accommodate the music. Over a period of three weeks, I read and re-read the play to determine how much of the wartime political polemic was relevant to 2010 and abridged some of this along with some of the lengthier arguments between allies and collaborators.

Given that most London pubs of my youth contained a sturdy upright piano, there is a logic to including music, some springing from the text, some sung by characters at the piano. An added joy is to be working once again with the talented and enthusiastic members of the Antaeus Academy.

My devotion to the work of Noël Coward has lasted as long as my own career in the theatre and I’ve had the pleasure of performing several of his plays and many of his songs in cabaret. My London doctor and good friend was Patrick Woodcock, Noël’s doctor, and Gladys Calthrop, Noël’s celebrated designer, was a friend and theatre-going companion of ours; so it seemed inevitable that I met the Master socially in 1970 just prior to his knighthood. It was like meeting God – except, I think, that Noël Coward had a better sense of construction.

-Barry Creyton, Project Adapter and Production Supervisor

Peace in Our Time plays:
July 6, 7, 8 at 8pm
July 10 at 3pm

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