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Poetry, prose and music to transport you to the theatre with readers Indira Varma and Rory Kinnear getting the show on the road, accompanied by Kurt Weill, Purcell and Matthew Locke.

As part of the BBC Lights Up festival of theatre which brings a series of dramas to radio and television, today’s Words and Music takes us both backstage and into the experiences of performers in front of the footlights: from Shakespeare’s Hamlet deciding to use a play to catch out his villainous uncle, to the playwright Michael Frayn describing the agony of a cigarette lighter failing to function on stage. Actors Rory Kinnear and Indira Varma read from a range of plays and prose exploring the pleasures and pitfalls of theatrical life. You'll also hear the voice of perhaps the most legendary figure in modern British theatre: Sir Laurence Olivier, discussing the newly founded National Theatre Company in 1963. There’s a moment from Bernadine Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other, where a playwright reflects on her move from theatrical radical to member of the mainstream; and that’s followed up with a true visionary of the theatre: Kurt Weill singing a wonderfully Germanic-sounding version of Speak Low. The theatrical soundtrack also stars Henry Purcell, Ethel Merman and Frankie Howard (in a toga) and a seventeenth century wind machine.

As You Like It - Shakespeare
Hamlet/Bernhardt - Theresa Rebeck
Collected Columns - Michael Frayn
Actress - Anne Enright
Girl, Woman. Other - Bernadine Everisto
Hamnet - Maggie O’Farrell
The Early Diaries - Simon Gray
The Seagull - Chekhov Trans. Stoppard
Stop the Show!: A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theatre - Brad Schreiber
Hamlet - Shakespeare
Dramatic Exchanges: Letters of the National Theatre - Edited by Daniel Rosenthal
Swing Time - Zadie Smith
An Awfully Big Adventure - Beryl Bainbridge
Wise Children - Angela Carter
Morality Play - Barry Unsworth
The Tempest - Shakespeare

Producer: Georgia Mann

4 days left to listen

1 hour, 14 minutes

Last on

Sun 21 Mar 2021 17:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:01

    William Walton

    Extract from Suite from As You Like It Suite

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Colin Davis.
    • EMI CDC7479442.
  • Shakespeare

    Extract from As You Like It, read by Rory Kinnear

  • Theresa Rebeck

    Extract from Hamlet/Bernhardt read by Indira Varma

  • 00:06

    Irving Berlin

    There’s No Business Like Show Business

    Performer: Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton.
    • Music Club MCBX014.
  • Michael Frayn

    Extract from Collected Columns read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:10

    Benny Goodman

    Let’s Have Another Cigarette

    Performer: Benny Goodman and His Orchestra.
    • Living Era – CD AJA 5302.
  • Anne Enright

    Extract from Actress, read by Indira Varma

  • 00:15

    Jack Strachey


    Performer: Paul Guinery.
    • EM Records EMR CD064.
  • 00:18

    Henry Purcell

    Chacony in G minor

    Performer: London Baroque.
    • Hamonia Mundi HMT7901327.
  • Maggie O’Farrell

    Extract from Hamnet, read by Rory Kinnear

  • Bernadine Evaristo

    Extract from Woman, Girl, Other, read by Indira Varma

  • 00:23

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    From Partita in E for solo violin, BWV 1006; 1. Preludio

    Performer: Nathan Milstein.
    • Archiv 00289 479 0441.
  • 00:24

    Kurt Weill & Ogden Nash

    Speak Low

    Performer: Kurt Weill.
    • SCHOTT T4662.
  • 00:26

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Nocturne (Op.19/4)

    Performer: Jamie Walton. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Okko Kamu.
    • Signum SIGCD407.
  • Chekhov trans. Tom Stoppard

    Extract from The Seagull, read by Indira Varma

  • Simon Gray

    Extract from The Early Diaries, read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:32

    Leigh Harline

    Hey Diddle-dee-dee, An Actor’s Life For Me

    Performer: Walter Catlett.
    • Disney Records D002065992.
  • Brad Schreiber

    Extract from Stop the Show!: A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theatre, read by Indira Varma

  • 00:35

    Stephen Sondheim

    Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened O The Way To The Forum

    Performer: Frankie Howerd & The Company.
    • Capitol SW 1717.
  • 00:42

    Dmitry Shostakovich

    Hamlet - suite... (Op.116a), no.8; The Duel and death of Hamlet

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Vassily Sinaisky.
    • Chandos CHAN10361.
  • Shakespeare

    Extract from Hamlet, read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:44

    William Walton

    Henry V, scene from the film, The Globe Theatre

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: William Walton.
    • EMI 5 65007 2.
  • Laurence Olivier

    Speaking in 1963

  • Eileen Atkinson, edited by Daniel Rosenthal

    From Dramatic Exchanges: Letters of the National Theatre, read by Indira Varma

  • Laurence Olivier edited by Daniel Rosenthal

    From Dramatic Exchanges: Letters of the National Theatre, read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:47

    Elizabeth Maconchy

    Ophelia's song for voice and piano [1926]

    Singer: Caroline MacPhie. Performer: Joseph Middleton.
    • Stone Records ST8045.
  • 00:50

    Frank Loesser

    Selection from Guys and Dolls

    Performer: Geraldo and His New Concert Orchestra.
    • Guild 795754515220 - GLCD5152.
  • Zadie Smith

    Extract from Swing Time, read by Indira Varma

  • 00:52

    Frank Loesser

    Take Back Your Mink

    Performer: Julie London.
    • EMI 7777912982 - CDP 7 91298 2.
  • Beryl Bainbridge

    Extract from An Awfully Big Adventure, read by Rory Kinnear

  • 00:56

    Mark Linkous

    Homecoming Queen

    Performer: Sparklehorse.
    • EMI 724383281626.
  • Angela Carter

    Extract from Wise Children, read by Indira Varma

  • 01:01

    Tielman Susato

    Ronde no. 11 [Danserye, 1551]

    Ensemble: Early Music Consort of London. Conductor: David Munrow.
    • Testament SBT1080.
  • Barry Unsworth

    Extract from Morality Play, read by Rory Kinnear

  • 01:03

    Matthew Locke

    Music for The Tempest - V Lilk and VI Curtain Tune

    Ensemble: Le Concert des Nations. Conductor: Jordi Savall.
    • Alia Vox AVSA9914.
  • 01:09

    Evelyn Glennie

    Light in Darkness

    Performer: Evelyn Glennie.
    • RCA Victor – 74321 47629 2.
  • Shakespeare

    Extract from The Tempest, read by Indira Varma

  • 01:10

    Ralph Vaughan Williams

    3 Shakespeare songs for chorus, no.2; The Cloud-capp'd towers

    Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Conductor: Sir David Willcocks.
    • Decca 430093-2.


  • Sun 21 Mar 2021 17:30

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