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The Ghosts May Laugh
AuthorLEE, STUART - Other Plays by this Author - Contact Author
FormatFull-length.
Synopsis‘The Ghosts May Laugh' is a play set in a Western Front dug-out on Christmas Eve, 1917. Three British Officers (Jones, Jenkins, and Lewis) are joined by a new young officer (Saunders). At the same time we are told of the recent death of one of their colleague (Miller). The play is centred around the telling of four ghost stories by the main characters. This is prompted by a discovery amongst Miller’s belongings of a prized German helmet. They decide to have a competition to win the helmet and settle on a ‘Canterbury Tales’ storytelling game. Saunders begins by telling of a ghostly encounter he had in Oxford, before joining up. The ghost in question is lonely, reflecting Saunders’ own feelings. Jenkins, sparked by the appearance of a shell-shocked soldier, tells a story based on Kipling’s ‘The Madonna of the Trenches’. Lewis is cajoled into telling his story about a soldier who predicted his own death and was consequently buried alive in a collapsed trench tunnel. Finally Jones completes the game with a tale of his own about how he had believed a trench legend about monsters in no man’s land and ended up killing one of his own soldiers by mistake. Interspersed between the stories are conversations by the Officers about life in the trenches and the nature of the War. There are digressions on the experience of battle, the problems of dealing with the numbers of the dead, the home front, and separation from their loved ones. The characters all represent possible human reactions to coping with the War. Jones is cynical, but we also discover had been sent home with shell-shock. Lewis is meticulous in following orders. Jenkins conceals his fear and horror by getting drunk. The audience is asked therefore to judge how they would behave in such circumstances. Jones finishes the play with a direct attack on the conduct of the War and the belief that there is an afterlife, which (in his view) allows people to perpetuate the killing. The play finishes with Saunders (who represents the audience by now) being asked to decide what they would do in those circumstances. Although the play is set in the 1914-18 war it is really about all wars, and sets up a series of questions and situations which the audience are asked to consider; many of which have direct relevance to the recent war in Iraq. Production History: Burton-Taylor Theatre, Oxford, 2003; Greyfriars Kirkhouse, Edinburgh, 2004.
InformationAdult ThemesSwearingTragedyHistoricalHorror/Ghost
Cast14M, or 13M 1F (minimum 8)
Jones (20s), Lewis (20s), Jenkins (30s), Saunders (18-19), rest are British soldiers or officers
ProductionAll set in one dug-out. Minimal set requirements.
StatusAvailable for performance
Websitewww.playscripts.com
DOWNLOADS - these do not include any performance rights
FileDateDescriptionAvailabilityPurchase
ghostssc1.docFri, 25th Feb 2005Opening scene to 'The Ghosts May Laugh'Available to print: £0.00Download here
PERFORMANCE LICENSES
Please contact the Author: stuart.lee@oucs.ox.ac.uk (for other licences please contact the Author)
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STUART LEE

My theatrical writing career includes: 'Quiz Night at the Britannia' (Deck Theatre: OxFRINGE 2011; Oxford Copa Bar, 2012); 'Dev's Army' (Winner Galway Theatre Festival New Writing, 2010; winner 'Forever Manchester Award' 2011; Winner 'Buxton New Writing Award 2011'; Elysion Productions - Manchester, Buxton Fringe, Preston Fringe 2011; London, Liverpool, Oxford - 2012) ['Dev's Army' is available as a Kindle Ebook - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devs-Army-ebook/dp/B0070XD6P6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327750517&sr=8-1; 'The Ghosts May Laugh' (produced December 2003 Burton Taylor Theatre, Oxford; August 2004 Greyfriars Kirkhouse, Edinburgh); 'The Attic' winner of the 2007 Oxford Writers/Oxford Playhouse New Writing Competition (produced September 2007 Burton Taylor Theatre, Oxford); 'Never Tell Them' winner of the 2008 Oxford Writers/Oxford Playhouse New Writing Competition 2008 (produced September 2008 Burton Taylor Theatre, Oxford; Oxford Fringe Festival, 24-27th March 2010). I have had three short plays on at the Oxford Playhouse Playbites competitions - 'Leafmould', 'The Intricate Workings of a Sherbet Lemon', and 'An Academic's Progress'). The first was also produced by Semper Theatre Company as part of their 'Wonder' competition (Birmingham, 2010) and 'Sherbet Lemon' was produced as part of the Off-Cut Festival, Red Lion Theatre, London (2009), the Pint Sized Plays Festival (Wales, 2013), Telstar Productions (Cardiff, 2013); part of the Skylight Festival (London, 2013); and to appear at the Joseph Stone Ctr, Sheffield, by Embers Theatre Company 16/17/10/2015. I have also one unproduced play 'Aynho Turn'.


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