Arts and Entertainment Show 1 at the Lyric Hammersmith

The known quantity is a factor that London theatre has a depressing habit of unduly relying upon.  Think of all those screen-to-stage adaptations that angle to clean up at the box office by feeding audiences with the safely familiar or the slew of preview pieces that these days excessively prime punters on what to anticipate. 

How to direct attention to yourself

David Lister arts notebook

arts & books: The mother of reinvention

For three decades, Caryl Churchill has been turning British theatre on its head. Yet, for the past three years, she has gone to ground. With a sudden spate of revivals and new work in the offing, the playwright granted David Benedict a rare interview to explain why

THEATRE Mrs Warren's Profession Lyric Hammersmith

You come back from a long absence to discover that, while you've been away, your little daughter has grown up into Margaret Hilda Roberts. A joyless go-getter, she mounts her soapbox and shrilly inveighs against your way of life which, indeed, has owed little to the dictates of strict Methodism but has, at least, provided the earnings that have paid for her education. This nightmare scenario has not been prompted by Clare Short's recent, infectiously happy experience of discovering a Tory-inclined son. Rather, it's what springs to mind watching Neil Bartlett's very interesting revival of Mrs Warren's Profession, the Shaw play in which a 22-year-old Newnham graduate, Vivie Warren, rejects her mother when she learns that her money is made from a syndicate of brothels.

Theatre: The Heidi Chronicles Greenwich Theatre Wasserstein's women: older but still wisecracking. By Paul Taylor

There's a school of Broadway writing that has a wise crack dispenser and an audience ingratiation manual where it's heart should be. On the evidence of The Sisters Rosensweig , which had its British premiere at Greenwich two years ago, it seemed that Wendy Wasserstein was of this ilk. The Heidi Chronicles, an earlier play now unveiled in David Taylor's engaging production at the same address, suggests that we'll have to revise that estimate. It reveals a less slick and much more likeable side to Wasserstein's talent.

Back in the driving seat

The future looked bleak when the Soho Theatre Company was evicted from its Cockpit home. But an ambitious scheme has given it new life. By David Benedict

What Sarah did next

Sarah Kane's first play, 'Blasted', provoked outrage over its portrayal of sex and violence. Now she's updating Greek myth, and promising more of the same.

CHOICE THE CRITICS: THEATRE

The Hothouse Harold Pinter delivers a knockout comic performance which exists somewhere between John Cleese and Arthur Lowe in this splendid revival of his early play. Great support from Celia Imrie (with Pinter, right) and Tony Haygarth. Comedy Theatre, London

the directors 8. Max Stafford-Clark a weekly guide to British theatre's big players

Early days: After being the artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh he and William Gaskill founded the hugely influential Joint Stock Theatre Company in 1974, killed off by the Arts Council in the late Eighties in one of their most foolish moves. The company pioneered a collaborative workshop approach to playwriting with Stafford-Clark encouraging an entire generation of writers including Caryl Churchill (Cloud Nine) and David Hare (Fanshen).

Life swaps

Life swaps

THEATRE / The 1995 Wish List

The 1995 Wish List: Helen Mirren, as rumoured, will star opposite Patrick Stewart in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

THEATRE / Purring like a kitten, roaring like a lion: Peggy Ramsay, the legendary London agent who discovered Joe Orton and Edward Bond, left her estate to 'writers in need of assistance'

As the new pounds 50,000 Peggy Ramsay Play Award is announced, five established playwrights recall how Ramsay - formidable, infuriating, forthright, the scourge of their families, the blessing of their careers - set them on the right path. Interviews by Sabine Durrant.

THEATRE / Out of the body experiences: The actress Kathryn Hunter is a master practitioner of the theatre of physical contortion, despite serious, permanent injury. By Miranda Carter

Kathryn Hunter was the chameleon star of Theatre de Complicite's 1990 hit, Help, I'm Alive]. By turns a pathetic old woman lamenting the departure of her son, a young girl in search of excitement, swinging precariously from a bar and taking an unhealthy interest in her knickers, and a fat, lecherous mafioso, scratching his crotch in anticipation of money and sex, she riveted attention. Her tiny body seemed both immensely supple and slightly askew, her use of movement at once acrobatically skilled and utterly un-English. There was something exotic and mysterious about her.

INTERVIEW / Hey] A little less of the 'little': Nick Hern bets on playwrights like other people back racehorses. And luckily, as the recently named Small Publisher of the Year tells Sarah Hemming, most of his runners have come good

There aren't many trophies to be won in drama publishing, but Nick Hern's tiny enterprise, Nick Hern Books, has just bagged one - Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year. No glittering statuette or ritzy ceremony - just a cheque for pounds 1,000 and an inner glow - but Hern is delighted. 'It's amazing that someone has noticed us,' he says. 'The 'Small' still rankles a bit, but with only two people on staff, I can't really quibble.'

The Art of Theatre: 18 Brothers: Nicholas Wright's Masterclass

AUSTIN is a mild-mannered young screenwriter, the kind who listens attentively in script conferences and never misses a deadline. His brother Lee is a wild original: he steals for a living, makes 'good money' out of his pit bull terrier, roams the desert. Doing what?

NICHOLAS WRIGHT'S MASTERCLASS / The Art of Theatre: 15 Magic

THE DEVIL: That is the will of God.
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