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David Edgar (Photo: Arnim Friess)

David Edgar (Photo: Arnim Friess)

David Edgar marks 70th birthday with debut professional performance

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson Published 26 February 2018

Renowned playwright David Edgar, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, has announced his stage debut in a new play written and performed by himself.

Trying It On is Edgar’s new play, which reflects on the legacy of the worldwide student revolt of 1968 (when David was 20 and at university), drawing on first person interviews with some of the leading political figures of the time, as well as contemporary activists.

Noted for his political dramas, which have been staged at the National Theatre and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the events of 1968 – including the Vietnam war, Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech and the assassination of Martin Luther King – helped define David Edgar’s politics and give focus to his writing.

In Trying It On, the 70-year-old David is confronted by his 20-year-old self, asking whether they share the same beliefs, and if not, what has changed.

David Edgar at 20 years old

David Edgar at 20 years old

Trying It On will play engagements in Warwick and Birmingham, before playing at The Other Place at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the Autumn, and thence on to London’s home of new writing, the Royal Court Theatre, from 24 to 27 October.

David’s 70th birthday year has seen a number of revivals of his work. Alongside his adaptations of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde (currently touring) and A Christmas Carol (returning to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in December), another major David Edgar play is being revived in the autumn.

Speaking about the project, David Edgar said, “The last time I performed on a stage was as Captain Bligh in a student production of Mutiny On The Bounty, in the early 1970s. Having spent most of the last 50 years writing things for other people to say, I thought it was time to have a conversation with myself.”

Tickets for the London run of Trying It On can be booked via the Royal Court’s website.


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