(NOTE. La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club was the brainchild of the American theatre producer Ellen Stewart, who formed her company in the East Village, New York City, in 1961 and became a key figure in the Off-Off Broadway movement. The Royal Court Theatre, the second of that name, built in Sloane Square in 1888, in later life became the site of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and the major London venue for a succession of radical and naturalistic plays by Arnold Wesker and others. Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko formed the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898 as a platform for a theatre of naturalism and new forms of art. It became best known for The Seagull (revived 1898) and other plays of Anton Chekhov. Roman Polanski, a French-Polish filmmaker of great originality, with a singular capacity for shocking his audiences, had a wide range of subjects, including new interpretations of such classic works as Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Vittorio de Sica, an Italian actor and prolific filmmaker with a reputation for probing, original cinematography, was a champion of neorealism and winner of multiple Oscars for best director.
By the 1970s Harold Pinter, who began professional life as an actor, had become one of the most influential dramatists of his day, as well as a screenwriter and a director, of his own plays and others. Too True to Be Good, among the less well known plays by Bernard Shaw, nonetheless affords an outstanding central role for a major actor. Alan Ayckbourn, one of the most prolific dramatists of the twentieth century, has inspired a range of critical opinion, not all of it complimentary, but has drawn large audiences to his home theatre in Scarborough and in London, attracted by his unorthodox combination of comic expectations and unpredictable turns of action. The visits to London of the Royal Shakespeare Company from their home in Stratford, for some years at their venue in the Barbican, remain an anticipated feature of the season, a reflection of the perennial esteem in which the national playwright is held, but also an indication of the freshness and probity of RSC productions at their best.)