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Horniman's Choice

Horniman's Choice

Four One-Act Plays from the Manchester School of Playwrights

Harold Brighouse, Stanley Houghton, Allan Monkhouse

Oberon Books

“Together they make a lively quartet...In their ability to deal honestly with working-class experience, the plays of the Manchester SChool still have a lot to teach us.” –Michael Billington, Guardian


Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, Horniman's Choice brings together four plays by the leading figures of the 'Manchester School' of playwrights – Harold Brighouse, Stanley Houghton and Allan Monkhouse, all originally championed by Annie Horniman, owner of Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, the first regional repertory theatre in Britain.

The first professional UK productions for more than 90 years ‘If Lancashire playwrights will send their plays to me I shall pledge myself to read them through. Let them not write as one dramatist does, about Countesses and Duchesses and society existing in imaginations, but about their friends and enemies - about real life.’ - Annie Horniman

The Price of Coal by Harold Brighouse
1909. The mines. Collier Jack Tyldesley heads off at 5.30am for another day's hard graft at the coalface. His lover, Mary Bradshaw, has promised to answer his marriage proposal when he returns home, but Jack's mother is haunted by premonitions of disaster. Risk is part of the job, but too often the cost of fuel outweighs the cost of the lives of men.


Lonesome Like by Harold Brighouse
1911. The mill. Sarah Ormerod has worked in a Lancashire mill for many years, but age and hard work have taken their toll. When she loses the use of her hands, she is condemned to spend the rest of her days in the workhouse, unless someone can help her. Without a welfare state, what happens to the elderly and disabled?


The Old Testament and the New by Stanley Houghton
1914. The home. Christopher Battersby is a devout Christian, running his household in strict and obsessive accordance with the Old Testament. When his daughter runs off to London with an unsuitable man, he struggles with his faith and the limits of what he can forgive.


Night Watches by Allan Monkhouse
1916. The trenches. A new orderly begins work on the night shift at a Red Cross hospital, only to find that two of the patients are more comically surprising and disruptive that originally seemed.


Playwright Stanley Houghton was born in Ashton-upon-Mersey, Sale, Cheshire. Educated at Manchester Grammar School, he went into his father's cotton business where he worked until the success of Hindle Wakes in 1912 allowed him to finally achieve his ambition to become a professional writer. He died just a year later of meningitis. One of the acclaimed 'Manchester School' of playwrights, championed by Annie Horniman of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, and including such writers as Harold Brighouse and Allan Monkhouse.

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