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Putting It On: The West End Theatre of Michael Codron [Hardcover]

Michael Codron , Alan Strachan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Sep 2010
Michael Codron is undoubtedly the leading producer of postwar British theatre. Still active after an astonishing half-century in the industry - he is 80 this year - every major British dramatist of the period has had a production under the Codron banner: Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn, Simon Gray, David Hare, Joe Orton, John Mortimer, Harold Pinter and Patrick Marber, to name just a few. Describing himself as 'A man of vulgar taste with an impeccable streak', he has had many hits with lighter entertainment as well as serious plays. Aware of his own homosexuality from an early age, Codron grew up in an era of prejudice and intolerance; his experiences parallel the enormous shifts in metropolitan gay life since the 1950s. In 'Putting It On' he talks frankly of the most important relationships of his life, from early flings with older, sophisticated figures like David Hicks to David Sutton, the main love of his life and his business partner for over twenty-five years. Codron's CV reads like a concise history of the post-war stage, and the book examines the sea-changes in the commercial sector and the rise of the subsidised theatre, revealing, too, what it was like working with the greatest actors of our time, including Alec Guiness, John Gielgud, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Richard Briers, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg, Felicity Kendall, Penelope Keith, Julie Waters and Victoria Wood. A fascinating insight into the victorious ups and hair-raising downs of the theatre, 'Putting it On' is a testament to an extraordinary career, dramatic in every sense of the word, and unlikely to be parallelled in our time.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (30 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715639447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715639443
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 480,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Alan Strachan is a noted theatre director and has written extensively on theatre and acting for newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the acclaimed 'Secret Dreams: A Biography of Michael Redgrave'. Michael Codron is undoubtedly the leading producer of postwar British theatre. Still active after an astonishing half-century in the industry - he is 80 this year - every major British dramatist of the period has had a production under the Codron banner: Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn, Simon Gray, David Hare, Joe Orton, John Mortimer, Harold Pinter and Patrick Marber, to name just a few.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL 4 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having worked under both Alan Strachan [author] AND Michael Codron for decades, I was delighted that I not only learned a lot from this wonderfully written book, but was that I now got some great gossip at last! Both author and subject were wonderful to work for and Codron kept a roof over my head most of my life as well as gave inspiring work to be proud of--it's time he was recognised. A great tribute from a lovely director/writer. Excellent stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It washes for me 13 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover
Alan Strachan is a WRITER. I use the capital letters deliberately, for I suspect that few other authors could shape over 50 years and 200 productions into readable form. It helps, of course, that Strachan has directed for Codron on a number of occasions, and thus has an extra affinity (plus another source of anecdotes as well as primary evidence) for his subject.

My own formative years of West End theatregoing certainly coincided with Codron's heyday, and a major attraction of this book is recognising productions one has seen, then learning a little more about how they came to be produced. Thanks to an extensive - and almost complete - archive, Strachan is able to trace the career of an extraordinary impresario through good times and harder ones in the Capital.

The way the author chooses to structure the task is both the book's greatest asset, and chief weakness. Once the Codron schooldays have been dispensed with, he adopts a decidedly `thematic' approach - taking either an association with a single playwright or genre (`revue' is the most interesting, and the form I for one miss most in London today) as the subject of a chapter.

This saves the whole from becoming just another tiresome chronology, and gives the author flexibility in tracing the development of an association in a single section of the book rather than in small paragraphs across a hundred pages.

Anything outside this structure does have to be `worked in' a little less smoothly than a reader might like, though it can be a relief to turn away from a minute examination of one author for a moment, to interpolate a little of another's success for contrast and colour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant History of the West End 28 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Michael Codron is one of the best West End producers of plays, in particular new plays. This is a history of his association with some of the most famous and successful playwrights of the last century. A reading must for those interested in the theatre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars down memory lane 12 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've only just started reading this book but it's sending me down memory lane as I once worked for Michael. I walked up the stairs past the wall of shame every morning! really kept me fit walking up all those stairs! good to hear Ali and Sandi are still working there - regards to them both Jacqui
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