September 3rd, 2019


Dramatic Exchanges: Letters of the National Theatre, ed. Daniel Rosenthal

Some correspondence from the National Theatre archives.

X to Y

Dearest Y,

Thank you for sending me your latest play. Without wishing to be the least offensive, I have to say that it is probably the worst play since
Gammer Gurton’s Needle * and so, regrettably, we shall be unable to stage it at the National. So sorry, do let us have first dibs on your next!

Ever yours, dear one.


Y to X


You *&%$+@( *&%£!


X to another Y

Darling Y,

Can’t I persuade you to reconsider your decision about playing - ? You know how we long to have you here at the National and I feel you could bring so much to the part.

Do, please, please, say yes.

All love,

Another Y to X

Dear X,


Another Y

Yet another Y to another X

Dear another X,

I am at a loss to understand how you could have my play in rehearsal for two months and then fail to put it on! I feel very let down by an institution I have always supported. I am convinced that an absurdist comedy featuring violent rape, torture and beheadings would be delighted in by a wide audience (especially the matinée crowd). It is just the sort of play the National should be showing.

Yet another Y

Another X to Yet another Y

Dear Yet another Y,

Please believe me when I say that we *love* your play and would be only too happy to put it in the repertoire but, alas, the technical difficulties of staging it proved to be too great.

Yours admiringly,
Another X

*'the worst play since Gammer Gurton’s Needle' is a quote from I Like it Here by Kingsley Amis.
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