Wesker Trilogy

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Arnold Wesker (b. 1932) English dramatist

English Stage Company


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The name given to three plays by A. Wesker, directed as a sequence for the first time by the English Stage Company in 1960.

Chicken Soup with Barley (1958) introduces the Kahn family in their East London home in 1936; Sarah Kahn, a warm‐hearted Communist Jewish matriarch, energetically supports Socialist opposition to the Fascist marches, but her weak husband Harry is less enthusiastic. Harry becomes enfeebled by successive strokes, but Sarah battles for her ideals, manifested in her daughter Ada and her emotional and volatile son Ronnie.

Roots (1959), set in Norfolk, portrays the effects of Ronnie's infectious idealism in his fiancée, Beatie Bryant, daughter of an agricultural labourer; she returns to her family for a visit, full of his praises and his notions. In the last act Beatie is playfully trying to stir her family to some intellectual exertion while awaiting Ronnie's visit, when a letter arrives from him breaking off their engagement; after her initial despair, Beatie finds her own voice as she attacks her family for its acceptance of the third‐rate and the dull, and realizes triumphantly that she is no longer quoting Ronnie.

I'm Talking about Jerusalem (1960) opens in 1946 in Norfolk, as newly‐demobbed Dave, and Ada, helped by Sarah and Ronnie, move into their new home, where they hope to create a William Morris oasis of independence, with Dave working as a craftsman‐carpenter, but over the next two acts they are defeated by economic and social reality.

Subjects: Literature.

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