Reporter 440, 11 October 1999

Shanghai students act on monsters in their sleep

The world premiere of a play written by one of the English department's most celebrated former students is being performed in China this month by theatre studies undergraduates. Staff and students from the workshop theatre flew out to Shanghai on October 3 with a brand new script written by leading playwright Charlotte Keatley.

Curtain raisers: (l-r) Rosie Fletcher, Claire Little, Rachel Hare, Kate Doughty and Elin Jeyner are performing in Shanghai

The play - The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - was commissioned by theatre studies lecturer Mark Batty, who was invited to bring a new play to the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Dr Batty approached Ms Keatley - a former MA student in the Workshop Theatre and one of Britain's most performed women playwrights - to script the new play. The students then developed an initial series of scenarios, which were developed into the completed script through a series of improvisation workshops.

The finished play was jointly directed by Dr Batty and Ms Keatley, whose play My Mother Said I Never Should was recently voted one of the most significant works of the century by the National Theatre.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters centres around a mute stranger working her way into a household of young women. Dr Batty said it deals with issues of trust, generosity, self-image and the resulting power shifts these generate.

The Shanghai Theatre Academy performed at the Workshop Theatre in 1997 and staff at both Leeds and Shanghai hope to maintain and strengthen this cultural exchange, he added.

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