World Premiere of Two Sisters, Two Brothers Drama Production - Hurstpierpoint College

World Premiere of Two Sisters, Two Brothers Drama Production

The development process for this play began with a series of theatre workshops with students at The Hurst from March to May 2022. What emerged through a series of improvisations were complex ideas about friendship and loyalty, peer group pressure, otherness, uncertainties about identity and trying to retain one’s integrity whilst dealing with and honouring the expectations of others. I then wrote a series of short scenes responding to the students’ work and incorporating their ideas, which we then explored in further workshops. The students’ response to those scenes (in discussion and practical work) informed the first draft of the play.

While working on that first draft, Brian reflected on how many of the students’ concerns were similar to those in Antigone. Sophocles’ play is one of the most frequently adapted of all classical Greek plays. Two Sisters, Two Brothers is not an adaptation as such – rather a dramatised response to the material generated in the theatre workshops which uses Antigone as a reference point. There is no direct correlation between Sophocles’ characters and those in our play, although Anna, her sister Izzie and their dad, Colin, have similar drives and obsessions to Antigone, Ismene and Creon. And there are several plot parallels. Antigone also provided a useful model in its use of the Chorus. All surviving Greek tragedies have a Chorus, but it usually acts as a commentator on the action, and occasionally as a neutral umpire. In Antigone, however, the Chorus is not only critical of characters but influences them, and what the Chorus says affects the outcome of the play. In Two Sisters, Two Brothers the Chorus is equally important, sometimes driving the narrative forward, sometimes reflecting on Anna’s actions, sometimes arguing about her motives, and occasionally revealing her innermost hopes and fears.

Brian Woolland was a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Reading until he resigned his post to develop his career as a writer, theatre director and educator.  He has had ten plays commissioned and produced professionally. This Flesh is Mine (published by Oberon Modern Plays), an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, was first produced in May 2014, when it was The Guardian Online’s theatre pick of the week. A Terrible Madness, a commissioned play about the mid-nineteenth century Victoria gold rush, premiered in Australia in 2011. Brian is widely published as an author of educational and academic books about theatre. The Invisible Exchange, a historical novel set in early seventeenth century London, was published in 2022 and has been very well received. “A page turner with depth – a rare and potent novel.”

I was delighted to receive this commission, and it has been a great privilege to work with such talented and highly motivated students and staff in such a well-resourced school. I hope the play is as stimulating for the audience who see it and as rewarding for those taking part as it has been for me to work on. Brian Woolland, Writer and Director of Two Sisters, Two Brothers