Any lover of Shakespeare must have been delighted by the rich celebrations last weekend marking 400 years since his death, with countless performances, exhibitions, films and discussions around the country, especially in Stratford and London. Just six days later it’s the 309th anniversary of the death of another playwright who left his mark here: George Farquhar died at the age of just 30 on April 29 in 1707. Born in Londonderry as the son of a clergyman, he decided upon a career in acting and met with limited early success. However during a fight scene in a performance in Dublin, he accidentally picked up a sharp rapier instead of a blunt foil and severely injured a fellow actor. Although the actor recovered, a distraught Farquhar resolved to abandon the stage for good and to try his hand instead at writing. He moved to London, where his first lively play, Love and a Bottle, premiered in 1698 and was reasonably well received. Encouraged, he produced another six comedies before his early death. It is for the last two that he is best remembered. His final work The Beaux’ Stratagem was an enduring success from its first production at the Theatre Royal in London’s Haymarket in 1707. A year earlier The Recruiting Officer opened to great acclaim in Drury Lane, with its convoluted plot about the tangled love lives of Captains Plume and Brazen in Shrewsbury, where Farquhar himself had worked for the military. The Recruiting Officer was to become one of the most frequently performed plays of the eighteenth century, but it also has a unique and unexpected role in theatrical history. For a start, it is the first play known to have been performed by professional actors in North America, at the New Theatre in New York City on December 6, 1732. Moreover, in an extraordinary coincidence it was also the first play ever performed in Australia, when in 1789 Captain Arthur Phillip, who was the governor of the fledgling colony, sought to boost the rehabilitation of the convict population by encouraging a performance by a group of convicts, led by Lieutenant Ralph Clark. Farquhar’s remarkable record with The Recruiting Officer is certainly well worth celebrating – just like the latest news from Christ Church!
THIS SUNDAY, MAY 1
** 9am and 11am: Holy Communion
** 6.30pm: Evening worship
AND COMING UP …
** Wednesday, May 4, 12pm: Time 4 Lunch. Anyone from Highbury who is over 60 is very welcome; sign up at the welcome desk.
** Sunday, May 8, 11am: all-age morning worship.
** Saturday, May 14, 7.30pm: Fundraising Auction for the Spire project. Tickets at the welcome desk for £7/£3 conc, includes meal and guaranteed good fun!
** Monday, May 16, 7.15pm: Listening and Storytelling Workshop, to help us share our stories and listen to others. See Sam Yung for details.
** Saturday, May 21: Quiet day at St Saviour’s Priory; sign up at the welcome desk.
** Saturday, June 4, 7.30pm: Peacebuilding and Bach. The brilliant Rev Donald Reeves will talk about his experiences as a peacebuilder in Serbia and Kosovo, interspersed with some organ pieces by Bach which have sustained him during his exhausting efforts. Free; retiring collection for his work. “INSPIRED AND INSPIRING – TRUE FOOD FOR THE SOUL”. See Janet for further details.