Joan Ross Sorkinhome.html

Playwright      Opera Librettist      Musical Bookwriter      Lyricist     Screenwriter

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The musical is based on the fascinating life of Joan Littlewood, the brash, anti-establishment British director who changed the course of twentieth-century theatre with her creation of  the experimental Theatre Workshop. Though Joan’s life appeared to be hugely successful, to her it was filled with hurt and disappointment. Joan’s stormy relationship with her mother dogged her throughout her career, as she tried not to make her same mistakes. The musical becomes a vehicle to tell Joan’s personal story, a story of mothers and daughters, of gaining and losing one’s children, not loving them enough or perhaps too much.

The conceit of the show is that Joan returns from the dead to dramatize her life to prove she was denied the credit she deserved for A Taste of Honey, a play credited to Shelagh Delaney, the young playwright whom Joan treated like a daughter. The musical reenacts Joan’s unhappy childhood, her stint at RADA, her two love affairs, and most importantly, her creation of Theatre Workshop, a rag-tag traveling troupe dedicated to plays for the working class that later becomes an acclaimed avant guarde theatre in London’s East End, creating major hits like A Taste of Honey and Oh! What A Lovely War. However, after transfers to the West End and Broadway destroy Joan’s dream of a people’s theatre, she pushes Shelagh and her company away, and alone, abandoned and uncredited, Joan is left with only the haunting memory of the legacy she left behind.


Developed at: BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, The Arden Theatre (Philadelphia, PA); Passage Theatre (Trenton, NJ), The York Theatre (NYC) (2008 with Beth Fowler as Joan Littlewood / 2009 with Judy Kaye as Joan Littlewood / 2010 Private table-read (Judy Kaye as Joan Littlewood).


Click on the links below for more information about this work.




Book by Joan Ross Sorkin

Music and Lyrics by Steven Fisher

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