Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Timberlake Wertenbaker

Timberlake Wertenbaker

Timberlake Wertenbaker (1951 present) is a contemporary dramatist, librettist, screenwriter, and translator based in Britain. Her most famous play, Our Countrys Good (1988), won the Laurence Olivier Award.

Timberlake Wertenbaker: Biography

Timberlake Wertenbaker was born on 19th February 1951 in New York. Her mother, Lael Wertenbaker, was a writer, and her father, Charles Wertenbaker, was a journalist. Wertenbaker grew up in the village of Ciboure in the Basque region of France. As a child, she was influenced by adventure novels, especially the works of Alexandre Dumas (18021870). Her interest in theatre also developed during her early education in France. In 1955, her father died of cancer, and the mother and daughter moved back to New York. This was Wertenbakers first memorable experience of displacement and cultural dislocation, which became a recurring theme in her works.

Wertenbaker studied philosophy at St. Johns College in Annapolis, where she was influenced by the works of Plato (428/427348/347 BCE). Through her twenties, she worked as a caption writer in New York. Although her job was prestigious, as her thirtieth birthday was approaching, she became restless and felt dissatisfied with the corporate environment in which she was working. In 1975, Timberlake moved to Somerset in England to work as a stable hand. It was during that time that she started writing. She briefly returned to New York, only to embark on another journey soon after. In 1976, Timberlake moved to the Greek island of Spetse, where she worked as a French teacher and began to write drama. That year, she wrote the first draft of her play The Third, but it wasnt published until 1980.

She returned to England, and her playwriting career started in the late 1970s in London. At first, she was writing for small playhouses, but by the 1980s, her career had soared. In 1983, she was a resident writer for the Shared Experience Theatre Company. Between 1984 and 1985, she was a resident writer for the Royal Court Theatre. In 1988, she produced her two most famous plays, Our Countrys Good and The Love of the Nightingale. Our Countrys Good premiered on 10th September 1988 at the Royal Court Theatre. The same year, the play won the Laurence Olivier Award for the best new play.

The Love of the Nightingale was first performed in 1988 at The Other Place, Royal Shakespeare Company, in Stratford. It won the Eileen Anderson Central Television Drama Award. In 1991, Timberlake Wertenbakers play, Three Birds Alighting on a Field, premiered at the Royal Court Theatre. It won several awards. The same year, Our Countrys Good was nominated for a Tony Award. Between 1992 and 1997, the playwright was on the Executive Council of the English Stage Company. From 1998 to 2001, she was on the Executive Committee of PEN.

Between 2005 and 2006, Timberlake worked as a professor of theatre at Georgetown University in Washington DC. In 2011, she was an artist-in-residence at the Freud Museum in London.

At present, Timberlake Wertenbaker is the artistic adviser at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Chair in Playwriting at the University of East Anglia. She is also on the council of the Royal Society of Literature. Wertenbaker lives in North London with her husband, the writer John Man, and their daughter.

Timberlake Wertenbaker plays and major works

To date, Wertenbaker’s most important plays include Our Country’s Good, The Love of the Nightingale, and Three Birds Alighting on a Field.

Our Countrys Good (1988)

Justice and humaneness have never gone hand in hand. The law is not a sentimental comedy

(Captain Watkin Tench, Act 1, Scene 3).

Our Countrys Good is a two-act play by Timberlake Wertenbaker. It premiered on 10th September 1988 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play was nominated for a Tony Award in 1991. It won the 1988 Laurence Olivier Award for Play of the Year and the 1991 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

Our Countrys Good is based on Thomas Keneallys novel The Playmaker (1987). Set in the 1780s, the play follows British convicts, who were sent to the first penal colony in Australia, and the Royal Marines who took them there. It is based on the true story of Australias first theatre production, a play performed by the convicts. Our Countrys Good explores themes of displacement, politics, and the importance of theatre as a force of education and social change.

The Love of the Nightingale (1989)

Love, stealing with grace into the heart you wish to destroy, love, turning us blind with the bitter poison of desire, love come not my way. And when you whirl through the streets, wild steps to unchained rhythms, love, I pray you, brush not against me, love, I beg you, pass me by (Female Chorus, Scene 5).

The Love of the Nightingale is a two-act tragic play by Timberlake Wertenbaker. It premiered in 1988 at The Other Place theatre in Stratford. The play received the Eileen Anderson Central Television Drama Award. In 2007, The Love of the Nightingale was also adapted into an opera with music by Richard Mills and a libretto by Timberlake Wertenbaker herself.

The Love of the Nightingale is a feminist adaptation of the ancient Greek myth of the rape of Philomena. The play follows Philomena, who is raped by her brother-in-law Tereus. Together with her sister Pracme, she avenges him. The play ends with the gods turning Philomena into a nightingale.

Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991)

I was like the final touches of a well-decorated house. It gives pleasure but you dont notice it (Biddy, Act 1, Scene 1).

Three Birds Alighting on a Field is a two-act play by Timberlake Wertenbaker. It was first performed in 1991 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play won three awards: the London Critics Circle Best West End Play Award, the Writers Guild Award for best West End play, and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Three Birds Alighting on a Field is a satire about the London art scene during Margaret Thatchers time. It explores feminism, politics, and Greek mythology.

Main Themes in Timberlake Wertenbaker's plays

Key themes in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s work include displacement, identity, and social change.

Displacement

In many of Timberlake Wertenbakers plays, the characters are displaced from their homeland and have to move to a foreign country. Within the theme of displacement, the dramatist explores further motifs of cultural differences, multiculturalism, belonging, and the isolation of being a foreigner.

Identity

Wertenbaker discusses identity and its connection to heritage, culture, and language. Many of the characters perform their identities: they act as they want to be perceived rather than as their authentic selves. Some of them are people who move to a foreign country and assume certain identities so that they can fit in better.

Social change

Most of Wertenbakers plays are centred around the theme of social change. The societal issues she explores colonialism, sexism, classism, immigration are depicted as reasons why social transformation is needed. For example, in Our Countrys Good, change is possible in the small society of the penalty colony. In The Love of the Nightingale, rape is presented from a feminist perspective as a larger issue affecting all of society, rather than as only the struggle of individuals.

Timberlake Wertenbakers contribution to English literature

Timberlake Wertenbaker is one of the most influential contemporary dramatists in the postmodern landscape of English literature. She has written a total of twenty-seven dramas spanning four decades. Her most recent play, written in 2017, is called Winter Hill. Wertenbaker has produced numerous translations and adaptations of the works of authors such as Sophocles (496405 BCE), Euripides (484406 BCE), and Jean Racine (16391699). She has also written for radio and television. Wertenbakers works cover a wide range of historical subjects, such as colonialism and reinterpretations of Greek mythology, and contemporary issues, such as immigration and the power of art.

Timberlake Wertenbaker - Key takeaways

  • Timberlake Wertenbaker is a contemporary British-based dramatist, librettist, screenwriter, and translator.
  • Timberlake Wertenbaker was born on 19th February 1951 in New York.
  • Wertenbakers most well-known plays are Our Countrys Good (1988), The Love of the Nightingale (1989), and Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991).
  • The main themes in Wertenbakers works are displacement, identity, and social change.
  • Timberlake Wertenbaker has also translated and adapted works for radio and television.

Frequently Asked Questions about Timberlake Wertenbaker

Timberlake Wertenbaker (1951 – present) is a contemporary British-based dramatist, librettist, screenwriter, and translator. Her most famous play is Our Country’s Good (1988).

Timberlake Wertenbaker was born on 19th February 1951 in New York.

Timberlake Wertenbaker has written plays for the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and other theatre companies and organisations.

Our Country’s Good (1988) is a famous play by Timberlake Wertenbaker.

The main themes in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s works are displacement, identity, and social change.

Final Timberlake Wertenbaker Quiz

Question

True or False: Timberlake Wertenbaker has experienced displacement and cultural dislocation. This is a recurring theme in her works.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Wertenbaker's playwriting career started in...?

Show answer

Answer

the 1970s

Show question

Question

Which of Wertenbaker's plays won the Laurence Olivier Award?

Show answer

Answer

Our Country's Good (1988)

Show question

Question

True or False: Timberlake Wertenbaker has written for The Royal Court Theatre in London.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which of Wertenbaker's plays was adapted into an opera?

Show answer

Answer

The Love of the Nightingale (1989)


Show question

Question

What is NOT one of the main themes in Wertenbaker's plays?

Show answer

Answer

Displacement

Show question

Question

True or False: Wertenbaker has translated and adapted the works of Sophocles and Euripides.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

True or False: The Love of the Nightingale (1989) is a satire about the London art scene during Margaret Thatcher's time.

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

True or False: Our Country's Good (1988) was nominated for a Tony Award.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which play is based on the true story of Australia's first theatre production?

Show answer

Answer

Our Country's Good (1988) 

Show question

Question

Wertenbaker discusses identity and its connection to...?

Show answer

Answer

culture and language

Show question

Question

True or False: In her works, Wertenbaker discusses reasons why social transformation is needed.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Where did Wertenbaker write the first draft of her play The Third?

Show answer

Answer

The Greek island of Spetse

Show question

Question

True or False: Our Country's Good is based on Thomas Keneally's novel, The Playmaker (1987)

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Our Country's Good takes place in...?

Show answer

Answer

Australia

Show question

Question

Which character disapproves of the convicts acting in a play?

Show answer

Answer

Major Ross 

Show question

Question

Which character is accused of stealing food?

Show answer

Answer

Liz 

Show question

Question

True or False: Harry Brewer dies.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which play do the convicts perform?

Show answer

Answer

The Recruiting Officer

Show question

Question

True or False: Performing in a play has a positive effect on the convicts.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

True or False: Captain Phillip believes that convicts can change for the better if they are exposed to culture.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

The ghosts that Harry Brewer sees appear to him because...?

Show answer

Answer

his conscience is guilty

Show question

Question

True or False: Most of the characters in Our Country's Good are based on real people who sailed with the First Fleet to Australia.


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

True or False: Ralph's wife is Mary.

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

True or False: The Aboriginal Australian is dying of smallpox.

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which of these is one of the main themes in Our Country's Good?

Show answer

Answer

Justice

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Timberlake Wertenbaker quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.