An Inspector Calls

by J.B. Priestley

Directed by Clifford Spencer and Alan Hargreaves


Cast - (In the order of their appearance)

 

Arthur Birling - Gordon Ingleby
Gerald Croft - Paul Cunliffe
Sheila Birling - Andrea Cawley
Sybil Birling - Dorothy Spencer
Edna - Frances Singleton
Eric Birling - Jordon Dalzell
Inspector Goole - Alan Hargreaves

The Production Team

Director - Clifford Spencer
Co-Director - Alan Hargreaves
Production Manager - Lynne Atkinson
Stage Manager - Andrew Broadley
Set Design & construction - David Baxter, David Stevens, Stephanie Kendrick & the Garrick Team
Decor - Noreen Lobo
Sound and Lighting - Richard I'Anson
Wardrobe Frances Singleton & Anne Dunlop
Properties - Heather Whittam, Kath Riley
Prompt - Kath Hall
Front of House - David Baxter & the Garrick Team
Programme & Poster Logo - Noreen Lobo
Publicity - Lynne Atkinson

AN INSPECTOR CALLS

The author and the play

John Boynton Priestley was born in Bradford in 1894. After service in World War I he went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He turned down the suggestion of a lectureship there after taking his degree and instead moved to London and a rather more precarious existence as a writer, unsupported by any institution.The variety of Priestley's output — essays and reviews, novels and plays, radio broadcasts and contributions to public life — may have been partly prompted by financial necessity in the early days of his life as a writer, but it equally reflects a width of taste and a desire to try his hand at as many different forms as possible.

His first success as a novelist was with The Good Companions (1929). Priestley was always drawn towards the theatre, however, and attached a special importance to that medium: 'If I wanted to make people feel deeply I should use the drama. You can create a quality of emotion in the theatre beyond any you can achieve in another medium,' he once said. His first play was Dangerous Corner (1932).

Priestley was not content merely to produce the script on which the actors and director would operate. He became involved in every aspect of the production, directing and, on one occasion, acting. It is plain that the theatre exerted a kind of spell over him, and that he felt the excitement of an approaching first night as keenly as any actor.

DIRECTOR'S NOTES

Ironically, though unsurprisingly in view of the fact that Priestley has long been a prophet more honoured (or at least a writer more respected) abroad than in his own country, An Inspector Calls received its first and immediately successful performances in Moscow, and on a European tour, before London could be persuaded to stage it at the Old Vic in 1946; even then the reception was mixed, with a significant element feeling cheated out of the straightforward detective story it was never intended to be. Indeed, in its political undertone, its sense of entrapment and its searching 'beyond', there are stronger echoes of Shaw and Chekhov than of anything by Conan Doyle, for this is Priestley writing as citizen, social critic and thinker, using his Inspector as a universal inquisitor to probe the social conscience, the sharing of guilt, the generation gap, and the masquerade of comfortable life.

J.B. Priestley (1894 -1984) lived through both world wars; this play is set just before the first and was written at the end of the second and he shows us how little as a society we learnt between the two, or indeed have done in the half-century since. It remains timeless and questioning, distancing yet engaging, but essentially theatrical; for despite his prodigious output of novels, essays and articles, Priestley regarded himself as "by both profession and temperament a dramatist".