Chichester Festival Theatre are reviving Terence Rattigan's little-known 1960 play Ross. The play is an historical epic about T. E. Lawrence's role in the Arab Revolt of 1916 - and the production is being launched to mark the 100th anniversary of that event.
I've been asked to do a couple of things around it. First I was asked to do a programme note for the production. I've contributed 'Rattigan Inside Out'. It's often thought that Ross is a complete anomaly in Rattigan's oeuvre, being an epic war play in which bandits and terrorists and soldiersdebate British foreign policy in the Middle East - not the domestic tales of thwarted emotion for which Rattigan is perhaps better known. But I try to suggest int the article that Rattigan's domestic plays have a broader, outward-looking social dimension - and that this play in fact is powered by Rattigan's empathetic account of T. E. Lawrence's private sexual pain.
And then the wonderful Nick Hern Books are releasing an edition of the play and, as usual, they've asked me to contribute a new introduction. This involved a lot of research, into the history of Arab nationalism, the contested and controversial history of Lawrence, Rattigan's writing of the play, his battles with the Lawrence estate, and the history of the first production and revival. I've tried to make a caes for the play as something more experimental than has been generally acknowledged and a play that may only now be able to find its audience.
Whether it will find an audience remains to be seen. Fingers crossed. The production stars Joseph Fiennes and Michael Feast and is directed by Adrian Noble.