Kenneth’s First Play

Richard Nelson, Colin Chambers
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Designed for young audiences but especially suitable for eight to fifteen-year-olds, KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY takes us on an imaginative journey into the history of Western theater. As young Kenneth (who with a few changes of lines provided by the playwrights can also be a female character named Katie) encounters his first play as a bored audience member, his whole view of theater changes once he steps accidentally onto the stage and into the frame of the play. Now as a character in many different dramas he discovers a world of excitement and pure delight: the theater of the ancient Greeks, a day in Shakespeare's theater, an encounter with a play by Anton Chekhov. By getting out of his seat and becoming an active part of the theater experience, Kenneth learns about the language of plays, their special joy, and why the classics are great. Included with the text are the authors' commentary and notes about the script and its production.

Production Info

Cast: 6 total (3 female, 3 male)
Full Length Comedy (about 80 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Period Costumes
About the Author


  • Colin Chambers

    Colin Chambers served as Literary Manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company for nearly two decades where he worked with more than eighty playwrights. As well as writing theatre histories and biographies, he has written, translated, and adapted plays, including the three FIGARO plays by Beaumarchais; Robert Tressell's THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS; DAVID PINSKI'S TREASURE; and THE MAD WORLD OF JOHN MADDISON MORTON, three farces that were produced at the Orange Tree, Richmond in 2011. With Richard Nelson, he co-wrote KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (RSC, Swan, Newcastle & Young Vic) and TYNAN, an adaptation of Ken Tynan's Diaries (RSC, Swan & the Arts, London) starring Corin Redgrave. He was Associate Director of the world première of MADAME MELVILLE by Richard Nelson, at the Vaudeville Theatre, London (2000) and directed Corin Redgrave in Nelson's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's DE PROFUNDIS (Rose Theatre, Kingston and Irish Centre, Paris). He was a member of the board of the Hackney Empire for 20 years and was chair of the Hackney Empire Preservation Trust.

  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher Methuen
Publication Date 9/1/2004
Pages 64
ISBN 9780881452327

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally developed by The Royal Shakespeare Company

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Kenneth’s First Play is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC