Birthday Book of Storms

La-Mama-Birthday-Book-of-Storm-design-by-Peter-MumfordSet in a mysterious library where poems and writers come to life, Book of Dreams Theatre Company presents Birthday Book of Storms at the La Mama Courthouse this August.

Birthday Book of Storms examines displacement, exile, alienation and their effect on the next generation, as seen through the triangular, volatile relationships of iconic poets the American Sylvia Plath, the British Ted Hughes and the artist Assia Wevill who was of German/Jewish descent.

July 2021 Sotheby’s auctions the love letters Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. “I’m not sure everybody finds a love like that in their lifetime. And if they do, however short-lived it is, it’s going to be quite a ride.” – Frieda Hughes, daughter.

However, there is another story, another viewpoint, another daughter. One written out of history and invisible for many years. This forgotten child is at the centre of Birthday Book of Storms. There are many biographies of Ted and Sylvia, but barely a mention of the life and death of Shura, daughter of Ted and his lover Assia.

Birthday Book of Storms sees a mysterious girl investigating others’ lives searching for answers in a magic, surrealist temporality to discover her story. Characters’ destinies and their extreme emotions assume Greek tragedy proportions, orchestrated by two distinct and powerful women, Sylvia and Assia, where small actions can have catastrophic consequences.

Haunting and lyrical, the tragic themes are counteracted by the girl’s desire to live and deliver a message. Through fictional retelling the play is focused on the feminine in the Hughes saga.

Book of Dreams Theatre Company is a culturally diverse group of theatre professionals and founded by playwright R. Johns and Romanian-born and trained actor Roxana Paun Trifan, Theatreworks Associate Artist 2021. They are excited to invite Jaime Dörner, trained in Chile and New Zealand to co-direct the project.

The first public readings of Birthday Book of Storms supported by the City of Port Phillip through their cultural Development fund recovery grants were in May.

The play moves beyond the usual Anglo-centric telling of the Ted Hughes/ Sylvia Plath history, with the addition of Assia Wevill and her missing child, both written out of his public life whilst Ted Hughes was alive. Audiences can now consider the poet’s story in its full complexity.

Co-Directors: Jaime Dörner and R. Johns | Featuring: Anita Torrance, Roxana Paun Trifan, Paris Valentino, Phil Roberts, Jim Daly and Robin Kakolyris | Graphics & Set Design: Peter Mumford | Lighting Designer: Kris Chainey | Sound Designer: Aaron Torrance | Stage Manager/Operator: Lisa Inman | Writer: R. Johns

Birthday Book of Storms
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Season: 17 – 28 August 2022
Information and Bookings:

Image: Birthday Book of Storms – design by Peter Mumford