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National Theatre Blog

Essential Reads with... Tonic Theatre

Tonic Theatre’s core mission is about achieving greater gender equality within theatre and the performing arts. With that in mind, when the NT Bookshop approached Tonic’s Director Lucy Kerbelwith the idea of creating a series highlighting writing by and about women, Tonic Recommends was born.
Curated entirely by Tonic, there are nearly 30 titles so far featured in their own section of the bookshop and the online shop, some recommended by leading women in the world of theatre. Below are just three of the titles in the series so far.

Dame Harriet Walter Recommends… Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again by Alice Birch

This alerted me to a totally unique and exciting voice. Defiantly challenging but effortlessly individual. It is hard to define her in terms of contribution to the feminist cannon or “pertinence to female experiences” because her work seems to engage us all and almost subliminally redefine all relationships between all genders and ages. The barriers are down and the fluidity itself is feminist.


Rosalie Craig Recommends… Patti LuPone – A Memoir by Patti LuPone

I am so excited about the prospect of working with Patti LuPone in Company later this year, that I couldn’t resist reading her memoir. Like the incredible woman herself, it did not disappoint! Fascinating, hilarious and eye-opening, I would recommend this as a must-read to anyone remotely interested in theatre on either side of the Atlantic.

Tanika Gupta Recommends… Ruined by Lyn Nottage

Ruined is a haunting, probing work about the resilience of the human spirit during times of war told from the perspective of women. I saw this play at the Almeida Theatre in 2011 and it has stayed with me over the years. Mama Nadi is a powerful character - a survivor with a tough exterior. However, in the midst of the inhuman civil war, this play gives us a beautiful glimpse of a love story. Lynn Nottage is a brilliant, political writer; a playwright at the top of her game. Other plays by her I would recommend: Sweat and Fabulation.
The titles included in Tonic Celebrates are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of great writing for and about women. Which other writers and plays, either written by or for women, do you think we should be highlighting?
View the full Tonic Recommends collection in the Bookshop or browse online.