John Gurney
Three Verse Plays
1997. 330 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-7052-0064-7. Illustrated by Paul Peter Piech.
£16.00 (+ 3.00 p&p), €16.00 (+ 3.00 p&p), US$ 18.50 (+ 4.50 p&p)
“Verse drama is an exacting art form. The demands it makes on the playwright are considerable - Simone Weil was of the opinion that Shakespeare only wrote one first-rate play - King Lear. Certainly the history of the genre is littered with failures. The problem lies in the power, concentration, range of insight and quality of aesthetic sensibility needed by the synthesising, organic imagination of the writer and in the depth and complexity of lived experience he portrays. The verse dramatist is well served by a long and difficult apprenticeship in life. He offers his opus in fear and trembling. The critics lie in wait. [...] The three plays [...] come from a time when I was questioning the concept of redemption through pain, of there being a special grace in suffering, and elaborating the idea that affliction is intrinsically evil."
John Gurney. Introduction

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Table of Contents

Excerpts from Three Verse Plays

From Jehanne d'Arque

If I am a witch, what colour am I? Black?
Or grey? Or white? If white, do I fly through
the air like St. Michael does, on four wide
wings? If black, will you have to burn me?
If grey, well that could be most difficult.
That is what you're thinking about me.
That is how you react. What's the matter, then?
Don't you like being spoken to like this
by a mere woman? Do I mke you afraid
of losing all your male authority?
Do you fear your spirit's mxing with
my spirit? That you are struggling hard
against me? Choking back strange words? Subduing
unusual impulses? Don't be afarid
De Baudricourt. I am not a witch. I
am not possessed. You have no need of
exorcism here. Poor priest. You look so
scared. You are right to be afraid. You have
so little faith. How can you have access to
the spiritual power? Poor man. He would be
obliterated, finished in a flash.

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