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The Sons of Light


'In the beginning... this earth was fire...' At his young brother's grave, John Bengry preaches on the creation of the world. Nigel Terry as John; Ron Cook as Sam, Charlotte Cornwell as Child Manatond: RSC Other Place, Stratford, 1974.

Play originally published by Methuen, 1981;
ISBN 0 413 49120 X. No longer in print.

A Pastor arrives with his three sons to take up a ministry on a remote North Atlantic island. The islanders' bleak puritanism is an unknowing mask: beneath their extinct volcanic rock, a government experiment is dehumanizing deviant captives in a subterranean synthetic world. The pastor's and his sons' actions - unwittingly, it seems, but unerringly - provoke the discovery of this, and precipitate a prisoners' uprising. One after another in this process, the three sons die: and the island's two outcasts - a thwarted homosexual boy, and a traumatized schizophrenic girl - awaken to the birth of their true selves.

Written 1964-65; several subsequent re-workings. In 1968, as I came away from the bleak meeting with RSC Director Peter Hall at which he ruefully ended his commitment to this play, I knew I was going into a lifetime in the wilderness.

First produced, Tyneside Theatre Company, Newcastle, 1976. In final revision, RSC (under new artistic management) at The Other Place, Stratford, 1977. No professional production since. I would single out two student productions as significant events in the play's performance history: at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1990, and at Oberlin College, Ohio, 1995.

Minimum 13 m. 4 f. - various doublings possible.