The Drama of the Middle East
After 8 years teaching in schools and continuing his studies part-time, alumnus Ken Pickering became a Lecturer in a number of Colleges of Education and wrote the book and lyrics for several successful stage musicals. After a period as Professor of Theatre at Gonzaga University in the USA he returned to the UK to become Chief Examiner for Speech, Drama and Musical Theatre at the London College of Music and subsequently at Trinity/Guildhall.
He began teaching in the Drama Department at Kent University 10 years ago and has written a succession of plays and widely used text books including Key Concepts in Drama and Performance, Theatre Studies, Naturalism in Theatre, Studying Modern Drama and Musical Theatre: a workbook.
He has been involved with the encouragement of new writing since teaching both playwriting and directing at universities on both sides of the Atlantic and the idea for a collection of contemporary plays dealing with aspects of the situation in the Middle East came at an event called ‘Gather for Gaza’.
With the celebrations surrounding the events of the First World War, the secret Sykes-Picot agreement, concluded in 1918, that carved up the nations of the Middle East to their present chaotic state has become of increasing fascination and relevance. The collection, for which Ken has written an extensive Introduction, includes plays by widely performed playwrights alongside some works by new writers. Inspired originally by his drama tutors, Honor Matthews and Marjorie Frances at Goldsmiths in the late 1950s Ken has never lost the belief that important issues can be best explored through theatre.
Guest post by Ken Pickering (Teacher’s Cert, 1960), now Honorary Professor of Drama at the University of Kent. He has edited a new book entitled Sykes-Picot: The Legacy which explores the current situation in the Middle East through modern plays. Sykes-Picot: The Legacy, edited with an Introduction by Kenneth Pickering, is published by Arts Canteen and can be obtained direct from Amazon.