2009 There I've Broken My Neck

A one-man performance by John Kane to benefit
Central Square Theater and North Cambridge Family Opera


Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7 at 8:00 PM
Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Tickets $35

Reception with Mr. Kane to benefit NCFO, following Saturday’s performance.
166 Chestnut Street, Cambridge
Reception Tickets $20

John Kane, Royal Shakespeare Company veteran, star of stage and screen, author of more than 200 BBC comedy scripts, and co-creator of NCFO family operas Antiphony and Kids Court, brings together the best and worst of times for actors and the theater in the hilarious There, I’ve Broken My Neck! (An Evening of Theatrical Disasters). The performance features humorous anecdotes and readings suitable for audiences aged 10 and up.

Interspersed with John Kane’s own favorite personal anecdotes from forty-three years on stage are a selection of readings from the memoirs of many theatrical legends, with the occasional acid review by their just as legendary detractors and critics.

Saturday’s performance will be followed by a reception at the home of David Sandberg and Dina Mardell, 166 Chestnut Street, Cambridge.

About John Kane

John Kane was born in Scotland in 1945 and educated at Arbroath High School. Before completing the acting course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama he was to join the famous production Actors’ Studio at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford. At the end of his first year he was, at twenty, the youngest actor ever to be made an Associate Member of the RSC. He stayed with them for seven years, finally playing Puck in Peter Brook's world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

While at Stratford he had begun to write and in 1972 after the American actress Shelley Winters starred in The Vamp, his first television play for London Weekend Television, he left the Royal Shakespeare Company to write television series for BBC television. For the next twenty years he wrote over two hundred television shows for various programs and series while continuing to act on stage and TV, returning to the RSC for three more seasons.

In 1988, television producer Britt Allcroft paired him with American composer Larry Grossman to write the lyrics for Mumfie, an animation series for which he had already written the book. The lyrics were so successful that he now has four regular collaborators in the music field. His children's opera Flying High (music by Graham Preskett) premiered at Covent Garden Opera House in London in December 2006, and his family opera Kids Court (music by David Bass) had its premiere in 2007 by the North Cambridge Family Opera.

His stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz was first performed by the RSC and is now seen regularly in American productions. Both this and his version of Showboat (also for the RSC) received Olivier Award nominations as did Swell Party, the life story of Cole Porter as reflected in his music. His screenplay for Daisies in December starring Jean Simmons and Joss Ackland won the 1996 Cable Ace award in Los Angeles for best screenplay. He was also invited to co-devise Moving On, a tribute to Stephen Sondheim on his 70th birthday which played with great success at the Bridewell Theatre, the London home of new musical theatre.

More recently he has toured America with the ACTER organization, visiting and performing in colleges and universities from coast to coast. In 1991 and 1992 he was invited to be the Director of Theatre Studies at Lafayette College in Easton. He continues his teaching as the Drama Tutor for the Oxford Overseas Study Course. He recently completed his fifteenth season with the Royal Shakespeare Company playing Exeter, Clifford and Ely in the highly successful series of history plays directed by Michael Boyd which played Ann Arbor to much acclaim in 2006.

John is now mostly retired and lives in the south of France with his wife, Alison.
[click here to see John’s complete CV]

About There I’ve Broken My Neck

When actors get together it is more often their disasters than their triumphs that they enjoy sharing. THERE, I’VE BROKEN MY NECK is a program in which actor/writer John Kane brings together the best of these in a potted history of World Theatre as seen by those who saw it happen and were very glad it wasn’t happening to them. It ranges from the unfortunate death of Aeschylus in Ancient Greece through eye-witness accounts of such tragedies as the burning of the original Globe Theatre and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the sad collapse last year of the West End Musical LEONARDO (the first show ever to be entirely financed by bird droppings).

Interspersed with his own favorite personal anecdotes, the show consists of a selection of readings from the memoirs of such theatrical greats as Sir Ralph Richardson, Noel Coward, Tallulah Bankhead and Fanny Kemble plus poems by Noel Coward, E.B. White, and Scotland’s (possibly the World’s) worst poet, William McGonagall. The mixture is enlivened by the occasional acid review by Walter Kerr, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman and Dorothy Parker.

The show is performed on any empty stage with only a lectern. It is devised as a full evening’s entertainment, lasting approximately one hour fifty minutes including a fifteen-minute intermission. Because the emphasis is on humor, it is suitable for all kinds and ages of audiences. Apart from its entertainment value, it manages to present a potted history of Theatre from the performers’ viewpoint, showing not simply the on-stage disasters but also the risks and hardships that actors have had and still have to face in the "second oldest profession".