J.B. Priestley is considered by many to be an old-fashioned playwright whose work is locked in a pre-war world of provincialism and whose ideas are way past their sell-by date. In Time and the Rose Garden, internationally recognised author Anthony Peake re-assesses the plays and novels of this fascinating writer. In doing so, Peake argues that Priestley should be recognised as one of the most prescient of all middle century playwrights and that his ideas on time, consciousness and mortality can be found in hugely popular blockbusters such as The Matrix, Vanilla Sky, Deja Vu, Sliding Doors, Butterfly Effect and many others.
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Time and The Rose Garden by Anthony Peake is a detailed and absorbing analysis of the work of J.B. Priestley, both as author and playwright. Born in 1894 Priestley wrote a prestigious number of novels, essays and plays reducing his output until his death in 1984.
Peake provides biographical information reflecting on the impact of Priestley’s experiences during World War I including his own wounding and recovery. Also explained is Priestley’s fascination with time and moving away from the conventional views influenced by An Experiment with Time written by an Anglo-Irish aeronautical engineer, John William Dunne. Dreamers dreaming dreams and accessing information from the future – the circular nature of time is experienced with the underpinnings of new philosophical and scientific thinking about time. In more simple terms Priestley often examined his philosophical calculation that in certain circumstances the future can be perceived in dreams and it seems to be a subject that fascinated him – and is described in detail in Time and The Rose Garden.
Also examined is Priestley’s transition from novelist to playwright. In his plays Priestley used the method of manipulating the audience’s memory -- living in the moment before – a feeling of déjà vu – or being able to look back at events and finding the seeds for whatever might come next.
Of Priestley’s work perhaps it is Time and the Conways that comes up most often in the last decade with major revivals in New York and London and within that play there is the depiction of the faltering British aristocracy and economy between the wars, and also how one imagines time as the play’s narrative does not progress in a linear manner. Similarly another one of his plays, An Inspector Calls, which has received more appreciation in recent years, was successfully revived by the National Theatre in London and produced on Broadway.
If one has the opportunity to encounter Priestley’s plays and writings in the future, Anthony Peake’s Time and The Rose Garden is an insightful guide. ~ Mark Kappel , NEWSNOTES DANCE BLOG