Updated: Aug 20, 2019
One of the highlights of the Punknowle Agatha Panthus festival is always the "end of term" Academic Seminar towards which several of the world's leading experts on the author's ouvre are gathered to facilitate discussion of the latest developments in researches into the author and her works. Pantherian Studies have come a long way since the first seminar back in 2006 when Agatha's plays were little performed and interest in Ms Panthus herself was at an all time low. Happily, ever since then, thanks largely to the efforts of the Festival organisers and enthusiastic theatre promoter Kami-Ron Macaroon, things have been on the up. This year - the very same one in which her most famous play - The Deathtrap - was adopted by the Dorset Schools Examination Board as an A-level text - has proven exceptional even by recent standards and the Seminar was blessed with no less than 3 distinguished academics who "brain-stormed" before the public in a session entitled Is Agatha Panthus one of the top 1000 playwrights of the 20th century? Just imagine such a provocative question being debated 20 years ago! Not surprisingly all three academics - Professor ABC Merdurs [University of Afpuddle], Dr Betram O'Tell [Waitaminute Senior Research Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge] and Professor Dethon d'Niall (Punknowle Institute of Higher Education and editor of the critical edition of Agatha Panthus' Plays [Threadbone Press, forthcoming] - were of one accord when it came to delivering an emphatic YES! Several in the audience also agreed!
More surprising at a time when one might have thought there was little new to be revealed about the author's work was Professor d'Niall's "rabbit out of a hat" unveiling of a lost fragment of an early draft of Ms Panthus's Murder on the Style - a revelation which was not only a revelation in itself but also a retrospective explanation for why the play had been chosen as the main feature of the festival. ["The THROADS production did everything one could possibly hope for in trying to make a case for the play. If they did not entirely succeed than it was only because they completely failed" [Chetnole Arts Weekly].
The fragment, as well as showing how Ms Panthus was possessed of a facile pen ["Dialogue came to her easily and almost from the start; plotting was more difficult and even the late plays show an author still trying to come to grips with the demands of the theatre" Professor Dethon d'Niall, Agatha Panthus' Plays: A Critical Edition [Threadbone Press, forthcoming]] also shows her willingness to rework whole speeches, prefering the selection of le mot juste over spontaneity and first thoughts. As Professor d'Niall insists: "one or two of these re-workings were both justified and successful, others not so much".
In any event, it is beyond doubt that fans of the author's work will want to see "up close up and personal" just what made the author tick and it is equally certain that this fascinating glimpse into her working methods will educate and entertain in equal measure.
NB THROADS have asked us to point out that tickets for Murder on the Style are no longer available as the production has closed. Had you woken up and asked for them earlier it might have been more of a commercial success. Please remember this and try harder in future.
That rare manuscript HERE