Fifty years of protest, backlash, witch-hunt, liberation and crisis in a one act play, figures is a comic, touching and dynamic piece for six women and a live band. Accessible, simple to stage and fun to perform, it wears its historical context lightly as it presents both the extraordinary and commonplace with humour, passion and humanity.



A musical play tracing the lives of six American women in the second half of the 20th Century, from the illicit comforts of the home-front in World War Two, through the McCarthy witch-hunts of the ’50s, the protest movements of the ’60s and anarchic punk scene of the ’70s, to the conservatism of Reagan’s America and late ’90s anxiety at the approach of a New Millennium.

Featuring the music of Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Madonna and Tori Amos.

Playwright’s Note


figures was originally written for six women on the American Theatre Arts programme at Rose Bruford College and is very much informed by their research, interests and musical tastes. It has yet to be revived, possibly because the chronology ends in 1999, but I think it would prove a rewarding undertaking for any ensemble, as it calls for the cast to engage fully with the logistics of the design and its physical implementation. Each actor should take responsibility for a decade and the presentation of that decade on stage: it’s fashion, music and events of political and culture significance.

In the original production I was indebted – as I so often am – to our Musical Director, Andrew Friesner, for his inventive arrangements of the songs the text references. The producers of any subsequent production should feel free to select tunes they feel most appropriately serve the characters and time periods. I would highly recommend the use of a live band.

Production History

American Theatre Arts, Rose Theatre, Rose Bruford College, London, May 2004

’45, Emma Burford

’57, Dionne Atwill

’64, Bernadette Bishop

’76, Marina Burton

’83, Jade Allen

’98, Laura Rugg

Director, Steven Dykes

Musical Director, Andrew Friesner

Assistant Director, Sarah Carpenter

Lighting Designer, Kari Sivertsen

Designer, The Cast and Director

Piano, Andrew Friesner

Drums, Steve Simmonds



American Theatre Arts, Rose Theatre, May 2004



  • Categories: Cast size less than 8 / Period
  • Cast: 6 women
  • Setting: America 1945 - 1999
  • Running Time: 100 minutes
  • Characters:
  • Scripts:
  • Performance Rights: Apply for a Performance Licence

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