Cover of To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern
and other plays

Daniel Keene

Each character pulls at your heartstrings and is timeless
a peek into moments that are quite unexceptional yet are revolutionary
Marisa Mastrocola, Togatus
If Henry Lawson had written plays, this is what ‘The Drover’s Wife’ would look like
Palz Vaughan, Herald-Sun

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Book Description

Described by the author as A Little Bumper Book of Plays, To Whom It May Concern is a collection of eight plays by multi-award winning dramatist Daniel Keene. All works are from the acclaimed Keene/Taylor Theatre Project. Their stories forge what Geoffrey Milne has called "a poetics of dignity in despair."

Occasionally theatre delivers something quite extraordinary. Sitting in the poverty-marked surrounds of The Brotherhood of St Lawrence furniture warehouse, watching three more of Daniel Keene's plays in his collaborative project with director Ariette Taylor, more than tears were brought to my eyes. It was as if a hand had reached into my chest and squeezed my heart until it hurt.

These plays are so everyday on the surface yet they articulate in their gaps and silences a profound sense of human worth.

Helen Thompson, The Age

ISBN 1876044330
Published 2000
123 pgs
To Whom It May Concern book sample

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to whom it may concern
a glass of twilight
neither lost nor found
untitled monologue
night, a wall, two men
the violin
the rain

production details

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To Whom It May Concern and other plays
Melissa Ashley
Social Alternatives, Vol. 20, No.3, August 2001 (pgs 56-58)

[Text not yet available]

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To Whom It May Conern and other plays
Marisa Mastrocola.
Togatus, March 2001

I approached my first reading of this book of eight short plays incorrectly. At first I read the plays in a random order and ended up having to put the book down in confusion. I found it easier to read these plays in order; a greater sense of the people Keene writes about becomes apparent. In this second reading I became drawn into the poetry of Keene’s writing, as well as the unusual style he has presented these works in.

Keene’s characters are not those of contemporary society; they are usually depicted through their simple struggles and their subtle madness. Each character pulls at your heartstrings and is timeless. We never know the names of each character yet somehow we do know them; we have met them somewhere before or are going to meet them somewhere in the future.

Keene’s lack of punctuation was at first very distracting, but through perseverance I discovered my own rhythm in the dialogue. This lack of punctuation creates a sense of building and allows the reader (or performer) to utilise their own creativity in setting a pace and rhythm. This also applies to the lack of stage directions. It is in this void that the imagination flourishes and takes each play into its own realities. The only use of punctuation is the question mark. Keene has left it open for any one of us to question the remarks made by the characters. After all, whose truth is it and what is it all founded in?

Let these eight short plays give you a peek into moments that are quite unexceptional yet are revolutionary.

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Chris Boyd
The Big Issue

Black Pepper has just published a slim collection of recent plays by Daniel Keene, all of which were written for the Keene/Taylor Theatre Project. From humble beginnings in a Fitzroy Brotherhood of St Laurence furniture warehouse, in which highly stylised and poetic encounters between down-and-outs were played out, the project has become something of a juggernaut, attracting rave reviews and huge interest from the theatre community. Thespians are falling over themselves to offer their services. But the reception has been troubling, with some critics and performers seemingly revelling in getting down and dirty.

But as poet and critic Alison Croggon eloquendy argues in the preface of To Whom It May Concern and other plays, Keene’s phrasing owes more to Beckett than it does to Wesker. These are not - or at least not merely - tales of the working class. Nor is Keene (merely) the people’s poet. Ironically, rave reviews have obscured the significance of the plays which, at their best, jostle in bleakness and beauty with Beckett’s. Few other Australian playwrights would have the sensibility (or the balls) to write a line like this: ‘You crawl out of your old mum and into your f***ing grave.’

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Front Row
Brave play
Palz Vaughan
Herald-Sun, 27 February 2001

Since it was founded in 1995, the publishing house Black Pepper has published 14 fiction and 22 poetry titles. Co-publisher Kevin Pearson has decided to branch out into publishing plays. The inaugural volume, To Whom It May Concern and other plays, is by critically acclaimed author Daniel Keene.

‘In some way it’s a brave venture,’ Pearson says.

‘Across the ages the best writers have been dramatists. Daniel Keene’s work is more pithy and moving than much of the fiction around at the moment. If Henry Lawson had written plays, this (To Whom It May Concern) is what ‘The Drover’s Wife’ would look like.’

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Review of the play To Whom It May Concern

The New Jerry Lewis?
The Age, 28 September 2004

The French just can't get enough of Aussie playwright Daniel Keene, best known on his home soil for the now disbanded Keene/Taylor Project. More than 50 productions of Keene's work have been staged in Belgium and France since 2000, and one of the latest, To Whom It May Concern,  takes the eclair when it comes to accolades. Keene's wife, Alison Croggon, reports that a critic on France Culture radio believed it to be the most significant theatrical event in Paris since 1953 when Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot opened. The French have also been quick to adopt Keene as their own, with publications such as Le Monde, L'Humanite and Figaro touting him as a major new voice in "European" theatre; in other good news, the overcoat Keene lost during his last visit to Paris has miraculously resurfaced in the wardrobe department of La Cartoucherie.

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