Showing posts with label Smoking With Lulu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smoking With Lulu. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Smoking with Lulu in London anyone?

Had anyone had the chance to see the latest production of Smoking with Lulu in London? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please post in the comments field, or email the Louise Brooks Society. The LBS has written earlier about the play here.

The only notice regarding the play which I saw online was this brief bit from September 30 from TimeOut London, which described Janet Munsil's play thus:

"Theatre critic Kennth Tynan and legendary silent movie star Louise Brooks once met and this play is about that fateful moment."

There was also short write-up on a site called

Monday, October 14, 2013

London play about Louise Brooks - Smoking with Lulu


Directed by Peter Turner
15 – 20 October 2013
Evenings 20.00
Matinee (Sun only) 17.00
London Theatre, SE14
Box Office: 0208 694 1888

Smoking with Lulu was first performed in Calgary, Canada in 1997 and subsequently at The west Yorkshire Playhouse in association with Soho Theatre Company. The action of the play takes place in a small apartment in Rochester, New York and is based on the real life meetings that took place in 1978 between Kenneth Tynan, the renowned and very decadent British theatre critic, and Louise Brooks, the iconic silent screen star of the late 1920’s.

At the time of the meetings Tynan was, in his mid-fifties, suffering from emphysema, and Brooks was in her mid-seventies. The purpose of the meetings was that Tynan was to write a profile of Brooks for The New Yorker magazine which when published in 1979 was called ‘The girl in the black helmet’ – a reference to Brook’s trademark black bob hairstyle. Yet Kenneth Tynan wasn’t just researching, he was sexually obsessed by Louise Brooks and had been for many years. It was an obsession grown out of his fascination of her film career and in particular her portrayal of Lulu in GW Pabst 1929 film ‘Pandora’s Box’. And for Louise Brooks, after having a lifetime experience of fuelling men’s, and women’s , erotic desire for her, expertly drew him into her web.

By 1978 Brooks was ill, old, penniless, and hard-bitten but she knew exactly which devices to employ to turn Tynan on. Cleverly using Tynan’s vision of her as the amoral Lulu in ‘Pandora’s Box’ Brooks was able to bend Tynan to her will. Or did he bend her to his. Yes he was addicted to sex but how far was the ageing Louise Brooks prepared to go to have Kenneth Tynan be besotted by her? Aroused by his obsession, did she need a love slave for one last final time?


Louise – Maureen Bennett
Ken – Simon Chappell
Lulu – Nadia Musa

Director – Peter Turner
Lighting Design – Sky Bembury


Beyond Theatre was founded as The Chelsea Players in 1959, and the present company are proud of those roots which give it fifty years’ experience on the London Theatre Scene. More information at

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Louise Brooks inspired play to be restaged

I've seen mention on social media that there may be a new production of Janet Munsil's Emphysema / Smoking with Lulu in the works. The play was inspired by true life incident. The synopsis from the author's website reads: "Obsessed by his lifelong erotic fantasies of silent movie icon Louise Brooks' amoral character Lulu in the 1928 film Pandora's Box, legendary theatre critic Kenneth Tynan spent three days with the then-aging star to gather material for a New Yorker profile, as The Girl in the Black Helmet was set to launch the actress once again into the limelight after decades of anonymity."

This 90 minute play, for 1 male and 2 females, has a notable production history: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds;  Soho Theatre, London; Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; Alberta Theatre Projects playRites '97, Calgary; Tarragon Theatre, Toronto; Belfry Theatre, Victoria; Edmonton Fringe Festival; Open Space New Theatre Series, and Lulupalooza (Staged Reading).

Once I find out more, I will be sure and post the news to this blog. In the meantime, you can check out Janet Munsil's work on her website. Munsil's play about Brooks and Tynan was published in book form as Emphysema: A Love Story (Signature Editions), as well as under its UK title, Smoking with Lulu (Oberon Books). Both editions can still be purchased through

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smoking with Lulu director David Giles dies

Stalwart UK Louise Brooks fan Meredith Lawrence tipped me off to the sad news that acclaimed British theater and television director David Giles has passed away. A long obituary ran in yesterday's Guardian (UK).

Giles directed many Shakespeare plays for the BBC in the hope of showing every play written by the playwright on the BBC. His other credits include The First Churchill’s, The Barchester Chronicles, Miss Marple, and The Darling Buds of May in the early 1990s. He also directed stage plays, working with actors such as Ian McKellen.

Among his more recent efforts was Smoking With Lulu, the play by Janet Musil which was based on the meeting of Louise Brooks and Kenneth Tynan. Giles directed it for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, when it was transferred to the Soho Poly in London. It was well received. Here is an earlier Guardian (UK) review.

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