(Aida Edemariam’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/14.)
Jez Butterworth was in the Wendy house at the bottom of his garden, playing with his two-year-old daughter Gracie, when he heard his play Jerusalem had been nominated for a Tony on Broadway.
Which, in a way, was entirely appropriate. Butterworth wrote Jerusalem in 2003. It took a read-through at the Royal Court for him to realise that it was "hopeless. It was awful. It was dismantling itself before my eyes. It was so less than the sum of its parts." A 2004 read-through was worse. He finished the session with his head in his hands, walked out, put it in a drawer, and forgot about it – until Mark Rylance, also now nominated for a Tony, came across a copy and declared an interest in the main character, Johnny "Rooster" Byron. Embarrassed into action, and hassled, every other day, by the director Ian Rickson, he rewrote it entirely in under five weeks. It garnered superlative reviews, had people queuing for tickets from 3am when it transferred to the West End and received a standing ovation every night.
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