Centered on a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, The Habit Of Art is written as a play-within-a-play – actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban’s Day under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil. In Caliban’s Day, a fictitious meeting occurs in 1973 in Auden’s (Fitz) rooms at Oxford not long before he dies. Britten (Henry) has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera Death in Venice, and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.
Starring Matthew Kelly as Fitz (W. H. Auden) and David Yelland as Henry (Benjamin Britten), the cast also includes Veronica Roberts as Kay, the Stage Manager, Robert Mountford as the Author, Neil, John Wark as Donald (Humphrey Carpenter), Alexandra Guelff as George, the Assistant Stage Manager and Benjamin Chandler as Tim (Stuart).
The Habit of Art opens at York Theatre Royal on 30 August 2018. The National Tour will then continue through to 1 December 2018.