Prospect Productions Ltd.


The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation


The Horseshoe Theatre Company ~ An Oxford Festival Production



I Have Been Here Before



Directed by Tony Craven


By J.B. Priestley with Keith Drinkel and Sally Sanders



Opening Night Wednesday, 30th July 1980







Artistic Director:  Timothy West


Associate Directors:  Peter O’Toole and Jack Emery


The play was first produced at the Royalty Theatre, London, on the 22nd September 1937.


The action of the play takes place in the sitting-room of the Black Bull Inn, Grindle Moor, North Yorkshire, at Whitsuntide.  Three acts, each is a different day.

Cast in order of Appearance

Sally Pratt….

Sam Shipley….

Dr. Gortler….

Oliver Farrant….

Janet Ormund….

Walter Ormund….

Sally Sanders

Colin Douglas

George Pravda

Keith Drinkel

Jennifer Hilary

John Castle




Born in Bradford in 1894, educated in Bradford and at Trinity College, Cambridge; saw action in the First World War; three times married.


Plays included The Good Companions (originally a novel and adapted as a musical with Judi Dench and John Mills), Dangerous Corner, Laburnum Grove, Eden End (produced at The Old Vic to honour his 80th birthday); Time and The Conways, Music At Night, I Have Been Here Before and An Inspector Calls (all of which incorporate his exploration of the Time theme); When We Are Married (produced at the National Theatre to coincide with his 85th birthday), The Linden Tree, A Severed Head (with Iris Murdoch) and The Pavilion of Masks.


His World War II Postscripts brought him fame as a broadcaster; he appeared on television (notably as himself in the tribute The World of J.B. Priestey), and even on stage (in the original production of When We Are Married), when the actor playing the photographer was unable to appear at the last moment.


Priestley also wrote novels, autobiographies, social histories, innumerable essays, and travelogues, and took a keen practical interest in theatre management and the formation of international theatre organizations.




Priestley on Time and dramatic experience


Surely Gurdjieff came very close to the mark when he said, “Time is the supreme subjective.”  As soon as you try to write about it, either it changes into something else or appears to vanish altogether.  But when you have decided how to describe its disappearance you catch a whisper from it announcing that it is back, still working away.



The Time problem that fascinated me was part of the life I wanted to bring into the Theatre…our whole complex feeling about Time, whether we are fascinated or irritated by the problem itself, makes us the willing allies of any dramatist capable of presenting an action, a series of theatrical situations, which will release these emotions.  Nearly everybody has felt the savage, tearing ironies of Time, as I discovered them in the second and third acts of Time and the Conways, or the production, the result is dramatic experience at little different from what one has known before, tinged with our feeling about Time.

Art of the Dramatist

(William Heinemann 1957)


In the Theatre we are out of our ordinary minds….  Everybody and everything on the stage have (a) double character; they are seen in the strange light and shadow of belief and disbelief; they belong to a heightened reality that we know to be unreal.  It is the experience, unlike any other, that I call dramatic experience….  It is quite unlike any common experience, but there are certain rare moments in our lives—perhaps when wea are physically exhausted but alert in spirit, perhaps when we find ourselves in great danger—when reality itself suddenly turns into dramatic experience.



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