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David Rudkin


Writers: Playwrights

Photograph by Margaret O'Neill

David Rudkin is a stage and tv dramatist, screenwriter, opera librettist and translator (mainly of Greek Tragedy and Ibsen).  Born in 1936 to mixed English-Irish parentage, after a war-time childhood and traditional education in Classical studies leading to an Oxford M.A., and meanwhile two years’ compulsory service in the Army, he taught Latin and Music in a secondary school in rural England.  He is married, with two daughters and a son (a second son died in a road accident), and currently three grandchildren.  He has worked for over 50 years in all media and in a wide range of genres  -  naturalistic;  science fiction;  Gothic;  intimate domestic;  epic…  always rooted in mythical and archetypal themes, dramatised as crisis in the individual identity.  Among his prize-winning works are stage-plays Afore Night Come (1962) and Ashes (1974), the films Testimony on the life of Shostakovich (1987) and the Irish classic December Bride (1989), and the radio-play The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock (1993).  His Hitchcock, along with two other major radio inner-life biographies, on Roger Casement (1974) and Gustav Mahler (1994), presented their subjects in interpretations considered perverse, even ‘crazy’, at the time but becoming orthodoxy now.  A veteran of the late ’50s-early ’60s ‘Golden Age’ of New British Theatre, Rudkin occupies a solitary status in his profession, and is esteemed as much for his unflinching artistic integrity as for his work’s unique visionary force.  To the doyen of British theatre critics Michael Billington, he is an ‘uncompromising’ author of ‘fierce dark imagination’;  and The Observer has described him as Britain’s ‘greatest living dramatic poet’.  His most recent publications include two stage-plays, Red Sun and Merlin Unchained (Intellect Books, University of Chicago Press);  translations of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and Rosmersholm and When We Dead Waken (Oberon Books);  and an analytical study of Dreyer’s 1932 film Vampyr (British Film Institute:  Film Classics).  Among his current projects-in-progress are collections of novellas and short stories, a radio play Macedonia in which we hear the aging Euripides in exile ‘dreaming’ his visceral last tragedy The Bacchae;  and a completion, at its author’s deathbed request, of the unfinished last play of John Arden.   

Click here to read the New York Times article about David's play 'The Lovesong of Alfred J. Hitchcock', playing off Broadway at 59E59 Theatres in NYC from May 4th.