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Howard Brenton


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Writers: Film & Television, Writers: Playwrights

 

Howard was born in Portsmouth in 1942.   He and his wife Jane live in South London and they have two sons.  His many plays include CHRISTIE IN LOVE (Portable Theatre, 1969); REVENGE (Theatre Upstairs, 1969);  MAGNIFICENCE (Royal Court Theatre, 1973); THE CHURCHILL PLAY (Nottingham Playhouse, 1974 twice revived by the RSC 1978 and 1988); BLOODY POETRY (Foco Novo 1984 and The Royal Court Theatre, 1987); WEAPONS OF HAPPINESS (National Theatre, winner of the Evening Standard Award 1976); EPSOM DOWNS (Joint Stock Theatre, 1977); SORE THROATS (RSC, 1978); THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN (National Theatre, 1980, revived Sheffield Crucible Theatre 2006); THIRTEENTH NIGHT (RSC, 1981); THE GENIUS (1983), GREENLAND (1988) and BERLIN BERTIE (1992) all presented by the Royal Court; KIT’S PLAY (RADA Jerwood Theatre, 2000); PAUL (National Theatre 2005, nominated for the Olivier Award, 2006); IN EXTREMIS (Shakespeare’s Globe, 2006); THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTROPISTS (Chichester Festival Theatre/ Liverpool Everyman, 2010) and ANNE BOLEYN (Shakespeare’s Globe and UK Tour 2010/2011 – winner of Best New Play at the 2011 Whatsonstage Awards). 

In 2013, Howard’s play 55 DAYS, directed by Howard Davies and starring Mark Gatiss, played to wide critical and popular acclaim at Hampstead Theatre, shortly followed by his play DRAWING THE LINE. He also adapted the two parts of Strindberg’s THE DANCE OF DEATH into one play called DANCES OF DEATH, which opened at the Gate Theatre in 2013. In 2014, his play DOCTOR SCROGGY’S WAR opened at the Shakespeare’s Globe, and Howard’s piece RANSOMED will make up part of Salisbury Playhouse’s Magna Carta Festival showcase.

Collaborations with other writers include, BRASSNECK with David Hare (Nottingham Playhouse 1973); A SHORT SHARP SHOCK with Tony Howard (Royal Court and Stratford East, 1980);  PRAVDA with David Hare (National Theatre, winner of the Evening Standard Award, 1985); IRANIAN NIGHTS with Tariq Ali (Royal Court Theatre, 1989); MOSCOW GOLD with Tariq Ali (RSC Barbican Theatre, 1990); UGLY RUMOURS with Tariq Ali (Tricycle Theatre, 1998); COLLATERAL DAMAGE (Tricycle Theatre 1999) and SNOGGING KEN (Almeida Theatre, 2000) both with Tariq Ali and Andy de la Tour.  

Howard wrote the libretto for Ben Mason’s football opera PLAYING AWAY (Opera North and Munich Biennale, 1994) and a radio play, NASSER’S EDEN (1998). New versions of classic texts include THE LIFE OF GALILEO (National Theatre, 1980) DANTON’S DEATH (National Theatre, 1982, and revived in a new version at the National in 2010), and Goethe’s FAUST (RSC 1995/6). 

Howard’s novel DIVING FOR PEARLS was published by Nick Hern Books in 1989.  His book of essays on the theatre, HOT IRONS, was published by Nick Hern Books (1995) and reissued, in an expanded paperback version, by Methuen (1998).  

Howard’s television plays include DEAD HEAD (a four part serial for BBC2, 1986) and he was lead writer on five series of the award-winning SPOOKS for Kudos/BBC1 (2001-2005, BAFTA Best Drama Series 2003).