Peter Barnes (1931 – 2004) was an Olivier Award-winning playwright and screenwriter and the most produced living playwright of the Royal Shakespeare Company. THE RULING CLASS is his most famous play, which received critical success when it premiered in 1968 at the Nottingham Playhouse before transferring to the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End. The play was then made into a film in 1972, for which Barnes wrote the screenplay, starring Peter O’Toole, who received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jack. His other plays include THE BEWITCHED, JUBILEE, THE CANDLEMAKER, LAUGHTER!, RED NOSES (which won an Olivier Award for Best Play); SUNSETS AND GLORIES, LUNAR PARK ECLIPSIS and CORPSING.
Barnes also worked on several adaptations, including Wedekind’s LULU plays (which he co-directed); Jonson’s THE DEVIL IS AN ASS and THE ALCHEMIST, and Feydeau’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. In addition, he adapted Feydeau’s ON PURGE BEBE and Wedekind’s THE SINGER, entitled THE FRONTIERS OF FARCE, for the Old Vic. After staging Jonson’s BARTHOLOMEW’S FAIR (Roundhouse, 1978) and co-directing ANTONIO (Nottingham Playhouse, 1978) from two plays by Marston, he directed Brian Friel’s TRANSLATIONS (Hampstead Theatre and Lyttleton, 1981). His screenplay of Elizabeth von Arnim’s novel ENCHANTED APRIL was nominated for an Oscar. One of his last screenplays, BABIES, a two-part drama for Granada was inspired by the media attention around him having a daughter and triplets in his late sixties.
In America, he is known for many top audience blockbuster miniseries including MERLIN, ARABIAN NIGHTS, NOAH’S ARK, LEPRECHAUNS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND and A Christmas Carol, a sharp contrast from his persona as a serious black comedy playwright. Other movies include, VOICES, MOON AND the Stars and EASY VIRTUE.
He is survived by his widow Christie, a writer, and their four children, Leela and triplets Abby, Nathan and Zach.