Arnold Wesker: 1932 - 2016

Wednesday 13th April 2016

Nottingham Playhouse are saddened to hear of the death of the acclaimed British playwright Arnold Wesker. He was 83.

Sir Arnold Wesker wrote over forty plays in his lifetime, but came to prominence in the late ’50s and early ’60s with his trilogy of plays, Chicken Soup with Barley, Roots and I’m Talking about Jerusalem. These plays were initially performed at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, before transferring to the Royal Court.

In 2005, Nottingham Playhouse staged a revival of Chicken Soup with Barley, directed by our Artistic Director Giles Croft. Wesker attended a performance at the Playhouse, and in an interview in that production’s programme, he admitted he was was apprehensive about seeing his work on stage again: “I will be torn between remembering the pain of the past, and being a professional who is watching how the actors measure up to reality.”

Giles Croft has fond memories of meeting and working with Arnold Wesker. “I first met Arnold in 1983 and since then I’ve produced or directed a number of his plays. He was always generous about the work, very good company and constantly mystified by his lack of success. The last time I saw him was three years ago when I went to his home for lunch and though he was frail, he was also as alert and feisty as ever. It’s a privilege to have known and worked with one of the greats of 20th century world theatre, and to have been able to bring some of his work to new audiences in Nottingham.”

In 2012, Andrew Breakwell directed a well-received production of Wesker’s play Roots, in a co-production with the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. This production was timed to celebrate the playwright’s 80th birthday.

If you saw either of these productions at Nottingham Playhouse, we would love to hear your memories of experiencing Wesker’s work – join the conversation over on Twitter and Facebook.