Skip to content

Happy birthday Tom Stoppard

July 3, 2012

Today is Tom Stoppard’s 75th birthday.  I consider him to be one of the major British playwrights – while the post-war period saw a number of talented British playwrights (a very incomplete list:  Alan Ayckbourn, Noël Coward, Caryl Churchill, Pam Gems, Hanif Kureishi, Mike Leigh, Harold Pinter, Dennis Potter, J. B. Priestly), Tom Stoppard is by far my favorite recent British playwright.

Tom Stoppard’s plays – which while always entertaining, are certainly full of word-play and literary references – are a testament to tradition of excellent writing outside the traditional educational stream.  Stoppard, like Shakespeare and several Nobel Prize literature prize winners (including Joseph Brodsky, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, Harry Edmund Martinson, George Bernard Shaw, and José Saramago) does not have a college degree.  Instead, Stoppard received his training as a writer working as a journalist.

Works by Stoppard such as Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead, Jumpers (which seems to me to be a direct descendent of Aristophanes’s The Clouds), Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, Arcadia, and The Coast of Utopia trilogy show a stunning range of knowledge.  Arcadia, in particular, is in the running as the single best English language play since Waiting for Godot

Not every production by Tom Stoppard is a complete hit (Stoppard has been called in more than once to rescue mediocre Hollywood scripts, such as Shakespeare in Love), but by-and-large, his output has been of amazingly high quality.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: