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David Edgar Biography

(1948– ), A Fart for Europe, Dick Deterred, Destiny, The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs, Mary Barnes

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British playwright, born in Birmingham, the son of a television producer, educated at Manchester University. His first plays, mostly pieces of radical agitprop, were produced in Bradford while he was working there as a journalist; he continued in broadly the same vein until the mid-1970s, producing such work as the anti-Common Market A Fart for Europe (1972) and a Shakespearian parody about Richard Nixon, Dick Deterred (1974), usually for small socialist touring companies. But then came Destiny (1976), a study of racism and neo-fascism in modern Britain which, though clearly written from a left-wing stance, displayed an unexpected sensitivity, openness of mind, and interest in understanding his political enemies rather than straightforwardly condemning them. The same qualities have often marked his subsequent work, notably The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1978), about an imprisoned South African dissident; Mary Barnes (1978), a study of schizophrenia; Maydays (1983), a piece of epic sweep about the rise of the right wing in Britain; Entertaining Strangers (1985); The Shape of the Table (1990), a speculative picture of the mostly secret meetings and negotiations that brought about the radical changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s; and the ambitious Pentecost (1994), set in a Balkan country coming to terms with its new freedoms and, with its discovery of what may be a historically important fresco, raising questions about art and culture as well as nationalism, language, and the refugee problem. Edgar has also written for radio and television and made several adaptations for the stage, notably an eight-hour version of Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby which enjoyed great success when it was performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980.

Zee Edgell Biography - (1940– ), Beka Lamb, In Times Like These [next]

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