Bernard Kops Biography
(1926– ), The Hamlet of Stepney Green, The Dream of Peter Mann
British dramatist, born in Stepney, London, educated at Stepney Jewish School. He worked as a docker, chef, salesman, waiter, and barrow-boy before writing his first play, The Hamlet of Stepney Green (1959), about a young dreamer who, having sworn to take revenge on behalf of a father ‘poisoned’ by an unfulfilling world, instead falls in love with the local Ophelia. Subsequent stage work, much of it notable for its exuberance of observation, hostility to convention, and delight in freedom and eccentricity, has included The Dream of Peter Mann (1960), a loose reworking of Ibsen's Peer Gynt; Enter Solly Gold (1962), about a conman who, disguised as a rabbi, brings happiness to a bored, materialistic household; and The Lemmings (1963), which ends with a zombiesque British nation, including the only couple who still have a little spirit, walking into the sea. Kops, who has also published novels and poetry, as well as an autobiography, The World Is a Wedding (1964), wrote little for the theatre between the mid-1960s and 1981, when Ezra, his study of Ezra Pound, was performed. Subsequent plays have included Simon at Midnight (1985); Sophie (1990); Playing Sinatra (1991), about a man who lives in childlike isolation with his more restless sister; Who Shall I Be Tomorrow? (1992), another study of recluses, this time a suicidal actress and her homosexual neighbour; and an adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank (1992).