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David Rudkin (James David Rudkin) Biography

(1936– ), (James David Rudkin), Afore Night Come

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: M(acha)L(ouis) Rosenthal Biography to William Sansom [Norman Trevor Sansom] Biography

British playwright, born in London, educated at St Catherine's College, Oxford; he worked for a time as a school-teacher. He came to prominence with Afore Night Come (1962), a powerful drama in which a scapegoat, an inoffensive Irish tramp, is ritually murdered by his fellow fruit-pickers in an orchard in the contemporary Midlands. His later work includes Cries from Casement as His Bones Are Brought to Dublin (1973), an attempt to find parallels between modern Irish history and that of the period when the main character was hanged as a traitor; Ashes (1974), about a couple's increasingly desperate attempts to overcome their childlessness and, less directly, about what Rudkin sees as the sterile agonies of Ulster; Sons of Light (1977), about an attempt to bring enlightenment to an island variously inhabited by dour Christian stoics, helot zombies, and vicious scientists; and The Saxon Shore (1986), set near Hadrian's Wall at the time of the collapse of the Roman empire and involving settlers transformed by night from good Christians into werewolves. Rudkin's plays show an interest, unusual for a contemporary dramatist, in myth, legend, and the unconscious, especially in its darker, more primitive aspects. He has also written drama for television, adapted other writers' work, notably Euripides's Hippolytus (1979) and Ibsen's Peer Gynt (1983), translated Schoenberg's opera Moses and Aaron, and written a version of Hansel and Gretel (1981) for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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