Sir Tom Stoppard
Stoppard at a reception in Russia in 2007
3 July 1937
|Education||Pocklington School, Mount Hermon School, Darjeeling|
|Genre||Dramatic comedy / Tragicomedy|
|Children||4, including Ed Stoppard|
Sir Tom Stoppard(born Tomáš Straussler; 3 July 1937) is a Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia , The Coast of Utopia , Every Good Boy Deserves Favour , Professional Foul , The Real Thing , Travesties , The Invention of Love , and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead . He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil , The Russia House , and Shakespeare in Love , and has received an Academy Award and four Tony Awards. His work covers the themes of human rights, censorship and political freedom, often delving into the deeper philosophical thematics of society. Stoppard has been a key playwright of the National Theatre and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. In 2008, The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 11 in their list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".
Born in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard left as a child refugee, fleeing imminent Nazi occupation. He settled with his family in Britain after the war, in 1946, having spent the three years prior (1943–1946) in a boarding school in Darjeeling in the Indian Himalayas. After being educated at schools in Nottingham and Yorkshire, Stoppard became a journalist, a drama critic and then, in 1960, a playwright.
It was announced in June 2019 that he had written a new play, Leopoldstadt , set in the Jewish community of early 20th Century Vienna, which will premiere in January 2020 at Wyndham's Theatre with Patrick Marber directing.
Stoppard was born Tomáš Straussler, in Zlín, a city dominated by the shoe manufacturing industry, in the Moravia region of Czechoslovakia. He is the son of Martha Becková and Eugen Straussler, a doctor employed by the Bata shoe company. His parents were non-observant Jews,members of a long-established community. Just before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the town's patron, Jan Antonín Baťa, transferred his Jewish employees, mostly physicians, to branches of his firm outside Europe. On 15 March 1939, the day the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, the Straussler family fled to Singapore, where Bata had a factory.
Before the Japanese occupation of Singapore (February 1942), Stoppard, his brother, and their mother were sent on to Australia. Stoppard's father remained in Singapore as a British army volunteer, knowing that, as a doctor, he would be needed in its defence.Stoppard was four years old when his father died. In the book Tom Stoppard in Conversation, Stoppard tells how his father died in Japanese captivity, a prisoner of war but has said that he subsequently discovered that Straussler was reported to have drowned on board a ship bombed by Japanese forces whilst trying to flee Singapore in 1942.
In 1941, when Tomas was five, the three were evacuated to Darjeeling, India. The boys attended Mount Hermon School, an American multi-racial school,where Tomas became Tom and his brother Petr became Peter.
In 1945, his mother, Martha, married British army major Kenneth Stoppard, who gave the boys his English surname and, in 1946, moved the family to England. —a quote from Cecil Rhodes —telling his 9-year-old stepson: "Don't you realise that I made you British?" setting up Stoppard's desire as a child to become "an honorary Englishman". "I fairly often find I'm with people who forget I don't quite belong in the world we're in", he says. "I find I put a foot wrong—it could be pronunciation, an arcane bit of English history—and suddenly I'm there naked, as someone with a pass, a press ticket." This is reflected in his characters, he notes, who are "constantly being addressed by the wrong name, with jokes and false trails to do with the confusion of having two names". Stoppard attended the Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire, and later completed his education at Pocklington School in East Riding, Yorkshire, which he hated.Stoppard's stepfather believed strongly that "to be born an Englishman was to have drawn first prize in the lottery of life"
Stoppard left school at seventeen and began work as a journalist for the Western Daily Press in Bristol, never receiving a university education.Years later, he came to regret not going to university, but at the time he loved his work as a journalist and felt passionately about his career. He worked at the paper from 1954 until 1958, when the Bristol Evening World offered Stoppard the position of feature writer, humor columnist, and secondary drama critic, which took Stoppard into the world of theatre. At the Bristol Old Vic, at the time a well-regarded regional repertory company, Stoppard formed friendships with director John Boorman and actor Peter O'Toole early in their careers. In Bristol, he became known more for his strained attempts at humour and unstylish clothes than for his writing.
Stoppard wrote short radio plays in 1953–54 and by 1960 he had completed his first stage play, A Walk on the Water, which was later re-titled Enter a Free Man (1968). – following acclaim at the 1966 Edinburgh Festival – the opening of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in a National Theatre production at the Old Vic made Stoppard an overnight success. Jumpers (1972) places a professor of moral philosophy in a murder mystery thriller alongside a slew of radical gymnasts, and Travesties (1974) explored the 'Wildean' possibilities arising from the fact that Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara had all been in Zurich during the First World War. In his early years, he also wrote extensively for BBC radio, often introducing surrealist themes. He has also adapted many of his stage works for radio, film and television winning extensive awards and honours from the start of his career. His latest original radio production, Darkside (2013), has been written for BBC Radio 2 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd's album, The Dark Side of the Moon .He noted that the work owed much to Robert Bolt's Flowering Cherry and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman . Within a week after sending A Walk on the Water to an agent, Stoppard received his version of the "Hollywood-style telegrams that change struggling young artists' lives." His first play was optioned, staged in Hamburg, then broadcast on British Independent Television in 1963. From September 1962 until April 1963, Stoppard worked in London as a drama critic for Scene magazine, writing reviews and interviews both under his name and the pseudonym William Boot (taken from Evelyn Waugh's Scoop). In 1964, a Ford Foundation grant enabled Stoppard to spend 5 months writing in a Berlin mansion, emerging with a one-act play titled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Meet King Lear, which later evolved into his Tony-winning play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead . In the following years, Stoppard produced several works for radio, television and the theatre, including "M" is for Moon Among Other Things (1964), A Separate Peace (1966) and If You're Glad I'll Be Frank (1966). On 11 April 1967
Stoppard has written one novel, Lord Malquist and Mr Moon (1966), set in contemporary London. Its cast includes the 18th-century figure of the dandified Malquist and his ineffectual Boswell, Moon, and also cowboys, a lion (banned from the Ritz) and a donkey-borne Irishman claiming to be the Risen Christ.
In the 1980s, in addition to writing his own works, Stoppard translated many plays into English, including works by Sławomir Mrożek, Johann Nestroy, Arthur Schnitzler, and Václav Havel. It was at this time that Stoppard became influenced by the works of Polish and Czech absurdists. He has been co-opted into the Outrapo group, a far-from-serious French movement to improve actors' stage technique through science.
Stoppard has also co-written screenplays including Shakespeare in Love and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . Spielberg states that though Stoppard was uncredited, "he was responsible for almost every line of dialogue in the film".Stoppard also worked on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith , though again Stoppard received no official or formal credit in this role. He worked in a similar capacity with Tim Burton on his film Sleepy Hollow .
In 2008, Stoppard was voted number 76 on the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the most influential people in the world.
Stoppard serves on the advisory board of the magazine Standpoint , and was instrumental in its foundation, giving the opening speech at its launch.He is also a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.
In July 2013 Stoppard was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize for "determination to tell things as they are."
Stoppard was appointed president of the London Library in 2002 and Vice-President in 2017 following the election of Sir Tim Rice as President..
In July 2017, Stoppard was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy (HonFBA), the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.
Stoppard was appointed Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, for the academic year 2017–2018.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966–67) was Stoppard's first major play to gain recognition. The story of Hamlet , as told from the viewpoint of two courtiers echoes Beckett in its double act repartee, existential themes and language play."Stoppardian" became a term describing works using wit and comedy while addressing philosophical concepts. Critic Dennis Kennedy notes "It established several characteristics of Stoppard's dramaturgy: his word-playing intellectuality, audacious, paradoxical, and self-conscious theatricality, and preference for reworking pre-existing narratives... Stoppard's plays have been sometimes dismissed as pieces of clever showmanship, lacking in substance, social commitment, or emotional weight. His theatrical surfaces serve to conceal rather than reveal their author's views, and his fondness for towers of paradox spirals away from social comment. This is seen most clearly in his comedies The Real Inspector Hound (1968) and After Magritte (1970), which create their humour through highly formal devices of reframing and juxtaposition." Stoppard himself went so far as to declare "I must stop compromising my plays with this whiff of social application. They must be entirely untouched by any suspicion of usefulness." He acknowledges that he started off "as a language nerd", primarily enjoying linguistic and ideological playfulness, feeling early in his career that journalism was far better suited for presaging political change, than playwriting.
The accusations of favouring intellectuality over political commitment or commentary were met with a change of tack, as Stoppard produced increasingly socially engaged work.From 1977, he became personally involved with human-rights issues, in particular with the situation of political dissidents in Central and Eastern Europe. In February 1977, he visited the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries with a member of Amnesty International. In June, Stoppard met Vladimir Bukovsky in London and travelled to Czechoslovakia (then under communist control), where he met dissident playwright and future president Václav Havel, whose writing he greatly admires. Stoppard became involved with Index on Censorship , Amnesty International, and the Committee Against Psychiatric Abuse and wrote various newspaper articles and letters about human rights. He was also instrumental in translating Havel's works into English. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977), 'a play for actors and orchestra' was based on a request by composer André Previn; inspired by a meeting with a Russian exile. This play as well as Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth (1979), The Coast of Utopia (2002), Rock 'n' Roll (2006), and two works for television Professional Foul (1977) and Squaring the Circle (1984) all concern themes of censorship, rights abuses, and state repression.
Stoppard's later works have sought greater inter-personal depths, whilst maintaining their intellectual playfulness. Stoppard acknowledges that around 1982 he moved away from the "argumentative" works and more towards plays of the heart, as he became "less shy" about emotional openness. Discussing the later integration of heart and mind in his work, he commented "I think I was too concerned when I set off, to have a firework go off every few seconds... I think I was always looking for the entertainer in myself and I seem to be able to entertain through manipulating language... [but] it's really about human beings, it's not really about language at all." The Real Thing (1982) uses a meta-theatrical structure to explore the suffering that adultery can produce and The Invention of Love (1997) also investigates the pain of passion. Arcadia (1993) explores the meeting of chaos theory, historiography, and landscape gardening.He was inspired by a Trevor Nunn production of Gorky's Summerfolk to write a trilogy of "human" plays: The Coast of Utopia (Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage, 2002).
Stoppard has commented that he loves the medium of theatre for how 'adjustable' it is at every point, how unfrozen it is, continuously growing and developing through each rehearsal, free from the text. His experience of writing for film is similar, offering the liberating opportunity to 'play God', in control of creative reality. It often takes four to five years from the first idea of a play to staging, taking pains to be as profoundly accurate in his research as he can be.
Stoppard has been married three times. His first marriage was to Josie Ingle (1965–1972), a nurse;his second marriage was to Miriam Stern (1972–92), whom he left to begin a relationship with actress Felicity Kendal. He has two sons from each of his first two marriages: Oliver Stoppard, Barnaby Stoppard, the actor Ed Stoppard, and Will Stoppard, who is married to violinist Linzi Stoppard. In 2014 he married Sabrina Guinness.
Stoppard's mother died in 1996. The family had not talked about their history and neither brother knew what had happened to the family left behind in Czechoslovakia.In the early 1990s, with the fall of communism, Stoppard found out that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish and had died in Terezin, Auschwitz and other camps, along with three of his mother's sisters. In 1998, following the deaths of his parents he returned to Zlín for the first time in over 50 years. He has expressed grief both for a lost father and a missing past, but he has no sense of being a survivor, at whatever remove. "I feel incredibly lucky not to have had to survive or die. It's a conspicuous part of what might be termed a charmed life."
In 1979, the year of Margaret Thatcher's election, Stoppard noted to Paul Delaney: "I'm a conservative with a small c. I am a conservative in politics, literature, education and theatre." : Cena Toma Stopparda) was created in 1983 under the Charter 77 Foundation and is awarded to authors of Czech origin.In 2007, Stoppard described himself as a "timid libertarian". The Tom Stoppard Prize (Czech
Stoppard, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, and others, joined protests against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in March 2011, showing their support for the Belarusian democracy movement.
In 2014, Stoppard publicly backed "Hacked Off" and its campaign towards press self-regulation by "safeguarding the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable."
Stoppard sat for sculptor Alan Thornhill, and a bronze head is now in public collection, situated with the Stoppard papers in the reading room of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.The terracotta remains in the collection of the artist in London. The correspondence file relating to the Stoppard bust is held in the archive of the Henry Moore Foundation's Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.
Stoppard also sat for the sculptor and friend Angela Conner, and his bronze portrait bust is on display in the grounds of Chatsworth House.
The papers of Tom Stoppard are housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The archive was first established by Stoppard in 1991 and continues to grow. The collection consists of typescript and handwritten drafts, revision pages, outlines, and notes; production material, including cast lists, set drawings, schedules, and photographs; theatre programs; posters; advertisements; clippings; page and galley proofs; dust jackets; correspondence; legal documents and financial papers, including passports, contracts, and royalty and account statements; itineraries; appointment books and diary sheets; photographs; sheet music; sound recordings; a scrapbook; artwork; minutes of meetings; and publications.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, often referred to as just Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, is an absurdist, existential tragicomedy by Tom Stoppard, first staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966. The play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The main setting is Denmark.
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British romantic period comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard.
Frederick Charles Jones was an English actor who had an extensive career in television, theatre and cinema productions for almost sixty years. In theatre, he was best known for originating the role of Sir in The Dresser; in film, he was best known for his role as the circus ringmaster Bytes in The Elephant Man (1980); and in television, he was best known for playing Sandy Thomas in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale from 2005 to 2018.
Timothy Simon Roth is an English actor and director. He made his debut in the television film Made in Britain (1982). He gained critical acclaim for his role as Myron in The Hit (1984), for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Among a group of prominent British actors of the era, the "Brit Pack", Roth gained more attention for his performances in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Vincent & Theo (1990) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990).
William Francis Nighy is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before his first cinema role in 1981, and made his name in television with The Men's Room in 1991, in which he played the womaniser Professor Mark Carleton.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet. They are childhood friends of Hamlet, summoned by King Claudius to distract the prince from his apparent madness and if possible to ascertain the cause of it. The characters were revived in W. S. Gilbert's satire, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and as the alienated heroes of Tom Stoppard's absurdist play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which was adapted into a film.
Patrick Albert Crispin Marber is an English comedian, playwright, director, actor, and screenwriter.
John Wood, was an English actor noted for his performances in Shakespeare and for his long association with Tom Stoppard. In 1976, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his role in Stoppard's Travesties. He was nominated for two other Tony Awards, for Sherlock Holmes (1975), and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1968). In 2007, Wood was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's New Year Honours List. Wood also appeared in many films including WarGames, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Orlando, Shadowlands, The Madness of King George, Richard III, Sabrina, Chocolat
Edward Petherbridge is an English actor, writer and artist. Among his many roles, he portrayed Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1987 BBC television adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers' novels, and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. At the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980, he was a memorable Newman Noggs in the company's adaptation of Dickens's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
The Real Inspector Hound is a short, one-act play by Tom Stoppard. The plot follows two theatre critics named Moon and Birdboot who are watching a ludicrous setup of a country house murder mystery, in the style of a whodunit. By chance, they become involved in the action causing a series of events that parallel the play they are watching.
Ruled Britannia is an alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove, first published in hardcover by New American Library in 2002.
Stephen John Dillane is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Leonard Woolf in the 2002 film The Hours, Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones, and Thomas Jefferson in the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams, a part which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination. An experienced stage actor who has been called an "actor's actor", Dillane won a Tony Award for his lead performance in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing (2000) and gave critically acclaimed performances in Angels in America (1993), Hamlet (1994), and a one-man Macbeth (2005). His television work has additionally garnered him BAFTA and International Emmy Awards for best actor.
John Edward Stride was an English actor best known for his television work during the 1970s.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a 1990 tragicomedy film written and directed by Tom Stoppard based on his play of the same name. Like the play, the film depicts two minor characters from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who find themselves on the road to Elsinore Castle at the behest of the King of Denmark.
After Magritte is a surreal comedy written by Tom Stoppard in 1970. It was first performed in the Green Banana Restaurant at the Ambiance Lunch-hour Theatre Club in London.
Derek Goldby is an Australian-born theatre director who has worked internationally, particularly in Canada, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States and France.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead is a 2009 American independent film written and directed by Jordan Galland. The film's title refers to a fictitious play-within-the-movie, which is a comic reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and its aftermath and whose title is a reference to the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The cast includes Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Kris Lemche, Ralph Macchio, Jeremy Sisto and Waris Ahluwalia. The film stars Jake Hoffman. An original musical score was composed and performed by Sean Lennon.
Alan Committie is a South African comic actor and qualified high school teacher.
Alexander James Sawyer is an English actor and singer-songwriter. As an actor, he is best known for appearing in House of Anubis as Alfie Lewis, and The End of the F***ing World as Topher. In 2018, he began portraying the role of David Oumou in Epix's Get Shorty.
John Burgess was an English actor, best known as David Crosbie, in Channel 4's long-running soap opera, Brookside, between 1992 and 1998. He also appeared in EastEnders as Donna Ludlow's adoptive Father for a few episodes in 1988 and 1989.
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