David Edgar

Definition

Theater

  • (1948 - ) British playwright and journalist, whose works are known for their strong political content. The product of a theatrical background, Edgar began to write in earnest in the wake of the student rebellions of 1968, in which he took an active role. His reputation was established when Destiny (1976), which examines racist and fascist elements in British culture, was performed in a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. His other works of the 1970s and 1980s include Wreckers (1977), the documentary plays Mary Barnes (1977) and The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1978), the epic Maydays (1983), which explored the changes in British societysince the mid 1950s, and That Summer (1987). In 1980 he enjoyed enormouscritical and commercial success with an eight-hour adaptation of Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby staged by the RSC.

    More recent plays include a loose trilogy exploring the political changesin Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War: The Shape of the Table (1990) was followed by the highly praised Pentecost (1994) and The Prisoner's Dilemma (2002). Similarly ambitious were Albert Speer (1999), an epic drama about Hitler's architect, and Continental Divide (2003), a linked pair of plays that examines a gubernational election in aUS state from both the Republican and the Democratic sides. Playingwith Fire (2005), a play dealing with local politics and ethnic tensions ina northern town, marked a return to the large-scale state-of-the-nation dramasof Edgar's early career. Less characteristically, Testing the Echo (2008)was a fast-paced ensemble piece about a group of people taking a class in Britishcitizenship.

    Edgar has also been involved with community theaterprojects, most notably A Time to Keep (2007), a play set in 18th-centuryDorset that he cowrote with his wife, Stephanie Dale.

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