John Godber

Definition

Theater

  • (1956 - ) British playwright and director, known for his boisterous comedies; his work with the Hull Truck Theatre over 25 years has lead to his being dubbed "the true mouth of the Humber". Born in Yorkshire, the son and grandson of miners, Godber trained as a teacher and became head of drama at his old secondary school in Minsthorpe. Students at Minsthorpe were thus the first to present many of Godber's early plays, which won a series of awards at the National Student Drama Festival.

    In 1984 Godber became artistic director of the Hull Truck Theatre, a position he continued to hold until 2010. Faced with financial crisis, Godbermade an attempt to woo local audiences with his first play for Hull, the comedyUp 'n' Under (1984). The play, which deals with the struggles of an inept Rugby League team, is typical of Godber's work in its populist approach, its focus on a tight-knit if ill-assorted social group, and its combination of physical with observational humour. This runaway success was followed by a longstring of hits, including Teechers (1987), On the Piste (1990), The Office Party (1992), Gym and Tonic (1996), and Perfect Pitch (1998), about a group of caravanning enthusiasts. In the mid 1990s a government arts document reported that Godber had become the third most performed playwright in the country, after Shakespeare and Ayckbourn. His most popular work by far has proved to be Bouncers, a comedy about four doormen at a down-market nightclub that he first wrote in 1977 but subsequently reworked for performancein the 1980s and 1990s; it has been calculated that the play is performed on an almost weekly basis by amateur and student groups across Britain. More recent plays, such as On a Night Like This (2000) and Sold (2007),which deals with the issue of people trafficking, have been judged bleaker and less ebullient than earlier work. Godber has also directed and adapted plays by other authors, as well as writing widely for television.

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