Wesker dies at 83

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Sir Arnold Wesker, whose “kitchen sink” dramas of the 1950s brought working class grit to the London stage via the Royal Court Theatre, has died. He was 83 and had been suffering with Parkinson’s disease.

 

Born in Bethnal Green the son of immigrant Jewish tailoring machinists, and the trilogy of plays which first brought him to notice - Chicken Soup With Barley, Roots, and I’m talking about Jerusalem  - was drawn form his life in the East End. His National Service experiences  provided material for another hit, Chips With Everything, and in all he wrote more than 40 plays as well as short stories and poetry.

He was labelled an “angry young man” along with novelists John Braine and Alan Sillitoe, and was a left wing activist who was jailed after demonstrating against nuclear weapons.

He was also instrumental in turning the Roundhouse into an arts centre, founding his Centre 42 there in the 1960s to help bring avant garde new writing to light. He was knighted in 2006.

He is survived by his wife Dusty, their two sons and a daughter.

 

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