Tom Stoppard, a playwright of worldwide fame, was born to a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia. The family fled to Singapore to escape Nazi persecution but later moved to India. His father died in the war, and after his mother’s remarriage to a British serviceman, he moved to England when he was 10. After working for a local newspaper, he became a freelance journalist and started to write plays for radio and television. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
staged in London in 1967 was acclaimed as a masterpiece of modern theatre and won a Tony Award following year. In addition to his work for the stage, he has written a number of screenplays, translated various plays into English and produced scripts inspired by foreign works. Shakespeare in Love
(1998) won an Oscar for Writing Original Screenplay as well as further awards in many countries. The Coast of Utopia
, a 9-hour trilogy, has been produced in Tokyo for the first time in Japan from September 12 to October 4, directed by Yukio Ninagawa.
Tom Stoppard, author of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
, is regarded as one of the world’s most important modern playwrights.
He was born in Czechoslovakia to a Jewish family, who fled to Singapore in 1939 when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. There, his father, a physician, joined the British army but was later killed. The family moved to India where his mother met and married a British army major. After the war, when Stoppard was 10, the family moved to England.
Stoppard left school at 17 and began work as a journalist for a local newspaper. He soon started to write plays for radio and television. He recently reflected, " As for writing plays, I think that was an accident of history as much as anything".
His breakthrough came with the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead that he wrote at the age of 29. It is an absurdist play focusing on the two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and it gave Stoppard overnight success and huge critical acclaim.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was followed by a number of successful plays such as Jumpers, The Real Thing, Arcadia and Rock 'n'Roll. To date, he has received four Tony Awards.
His plays are full of stimulation, excitement and extraordinary linguistic sensitivity, resulting from a deep knowledge that his extensive reading nurtured." Since childhood I’ve lost myself in books. There were periods of my life when it was almost painful to sit down to a meal without something to read. I would read the packet of salt if necessary". He has been called a " Magician of Thought and Language" as a result of his witty statements, full of puns, parodies and other wordplay. As Stoppard says, " theatre is an intelligent recreation" and his plays are a reflection of that belief. In addition to his work for the stage, Stoppard has written a number of screenplays including Brazil and Empire of the Sun, and in1999 he won an Oscar for his screenplay of Shakespeare in Love.
Stoppard is a strong advocate of freedom of speech and his passion for human rights and freedom of expression is recognizable in many of his works. He says that recently he is more concerned than ever with social issues. He is also a dedicated supporter of people’s access to books and knowledge and is an active President of the London Library.
The Coast of Utopia, a large-scale, 9 hour, historical trilogy set in 19th century Russia and a 2007 Tony Awards winning play, is now on the stage at the Theatre Cocoon, Tokyo, Japan directed by the renowned Japanese director, Yukio Ninagawa.