Influential British playwright Sir Arnold Wesker has died, aged 83. The writer of more than 40 plays passed away on Tuesday evening.
Wesker, who was knighted for his services to drama in 2006, may be best known for his acclaimed trilogy of plays, Roots, Chicken Soup With Barley and I’m Talking About Jerusalem.
The East End native rose to prominence in the 1950s with work that focussed on the plight of the working classes. It was work that saw him grouped with the “angry young men” of writing, though it was a label he rejected.
In recent years his early works have been revived on the London stage, with Roots playing at the Donmar Warehouse in 2013, Chicken Soup With Barley at the Royal Court and The Kitchen at the National Theatre both in 2011.
Tributes are being paid to the playwright, who had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease.
Stephen Daldry, who had been friends with the writer since directing The Kitchen at the Royal Court in 1994, has released a statement saying: “Arnold Wesker was one of the most committed and impassioned writers of his generation. He was also a fantastic collaborator and one of the sweetest men I have ever worked with. He was an adventurer and delight in the rehearsal room, who challenged and stretched every director he worked with.”
On Twitter, performers including David Morrissey and Eddie Marsan, and playwright David Eldridge, have paid respect to one of the leading lights of 20th century British drama.
Arnold Wesker was one of the true great British playwrights. Never forget the first time I read Chips With Everything. RIP
— David Morrissey (@davemorrissey64) April 13, 2016
Britain has lost one of it’s last authentic voices & the East End has lost one of its great artists. RIP Sir Arnold Wesker. Thank you mate
— Eddie Marsan (@eddiemarsan) April 13, 2016
— David Eldridge (@deldridgewriter) April 13, 2016