Arst: Bio-drama greats: from Henry VI to Anita Harris
Saturday 19 September 1998
The characters of his earlier play, Insignificance, were labelled The Professor, The Actress, The Senator and The Ballplayer but were played as Einstein, Monroe, McCarthy and diMaggio. I blame Shakespeare. Viewing his output is like watching a dramatised version of the National Portrait Gallery.
Famous figures popped up in plays for the next 350 years but the genre resurfaced with a vengeance in the second Elizabethan age. Stoppard perked up Travesties with Tristan Tzara and James Joyce, and the explorer Isabella Bird was among the women in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls. Pam Gems's plays suggest that her inspiration comes from a biographical dictionary.
Some playwrights are oddly addicted to composers. Gesualdo and Peter Warlock starred in David Pownall's Music to Murder By. He then brought Prokofiev and Shostakovich together with Stalin for Master Class, not to be confused with Terrence McNally's play of that name which starred Maria Callas. Peter Shaffer cast Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus.
Then there are the musicals. Everyone from the royal family - I and Albert - to the Holy family - Jesus Christ Superstar - and the Von Trapp family, has been immortalised in song alongside such unlikely eponymous heroes as Jean Seberg and Martin Luther King. And if there's anyone who saw Anita Harris giving her Florence Nightingale, rush me details.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 MH370 search: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
- 5 'Killer robots' with AI must be banned, urge Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and thousands of others in open letter
Frank Ocean, where's that new album at?
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk
Jesse Pinkman's meth den house from Breaking Bad is yours for $1.6 million
Top Gear: Jenson Button reportedly joining Chris Evans as replacement host
R Kelly's Ignition (Remix) is the most nostalgic song going, according to Spotify
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall