Wesker attacks `passive aggressive' Nunn

David Lister
Saturday 20 November 1999 00:02 GMT

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


ANGRY YOUNG Men don't fade away. They get angrier. Arnold Wesker, one of the brightest stars of British theatre in the Fifties and Sixties yesterday ignited one of the juiciest theatrical rows of the year when he launched a furious attack on leading figures in the theatre, most notably Trevor Nunn

Mr Nunn is artistic director of the National Theatre. His crimes, according to Mr Wesker, include refusing to stage any of the latter's new works, refusing to reply to his letters, and dining with him, but pointedly not bringing his wife, the actress Imogen Stubbs.

Mr Wesker, who is 67, has posted an open letter to Mr Nunn on his website. Under the heading "Theatre Cheats - An Open Letter To Trevor Nunn, In Two Acts, Mr Wesker says: "I write this open letter not simply because you have stopped answering letters, but because your silence - sociologists call it `passive aggression' - is symptomatic of a rudeness permeating theatre in general." In his letter Mr Wesker also lists Judith Kelly of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Bill Alexander of the Birmingham Rep, Martin Duncan of the Nottingham Playhouse and Stephen Daldry of the Royal Court, as being among those who have lost his videos and documents and in some cases taken 18 months to say whether they would produce a Wesker play.

But his main venom is reserved for Trevor Nunn. Mr Wesker says: "The evidence appears to be that I have no place in contemporary world theatre ... Observing your silence is preliminary to another serious matter which might be viewed as an abuse of power. I'm aware this letter may ensure you never present a play of mine during your reign as artistic director, but as our exchanges over the last three and a half years suggest this is unlikely anyway, I have nothing to lose."

A National Theatre spokeswoman said that Trevor Nunn was in rehearsals and not available to comment on the letter.

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