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The University of Southampton

Distinguished playwright presents 2007 Parkes Lecture

Published: 25 September 2007

Widely considered one of the key figures in 20th century drama, internationally-renowned playwright Sir Arnold Wesker is presenting the 17th Parkes Lecture at the University of Southampton on Tuesday 9 October 2007. His talk is entitled The Birth of a Play: How and Why I Wrote 'Shylock'.

Wesker's 1976 play is based on the same three stories that inspired Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and, like that play, is also set in the Jewish ghettos of 16th century Venice. However, Shylock angrily challenges the Bard's portrait of a Jew. Sir Arnold will illustrate his talk with readings from the play.

Shylock had its world premiere at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm and was subsequently performed across the world, including New York, Tokyo, and Washington but never in London where Wesker has encountered resistance to the play.

Born in London in 1932, Sir Arnold Wesker is the author of 42 plays, four volumes of short stories, extensive journalism and other assorted writings. His plays have been translated into over 17 languages and performed world wide. In 2002 he celebrated his 70th birthday and his 45th year as a playwright and he was knighted in 2006.

He is the latest in a long line of distinguished speakers to present the University of Southampton's annual Parkes Lecture. The Lecture is a celebration of the work of the University's Parkes Institute, a community of academics, students, curators and librarians engaged in the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations. Past speakers include Sir Robert Winston and Alan Sillitoe.

The lecture takes place between 6.00pm and 7.15pm on Tuesday 9 October at the Turner Sims Concert Hall, Highfield campus. Refreshments are available in the foyer from 5.30pm.

There is no charge to attend but as places are limited, registration is essential.

Notes for editors

  1. There will be an opportunity to interview Sir Arnold Wesker at 5.15pm on Tuesday 9 October. If you would like to attend, please contact Sue Wilson in Media Relations on 023 8059 5457.
  2. A digital image of Sir Arnold Wesker is available from Media Relations on request.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.
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