Edward Bond (1934- ) playwright: Biography and famous works

Edward Bond (1934- ) is an English playwright, poet, theatre director. He is born in Holloway, North London, and educated at Crouch End secondary modern school, where his interest in the theatre was aroused by a performance of Macbeth; after leaving school early and working at a series of dead-end jobs, he began to write for the theatre.

His first play The Pope’s Wedding which is a portrait of a murderous, inarticulate and murderous country laborer, was given a Sunday night performance at the Royal Court in 1962, and in 1965 his grim portrait of urban violence, Saved, aroused much admiration as well as a ban from the Lord Chamberlain mainly because of a scene in which hooligans stoned to death a baby in its pram. Bond continued to confront his audiences with scenes of violence and cruelty deriving from such themes as imperialism, economic exploitation, war, apartheid, and social responsibility. His other provocative works followed, including Early Morning (1969); Lear (1971), a savage reworking of Shakespeare; The Sea (1973), a black country-house comedy; Bingo(1973) about the last days of William Shakespeare, The Fool (1975), based on the life of John Clare; Woman (1978) about the aftermath of Trojan war, Restoration (1981), a Brechtian revolutionary historical drama with songs; and Summer (1982).

Bond’s theatre is an outspoken indictment of capitalist society; his belief that violence occurs in ‘situations of injustice and that it, therefore, flourishes as “a cheap consumer commodity’ under capitalism, continues to arouse extreme responses from critics and audiences.

At the National Theatre in 1978, he had directed his own play The Woman, an excitingly innovative reworking of classical myth, and he was scheduled to co-direct his trilogy The War Plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985. He withdrew from the project, protesting at its treatment, and has never again allowed his work to be produced on the stages of the major subsidized theatres. However, there has been a regular stream of new plays, including Jackets (1989), The Crime of the Twenty-First Century (1999), and Coffee (2000).

This major playwright continues to be produced on the Continent but has largely turned his attention in England to producing work for young people with the Birmingham Theatre-in-Education group, Big Brum.

Bond has written over 50 plays to date. However, he has also written non-dramatic works. He wrote a variety of short stories and poetry in the 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-late 1960s, he worked on the screenplays for films ‘Blow Up’, ‘Michael Kolhaas’, ‘Laughter in the Dark’, ‘Walkabout’ and ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’. Bond translated Frank Wedekind’s play, ‘Spring Awakening’, from German and wrote an introduction for it in 1974.

Also read: Thomas Middleton and his famous works

Also read; James Macpherson and his famous works