David Storey RIP

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John F
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David Storey RIP

Post by John F » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:17 am

The obituary doesn't mention it, but Storey's play "The Changing Room," about what happens in the locker room during a professional rugby football match, featured the young John Lithgow as a badly injured rugby player in his Broadway debut. I saw it, "The Contractor," and "Home," but after the 1970s he wrote few plays and none made it to NY.

David Storey, British Novelist and Playwright, Dies at 83
MARCH 27, 2017

LONDON — David Storey, a British writer who drew on his experiences as a miner’s son, a farmworker, an art student, a professional rugby player and a teacher to create novels and plays that won acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, died here on Sunday. He was 83. A niece, Samantha Storey, said the cause was Parkinson’s disease and related dementia.

Though Mr. Storey struggled for recognition at first, he went on to win Britain’s premier fiction award, the Man Booker Prize, in 1976 for his novel “Saville,” in which a miner’s son breaks away from his background. Two of his novels were shortlisted for the award. Three of his works were named best play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, all within four years in the 1970s. He also earned two Tony nominations.

It was as a playwright that Mr. Storey was probably best known; his plays have been performed in some 60 countries. Yet it was as a novelist that he first gained notice, with “This Sporting Life,” published in 1960, which won the Somerset Maugham Fiction Award. A vividly told tale of a maverick miner turned rugby player, the novel was adapted for film in 1963, with a screenplay by Mr. Storey, and won Oscar nominations for its lead actors, Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts.

“This Sporting Life” was soon followed by two more novels notable for their bold characterization and narrative energy: “The Flight Into Camden,” narrated by a miner’s daughter who falls for a married teacher, and “Radcliffe,” about two unlikely childhood friends — one moody and intelligent, the other physically powerful — whose relationship takes a homosexual turn when they meet again as young men. “Radcliffe” was shortlisted for the Booker prize, as was Mr. Storey’s novel “Pasmore,” published in 1973, centered on a university lecturer whose comfortable life unravels.

By 1966 Mr. Storey was established enough for the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh to stage his play “The Restoration of Arnold Middleton,” which he had written in a single weekend six years earlier, at a time when he was despairing of his novel-writing career. The tale of a troubled schoolteacher, it transferred to London, where Mr. Storey, who had seldom gone to the theater, found himself acclaimed as a dramatist. “The sheer exhilaration of seeing it come alive onstage prompted me to write another five plays in no time at all,” he said. Two he threw out, but the others were staged in 1969 and 1970 at the Royal Court Theater in London.

The three plays — all directed by Lindsay Anderson, with whom Mr. Storey developed what he called “an almost mystical relationship” — were “In Celebration,” about the turbulent reunion of a miner’s family scarred by the death of a son; “The Contractor,” in which wrangling workmen were seen first raising and then lowering a tent for a wedding reception; and “Home,” in which John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson portrayed elderly men precariously surviving in a mental institution. Mr. Storey said he had written “Home” in three days.


The play’s deft characterizations and understated dialogue led some critics to compare it to Chekhov, and after it transferred to Broadway, in 1970, it drew Tony nominations for Mr. Storey, Mr. Gielgud, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Anderson and the actress Mona Washbourne.

“Home” was different from most of Mr. Storey’s best-known work in that it was not derived from his own experience, as “The Contractor” and “The Farm” were, both from 1973 and both drawing on his days as a laborer in his youth. Similarly, “The Changing Room” (also 1973) was based on his rugby days, and “Life Class” (1974) drew on his time at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

“The Changing Room” won a Tony nomination and that play, “Home,” and “The Contractor” were all named best play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. They and others continue to be revived. Reviewing an Off Broadway revival of “Home” in 2006, Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times described it as “achingly beautiful.”

In Mr. Storey’s stage world, characters were misfits, at odds with their roots, their environment, their work, their relationships, their inner selves. “All my plays ask for a more whole, grander view of life,” he once said. “But there’s always sadness at their endings.”..

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/thea ... right.html
John Francis

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