Oxfam Bookshop Leeds
240pp. 2004. As new paperback.
Steven Berkoff is the playwright, director and actor whom theatre scholars have chosen largely to disregard. Since the 1960's, however, this notorious Cockney enfant terrible and 'scourge of the Shakespeare industry' has left an imprint on modern British theatre that has been impossible to ignore. This is the first thorough and in-depth study of this contentious artist, and examines the wide-ranging strategies adopted by Berkoff in the construction and projection of his larger-than-life public persona. This book is not a traditional biography but a critical investigation into the dynamic processes involved in the self-mythologisation of a theatre artist famously concerned with laying himself bare in his plays and performances. Robert Cross examines all of Berkoff's published works, and also examines his film performances, his close self-identification with iconic individuals, his ambiguous relationship with Thatcherism and his use of his East End working-class Jewish background. With its unique interdisciplinary approach, this book not only fills a large gap in theatre scholarship but also contributes a great deal to our understanding, in the post modern era, of the role of performance in identity formation.
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