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Definition: Brenton, Howard from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English dramatist. His political theatre, deliberately provocative, includes The Churchill Play (1974) and The Romans in Britain (1980).

Brenton was strongly influenced by German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht. Other plays include Magnificence (1973), Weapons of Happiness (1976), Epsom Downs (1977), Bloody Poetry (1984), Greenland (1988), and Paul (2005). He collaborated with English dramatist David Hare on Pravda (1985), a satirical comedy about journalism. He also wrote a novel, Diving for Pearls (1989) and a volume of diaries and essays, Hot Irons (1995).

Summary Article: Brenton, Howard John
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


♦ English dramatist

Born in Portsmouth, he wrote for fringe theatre companies during the late 1960s and was resident dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, London (1972-73), where his play Magnificence, dealing with urban terrorism, was staged. The Churchill Play (1974) takes a bleak look at a future Great Britain governed by hardliners using troops to brutalize trade unionists. It was followed by Weapons of Happiness (1976, the first new play to be produced at the National Theatre's South Bank building), The Romans in Britain (premiered 1980 and controversial for its depiction of homosexual rape), and The Genius, on the nuclear arms race (premiered 1983). He has also collaborated with David Hare on a number of projects, the most outstanding being Pravda (1985), a furiously ebullient satire on the cravenness of the national press. In addition to numerous plays, he has also written a political thriller, Diving for Pearls (1989) and translations of the work of Brecht, Goethe and Büchner. In 1995 he published a volume of diaries and essays, Hot Irons. He wrote for the TV drama series Spooks from 2002 until 2004. His play about Harold Macmillan, Never So Good, was premiered at the National Theatre in 2008.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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