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Golden years began at Belgrade Theatre; PLAYWRIGHT: Writer's 50 years of stage plays since curtain up in Coventry.

Byline: By Marion McMullen ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

TOP British theatre writer Sir Arnold Wesker has taken out a full-page advert to celebrate 50 years in show business and the anniversary of his first performance in Coventry.

The celebrated writer, who was knighted two years ago, got his start in 1958 when the forward-thinking Belgrade Theatre staged his play Chicken Soup With Barley.

The production was so successful it transferred to the Royal Court Theatre in London and marked the beginning of Wesker's illustrious writing career.

The Belgrade went on to stage the famous Wesker trilogy and premiered his drama The Four Seasons in 1965.

Wesker also returned to the Belgrade Theatre in 1998 to celebrate the venue's 40th anniversary and said he would always be grateful to the theatre.

He remembers actress Joan Plow-right on the Belgrade stage in his 1959 production of Roots. It was originally commissioned by London's Royal Court Theatre, but when they turned it down, the Belgrade stepped in He said: "It has been the same with most of my plays ever since - they meet great resistance before someone emerges who understands how they can be performed."

Wesker worked as a carpenter's mate, plumber's mate, farm labourer, seed sorter, kitchen porter, pastry chef and served in the RAF before making his mark as a writer.

He has now taken out a full-page advert in trade paper The Stage to mark the 50th anniversary of his first ever performed play in Coventry.

He said he wanted to thank all the actors, directors, designers, composers, technicians, producers and critics he has been involved with over the last five decades.

CAPTION(S):

STAGE RIGHT... Arnold Wesker, right, with actor Alan Bates in Coventry 50 years ago. Inset, the advert placed in this week's The Stage newspaper marking his anniversary.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 29, 2008
Words:299
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