Steven Berkoff

(b. 1937) English dramatist, director, and actor

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(1937– ),

actor, director, playwright, born of immigrant Russian‐Jewish parentage in the East End of London. After schooling in Hackney—like Pinter and Wesker—he worked as a waiter and a salesman. He trained as an actor in London and with the mime artist Jacques le Coq in Paris. He formed the London Theatre Group in 1968 and caused a sensation with his adaptation of Kafka's The Trial (1969). He remained a vigorous maverick in the fringe theatre movement, playing the leading role in his own productions of his demotic verse plays East (1975), Greek (1979), Decadence (1981), and West (1983). His domestic fantasy Kvetch won the Best Comedy in the Evening Standard Awards in 1991. Later productions include The Secret Love Life of Ophelia (2001) and Requiem for Ground Zero (2002, a verse play). Success as a screen villain in Hollywood subsidizes his single‐minded stage career, and a prolific writing output includes I Am Hamlet (1989), Free Association (1996, memoirs), and Tough Acts (2003, essays).

Subjects: Literature.

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