Friday, July 21, 2006

Happy Birthday David Rudkin

David Rudkin was 80 very recently. Quite amazing, the man doesn't look much older than me, with his pepper-and-salt beard, and his stocky, fit frame. He looks more like a sailor on shore leave than one of the UK's foremost playwrights and screenplay author.

I felt very privileged to be invited by David Rabey and Charmian Saville (of Lurking Truth theatre company) to a celebration in their garden of the occasion, and of the Aberystwyth Unversity Theatre Dept giving Rudkin an Honorary Professorship.

Some of the cream of the old guard of British theatre were at this small gathering, including Howard Barker, Arnold Wesker, John Arden (with a halo of white hair), and Margaret D'Arcy (resplendent in a brown headscarf and dark glasses).

Tributes were read out from friends present and absent, and Rabey read an extract from The Sons of Light, about turning the pain of human existence into raw material for creativity, which I thoroughly identify with.

He co-wrote the screenplay to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 - still relevant today, as is most of Rudkin's work.

There were guests from as far as Sweden, and a sprinkling of local writers and artists. I had an inspiring conversation with Lucy Gough, who has just finished writing for Hollyoaks - she wrote 300 episodes - I can't imagine what that would be like.

She's working on a stage version of Frankenstein, sympathetic to the monster. My own work is on similar themes. Because of my health, I'm fascinated by science-human interface, by health issues, and by 'outsider' status - how it happens.

We agreed to share progress on our work.

And we all toasted Rudkin's health - happy birthday and many more to come!