Bernard Kops was born in the East-end of London in 1926; into stark poverty and political chaos. He is one of Britain's leading playwrights. The youngest of seven children of an immigrant Dutch-Jewish family, Kops left school at thirteen during the Blitz. He tried his hand at acting and the second hand book trade, drifting through the then-bohemian world of Soho and won sudden, unexpected fame in 1957 with his East End play The Hamlet of Stepney Green.
This was drama steeped in the Yiddish theatrical tradition: a sweet-and-sour comedy including brilliant poetry set to music, the play portrayed a dying working-class community through the frustrating relationship between an ailing father and his adult son. He was hailed for it by the critics of the day as a significant contribution to the-then fashion in England for 'kitchen-sink' dramas. It has been performed all over the world.
His play about the anti-Semitic poet Ezra Pound was produced first at the Half Moon theatre with Ian MacDiarmid giving one of his finest performances as Ezra.
Playing Sinatra, another of his favourite plays has also been produced around the world. It had an incredible reception when it went to Warehouse Croydon and Greenwich Theatre, and is soon to open in April 2012 in Washington D.C.
In all, he has written more than 40 plays, nine novels and two autobiographies. He also runs a master-class for playwrights.
Bernard lives in London. Five o'clock every morning you'll find him at his desk, working away. Writing is still his obsession.
'I would rate Bernard Kops with Sean O' Casey and Arthur Miller. As a poet, he ranks with the other great European poet/playwright, Federico Garcia Lorca: the same passion, directness and lyrical intensity. His poems about nuclear war, about the Holocaust (in which many of his family perished) and more recently about his love for his wife Erica and his immediate family, will be remembered for their shapely form and their personal force. He is a worthy literary descendant of the First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg.' Michael Kustow
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