Short Chronology

List of written and mainly published works.



1957
The Kitchen

Set in the basement kitchen of a large restaurant, thirty chefs, waitresses, and kitchen porters, slowly begin the day preparing to serve lunch. The central story tells of a frustrated love affair between a high-spirited, young, German chef, PETER, and a married English waitress, MONIQUE.

PART ONE slowly builds to a frenzy of serving. PART TWO is a lyrical period - the kitchen porters and chefs linger after serving lunch, and talk about their dreams of a better life. In PART THREE everyone returns for the slower evening service during which PETER, finally turned down by MONIQUE, goes berserk and smashes the gas leads to the ovens.

The proprietor, bewildered by PETER'S violence, the nature of which he cannot understand, asks his workers what more is there to life than work, money and food.

1958
The Wesker Trilogy - Chicken Soup with Barley
The play spans twenty years - 1936 to 1956 - in the life of the communist Kahn family: SARAH and HARRY, and their children, ADA and RONNIE.

Beginning with the anti-fascist demonstrations in 1936 in London's East End and ending with the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the play explores the disintegration of political ideology parallel with the disintegration of a family.

It is the son, RONNIE, who is the most deeply affected and turns on his mother who insists on remaining a communist. Her reply ends the play on a note of desperate optimism.

1959
The Wesker Trilogy - Roots
Explores the theme of 'self-discovery'. BEATIE BRYANT, daughter of Norfolk farm labourers, has fallen in love with RONNIE KAHN from the 'Chicken Soup' family. She returns from London to visit her family all of whom await the arrival of RONNIE. During the two-week waiting period BEATIE is full of RONNIE'S thoughts and words. To greet him the family gathers for a huge Saturday afternoon tea. He doesn't turn up. Instead comes a letter saying he doesn't think the relationship will work. The family turns on BEATIE. In the process of defending herself she finds, to her delight, that she's using her own voice.
1960
The Wesker Trilogy - I'm Talking about Jerusalem

ADA KAHN, the daughter of the 'Chicken Soup' family, marries DAVE SIMMONDS. They move to an isolated house in Norfolk where they struggle through a back-to-the-land experiment. DAVE makes furniture by hand.

Friends and family visit them throughout their 12 rural years charting and commenting on the fortunes of their experiment. It doesn't work, but they end gratified to have had the courage to try.

1961
Menace
An evening in the lives of lonely, frustrated people living separate lives in separate rooms. Constantly recurring is the ominous sound of an aeroplane. The 'menace' is the threat of a nuclear attack. The final scene is of a folk dance which gives the tension release and a quality of joy.

Menace is the precursor of The Old Ones. Could be staged.

1962
The Nottingham Captain
Speeches by Byron, Castlereagh, and Jeremy Bentham set a scene of industrial unrest and threatening rebellion in the early nineteenth century. The action concerns the government's employment of OLIVER, an agent provocateur, to incite a pathetically ill-organised but potentially effective uprising. Three leaders, including the so-called Nottingham Captain, Jeremiah Brandreth, are hanged for treason.

Two version of this work - one in the jazz idiom (music composed by Dave Lee) and one in the classical idiom (music composed by the late Wilfred Josephs) - were performed at the festivals in a double-bill with Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale', directed by Colin Graham.

1962
Chips with Everything

Early 1950s. A group of Air Force conscripts begin eight weeks of 'square-bashing' - basic military drill. Two of the conscripts develop a friendship, PIP THOMPSON - a young aristocrat, CHAS WINGATE - a working class boy.

The military hierarchy want PIP to become an officer. He rebelliously refuses. The officers patiently tolerate his rebellion thus defusing it and breaking his spirit.

When SMILER, one of the recruits, is badly treated by NCOs, the recruits rebel. PIP, who has just accepted to become an officer, urges the hierarchy to tolerate their rebelliousness as they had tolerated his and thus, similarly, defuse their anger.

The young recruits who began as a shambles end as an efficient, closely linked and acquiescent squad.

1965
The Four Seasons

ADAM and BEATRICE have been bruised by their separate marriages and love affairs, and have agreed to spend time together in a remote cottage - a kind of sabbatical from life.

In winter she is catatonic, he must attend to things. By the spring his caring has thawed her frozen feelings. When summer comes they are in love, and BEATRICE begs ADAM to come away and begin a new life together in the real world. He hesitates, afraid. They linger till Autumn.

Mistakes, which destroyed previous relationships, are repeated. Love dies.

1966
Their Very Own and Golden City

ANDREW COBHAM, an apprentice draughtsman, and his young friends from Durham spend a day sketching in Durham Cathedral. On entering, ANDREW is overwhelmed. The year is 1926.

As though by osmosis ANDREW knows that one day he will become an architect. The youthful, exuberant friends talk about the future that is all before them. They will build six beautiful cities, which will be paid for and owned by the people who live in them. Industry will be capitalised by the Trade Unions.

In the beginning all happens as they plan. We constantly return to the Cathedral to witness their ardent hopes paralleling their future until, at a certain moment, that future swerves in a different direction. Reality in conflict with the Dream.

Two groups of four actors play Andrew and his friends as youths and as characters who grow older and disillusioned. But the play ends in 1926, in the Cathedral, with youth's hopes. The Dream remains. We have only 'flashed forward'.

1970
The Old Ones

The 'old ones' are: SARAH, her two brothers, BOOMY - the pessimist, and MANNY - the optimist; MANNY'S wife, GERDA, and SARAH'S eccentric friends - TERESSA, MILLIE and JACK.

The young are the children of SARAH and BOOMY.

Manic MANNY and gloomy BOOMY constantly quarrel due to an incident in their youth. Their form of quarrel is an eccentric ritual: a 'quotation competition' in which each seeks to confront the other with the ultimate, the irrefutable quotation from the classics to prove that life is either good or bad.

Set against scenes of defiant old age 'The Old Ones' plays out the conflict between the optimistic and pessimistic spirit.

1970
The Friends

A brilliant group of friends from working-class backgrounds have become very successful interior designers, and opened many shops selling their designs. They find their success hollow because their designs were not bought by the working-class people whom they hoped would respond to 'things of beauty'.

Now they are gathered round one of their number, ESTHER, who is dying of leukaemia. Death makes them reassess both who they are and what they imagined they had achieved.

It also forces them to confront their own mortality.

1971
Six Sundays in January

A miscellaneous volume consisting of:

Pools - a short story

The Nottingham Captain - a moral for Narrator, Voices and Orchestra

Menace - an original play for television

Six Sundays in January - a long short story

The London Diary for Stockholm - a diary

1971
Fears of Fragmentation

A collection of seven lectures covering eight years of the life of Centre Fortytwo, the arts organisation of which Arnold Wesker was the director. Each lecture is prefaced by a short paragraph describing the position of Forty-two at the time the lecture was first delivered.

'The story of Centre 42 is a necessary part of the history of the sixties. Arnold Wesker's book is a very personal book, in Wesker's characteristic style, and is not really a substitute for a proper history of the movement which will eventually need to be written"
Raymond Williams: The Guardian 16 July 1970

1972
The Journalists

Setting - A Sunday Newspaper.

Theme - journalism as a metaphor for the Lilliputian mentality that denies, diminishes, and leads finally to self-destruction, or self-loathing at best.

The time - 70s, covering six days in six different weeks. Monday of the first week, Tuesday of the second week, and so on, a structure within which news events are discussed, and personal lives played out.

The story - Mary Mortimer, the central character, a tough journalist with her own column becomes obsessed by a charismatic Labour politician she suspects is a charlatan, and is determined to bring him down. In the process she destroys the life of one of her children.

STOP PRESS: Four startling interviews with Tory cabinet ministers punctuate a play written before Margaret Thatcher was voted leader of the Conservative party!

1974
Say Goodbye You May Never See Them Again
A book of naieve paintings of East London streets by the late John Allin. Allin, a cockney gentile painted the area where he grew up and lived in Hackney, and the 'East End' streets where Wesker grew up. The text, edited by the author, is of the painter and playwright talking about their very different backgrounds.
1974
The Wedding Feast

LOUIS LITVANOV, a shoe manufacturer with idealistic notions about the need to treat your employees as equals, finds himself outside a house from which come the sounds of a wedding. He recognises the voices and realises it's the wedding of one of his employees.
LITVANOV persuades himself that if he joins the wedding guests he will be warmly greeted, and admired for calling in to wish them well. He doesn't plan to stay but is persuaded to, as an honoured guest. Slowly he becomes drunk with them.

The proximity of their employer invites the abuse of his employees. The wedding party ends as a comic, chilling disaster.

1974
Love Letters on Blue Paper

A volume of stories consisting of:

The Man Who Became Afraid

A Time of Dying

Love Letters on Blue Paper

1976
Shylock
Set in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, 1563, this play reworks not Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' but the three stories from which Shakespeare wove his play. The core plot remains, the relationships are different.

SHYLOCK, a successful loan-banker with a passion for collecting old books, is a friend of the world-weary Venetian merchant, ANTONIO, whose long-forgotten godson, BASSANIO, a fortune hunter, seeks him out to borrow 3000 ducats for the wooing of PORTIA, an educated woman of the Renaissance, and an heiress.

ANTONIO must borrow the ducats from his friend, who unhesitatingly agrees but is offended when ANTONIO asks for a contract. His Venetian friend reminds him: the laws of Venice permit no dealings with Jews without contract. SHYLOCK angrily proposes an absurd contract for a pound of ANTONIO'S flesh to mock the laws of Venice. ANTONIO'S ships are wrecked. The pound of flesh must be forfeited. PORTIA argues that the contract is nonsense. She saves SHYLOCK'S life but not his fortune. ANTONIO loses a friend, PORTIA must marry a man she despises, JESSICA, SHYLOCK'S daughter, realises too late she's linked herself to a religious bigot.

1976
Love Letters On Blue Paper

VICTOR, a retired Yorkshire trade union leader, is dying of leukaemia. He wants to keep this from his wife,SONIA. Instead he calls to his bedside his protégé, the young MAURICE STAPLETON, Professor of Art, in whom he confides, and with whom he attempts to confront 'the big questions'.

SONIA writes letters to him with neither beginnings nor endings, posts them at the bottom of the road, and delivers them to him in the mornings with his other mail. Neither of them talks about the letters. They begin as simple recollections and end as passionate declarations. Through them she reveals a love she was unable to express and, in recalling their glorious life together, prepares him for death.

1977
Journey Into Journalism
In 1971 Arnold Wesker spent some months in the offices of The Sunday Times gathering background material for his play The Journalists. As an off-shoot he wrote an extended essay about his experience among journalists, and offered it to The Sunday Times. The editor, Harry Evans, was going to print it but was overruled by the Managing Editor. When Wesker's publisher, Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape, suggested it would made a good slim volume Wesker sought and obtained the blessing of Harry Evans. A contract was signed but some journalists objected saying mistakes had been made. Wesker corrected the mistakes but it didn't help. One other journalist claimed the material for the book was obtained under false pretences. The author withdrew the book - a self-imposed restriction. Five years later, in a TV interview about freedom of the press the interviewer, Melvyn Bragg, asked Harry Evans: "What about the Wesker book?" Evans turned to camera and said "You can go ahead and publish, Arnold"
1978
Said the Old Man to the Young Man

A volume of stories consisting of:

The Man Who Would Never Write Like Balzac

Said the Old Man to the Young Man

The Visit

1978
Fatlips
A story for young people aged 9 to 14.
1978
One More Ride On The Merry-Go-Round

JASON, a Cambridge professor of philosophy, separated from his wife, NITA, is enjoying life with his mistress, MONICA, a young American university lecturer. He's contemplating the future. Should he retire and see more of the world, experience more of the life about which he philosophises? In the first act he's full of contempt for his wife whose image he projects as dowdy and uninteresting. In the second act we discover that she's far from this image. NITA is dazzling, energetic, and has a young lover. We realise that JASONand NITA had wished the other to be what each became, but only after they were separated!

A comic plot involving academics who get high on a hash birthday cake, a recalcitrant daughter, and the appearance of an illegitimate son who's a magician.

1980
Phoenix
Two couples, one Danish one English, share a warm Whitsun holiday in the Cambridgeshire countryside. KARL-OLAF, a historian, is spending a post-graduate year in Cambridge with his wife, JANIKA, a social worker, and their two children. RAPHAEL, professor of history of art, (and one time senior lecturer to KARL-OLAF), together with his wife, MADEAU, are visiting the Danes. Balmy days are spent eating, cycling, lazing in the sun, listening to music, and conversing. KARL-OLAF and JANIKA are having matrimonial problems. RAPHAEL is going through a crisis of political belief, with MADEAU anxiously looking on.

The calm and balmy days contrast with tensions of heart and mind.

1980
Caritas
In the 14th century a young woman, CHRISTINE CARPENTER asked the church to allow her to live the rest of her life in a cell attached to the church in the Sussex village of Shere. Through living the austere life of an anchoress CHRISTINE hoped to become pure enough to receive divine revelation. Three years on she realises that an anchoress's life is not her vocation - the word of God does not come to her. She asks the church to release her from her vows. They cannot. To do so, they argue, would be to make a cuckold of Christ. Victim of religious fervour she is doomed to live out her life imprisoned in her cell where she goes mad. A metaphor for wrong decisions - political, social, private, religious - which we make and which imprison us for life.
1980
Voices On The Wind
A play about energy defeating lethargy, enacting a story within a story within a story employing street games, strange and ethereal moments, a storm at sea, ghostly voices, simple story-telling (against a background of action), flying, quick-change sets, construction on stage, a birth, masks, electronic sounds and original music.
An old man is part of a shipload of people going to a new land. He was born with magical powers to fly, foretell the future, and hear voices on the wind. One voice he falls in love with fades after many years. He has spent his life looking for it. He's found it again and is on his way to meet her. In the process of telling his story to a family on the boat he tells the story of the woman he fell in love with.
1981
Breakfast
MARK BELL, an unconventional Jewish businessman, finds himself reading Primo Levi while on a business trip in Munich.

Everyone he meets is kind. The Levi text, full of Nazi brutality, contrasts with modern Germany. The experience is confusing, tense and, finally, profoundly distressing.

 
1981
Sullied Hand
Three couples gather for dinner in the home of one of them. MALCOLM, the husband host, a desperate writer, has a brainwave for making a fortune.

Demonstrating his 'brainwave' involves each of the guests enacting - to the deep consternation of LYNN, his wife - a compromising private action.

Sad and funny.

 
1982
Annie Wobbler
ANNIE, an old tramp-cum-char-lady who 'does' for a poor Jewish family in London's East End, reminisces her sad old life and describes the family she works for - Wesker's parents. Annie Wobbler is the real name of a childhood memory.

When she has finished ANNIE whips off her eccentric, tatty clothes beneath which is a red-head in black underwear who is -

ANNA
, a working-class student who has just achieved her degree in French, and is making up to go on a date with her boyfriend. This date is going to be very different from previous dates - she's now a B.A. first-class honours and has gained a devastating confidence. Made up she looks stunning; but her red hair is a wig, and the dress she's put on is really two dresses. When the scene ends she removes wig, unhitches one of the dresses, and is now -

1982
Four Portraits - of Mothers
RUTH - woman as unmarried mother
NAOMI - woman as mother who never was
MIRIAM - woman as failed mother
DEBORAH - woman as mother earth
In France and elsewhere they have been performed with Yardsale using
STEPHANIE - woman as abandoned mother.
1983
Yardsale

STEPHANIE, a Brooklyn schoolteacher, returns home from school to prepare a meal for SHELDON, her teacher husband, before they go to a lecture. She talks to him imagining he's in the house somewhere, realises he isn't, goes to the bedroom to prepare herself, finds a note from him - he's left her.

Eight short scenes: The homecoming, The discovery, The depression, The phone call, To the art gallery, To the restaurant, To the bookshop, To a Yard sale.

Comical, bitter, angry, defiant.

 
1983
Cinders
Based on the biography of CYNTHIA PAYNE by Paul Bailey. PAYNE ran 'a house of sex' in Streatham. It was characterised by its absence of seediness. She wanted to provide a happy service. It was a 'fun' house to which people came and relaxed and went off with a girl every so often. CYNTHIA PAYNE was busted but made such a good impression in court that she subsequently became a minor celebrity.

Wesker's adaptation, for reasons completely incomprehensible to him, roused the wrath of Paul Bailey who vetoed the play ever being performed. Nor has it been published.

 
1985
Distinctions

A second collection of 39 essays, lectures, and journalism divided into three sections:
Plays and Players
Reflections
Critics

1986
Whatever happened to Betty Lemon

LADY BETTY LEMON, widow of a Labour peer, 'crippled by everything old age brings', receives a letter informing her she's been voted 'Handicapped Woman of the Year'. It appals her. She spends the next 45 minutes rehearsing the speech she will never give and raging on behalf of those handicapped by fear of their priests, charlatans, charismatic politicians, marriage, ignorant teachers and bigoted parents. At a certain moment her motorised wheelchair takes on a life of its own - yet another of her life's vicissitudes.

The only surrealistic play in the cannon, and one that the author describes as 'a self-portrait of defiance and despair'.

1986
When God Wanted a Son

JOSHUA, professor of semantics, is Jewish; MARTHA is Gentile. They were married and are now separated. CONNIE is their daughter struggling to be a comedienne. Her humour is sophisticated and sardonic. She's not having much success. She returns home for comfort, hoping to understand and reconcile her confused and confusing background.

Her mother, attempting to dabble in the stock market, is a closet anti-Semite. JOSHUA returns to persuade his estranged wife to forgive and forget and invest money in his wild scheme: a project to build a machine that will detect true character through the inflections of the human voice. MARTHA tries but cannot bring herself to like or respect him. He is too uncomfortable a personality.

The play argues that anti-Semitism, like stupidity, is here to stay.

1987
Lady Othello
STANTON, professor of American literature, married with two children, has - in the course of a lecture tour in the States - fallen in love with ROSIE, a black, New York 'mature' student. He's returning to that city to spend time with her and discover the true depth of his feelings. The play charts their riotous, sad, comic, bawdy days together during which he realises their relationship cannot work.
1987
Badenheim 1939
An adaptation of the novel by Aharon Appelfeld. It contains so many characters it can only be performed by a National Theatre or University Theatre Department with large resources.

It's a chilling novel. Badenheim is a spa to which middle-class, bohemian Jews have been coming year after year. At its centre is an arts festival. In 1939 strange happenings occur. Sanitary inspectors gradually take over the spa and inform it's Jewish residents that soon they'll be going to Poland.

Barbed wire springs up around the small town, guard dogs proliferate, other Jews appear, herded into the area, and the facilities begin to break down or cease to function. Over the summer the spa falls to pieces.

On the last day all the Jews are marched to the station for transport to Poland. Some are quite looking forward to the journey. They imagine it will be a train that takes them to their destination. When cattle trucks draw up, the festival organiser, ever optimistic, observes:

1987
The Dusty Wesker Cook Book
Dusty Wesker's fame as a fine and extravagant cook spread from having cooked for family, friends, and visitors world-wide.
Although not a work written by the playwright it has a place in this bibliography - a diary of a year in a playwright's life accompanied by all the recipes of the meals his wife had cooked for that year's visitors. A portion of autobiography with a difference.
1987
Little Old Lady
Set in the carriage of a moving London underground train. Two youngsters, an old lady, and others if extras can be afforded. At one of the stations a thuggish young man enters and begins to smoke. Smoking is forbidden. The old lady challenges him to put it out. He refuses. She asks the others to join in with her protest. No one dares. She threatens to pull the cord to stop the train. The thug intimidates her. Everyone waits to see if she'll pull the cord. 


1987
Shoeshine
A student of philosophy achieves his degree but discovers philosophy can't earn him a living. Decides to open a shoeshine box - survival is essential. Family and friends argue that it is demeaning to shine people's shoes. He cannot understand why. The days of servility are past, they tell him. He can't accept their arguments. If there is no other work then he must do what is needed to survive. He considers their moral arguments hollow. In the street where he sets up his shoebox he encounters further hostility - beaten up by young thugs. Undeterred, he returns, to set up his shoeshine box.


1988
Beorhtel's Hill
A play commissioned to celebrate the 40th birthday of the new town of Basildon. Because it is a community play engaging 125 members of the community, it is impossible to be performed by anyone else. But it's an interesting read, recording a fascinating history of London's East Enders who were the first Basildon dwellers. Out of their story is explored the theme of 'the stranger in our midst'.
1988
The Mistress

SAMANTHA is a famous dress designer. Her lover is a married man. She is constantly at the mercy of his family demands. Being famous she receives endless appeals for money to worthy causes. These she pushes aside until there are so many she has to make a decision where to donate her money.

On this evening, in her workshop, she is pretending she is there to work when in truth she's waiting for 'that phone call'. Between waiting for the call and deciding on her charities she slowly becomes drunk.

A comically fierce play about private and public guilt.

1990
Letter To A Daughter

MELANIE is an established 'chansonnier' with a cult following. She is writing a letter to her daughter, which she imagines is going to be a letter of advice. It develops into a letter confessing guilt for having been what she feels was an inadequate mother.

The play is punctuated by six songs, five of which are part of the letter, the sixth is MELANIE performing in concert.

Lyrics by the author, beautiful melodies composed by Benjamin Till.

1990
Men Die Women Survive
Her writer husband, MONTCRIEFF, left MINERVA, a businesswoman, five years ago. MISCHA, a Hebrew scholar, left her financier husband, LEO, two years ago. CLAIRE, researcher for, and mistress of, shadow cabinet minister, VINCENT, has just been abandoned by him to pursue family and career. The three women have come together for dinner in order to console CLAIRE. Each has prepared one of the three courses and selected an accompanying wine. Each explains the reason for their choice. In the process we hear of the relationships with their men and gradually realise that CLAIRE has revenged herself by betraying her politician lover. In between, an actor plays out scenes from the life of the three men. 
1991
Blood Libel
In 1144 a young boy, WILLIAM, was found brutally murdered in Thorpe Wood, Norwich. The Jews were accused of slaughtering a Christian child to use his blood for Passover and mock the crucifixion. This is the genesis of the first ever 'blood libel' accusation - a calumny which has spread throughout Europe and persists to this day. The Prior of the Norwich Priory, ELIAS, did not believe the accusation. The charge was dropped. Twenty years later the monk, THOMAS OF MONMOUTH, joined the priory and, together with the zealous priory monks, campaigned to have WILLIAM named a martyr. They succeeded. Pilgrims came in search of miracles. The church grew rich. WILLIAM's death would today be known for what it almost certainly was in the 12th century - a crime of sexual assault. Blood Libel repeatedly enacts this while playing out the myth of martyrdom - a contrapuntal of furious irony.
1992
Wild Spring
GERTIE, a forty-four year old actress at the peak of her career, befriends SAM, aged nineteen. He believes he can only ever be a black car park attendant, she believes she can be more useful than a mere actress. Each tries to argue the other out of the fond images they have of themselves. Fifteen years later, GERTIE'S career is in crisis. She's in love - unrequited - with KENNEDY, the younger black company manager who believes he's an 'artist' but who in fact is a born entrepreneur. The play explores acting as a metaphor for the false images of ourselves with which we fall in love.
1993
The Confession
A woman persuades her lover to trust her and confide in her his most heinous act. As soon as he does she is so appalled that she taunts him with it. Disappointed, his love fades. For revenge she betrays his trust.
1993
Bluey
HILARY HAWKINS is a judge who has reached a crisis of confidence. A suppressed incident from the past has been working corrosively within his sub-conscious. A particularly nasty court case stirs memory of an incident during his student days when he worked on a building site, and reluctantly became involved with other builders in stealing lead from a roof which they were repairing. Failing to shout a warning before throwing down the lead HILARY badly scars a plumber's face. At the height of his crisis he goes in quest of the plumber. When he finds him he can only stand and observe him from a distance imagining three possible outcomes of a confrontation he has not the courage to face, as years ago he had not the courage face a dying old sweetheart.
1994
As Much as I Dare

An autobiography up till the first years of becoming a playwright, but flashing forward to beyond those years on certain topics.

1996
Circles of Perception
Originally entitled 'The New Play'. Very personal, very experimental and not intended for performance.

While trying to write The Old Ones the author developed writer's block. Accompanying this block was a profound urge not to write plays the old way. He was "…tired of the conventional stage with actors coming on and off, sets changing, slightly different characters with slightly different names …I decided to call everyone by their real name ... the play is about people and events I imagined were causing the block… technically ambitious I used everything - slides, films, the Czech device of 'Laterna Magica' …"

1997
Break, My Heart
A working-class couple - a carpenter and his wife.

MAEVE has outgrown her husband. She has discovered Shakespeare and poetry, which she learns by heart and recites to herself. MICHAEL is intimidated by her new persona. His impoverished swearing sharply contrasts with Shakespeare's language. MAEVE wants to find a job, get out of the house. MICHAEL's pride forbids her. "I don't want people to think I can't support my family."

Each time she uses what he considers a long word he beats her. After each act of violence he is filled with remorse and she has to comfort him.

The cycle of beating and remorse seems never-ending.

1997
Denial
About the 'false memory syndrome'.

Based on a case history of a daughter who turns on her parents accusing them of sexually abusing her as a child.


1997
The BIRTH of Shylock and the DEATH of Zero Mostel
Wesker has kept a diary since 1966. From it he extracted those entries which charted the writing, the marketing, the rehearsal, and final Broadway performance of his play Shylock in which the lead actor, Zero Mostel, died after giving one performance. The company had to rehearse again using the understudy.
1998
The King's Daughters
Twelve erotic stories based on a tale by the brothers Grimm.
2000
The Kitchen Musical
The Kitchen is the author's first play. It has been performed in over 50 major cities around the world.

In 1988 Koichi Kimura, who had directed the play six times in Japan, gave the author £30,000 to seed the project. It took twelve years to put together and was finally directed by Kimura with his company, Chijinkai, in the summer of 2000.

Book by Wesker, lyrics by Nigel Forde, score composed by Derek Barnes based on ideas sketched by Barrington Pheloung.

The unique aspect of this musical is that the book calls for music and dance from beginning to end.

2000
Barabbas
2001
Groupie
SYNOPSIS MATTIE BEANCOURT, a 61 year old woman, reads the autobiography of MARK GORMAN, a famous painter. Having grown up in the same East End streets she writes to him. A correspondence develops. She visits him unannounced, and discovers he lives in near poverty and neglect.

Her personality is sunny, his is curmudgeonly. Their impact upon each other is startling

2002
Longitude
In the early 18th century the inability to find longitude led to such loss of life and cargo that Parliament passed an act offering £20,000 to anyone who solved the problem. Isaac Newton knew a clock would solve it but did not believe such a clock could be invented. Scientists focused on the lunar solution.

JOHN HARRISON, a carpenter and joiner from Lincolnshire, taught himself to mend clocks. He invented a land clock that ran accurately, and set himself the task of inventing a clock that could run accurately at sea. He spent his life perfecting it and, together with his son, fulfilled the tests required by Parliament.

For complex reasons the complete prize was never awarded to him. The play traces a lifetime's conflict between uneducated genius and the establishment. An epic play in a Hogarthian setting calling for music - HARRISON was also a choirmaster.
2006
Honey
Abandoned by her London boyfriend, Ronnie Kahn, Beatie Bryant became determined to improve herself, and to find her own voice. HONEY opens when she comes out of university with a degree. Education has made her feel a whole human being. And yet her encounters with the world outside are confusing and contradictory. The old man in Shepherd's Market, the bookbinder, hidden in her little shop, the diverting sexual encounter, only serve to fragment her once again. Even her love affair and the extraordinary career she stumbles upon, parallel her fear of fragmentation. Written with a playwright's eye for scene and dialogue, HONEY is an extraordinary addition to Arnold Wesker's brilliant career.
2006
Honey

Honey (hardback): The playwright's first novel. Abandoned by her London boyfriend, Ronnie Kahn, Beatie Bryant became determined to improve herself, and to find her own voice. HONEY opens when she comes out of university with a degree. Education has made her feel a whole human being. And yet her encounters with the world outside are confusing and contradictory. The old man in Shepherd's Market, the bookbinder, hidden in her little shop, the diverting sexual encounter, only serve to fragment her once again. Even her love affair and the extraordinary career she stumbles upon, parallel her fear of fragmentation. Written with a playwright's eye for scene and dialogue, HONEY is an extraordinary addition to Arnold Wesker's brilliant career.

2008
Wesker's Monologues
The main intention of this anthology is to offer actors and students of drama a range of audition pieces: but is is also hoped that the collection will introduce a public to the later plays, which may not be as familiar as the earlier ones. 
2008
Wesker's Love Plays
Each play grapples with the timeless problems accompanying two people in love.  The most intimate and personal of relationships are placed under uncompromising scrutiny.

This volume contains:

The Four Seasons
Love Letters On Blue Paper
Lady Othello

2008
All Things Tire of Themselves
In addition to Arnold Wesker's work for the stage, he has published collections of stories, essays, a book for young people, an autobiography, and his first novel, Honey, but until now he has not brought out a poetry collection even though he has written poems and published them in magazines for many years.

For All Things Tire of Themselves he has selected what he considers to be his best and most characteristic poems. 
2008
The Rocking Horse Kid
Stage adaptation from radio version about a black teenager who wants to go round the world on a horse.
2009
Wesker's Social Plays
This volume includes the author's most performed work The Kitchen (1957) - produced in sixty cities, from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, from Paris to Moscow, from Montreal to Zurich.

This volume also contains:
Voices On The Wind
Denial
The Rocking Horse Kid
When God Wanted A Son
2010
Joy and Tyranny
'My preoccupation,' says Arnold Wesker in his interview/portrait Ambivalenes (published by Oberon Books) 'with-violence-stemming-from-perceived-intimidation-by-the-bright-ones who dare to be clever or simply different, began with an incident at school.  While queuing for a school meal, one of the other boys wanted me to try his liquorice stick.  I didn't want to.  This other pupil insisted.  I continued to decline.  I didn't like liquorice!  That I didn't want to share what he liked, what he thought was good, enraged the other boy who couldn't bear my indifference to his taste, and he hit me.  I've never lost this image of violence induced by the outsider, the one who dissents, the one who doesn't share in what others like or believe.  One day', Wesker vowed, 'I may write a play beginning with that image - of the boy who wants another boy to share his taste in liquorice and hits him because he doesn't.  It'll be an exploration of the nature of violence.

In late 2010 he wrote just such a play, Joy and Tyranny, but the playwright doesn't describe it as a play, rather as: Arias and variations on the theme of violence.  In fact it is a patchwork quilt knitting together many extracts from other of his works, as though throughout his career he was infusing those works, ghost-like, with a hidden play waiting the right time to emerge.
2010
Wesker On Theatre
Wesker On Theatre is a collection of essays by one of Britain's most well-known, prolific and controversial writers, which explores his thoughts on drama and the theatre gained from a writing career that spans over fifty years.
2011
Groupie
A volume containing:
Groupie
2011
Chicken Soup With Barley
A volume published to coincide with a revival at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, June 2011
2011
Ambivalences
A portrait of Arnold Wesker from A to W, interviewed by Chiara Montenero.
2011
The Kitchen
Arnold Wesker's extraordinary play, The Kitchen, premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries.  The Kitchen puts the workplace centre stage in a blackly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed, when work threatens to define who we are. 

The Kitchen was revived in 2011 at the National Theatre to critical acclaim.
2011
Joy and Tyranny
A volume containing the stage play Joy and Tyranny
2012
Wesker's Historical Plays
Presented in this volume are four epic history plays, which touch on the age-old conflicts caused by religion, science and the establishment.

The volume contains:

Shylock
Blood Libel
Longitude
Caritas
2012
Wesker's Domestic Plays
This volume contains:

The Friends
Bluey
Men Die Women Survive
Wild Spring

Penguin Books published seven volumes of the plays which are gradually being phased out of print, and taken over by Methuen Books.