Look Back in Anger
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About "Look Back in Anger"
John Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' changed the course of English theatre. It presents post-war youth as it really was and expresses the mood of its time, the mood of the 'angry young man'.
Meet the Author
John James Osborne was born December 12, 1929 in London. He was educated at Belmont College, Devon but was expelled after attacking the headmaster. He became involved in theatre, as a stage manager and then as an actor. He tried his hand at writing plays and two of them, The Devil Inside Her and Personal Enemy, were staged in regional theatres before he submitted Look Back in Anger to the newly-formed English Stage Company at London's Royal Court Theatre. He was the first of the Angry Young Men of the 1950s. The company, led by artistic director George Devine, chose the play as the third production to enter repertory. Reviews were mixed, but Kenneth Tynan - the most influential critic of the age - praised it. The play went on to be an enormous commercial success, transferring to the West End and to Broadway, and was later filmed with Richard Burton in the leading role. His next work was The Entertainer, also at the Royal Court and starring Laurence Olivier. Luther and Inadmissible Evidence were powerful pieces. A Patriot for Me was a tale of turn-of-the-century homosexuality and was instrumental in putting the boot in to the eighteenth-century system of theatrical censorship under the Lord Chamberlain. A Hotel in Amsterdam was much underrated because, perhaps, of its apparent conventionality, while A Sense of Detachment was very unconventional, but it was also derided. Osborne's work was no longer produced by the Royal Court in the 1970s and it faded in quality as the decade wore on. His last play was Deja Vu, in 1991, a sequel to Look Back in Anger, but lacking the fire of the first play. As well as plays he also wrote a number of screenplays, mainly adaptations of his own works; he also won an Oscar for his 1963 adaptation of Tom Jones. He acted in a few films, including Get Carter in 1971, Tomorrow Never Comes in 1978 and Flash Gordon in 1980. In the last decade of his life, Osborne received most praise for the two volumes of autobiography he produced, A Better Class of Person in 1981 and Almost a Gentleman in 1991, which used that familiar acidity of language to lay low all his enemies. Osborne's work transformed British theatre. He helped to make it artistically respected again. He died December 24, 1994 from complications brought on from his diabetes.