Kingston upon Hull has been much maligned in the popular media as a city with the highest obesity and teenage pregnancy rates. The city also has been near the bottom for GCSE results for many years. I think it is safe say that Hull is a long way from being nominated for the city of culture award.
It is therefore remarkable that located behind a run down, unstable and dirty bus terminal lays a tiny theatre known all over the theatrical world. The theatre is the home of Hull Truck and the playwright that made this 300 capacity venue world famous goes by the name of John Godber.
Godber is the son of a miner who was brought up in West Yorkshire. He started his working life as a teacher of drama at a secondary school. In 1984 he became the artistic director for the Hull Truck Theatre based in Spring Street near the centre of Hull. The play that put John Godber and Hull Truck onto the theatrical map was Bouncers'. In 1985 Bouncers was nominated for Comedy of the Year and won seven Los Angeles Critics' Circle Awards and five awards in Chicago in 1987.
It is somewhat unusual that Godber studied German expressionist theatre and yet has become the champion for the Northern English working class. In some ways John Godber is 'the voice of Hull' and, although it sounds strange, many people in the city would only go to the theatre to see his plays. If Godber puts on a production of 'Julius Caesar' or 'Moby Dick' at Hull Truck Theatre, there are empty seats. But if he produces one of his own plays, there is guaranteed to be a packed house. It is not only people from Hull who flood to see Godber plays, theatre-goers from all over the UK do too.
Godber is the third most performed playwright in Britain behind Alan Aykborn and William Shakespeare. He has been labeled the Shakespeare of the North by critics and fans. So as tourist choose Stradford Upon Avon (The Swan Theatre) or Scarborough (The Stephen Joseph Theatre) to discover more about their theatrical idols, so...
Bibliography: Bouncers" and "Shakers" [Paperback] by Godber, John; Thornton, Jane
www.bbc.co.uk as of 08/02/07
www.guardian.co.uk as of 08/02/07
(Limited due to very personal look at Godber 's work)
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