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Tom Stoppard

Listen to Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard joins us to speak about a career that spans nearly half a century. The winner of an Academy Award, four Tonys and a Gold Lion, he’s joined in discussion by writer and critic Alison Croggon.

Stoppard begins by telling the audience why his has been a “charmed life” as a Czech émigré and the discovery of his Jewish background.

Early in the conversation, he points out the distance between objective analyses of his work and his unselfconscious experience as a writer — a point he returns to later and again, explaining: “I don’t really like talking about my work; I do it entirely to be obliging, not to be sort of stuffy about it… I feel like I’m speaking as though I work from some kind of predisposition, when I don’t.”

Elsewhere, he discusses the “slightly circumstantial matter” of his entry into writing for the theatre, the beginnings of his screenwriting career (including penning lines for Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones) and the differences between film and theatre.

The best and worst thing about film, he admits, is that “it stays the way you left it.” He compares the experience of working with film directors and theatre directors.

As the hour nears its end, Stoppard relates his passion for the “unfathomably interesting relationship” between audiences and live performers.

“I’ll never understand how it’s supposed to work,” he says. “It’s one of the most wonderful mysteries in our culture – and always has been. What I like to exploit, if I can, is the audience’s subconscious sense of the severe limitations of a theatre stage.”

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