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.
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.
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.”
Alison Croggon is an award-winning novelist, poet, theatre writer, critic and editor who lives in Melbourne, Australia. She works in many genres and her books and poems have been published to acclaim nationally and internationally.
She is arts editor for The Saturday Paper and co-founder of the performance criticism website Witness. Her most recent book is the creative non-fiction Monsters, out in March 2021, from Scribe Publications.
Sir Tom Stoppard is one of British theatre’s most prolific exports: a giant of modern playwriting, and one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation.