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Rodney Ackland

Rodney Ackland

Rodney Ackland (5/18/1908 – 12/6/1991) was an English playwright, actor, theatre director and screenwriter. He was educated at Balham Grammar School in London. In his 16th year he made his first stage appearance at the Gate Theatre Studio, playing Medvedieff in Gorky's The Lower Depths and later studied acting at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. He married Mab Lonsdale, daughter of the playwright Frederick Lonsdale, in 1952; she died in 1972. In 1929, after performing with various repertory companies, he toured as Young Woodley in the play of that name. At the Gaiety Theatre in 1933 he played Paul in his own adaptation of Ballerina, which also toured the following year, and at the Criterion in 1936 he played the role of Oliver Nashwick in his own original play After October which transferred there from the Arts Theatre. In 1941, he co-wrote the screenplay for the film Temptation Harbour starring Robert Newton and Simone Simon. Two musical collaborations came in 1942 with his version of Blossom Time starring Richard Tauber as Franz Schubert at the Lyric Theatre, and his London Coliseum production of the musical play, The Belle of New York. He also wrote and directed The Dark River at the Whitehall Theatre in 1943. He joined Robert Newton as co-authors of Cupid and Mars (1945), and A Multitude of Sins (1951). The first staging of his large-cast drama, The Pink Room (or The Escapists), in Brighton and then at the Lyric Hammersmith in London on 18 June 1952, was largely financed by Terence Rattigan, who liked the play and believed it deserved a London production. Following the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain's licensing and censorship functions in 1968, there was a growing permissiveness about what could be presented on the stage, and in the 1980s, while ailing with leukaemia, Rodney Ackland rewrote aspects of this play, re-titling it Absolute Hell. It was put on in its new form in 1988 to considerable success at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond-upon-Thames, directed by Sam Walters and John Gardyne, and starring Polly Hemingway and David Rintoul.In 1991 it was adapted and directed for BBC Television by Anthony Page, starring Dame Judi Dench, and the play was revived by Page at the Royal National Theatre in 1995, again with Dench in the leading role.


Samuel French Titles by Rodney Ackland