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  • John Arden was an English Marxist playwright who at his death was lauded as "one of the most significant British playwrights of the late 1950s and early 60s" Born in Barnsley, son of the manager of a glass factory, he was educated at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, King's College, Cambridge and the Edinburgh College of Art, where he studied architecture. He first gained critical attention for the radio play The Life of Man in 1956 shortly after finishing his studies. Arden was initially associated with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London. His 1959 play, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance, in which four army deserters arrive in a northern mining town to exact retribution for an act of colonial violence, is considered to be his best. His work was influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre. Other plays include Live Like Pigs, The Workhouse Donkey, and Armstrong's Last Goodnight, the last of which was performed at the 1963 Chichester Festival by the National Theatre after it was rejected by the Royal Court. His 1978 radio play Pearl was considered in a Guardian survey to be one of the best plays in that medium.

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