Like Uncle, like Nephew in This Playwright's Case

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Like Uncle, like Nephew in This Playwright's Case


Byline: Jack Helbig

Playwright Ranjit Bolt, whose translation of Moliere's "Tartuffe" opens this weekend, comes by his interest in theater honestly: His uncle was a playwright.

In fact, his uncle was an incredibly successful playwright, Robert Bolt, author of the hit play, "A Man for All Seasons," which was later made into an equally successful movie starring John Scofield.

"My uncle was always a very charismatic and influential figure in my life," Bolt said. "He used to turn up at our house in a gorgeous maroon Rolls Royce Corniche convertible, with (actress) Sarah Miles on his arm. That's a pretty good advert for writing, especially for a pubescent boy! I was determined to write for the theater from a very early age."

He had help in that department from his mother.

"I remember, my mother, when 'A Man For All Seasons' took off, coming into our room (he and his brother's) and saying, 'Bob's got a hit show on in the West End. Why don't you both have a go at writing a play?' So we both did," he said.

Bolt's brother quickly found other interests, but Bolt was hooked.

"From then on," he said. "I'd be writing something - a poem, a play, a story - pretty much every day."

When it came time to write and shop around his plays, Bolt discovered he had a leg up on many playwrights; he was at least as good at translating the work of others into contemporary English as he was writing his own original plays.

"I found while one is waiting for one's own ideas to germinate," Bolt said, "translation seems a pretty good second best - especially when one is working in verse. …

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