Sir Arnold Wesker talks to Judi Herman as the new revival
of his play Roots is acclaimed by critics and audiences alike
The work of Sir Arnold Wesker has been enjoying a great revival over the last couple of years, with new productions of The Kitchen at The National Theatre and Chicken Soup with Barley, the first play in his famous trilogy about the Jewish Kahn family at the Royal Court; and now Roots, the second, at the Donmar Warehouse. Chicken Soup with Barley is set in the Jewish East End and begins with the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 as Oswald Mosley’s Fascists try to march through its streets. Roots is set in 1958 in the bleak countryside of Norfolk, where Ronnie Kahn’s fiancée, Beatie Bryant, has come home to prepare her family for the momentous event of a visit from the man she adores, as mentor as well as lover.
It’s no secret that Wesker’s plays are usually autobiographical and Beatie and Ronnie are in fact based on Wesker himself and Dusty, the love of his life and his wife of 55 years, who now cares devotedly for him, as he has Parkinson’s Disease. Dusty and Arnold welcomed Judi Herman into their Brighton home where she was lucky enough to enjoy Dusty’s cooking and a wide-ranging conversation with Arnold about his life and work.
Hear Arnold Wesker speaking to Judi Herman here:
All photos from Roots © Stephen Cummiskey