Steven Berkoff

Steven Berkoff

] He attended Raine's Foundation Grammar School from 1948 to 1950,cite pressrelease|url=|title=Famous Personalities from Raine's Foundation School: Steven Berkoff (1948-1950)|publisher=David A. Spencer (publicity officer), The Old Raineians' Association|accessdate=2008-09-27] Hackney Downs School,cite news|author=Michael Coveney|url=|title=Steven Berkoff: The Real East Enders|work=The Independent|date=2007-01-04|accessdate=2008-09-27|quote=In his latest play and in an exhibition of photographs, Steven Berkoff revisits his past in the vibrant melting-pot that was riverside London.] and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, in London, in 1958, and at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, in Paris, in 1965.cite web|title=Steven Berkoff|url=|work=Celebrities||accessdate=2008-09-30]

He lives with his companion Clara Fisher in East London.



As well as being an actor, Berkoff is a playwright and director.

His earliest plays are adaptations of works by Franz Kafka: "The Metamorphosis" (1969); "In the Penal Colony" (1969); and "The Trial" (1971); these complex psychological plays are nightmarish and create a disturbing sense of alienation in their audiences.Fact|date=September 2008

In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of verse plays including: "East" (1975); "Greek" (1980); "Decadence" (1981); "West" (1983); "Sink the Belgrano!" (1986); "Massage" (1997); "Sturm und Drang"; and "The Secret Love Life of Ophelia" (2001).

Critic Ned Chaillett has described "Sink the Belgrano!", a critical take on the Falklands War, which premiered at the Half Moon Theatre, in Stepney, on 2 September 1986,fact|date=September 2008 as "a diatribe in punk-Shakespearean verse"; and Berkoff himself described it as "even by my modest standards ... one of the best things I have done" (Free Association 373).fact|date=September 2008

Berkoff employs a style of heightened physical theatre known as "total theatre".Fact|date=September 2008 Drama critic Aleks Sierz describes his Berkoff's dramatic style as "in yer face":

In the late 1980s, he directed an interpretation of "Salome" by Oscar Wilde in the Gate Theatre, Dublin, and later in the United Kingdom.

In 1998 his solo play "Shakespeare's Villains", produced and co-directed by Marc Sinden at London's Haymarket Theatre, was nominated for a Society of London Theatre Olivier Award as "Best Entertainment". Berkoff and Sinden worked together again in 1999 on the 25th anniversary revival of "East", which was produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at the Theatre de Silvia Monfort, Paris, and at the Vaudeville Theatre, in London's West End.

Film and television

In Hollywood films, Steven Berkoff has played villains such as the corrupt art dealer Victor Maitland in "Beverly Hills Cop"; a gangster in "The Krays"; the sadistic Soviet officer Col. Podovsky in ""; and General Orlov in the James Bond film "Octopussy".

He also appears in the 1967 Hammer film "Prehistoric Women", in the 1980 film "McVicar", alongside Roger Daltrey, and in the Australian biographical film on the early life of Errol Flynn entitled "Flynn" (1996) (entitled "My Forgotten Man" in some markets).

In Stanley Kubrick's films "A Clockwork Orange" and "Barry Lyndon", Berkoff plays a police officer and a gambler nobleman (Lord Ludd), respectively. He also appears in the independent feature "Naked in London" (2006).

As a television actor, he had an early TV role in an episode of "The Avengers". He also had an early role as a regular playing a Moonbase Interceptor pilot in the Gerry Anderson TV series "UFO". His other television roles include: Hagath in the episode "Business as Usual" in ""; Stilgar in the 2003 miniseries "Children of Dune"; a gangster (Mr Wiltshire) in episode 8 of the BBC's "Hotel Babylon" series; a lawyer (Freddie Eccles) in an episode of ITV's "Marple" entitled "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"; and Adolf Hitler in the mini-series "War and Remembrance".

Berkoff also appears as himself in the "Science" episode of the British current affairs satire "Brass Eye" (1997), warning against the dangers of the fictional environmental disaster "Heavy Electricity".

Other work

Berkoff speaks a voiceover in "The Mind Of The Machine" (1998), a top 20 hit in the UK by dance band N-Trance.

Berkoff appears in the opening sequence to Sky Sports' coverage of the 2007 Heineken Cup Final, modeled on a speech by Al Pacino in the 1999 film "Any Given Sunday".

With Andy Serkis and others, he provides motion capture and voice for the PlayStation 3 game "Heavenly Sword", playing one of its main villains, General Flying Fox.

Also with Serkis, he appears briefly in a cameo in the 2008 film "The Cottage".

He appears in the British Heart Foundation's two-minute public service advertisement, "Watch Your Own Heart Attack", broadcast on ITV, on 10 August 2008.cite web|url=|author=Fiona Ramsay|title=ITV to Air British Heart Foundation's Two-minute 'heart attack' Ad|work=Media Week| (Haymarket Group)|date=2008-08-04|accessdate=2008-09-27]

Awards, award nominations, and other honours

* L.A. Weekly Theater Award: Solo Performance, "Shakespeare's Villains" (2000).
* The Berkoff Performing Arts Centre was named for him at Alton College, in North East Hampshire on 20 June 2008.

:Attending the Alton College ceremony honouring him, he stated: cquote|I remember in my younger days questioning what life means. Finding a place like the Berkoff Performing Arts Centre, I found myself as a person. Having a place like this sowed the seeds of the man I think I am today. A place like this is the first step in changing the life of a person.
There's something about theatre that draws people together because it's something connected with the human soul. All over the UK, the performing arts links people with a shared humanity as a way to open the doors to the mysteries of life. We should never underestimate the power of the theatre. It educates, informs, enlightens and humanises us all.
:He taught a drama masterclass later that day and performed his "Shakespeare's Villains" for an invited audience of 100 that evening.

Critical assessment

According to Annette Pankratz, in her 2005 "Modern Drama" review of "Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance", by Robert Cross, "Steven Berkoff is one of the major minor contemporary dramatists in Britain and – due to his self-fashioning as a bad boy of British theatre and the ensuing attention of the media – a phenomenon in his own right."cite journal|author=Annette Pankratz|url=|title="Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance", by Robert Cross|journal=Modern Drama|volume=48|issue=2005|pages=459] According to Pankratz, Cross "focuses on Berkoff's 'theatre of self-performance,' that is, the intersections between Berkoff, the public phenomenon, and Berkoff, the artist."

Allusions in popular culture

"I'm scared of Steven Berkoff" is a line in the lyrics of "I'm Scared" (1992), by Queen's guitarist Brian May, released on his first solo album "Back to the Light" (1993).cite web|url=|title=Back to the Light||accessdate=2008-10-01]

Legal controversy

In 1996 Berkoff prevailed as the plaintiff in Berkoff v. Burchill, a libel civil action which he brought against "Sunday Times" journalist Julie Burchill, after she published comments suggesting that he was "hideously ugly"; the judge ruled for Berkoff, finding that Burchill's actions "held him to ridicule and contempt."cite book|author=Mark Lunney and Ken Oliphant|title=Tort Law: Text and Materials|location=London and New York|publisher=Oxford University Press|edition=3rd ed.|year=2007|isbn=9780199211364|pages=704]



*Billington, Michael. [ "Happy Birthday, Steven Berkoff"] . "The Guardian" Theatre Blog. August 3, 2007. ("The hard man with a sensitive soul is 70 today. I've always admired him as an actor, director and - above all - phenomenon.")
*Cross, Robert. "Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance". Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004. ISBN 0719062543 (10). ISBN 9780719062544 (13). (Rev. by Pankratz.) ( [ Synopis] at Google Books, with hyperlinked table of contents and limited preview.)
*Pankratz, Annette. [ Rev. of "Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performnce"] . "Modern Drama" 48 (2005): 459-61. (Extract; Project Muse subscription required for online access to full text.)
*Sierz, Aleks. "In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today". London: Faber and Faber, 2001. ISBN 0571200494 (10). ISBN 9780571200498 (13).
* [ "Steven Berkoff"] . "Contemporary Writers". British Council. Accessed 30 Sept. 2008.

External links

* [ Steven Berkoff] –Official Website.
*imdb name|0000925|Steven Berkoff.
* [ "Steven Berkoff (1937 - )"] in "The Playwrights Database" at "".

NAME= Berkoff, Steven
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Berks, Leslie Steven
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Playwright, actor and theatre director
DATE OF BIRTH= August 3, 1937

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