Peter Terson

Peter Terson (born 16 February 1932, Newcastle-upon-Tyne) is a British playwright whose plays have been produced for stage, television and radio. Most of his theatre work was first produced at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent in conjunction with director Peter Cheeseman who tirelessly championed his work and directed over twenty of his plays. Cheeseman was crucial in helping Terson to learn how to edit and structure his work. The first was 'A Night to Make the Angels Weep' in 1964 - the last was 'Rumplestiltskin', a play for children in 1984. Many of his plays focused on the Vale of Evesham where Terson lived before becoming resident dramatist at the theatre. He also became an astute adaptor of novels by Arnold Bennett and Herman Melville. As a result of the success of his work in Stoke, he was invited to write for the National Youth Theatre where his work focused on growing up in the dead-end working-class culture of industrial England. He was born as Peter Patterson. From 1956 - 1958 Terson trained at Redland Teacher Training College in Bristol, a college of Bristol University. He taught for 10 years before writing professionally. He taught History and P.E. at what was then Blackminster County Secondary School, near Littleton, Worcestershire. Terson left Blackminster in the mid-1960s.[citation needed]

Plays such as Zigger Zagger, about football hooligans and their pursuit of drink, sex, and trouble, and The Apprentices, showing the cruelties between young men learning industrial trades, presented a dismal view of life with few means of escape. In Zigger Zagger an apprenticeship was the escape from the hooligan lifestyle. These two plays were also taken up by local theatre groups and even appeared in school productions, with local adaptations by the producers for accent, dialect, soccer teams and related slang.[citation needed] Hans Neuenfels' Heidelberg-production of Zikke Zakke has been invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen in 1969.[1] Works for television often took a more optimistic view, especially a series of plays centering on a trio of Yorkshiremen, led by Art (Brian Glover), and their humorous misadventures. Terson treated the situation of men dealing with life in the modern de-industrialized North in the play Strippers which ran in London's West End theatres.[citation needed]

Terson's work is underpinned by poetic but naturalistic dialogue and an unpretentious sense of passion for his sometimes complex characters. His work at 'The Vic' also showed an ability for comedy and an unerring quest for truth. he often says that he was liberated by theatre in the round because there were 'no fake door handles' and admired the minimalistic scenery which allowed the action to move along without the traditional concessions to set design.

Several of his plays have been produced by the National Youth Theatre. In Belgium his play The Mighty Reservoir (in Dutch: Het Machtig Reservoir) reached more than 500 performances by the MMT, a theatre in Mechelen, and a TV-adaption by the BRT, Belgian Television.

Terson is a prolific writer: over eighty of his plays have been performed and there is a vast catalogue of unperformed scripts at the Victoria Theatre archive at Staffordshire University.

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