Hawdon, Robin 1939-
HAWDON, Robin 1939-
PERSONAL: Born March 28, 1939, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England; son of James (a businessman) and Bunty (Middleton) Hawdon; married Sheila Davies (a drama teacher), February 24, 1968; children: Lindsay, Gemma. Education: Attended Uppingham School; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, diploma.
ADDRESSES: Home—Summerhill House, 20 Bathwick Hill, Bath BA2 6EW, England. Agent—Nicholas Thompson, Forest House, Horningsham, Warminster, Wiltshire, England.
CAREER: Actor, stage director, playwright, and author. Theatre Royal, Bath, England, theater director, 1984-85; consultant and lecturer. Actor in films, including The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Bedazzled, Attack on the Iron Coast, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and I Want What I Want.
PLAYS, EXCEPT AS NOTED
The Mating Game: A Comedy in Two Acts, (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1970), English Theatre Guild (London, England), 1974, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1978.
A Rustle in the Grass (young-adult fiction), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1984.
Birthday Suite: A Comedy, Samuel French (New York, NY), New York, NY), 1984.
The Old Devils (based on a novel by Kingsley Amis), produced in England, 1989.
Revenge: A Thriller, Warner Chappell Plays (London, England), 1991.
Don't Dress for Dinner: A Comedy (adaptation of Bon anniversaire, by Marc Camoletti; produced in England and United States), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1992.
Don't Rock the Boat, Warner Chappell Plays (London England), 1992.
God and Stephen Hawking, (produced in Bath, England, 2000), Joseph Weinberger Plays (London, England), 2000.
Perfect Wedding: A Comedy, Samuel French (New York, NY), 2001.
Other plays include The Secret (produced in Scotland), Barn Dance (produced in England), The Herd, and There's a Small Hotel.
SIDELIGHTS: Robin Hawdon is a British playwright who has directed, acted in film, and also written a book for young adults titled A Rustle in the Grass. Pam Spencer praised the latter work in School Library Journal, noting that readers should read Hawdon's book after reading The Hobbit and Watership Down. Spencer wrote that "the battle scenes between ants compete with those of any humans."
In A Rustle in the Grass the peaceful colony of small brown ants consists primarily of builders, hunters, and farmers, a class that is ruled by a body that Michael J. Carroll in a Los Angeles Times Book Review appraisal said resembles "a sort of House of Lords made up of soldiers and representatives of the queen." These ants are looking for a greater say in the activities of the colony, and when they are dismissed, they foment a rebellion. When the colony is attacked by a band of vicious red ants, Dreamer, an ant who knows they cannot prevail in battle using physical power, calls on his fellow ants to use their thoughts to overcome the invaders. A Publishers Weekly contributor said "this imaginative, subtly profound tale of tiny insects transmits a powerful moral message about the behavior of humans."
Hawdon has written and produced a number of plays, including The Old Devils, based on a novel by Kingsley Amis. London Times contributor Jeremy Kingston wrote that "the novel's plot and a good portion of its mood has been nimbly dramatized." The protagonist of Devils is Alun, a Welsh television personality who has exploited his casual friendship with a poet presumed to be Dylan Thomas. Alun is a womanizer who treats his wife like a servant. Other characters include Alun's drinking buddies, the "old devils" of the title.
Jan Herman reviewed a Laguna Beach, California, production of Hawdon's Don't Dress for Dinner in the Los Angeles Times, calling it "highly entertaining at times." The story, which typifies Hawdon's sexual farces—including The Mating Game and Birthday Suite—involves a married couple, Bernard and Jacqueline, both of whom have lovers on the side. The complicated plot unfolds when Jacqueline cancels her plans to visit her mother because Bernard has invited his wife's lover, Robert, to cover up his own plans to have his lover, Suzanne, at the couple's home while Jacqueline is away. Of course, Bernard does not know of his wife's affair with Robert, and he entreats Robert to pose as Suzanne's lover in order to cover his own affair. The fifth in this plot is Suzette, the caterer who has been hired to prepare dinner.
Hawdon calls his play God and Stephen Hawking "a debate between conventional religious beliefs and scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe." He did not have the cooperation of the brilliant British scientist and author of A Brief History of Time in developing the play, and London Guardian contributor Veronica Lee asked Hawdon why he found it necessary to link his work to Hawking's personal life. Hawdon said that "it's very hard to dramatize those concepts without dramatizing the context in which they were conceived. And as Hawking was the first scientist to communicate that fact to lay people, he was the obvious person to use for the purpose." In addition, the playwright added that Hawking's disability due to motor neuron disease [is dramatic in itself." Hawdon noted that the play isn't specifically about Hawking and his relationships. Hawking's first wife, Jane, is a Christian, while Hawking is an agnostic, which is the basis for arguments in the play. Hawdon also contended that Hawking himself is in the public domain, by reason of his frequent appearances on television.
Hawdon told CA: "Experience is what matters, no matter its nature—hence a varied career as actor/playwright/state director/novelist/theatre director. People and the arts and travel to new places and nature in all its forms are the things that give me pleasure and the urge to create—hence the subject of my first novel, a fantasy world of ants that is a microcosm of the human world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guardian (Manchester, England), August 14, 2000, Veronica Lee, "A Brief History of Love: Stephen Hawking Is Furious about a New Play about His Marriage and Beliefs," p. 15.
Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1997, Jan Herman, review of Don't Dress for Dinner, Calendar section, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 21, 1985, Michael J. Carroll, review of A Rustle in the Grass, p. 4.
Publishers Weekly, March 8, 1985, review of A Rustle in the Grass, p. 83.
School Library Journal, August, 1985, Pam Spencer, review of A Rustle in the Grass, p. 86.
Stage, June 1, 1972, review of The Mating Game: AComedy in Two Acts; June 22, 1972, R. B. Marriott, review of The Mating Game.
Times (London, England), July 14, 1983, Anthony Masters, review of Birthday Suite; February 23, 1989, Jeremy Kingston, review of The Old Devils.
Variety, June 28, 1972, review of The Mating Game.*