Pericles – Andrew Rissik

Andrew Rissik argues here for the central importance of Shakespeare’s Pericles. This 1608 play, rarely performed, and textually corrupt, was left out of the 1623 First Folio, and is still regarded by scholars as verbally problematical and artistically weak. Yet Pericles, was, in Shakespeare’s own lifetime, one of his greatest commercial successes, a strange, haunting, fairy-tale-like drama of providential accidents that prefigures everything he wrote thereafter.

The play’s atmosphere and its dramatic preoccupations – the shaping power of time revealed by successive generations: the healing, holistic nature of providence: the power of on-stage magic and miracle to express and thus channel the deepest needs of the human soul – are a gateway to the final, philosophical and most openly mystical phase of Shakespeare’s creative life.

After Pericles, Shakespeare never returned to the kinds of plays he had written before. What followed were works that are all unmistakably Pericles-like: plays that look somehow beyond mortal life, and might now be characterised as Jungian fables of the soul’s destiny….

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Andrew Rissik Bio

Andrew Rissik is a British scriptwriter, arts journalist and critic best known for the BBC Radio 3 trilogy, Troy and the five-part thriller serial for Radio 4, The Psychedelic Spy.

He was born in 1955, educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a Double First in English in 1977. After a short period as a junior academic, he moved to London in 1979, where he taught part time, worked as a script reader for the BBC and contributed to many newspapers and magazines, including Time Out, The New Statesman and The Times.

In 1983 he published a book on the films of Sean Connery, The James Bond Man. He was theatre critic at The Independent from 1986 to 1988, and from 1999 to 2001 a lead book reviewer for The Guardian. His full time writing and journalistic career came to an end in 1988 when he was diagnosed with M.E., from which he still suffers.

Most of his dramatic work has been done for BBC Radio Drama, although a tv play was broadcast by Thames in 1981. Blue Pacific Island (Radio 4 1985) was followed by the trilogy A Man Alone in 1986 (the first part of which won a Giles Cooper Award), and by a five-part thriller The Psychedelic Spy in 1990. King Priam, a one-hour account of the Trojan war starring Paul Scofield, was broadcast in 1987 and led to a four-and-a-half-hour, three-play development of the subject, Troy, which won wide acclaim a decade later on BBC Radio 3 in 1998.

A further thematically-linked three-play sequence – Dionysos, The Art of Love and Resurrection – was broadcast by Radio 3 at Easter in 2004.

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