Peter Shaffer

Screenwriter, Playwright
This prominent British writer's best known film work includes the chilling psychodrama "Equus" (1977) and "Amadeus" (1984), the Oscar-winning account of the relationship between Mozart and his scheming rival, Salieri ... Read more »
Born: 05/14/1926 in Liverpool, England, GB

Filmography

Writer (8)

Amadeus 1984 (Movie)

("Amadeus") (Play as Source Material)

Amadeus 1984 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Equus 1977 (Movie)

("Equus") (Play as Source Material)

Equus 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Follow Me! 1971 (Movie)

(Play as Source Material)

Follow Me! 1971 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Royal Hunt of the Sun 1969 (Movie)

(Play as Source Material)

The Pad, and How to Use It 1965 (Movie)

("The Private Ear") (Play as Source Material)
Actor (1)

Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

This prominent British writer's best known film work includes the chilling psychodrama "Equus" (1977) and "Amadeus" (1984), the Oscar-winning account of the relationship between Mozart and his scheming rival, Salieri.

Shaffer was a writer, critic, and novelist (with his brother Anthony Shaffer under the pseudonym Peter Anthony) before turning to the theatre with "Five Finger Exercise" in 1958. Among the works that followed where "The Royal Hunt of the Sun: A Play Concerning the Conquest of Peru" (1964), as well as "Equus" (1975) and "Amadeus" (1980) both of which won the Tony Award as Best Play for their New York productions. Shaffer's comedy "Lettice and Lovage" (1987) featured a tour-de-force performance by Maggie Smith in London and on Broadway (and by Julie Harris in the US touring company).

In addition to adapting his best-known plays for the screen, Shaffer wrote the stunning 1963 adaptation of William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies" His work has generally been marked by an underlining humanism, in which the so-called villains often drive the action by forcing the audience to see the more sympathetic characters through their eyes. Shaffer's villains sympathize with and understand the more likable foe, yet do what they need to do for their own ends, but not without shame or worse. For example, in "Amadeus", Salieri is angry with God for giving the undisciplined Mozart the musical power he so craves. Yet, Salieri destroys Mozart both out of envy and to protect his position. Similarly, the psychiatrist in "Equus" knows that he will destroy the lad who loves horses, but he reasons that society requires it. Motivations are neither evil nor good, but they serve the dramatic obstacle in a Shaffer play; they are intricate and offer psychological depth. The audience is often left wondering if their impulses make them closer to the villain or the tormented, and who, in fact, is the more tormented character.

Relationships

Reka Shaffer

Mother

Jack Shaffer

Father

Anthony Shaffer

Brother
twin of Peter died on November 5, 2001 of a heart attack

EDUCATION

St Paul's School

University of Cambridge

Cambridge , England 1950

Milestones

1984

Wrote screen adaptation of "Amadeus"

1979

"Amadeus" premiered in London

1977

Adapted "Equus" for the screen

1973

"Equus" premiered in London

1964

"The Royal Hunt of the Sun" premiered in UK

1963

First screenplay, adaptation of "Lord of the Flies"

1959

"Five Finger Exercise" produced on Broadway

1958

First play, "Five Finger Exercise" produced in UK

1955

Wrote teleplay "The Salt Land" for ITN and "The Prodigal Father" for BBC radio

1951

Worked at NY Public Library

Worked at Bosey and Hawkes, music publishers

Bonus Trivia

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Shaffer received the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater in 1992.

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