In September 2014 he was appointed Writer in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he will be mentoring writers on the new Opera Making course, and also working with the Drama department.
Stephen Plaice was born in Watford UK in 1951 and attended Watford Grammar School for Boys. He went on to study German and Comparative Literature at the Universities of Sussex, Marburg and Zurich. An extensive account of his student days in Germany was given in The Romantic Road, a series of five programmes broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2009. He was co-translator of Ernst Bloch's The Principle of Hope (Blackwell 1986) and of Bloch's Heritage of our Time (Blackwell 1991). In the 1980s, with the poet Sean O'Brien, he was co-founder of the literary magazine The Printer's Devil.
Plaice began his playwriting career as a translator of German plays at the Royal National Theatre in the 1970s. In the 1980s he formed his own theatre companies, the short-lived Thumbscrew Theatre, and then Alarmist Theatre with the theatre director Helena Uren, now known as Helena Bell. Alarmist produced many of Plaice's plays and adaptations including his version of Vladimir Mayakovsky's The Bedbug which, with the help of the British Council, was taken to Moscow by the company in 1990, one of the first British productions to be performed under perestroika. Later in the Nineties, Plaice worked frequently with Shaker Productions, a theatre company based at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley, run by Alison Edgar. Edgar's 1993 production of Trunks, Plaice's play about the Brighton Trunk Murders of 1934, was a critical success. and transferred to Battersea Arts Centre and to the Lyric Theatre Studio Hammersmith before going on to tour nationally. It was successfully revived in expanded form in the Paganini Ballroom, Barcelo Brighton Old Ship Hotel, in 2008. His short play The Last Post originally produced by Shaker was made into a film by Sarah Radclyffe Productions in 1995 and nominated for a BAFTA. The film was directed by Ed Blum.
From 1987 Plaice was Writer-in-Residence at Lewes Prison, where he did the research for Trunks, and also for Prometheus Unlocked, a play about a prison arsonist. It was also here that his association with Glyndebourne Festival Opera began, after he invited a team from the Education Department to run annual workshops in the prison. In 1994, after seven years, Plaice left the prison residency and began writing scripts for ITV's The Bill, scripting more than twenty episodes. Plaice has also worked extensively with the Education Department of the Berlin Philharmonic, most notably in 2004 with inmates in Plötzensee Prison in Berlin on a project entitled Seven Doors, based on Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle.
After working in opera for most of the decade, in 2008 Plaice returned to straight drama and wrote Nemesis, a play which documented the extraordinary marriage between John and Ada Galsworthy. John had been a visitor to Lewes Prison in the early 1900s. The play was given a rehearsed reading at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester. Mick and Me, about the author's imaginary friendship with a famous rock star in the 1960s, was given a rehearsed reading at Watford Palace Theatre in 2009. In 2012 he wrote Wyatt, a three-hander about Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt. This was followed by The Branch, about the British Education Branch's role in the denazification of post-war Germany. To date, none of these plays has been produced.