Strategies of Political Theatre: Post-War British Playwrights

Overview

This volume provides a theoretical framework for some of the most important play writing in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. Examining representative plays by Arnold Wesker, John Arden, Trevor Griffiths, Howard Barker, Howard Brenton, Edward Bond, David Hare, John McGrath and Caryl Churchill, the author analyses their respective strategies for persuading audiences of the need for a radical restructuring of society. The book begins with a discussion of the way that theatre has been used to ...
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Overview

This volume provides a theoretical framework for some of the most important play writing in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. Examining representative plays by Arnold Wesker, John Arden, Trevor Griffiths, Howard Barker, Howard Brenton, Edward Bond, David Hare, John McGrath and Caryl Churchill, the author analyses their respective strategies for persuading audiences of the need for a radical restructuring of society. The book begins with a discussion of the way that theatre has been used to convey a political message. Each chapter is then devoted to an exploration of the engagement of individual playwrights with left-wing political theatre, including a detailed analysis of one of their major plays. Despite political change since the 1980s, political playwriting continues to be a significant element in contemporary playwriting, but in a very changed form.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Patterson's book is rich in detail and thoroughly researched, providing a good discussion of the British context in which these writers were working." Text & Presentation, Theatre and Politics, A Review Essay, David S. Escoffery

"...every student of contemporary English theater and drama would be well advised to consult Michael Patterson's study Strategies of Political Theater ." —Comparative Drama

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael Patterson is Professor of Theatre at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is a major British authority on German Theatre, especially twentieth-century political theatre in Germany. He is author of German Theatre Today; The Revolution in German Theatre 1900–1933; Peter Stein; The First German Theatre; German Theatre: A Bibliography and is editor of Georg Büchner: Collected Plays. He has published numerous articles on German Naturalist theatre, Reinhardt, Pirandello, Brecht, concentration camp theatre, Kroetz and East German theatre.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Brief chronology, 1953-1989
Introduction 1
1 Strategies of political theatre: a theoretical overview 11
2 The 'reflectionist' strategy: 'kitchen sink' realism in Arnold Wesker's Roots (1959) 27
3 The 'interventionist' strategy: poetic politics in John Arden's Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (1959) 44
4 The dialectics of comedy: Trevor Griffiths's Comedians (1975) 65
5 Appropriating middle-class comedy: Howard Barker's Stripwell (1975) 83
6 Staging the future: Howard Brenton's The Churchill Play (1974) 94
7 Agit-prop revisited: John McGrath's The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1973) 109
8 Brecht revisited: David Hare's Fanshen (1975) 125
9 Rewriting Shakespeare: Edward Bond's Lear (1971) 138
10 The strategy of play: Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine (1979) 154
Conclusion 175
Notes 180
Select bibliography 202
Index 223
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