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Authenticity and Representation: Council Estate Plays at the Royal Court

  • Charlotte Bell and Katie Beswick

Council estates, otherwise known as British social housing estates, have been subject to media scrutiny since their inception, and widespread criticism of social housing remains a prominent feature of British Welfare State discourse. In recent media coverage, for example of the 2011 riots, these spaces remain central to discussions of class, economics, and crime in the UK. This article draws on postcolonial theory to explore contemporary representations of the council estate on the Royal Court stage – with a focus on narratives of ‘authenticity’. Here, two plays, Off the Endz (Agbaje, 2010) and The Westbridge (De-lahay, 2011), are studied to assess how narratives of authenticity work in theatrical representations both to reinforce and to resist popular impressions of council estate spaces. Charlotte Bell is a PhD candidate in the Drama Department at Queen Mary University, where she is currently writing her PhD thesis on the urban social housing estate and the contemporary cultural economy. Katie Beswick is a Research Associate in Applied Theatre at the University of Leeds, where she has recently completed her PhD on the representation of the council estate in theatrical performance practices.

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New Theatre Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0266-464X
  • EISSN: 1474-0613
  • URL: /core/journals/new-theatre-quarterly
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