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Strategies of Political Theatre
Post-War British Playwrights


Part of Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre

  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521277327

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About the Authors
  • 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 Griffith, 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 play-writing continues to be a significant element in contemporary play-writing, but in a very changed form.

    • Explores the political nature of key British plays from the 1960s to the 1980s, a period of major change in the theatre
    • A survey of British political playwrights
    • A theoretical framework to analyse plays from other periods and repertoires
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an authoritative and challenging addition to the woefully short list of scholarly books on some of our best neglected dramatic assets.' Theatre Notebook

    'Now that mainstream British theatre seems to have remembered politics, it is useful to recall, with Michael Patterson's help, that political creeds used to inspire stands on the theatrical barricades, if nowhere else.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521277327
    • length: 252 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.386kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Brief chronology, 1953–1989
    Part I. Theory:
    1. Strategies of political theatre: a theoretical overview
    Part II. Two Model Strategies:
    2. The 'reflectionist' strategy: 'kitchen sink' realism in Arnold Wesker's Roots (1959)
    3. The 'interventionist' strategy: poetic politics in John Arden's Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (1959)
    Part III. The Reflectionist Strain:
    4. The dialectics of comedy: Trevor Griffiths's Comedians (1975)
    5. Appropriating middle-class comedy: Howard Barker's Stripwell (1975)
    6. Staging the future: Howard Brenton's The Churchill Play (1974)
    Part IV. The Interventionist Strain:
    7. Agit-prop revisited: John McGrath's The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil (1973)
    8. Brecht revisited: David Hare's Fanshen (1975)
    9. Rewriting Shakespeare: Edward Bond's Lear (1971)
    10. The strategy of play: Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine (1979)
    Select bibliography

  • Author

    Michael Patterson, De Montfort University, Leicester
    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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