Abstract This thesis will focus on four case studies in the landscape of British political theatre between 1968 and 1985. These two years are milestones in more than one way: 1968 marks the peak of the students’ protest all around Europe, and the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship of the theatre in Great Britain; 1985 records the defeat of the miners’ strike and the definitive triumph of Thatcherism. This study considers the work of one company, CAST, and three authors, David Edgar, Caryl Churchill and Howard Barker. In Chapter One, CAST’s history is reconstructed from original documents from the East London Theatre Archive and the Arts Council of Great Britain Archive. The company’s history has been divided into two periods: the first one from 1965 to 1975, in which the company remained non-professional and the artistic bases of the company were laid, and a second one, from 1976 to 1985, during which the company was the recipient of an ACGB subsidy and was therefore allowed to become full time. In Chapter Two the first paragraphs have been devoted to a general assessment of the playwrights of the post-1968 generation. I have then focused on Edgar and examined three of his plays: Dick Deterred as an example of Shakespearean parody applied to contemporary politics; Destiny for its long-lasting relevance as an analysis of the growing influence of a fascist ideology on the working class; Our Own People for having been written for a small company, Pirate Jenny, and for its derivative relationship with Destiny. Chapter Three opens with an overview of women’s presence in theatre in general and in playwriting in particular during the period in question. I have then focused on three of Churchill’s early plays. Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen has been particularly examined as an early example of Churchill’s use of dystopia in order to make powerful political statements; Vinegar Tom has been singled out for dealing with witchcraft – a central theme in feminist re-thinking of social history – and for being the result of a close collaboration with the Monstrous Regiment company; The After-Dinner Joke has been the subject of a close scrutiny as regards the strategies of humour employed: a certain kinship with Brecht’s Saint Joan of the Stockyards is also touched upon. In Chapter Four I have dealt with three of Barker’s early plays. One Afternoon on the 63rd Level of the North Face of the Pyramid of Cheops the Great is an effective depiction of life in a factory, chronologically dislocated in ancient Egypt; its relationship with two of Brecht’s poems is discussed. According to Barker, Cheek was written in reaction to Bond’s portrayal of working-class life in Saved: this relationship is therefore discussed. A Passion in Six Days is the last of Barker’s plays with a direct connection with British contemporary political reality: in staging a Labour Party annual conference, it stresses Barker’s view on the crisis of socialism in the UK. The latter play is also examined as a prelude to Barker’s Theatre of Catastrophe. In the Conclusion I have briefly assessed the creative production of the four subjects in connection to Britain’s muted political situation from the second half of the 1980s onwards. Barker has completely severed any link with political theatre. Ronald Muldoon and Claire Burnley have for twenty years run the Hackney Empire, a theatre in the East End of London, proving that socialist ideas and enterprising spirit are not incompatible. Caryl Churchill has established herself as the most important British living playwright, showing an increasing experimental attitude. David Edgar has remained faithful to his political commitment; his latest play, Trying It On, is briefly reviewed.

A Map of the World The 4-Way Street of British Political Theatre 1968-1985

Vareschi, Carlo
2019-01-01

Abstract

Abstract This thesis will focus on four case studies in the landscape of British political theatre between 1968 and 1985. These two years are milestones in more than one way: 1968 marks the peak of the students’ protest all around Europe, and the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship of the theatre in Great Britain; 1985 records the defeat of the miners’ strike and the definitive triumph of Thatcherism. This study considers the work of one company, CAST, and three authors, David Edgar, Caryl Churchill and Howard Barker. In Chapter One, CAST’s history is reconstructed from original documents from the East London Theatre Archive and the Arts Council of Great Britain Archive. The company’s history has been divided into two periods: the first one from 1965 to 1975, in which the company remained non-professional and the artistic bases of the company were laid, and a second one, from 1976 to 1985, during which the company was the recipient of an ACGB subsidy and was therefore allowed to become full time. In Chapter Two the first paragraphs have been devoted to a general assessment of the playwrights of the post-1968 generation. I have then focused on Edgar and examined three of his plays: Dick Deterred as an example of Shakespearean parody applied to contemporary politics; Destiny for its long-lasting relevance as an analysis of the growing influence of a fascist ideology on the working class; Our Own People for having been written for a small company, Pirate Jenny, and for its derivative relationship with Destiny. Chapter Three opens with an overview of women’s presence in theatre in general and in playwriting in particular during the period in question. I have then focused on three of Churchill’s early plays. Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen has been particularly examined as an early example of Churchill’s use of dystopia in order to make powerful political statements; Vinegar Tom has been singled out for dealing with witchcraft – a central theme in feminist re-thinking of social history – and for being the result of a close collaboration with the Monstrous Regiment company; The After-Dinner Joke has been the subject of a close scrutiny as regards the strategies of humour employed: a certain kinship with Brecht’s Saint Joan of the Stockyards is also touched upon. In Chapter Four I have dealt with three of Barker’s early plays. One Afternoon on the 63rd Level of the North Face of the Pyramid of Cheops the Great is an effective depiction of life in a factory, chronologically dislocated in ancient Egypt; its relationship with two of Brecht’s poems is discussed. According to Barker, Cheek was written in reaction to Bond’s portrayal of working-class life in Saved: this relationship is therefore discussed. A Passion in Six Days is the last of Barker’s plays with a direct connection with British contemporary political reality: in staging a Labour Party annual conference, it stresses Barker’s view on the crisis of socialism in the UK. The latter play is also examined as a prelude to Barker’s Theatre of Catastrophe. In the Conclusion I have briefly assessed the creative production of the four subjects in connection to Britain’s muted political situation from the second half of the 1980s onwards. Barker has completely severed any link with political theatre. Ronald Muldoon and Claire Burnley have for twenty years run the Hackney Empire, a theatre in the East End of London, proving that socialist ideas and enterprising spirit are not incompatible. Caryl Churchill has established herself as the most important British living playwright, showing an increasing experimental attitude. David Edgar has remained faithful to his political commitment; his latest play, Trying It On, is briefly reviewed.
Theatre, British, Political, Companies, Humour
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/998106
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