Term TBD 2019-20
Tutor: Michael Meeuwis
Reading and seminar details
This module examines the work of a number of leading British and Irish playwrights from the period of Wilson and Vietnam to the present day, via the rise of Thatcher and the end of the Cold War. There will be a focus on modes of historical and documentary drama, taking in new work at theatres in the region. We shall examine scripts for both theatre and television and consider the relationship between social change and developments in dramatic form as well as content. The plays explore new definitions of sanity and madness; the relationship between class, the family and the individual; the appropriation of myth and High Culture; the rewriting of history; and shifting concepts of culture, whether Marxist, feminist or postmodern. Seminars will focus on the development of one playwright’s work and social thinking, or on one political/ethical issue and several dramatists’ response to it. It is hoped that the texts will emerge as elements in a set of evolving national debates.
Teaching is seminar-based, with weekly 2-hour sessions.
Students will give seminar introductions. These may form the basis of the essays.
The Library now subscribes to Drama Online, which gives you immediate access to hundreds of plays.
This is a wonderful resource. Please use it: read, investigate, make discoveries.
Titles below in bold can be accessed through Drama Online.
Students must purchase the following editions, which are not included in Drama Online--these should be widely available used online, and I'm certainly not fussy:
Sarah Kane, Complete Plays (any edition)
Tony Kushner, Angels in America, volumes one and two (any edition)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, An Octoroon (NHB Modern Plays--note as well that this is not Dion Boucicault's play The Octoroon)
Jim Cartwright, Road (any edition)
Simon Stone, Yerma (Oberon--n.b. that this is not the Lorca version, but an adaption; you'll need Stone's text)
Dylan Gray, Citysong and Other Plays (NHB)
Inua Ellams, The Half-God of Rainfall (Fourth Estate)
Inua Ellams, Barber Shop Chronicles (Oberon)
Ina Ellams, Three Sisters (if edition out yet)
Week one: Selected Origins
- Arnold Wesker, Roots
- Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Week two: Harold Pinter
- The Caretaker
- The Birthday Party
Week three: Tom Stoppard
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
- The Invention of Love
Week four: Caryl Churchill
- Light Shining in Buckinghamshire
- Top Girls
- Serious Money
Week five: Sarah Kane
- 48 psychosis
Week six: Special Relationships
- Tony Kushner, Angels in America (parts one and two)
- Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, An Octoroon
Week seven: Class and race
- debbie tucker green, born bad
- Jim Cartwright, Road
- Natasha Gordon, Nine Night
Week eight: Scotland
- John McGrath, The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil
- Gregory Burke, Black Watch
Week nine: Ireland
- Friel, Translations
- Mark O’Rowe, Terminus
- Dylan Gray, citysong
Week ten: Inua Ellams
- Barbershop Chronicles
- The Half God of Rainfall
- Three Sisters
By the end of the module you should have
Become familiar with the work of a number of dramatists writing for British theatre and television since the mid-1960s.
Considered the relationship between British drama and social change during the period
Considered the concepts of rewriting the past and composing the future
Considered the theatrical consequences of major political developments. national and international
Investigated ways in which recent British and Irish dramatic writing has responded to changing notions of national, class and regional identity and to shifting perspectives on race and gender
Explored the theatrical application of a number of theoretical writings, including the influence of Williams, Hoggart and Cixous
Considered modes of historical and documentary theatre
Acquired expertise in reading dramatic texts, with particular attention to conditions of performance
Developed your oral and presentational skills in seminar discussions and presentations
Identified a topic for further research and critical investigation.
Course texts: editions TBD.
There are some important archives of performance you should know about. There are archives of National Theatre and RSC productions in London at Stratford, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum there's the National Video Archive of Performance (NVAP) which includes Saved, Far Away and Blue/Orange.
When you decide that you're interested in writing about a play or playwright (or introducing a session on them), see thieir archive catalogues and arrange for a research screening:
Selected Secondary Bibliography:
Aston, Elaine,Feminist Views on the English Stage: Women Playwrights,1990-1999 (Cambridge 2010)
Barker, Howard, Arguments for a Theatre (London 1989)
Griffin, Gabrielle, Contemporary Black and Asian Women Playwrights in Britain (Cambridge 2010)