Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
english masthead
english masthead
Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2008

E 392M • Modern British Drama in the HRC

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35550 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
HRC 2.214

Course Description

This course will cover British drama since 1956, with special reference to the playwrights and producers whose materials we have in the HRC. Despite some recent attempts at demythologizing (see Dan Rebellato's 1956 and All That), the 1955-1956 season remains a watershed year in the history of British theatre and drama. The opening of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre, the London visit of Brecht's Berliner Ensemble, and the English premiere of Waiting for Godot, all part of that season, represented a shift of direction and an explosion of creativity in the British theatre. Experimental influences from post-war Europe, together with aggressive new writing and acting that challenged regional and class hegemonies, helped effect what was almost universally perceived as a radical change in both theatre and society. In the half-century that now separates us from 1956, the British theatre continued to reinvent itself with important new playwrights and companies, the rise and fall of a challenging generation of political writers, and the reassertion of West End commercialism.

We will cover the main authors and theatres of the period, but will focus on those for which the HRC has primary materials. These include the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop; John Osborne and Arnold Wesker of the angry-young-man generation; Samuel Beckett (who, while not exactly British, had a seminal influence in Britain through Peter Hall's productions); and the still-productive writers Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and David Hare. We will have some class meetings in the HRC, working closely with their staff, and students will be encouraged to do primary research where possible. This course should be of interest to students of drama and twentieth-century British and European literature.


Primary texts will probably include:

Arden, John, Sergeant Musgrave's Dance Beckett, Samuel, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days, selected shorter plays

Brenton, Howard, and David Hare, Pravda

Churchill, Caryl, Top Girls

Delaney, Shelagh, A Taste of Honey

Hare, David, Plenty, The Secret Rapture, Racing Demon

Littlewood, Joan, et al, Oh! What a Lovely War

Osborne, John, Look Back In Anger, The Entertainer, Inadmissible Evidence

Pinter, Harold, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, Betrayal

Saunders, James, Next Time Ill Sing to You

Stoppard, Tom, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Jumpers, Rock and Roll

Wesker, Arnold, Roots, The Kitchen

Secondary readings might include selections from the following:

Bull, John, New British Political Dramatists

Cave, R. A., New British Drama in Performance

Eyre, Richard, and Nicholas Wright, Changing Stages

Innes, Christopher, Modern British Drama

Rebellato, Dan, 1956 and All That

Shellard, Dominic, British Theatre since the War

Taylor, John Russell, Anger and After

Wandor, Michelene, Look Back in Gender


bottom border