Anonymity and Anger

  • John Osborne
  • Arnold Wesker
  • Brendan Behan
  • Tom McGrath
  • Jimmy Boyle

Abstract

Whilst Brecht strove towards the objective of a ‘rational theatre’ or at least one which pushed the audience towards the formulations of logical connections between social structure and individual misery, the dramatists of the Fifties, Osborne, Wesker and Behan, also made considerable impact by turning their dramatic focus onto society. However, the latter playwrights’ outrage was unashamedly informed by emotional objections to the loss of self, identity and integrity enforced by society, rather than by reference to political ideologies exposing economic and judicial inequality inherent in the social status quo. Without wishing to denigrate their startling effect upon the direction of theatre, Wesker, Behan and particularly Osborne have more in common with their dramatic predecessors than with their successors; their effectiveness frequently lay in the rediscovery and sharpening of techniques and themes familiar from Shaw, O’Casey and the naturalists. Osborne’s plays continue to be an internal guide through a modern Heartbreak House, but its lethargy is challenged by the vociferously protesting but primarily intuitive voices of its more intelligent sufferers — who nevertheless fail to escape from their tragic solitude.

Keywords

Coherence Sewage Expense Toll Lost 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Osborne and Anthony Creighton, Epitaph for George Dillon (1958) pp. 56–7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alan Carter, John Osborne (1974) p. 191.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Osborne, T.V. Times, vol. 102, no. 10 (1981) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1957) p. 19.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Robert Wilcher, ‘The Fool and his Techniques in the Contemporary Theatre’, Theatre Research International, IV, no. 2 (February 1979) pp. 117–33 (123).Google Scholar
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    John Osborne, The Entertainer (1957) p. 71.Google Scholar
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    John Osborne, A Subject of Scandal and Concern (1961) pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
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    John Osborne, Time Present and The Hotel in Amsterdam (1968) p. 39.Google Scholar
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    John Osborne, A Sense of Detachment (1973) p. 24.Google Scholar
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    Jean-Paul Sartre, What is Literature? (1950) p. 61.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Wesker, The Wesker Trilogy (1964) pp. 29–30.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Wesker, Three Plays (1976) p. 203.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Wesker, Play Volume Three (1980) p. 106.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Wesker, Plays Volume Four (1980) pp. 178–9.Google Scholar
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  16. 42.
    Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle, The Hard Man (1977) pp. 8–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Ian Rabey 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Osborne
  • Arnold Wesker
  • Brendan Behan
  • Tom McGrath
  • Jimmy Boyle

There are no affiliations available

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