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Edward Bond: a Political Education

  • Anthony Jenkins

Abstract

Looking back at his youthful self, twenty years later, Edward Bond saw a political naïf: ‘I had grown up in a war situation. . . . I tried . . . to put down what it was really like, to describe the problem’.1 He could not then analyse the problem. Nor, for that matter, could the English Stage Company (ESC) at the Royal Court Theatre where Bond’s instincts drew him in 1958. John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956), which did articulate the frustration of the young, had given the Court an aura of controversy, but neither the directorship nor the audiences on whom the company depended wanted revolution. At the time of Suez, Hungary, and the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Osborne’s Jimmy Porter angrily denounced the Establishment, yet his nostalgia for the values and grace of the past was equally a symptom of the times. So the ESC was saved from financial collapse both by Osborne’s play and a star-laden revival of The Country Wife, which transferred to the West End. To survive, the ESC had to be eclectic.

Keywords

Page Number Narrow Road Artistic Director Financial Collapse Nuclear Disarmament 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Edward Bond, interviewed by Catherine Itzin for Stages in the Revolution: Political Theatre in Britain Since 1968 (London: Methuen, 1980) p. 80.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Osborne, ‘On the Writer’s Side’, in At The Royal Court, ed. Richard Findlater (New York: Grove Press, 1981) p. 22.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ann Jellicoe, ‘The Writers’ Group’, in Findlater, p. 54.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Malcolm Hay and Philip Roberts, Edward Bond: a Companion to the Plays (London: TQ Publications, 1978) p. 8.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a complete list to 1988 of the plays of Edward Bond (b. 1934), see Contemporary Dramatists, ed. D.L. Kirkpatrick (London: St James Press, 1988). Since 1988, Bond has published Two Post-Modern Plays (1990).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The Pope’s Wedding, in Edward Bond, Plays: One (London: Methuen, 1977) p. 243. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text. The three volumes of the Methuen series contain all Bond’s plays from The Pope’s Wedding to The Woman. Separate editions of his other works are also published by Methuen.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Saved, in Edward Bond, Plays: One (London: Methuen, 1977) p. 36. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Itzin, p. 222.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., p. 15.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 79. For an overview of the événements in Paris and their impact on The Fringe, see John Bull, New British Political Dramatists (London: Macmillan, 1984) pp. 1–27.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Early Morning, in Edward Bond, Plays: One (London: Methuen, 1977)p. 148. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Agitprop is deliberately one-sided since, as propaganda, it agitates support for a particular agenda. Brief and simplistic, such plays are designed for the streets and workers’ assemblies.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hay and Roberts, p. 67.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Itzin, pp. 226–7.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Passion, in Edward Bond, Plays: Two (London: Methuen, 1978) p. 252. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hay and Roberts, p. 26.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lear, in Edward Bond, Plays: Two (London: Methuen, 1978) p. 93. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hay and Roberts, p. 45.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    The Fool, in Edward Bond, Plays: Three (London: Methuen, 1978) p. 124. All quotations are from this edition; hereafter, page numbers will be given in the text.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bill Gaskill, quoted by Itzin, p. 222.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Howard Brenton, quoted by Itzin, pp. 187–8.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Edward Bond, The Swing, in A-A-America! and Stone (London: Methuen, 1976) p. [34].Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Edward Bond, A Socialist Rhapsody, in Plays: Three (London: Methuen, 1978) p. 270.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Edward Bond, The Bundle (London: Methuen, 1978) p. 46.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    David Hare, ‘A Lecture Given at King’s College, Cambridge, March 1978’. in Licking Hitler (London: Faber and Faber. 1978) p. 46.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Edward Bond, ‘The Theatre I Want’, in Findlater, pp.121–3.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ibid., p. 123.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Introduction to Plays: Three (London: Methuen, 1987).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    In Two Post-Modern Plays (London: Methuen, 1990).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Jenkins

There are no affiliations available

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