The Twenty-First-Century History Play
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In the context of a re-engagement with history after postmodernism, this chapter offers an exploration of the history play in twenty-first century Britain. The main argument concerns the endurance of historical drama as a political genre, following the paradigm of the modern history play and, in particular, that of the ‘radical’ blueprint identified in post-1968 British theatre. Three recent history plays are analysed in terms of continuities and discontinuities with this tradition: Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn (2010), David Greig’s Dunsinane (2010) and James Graham’s This House (2012). The discussion includes aspects of contemporary historiography and a reconsideration of nostalgia as (arguably) a progressive exercise. The chapter also reflects on the continued relevance of historicization in the Brechtian sense of linking past and present.
KeywordsHistory play Political theatre Historiography Post-postmodernism Nostalgia Howard Brenton David Greig James Graham
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