‘Chavs’, ‘Gyppos’ and ‘Scum’? Class in Twenty-First-Century Drama

  • Siân Adiseshiah


This chapter responds to a revival of interest in social class, particularly working-class identity, class relations and class exploitation on theatre stages and in scholarship in the twenty-first century. The focus is on Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem (2009), Simon Stephens’s Port (2002) and Gillian Slovo’s The Riots (2011) and the ways in which these plays engage in a twenty-first-century class politics, and, more particularly, participate in forms of political subjectivization of working-class identity as abject, racialized, excessive and stagnant – in opposition to a normative personhood of taste, restraint, moral attunement, flexibility and the ability to self-script. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Rancière, Beverley Skeggs and Imogen Tyler, the chapter considers whether these plays discover ways in which to articulate working-class subjectivity in forms that resist assimilation to already familiar classed ways of knowing and offer distinctively new forms of political theatre that intervene transgressively in the struggle over the contemporary meaning of class.


Jez Butterworth Simon Stephens Gillian Slovo Jerusalem Port The Riots Social class Twenty-first century drama 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siân Adiseshiah
    • 1
  1. 1.School of English and JournalismUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

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