Introduction: Rediscovering First World War Theatre

  • Andrew Maunder


The rise, fall and resurgence of interest in the theatre of the First World War represents many of the changes in approaches to the conflict that have taken place over the last one hundred years, and which the centenary commemorations beginning in 2014 have thrown into sharp relief. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the theatre industry was heralded as an integral part of the war effort, an example of the way Britain and her empire had pulled together. Through its various activities, the theatre was seen to have reached new heights of social responsibility. King George V praised ‘the handsome way in which a popular entertainment industry has helped the war with great sums of money, untiring service, and many sad sacrifices’.2 Yet in the years that followed, attacks on work that came to be seen as jingoistic and self-serving rapidly displaced war-time theatre as a something worthy of admiration, and its entertainments were re-cast as shallow and meaningless, ‘childish antics’ as George Bernard Shaw labelled them in 1919.3


Theatrical Activity Sunday Time Home Front Historical Drama Western Front 
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© Andrew Maunder 2015

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  • Andrew Maunder

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