British Avant-Garde Theatre by Claire Warden (auth.)

By Claire Warden (auth.)

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Though by no means universal, this sequential plot structure had become a predominant form in British theatre, engendered by the late nineteenth-centur y cult of the ‘well-made play’ and the London productions of plays from the Continent (particularly Ibsen)1 and from Shaw (Irish but situationally British), but also by a new commitment to constructing British plays in their image and to creating a local naturalist tradition. Writers such as John Galsworthy explored this genre at length. His influential plays, Strike (1909) and Justice (1910) used a naturalistic dramatic medium to explore the problems and tensions of society .

2000, p. 38) Like Toller, Kaiser was mentioned as an influence for a number of companies, including Theatre W orkshop (Samuel, MacColl and Cosgrove 1985, p. 242) and Unity (Chambers 1989, p. 143). In fact, Ashley Dukes’s translation of From Mor ning to Midnight was initially performed in London in 1920 (and 1926) (Dukes 1942, p. 63). As Structure: The Fragmented and the Episodic 41 Scheunemann suggests, this play imbued a strong sense of the cinematic and, further, the fragmented structure of cinema can be seen throughout the performances of the British avant-garde.

Unity Theatre’ s Busmen is a prime example of a British Living Newspaper, resembling American examples in its fragmented form while focusing on a distinctly British theme . Written and performed by Unity in 1938, it was based on the Coronation Bus Strike of 1937, examining the cir cumstances through the ever yday experiences of busmen themselves. While the narrative focuses on a single issue and chronologically discusses the events of the 1930s through to Mar ch 1938, it is still constructed in a highly fragmented style (Chambers 1989, p.

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