Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 September 2003
John McGrath died from leukaemia in January 2002, having put the final touches to his last book, Naked Thoughts That Roam About: Reflections on Theatre, 1958–2001, edited by Nadine Holdsworth (Nick Hern Books, 2002). The following article forms the conclusion to this collection of essays, lectures, interviews, theatre reviews, 7:84 company documents, programme notes, letters, and poems, for which McGrath provides a contextualizing commentary. Like the other pieces in the book, it testifies to McGrath's faith in theatre's ability to contribute to humanity through its engagement with people, communities, and political processes – a commitment he maintained and developed to the end of his life. In ‘Theatre and Democracy’ he drew on the work of the Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis to frame his hopes for theatre in the twenty-first century – a theatre which would operate in public dialectical debate with the society from which it evolves, and, by asking hard questions about the social processes that construct that society, provide a voice for oppositional opinion and the marginalized. The essay was reworked from a keynote address to the ‘European Theatre, Justice, and Morality’ conference held at the University of London in June 1999, and in its earlier form appeared in the conference proceedings, published as Morality and Justice: the Challenge of European Theatre, edited by Edward Batley and David Bradby (Rodopi, 2001).