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1979 and All That: Periodization in Postwar British Theatre History

  • Melissa Dana Gibson

Abstract

Until recently, postwar British theatre history was shaped and bounded by a very stable periodization that located its origin in the premiere of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre on 8 May 1956. As the story goes, the new kind of theatre ushered in by the Revolution of 1956 at the Royal Court grew more politicized with a second revolution, the birth of the alternative, or Fringe, theatre in 1968. Ultimately that revolutionary fervor was crushed by the conservative cultural and economic policies of Margaret Thatcher, who was elected prime minister in 1979. Contained within this history are many elements not directly related to the 1956|1968|1979 period markers; however this revolution model and its tripartite division of the era affected the conceptualization and positioning of all events within postwar theatre history.

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