Write a short note on Modern British drama.
Modern British drama is part of European cultural innovation. Irish and American influences have contributed to English theater; however, there are uniquely English elements.
Theatrical tradition is manifest in a series of companies (the Independent Theatre, the Stage Society, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre), and talent and involvement have been handed down from generation to generation through personal connections (John Gielgud, Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier).
After World War II, theater was partly subsidized by the government; high art became a matter of national prestige. Theater became “the place to be” for young Britons with artistic ambitions. It became the obvious mode of expression, much as fiction and journalism did in the United States.
Class is a major issue in modern British drama. The dominant form has been the upper-class comedy of manners. Innovations in play-writing that have taken place since the 1950s define themselves in relation to the comedy of manners. This durable form of theater was reinvented in displaced forms in the 1960s and 1970s. The rising voice of the working class articulated a rebellion against the politeness of the comedy of manners.
Censorship of the theater illustrates the social and class concerns of British culture. In the 1730s, the government wielded preemptive power over playwrights in order to suppress political satire; performances unapproved by the Lord Chamberlainwere proscribed.
During the Victorian era, censorship focused on religion and morality. Modern playwrights, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, tried to compromise with the Lord Chamberlain in an attempt to redefine the stage as a viable medium of expression. The repeal of censorship laws in 1968 extended the discourse of theater to all subject matter and all social classes.