Modernism - Postwar British (1950-1980)

Timeline created by cjustice2
  • Emergence of the Angry Young Men

    Emergence of the Angry Young Men
    The Angry Young Men Movement began in the 1950's; it dealt with British playwrights who were enraged about politics, specifically hypocrisy in the higher classes and the idea that the desperate need for change was not occurring ("Angry Young Men | Literary Movement, Plays, & Films"). The Movement's ideas were first expressed in the novels "Hurry on Down" by John Wain and "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis. However, the Angry Young Men solidified with John Osbourne's "Look Back in Anger."
  • Increased funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain

    Increased funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain
    Created in 1946, the Arts Council of Great Britain was used to decide which arts organization should be funded by the government ("Our History | Arts Council England"). In 1955, the Arts Council began funding more and more organizations, including the Royal Opera House and the Royal Court Theatre. By 1975, the Arts Council was funding almost 300 theatre companies. This was crucial for the time because people did not believe the arts were a necessity and therefore did not need government funding.
  • Royal Court Theatre is founded

    Royal Court Theatre is founded
    Also known as the English Stage Company, the Royal Court Theatre was founded in 1956. It was a nonprofit theatre company that searched for upcoming playwrights to produce contemporary plays. In fact, new playwrights such as John Osbourne and Edward Bond "created works that helped to revitalize British drama" (Brocket et al., 203).
  • "Look Back in Anger" by John Osbourne

    "Look Back in Anger" by John Osbourne
    This play by John Osbourne was released in 1956, and ideas contained within would soon symbolize the entirety of the Angry Young Men movement. Postwar British theatre usually consisted of revivals of old plays and new ones that were innocent and and proper, but "Look Back in Anger" did no such thing. The play fought back against the class system and supposed values of Britain and was a "slap in the face of 'respectability'" (Brocket et al. 203-204). It was truly a needed piece for the time.
  • Royal Shakespeare Company "Avant-Garde Artistic Revolution"

    Royal Shakespeare Company "Avant-Garde Artistic Revolution"
    After switching its name from the Stratford Festival in 1961, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) began an exciting adventure into the possibilities of Shakespearean theatre (Brocket et al., 201). The theater performed plays relevant to society, using the art to connect to social issues. This caused political debate and the theater, like most theaters at the time, struggled for finances. People argued, "If the art were any good...it would be popular enough to pay for itself" (Chambers xii).
  • National Theatre Inauguration

    National Theatre Inauguration
    Despite its opening being rescheduled multiple times for several years, the National Theatre was finally inaugurated in 1963. It was headed by Laurence Olivier and, with cheap ticket prices and three of the most unique and intricate performance spaces in England, the theatre became popular quickly (Brocket et al., 202-203). When it was not hosting over 1,000 ambitious productions each year, the company was touring across nations and spreading its art.
  • "Saved" by Edward Bond

    "Saved" by Edward Bond
    Released in 1965, "Saved" by Edward Bond became an incredible item of controversy. In England at the time, Lord Chamberlain had to assess whether plays could be publicized or not; he refused to show "Saved" in theaters because a scene featured the stoning of an infant (Brocket et al., 204). However, Bond's company--the Royal Court Theatre--persisted to publish such works and, with Bond's new play "Early Morning," the Licensing Act allowing Lord Chamberlain to prohibit plays was nullified.
  • Discovery of Fringe Theaters

    Discovery of Fringe Theaters
    Fringe theaters, or small independent theater companies, began to multiply once the censoring law regarding theatre was abolished (Brocket et al., 201). The theaters were often used to explore vast emotions and passion. They used hard work and imagination to convince their audiences "of the creative and financial merits of their enterprise" (Simpson et al.). Fringe theaters created cheap and inspirational art that truly explored the emotions of the actors.
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    Absurdist Theatre

    Absurdist theatre was British drama obsessed with absurdity in philosophical, dramaturgical, existential, and emotional manners (Dickson). It questioned reality and pushed drama to its limits. Some authors of absurdist theatre included Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter. The plays of these authors were described as "more nightmarish than funny" (Dickson). One of the first of these plays was "The Bald Soprano" by Ionesco. Ultimately, absurdist theatre brought yet another interesting take on drama.
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    World Theatre Season

    The World Theatre Season was a festival in which theatre companies from all over the world would perform plays and express their unique artistic cultures. It began as a one-time Shakespeare quatercentenary celebration led by Peter Daubeny at the Royal Shakespeare Company ("World Theatre Season). The event was such a success that it become an annual festival where different drama techniques intermingled and enriched British theatre.