British Theatre Since the War

Shellard, Dominic
Date published: 
April 1999

British theatre of the past fifty years has been brilliant, varied and controversial, encompassing invigorating indigenous drama, politically didactic writing, the formation of institutions such as the National Theatre, the exporting of musicals worldwide from the West End, and much more. This entertaining and authoritative book is the first comprehensive account of British theatre in this period.

Dominic Shellard moves chronologically through the half-century, discussing important plays, performers, directors, playwrights, critics, censors and agents, as well as the social, political and financial developments that influenced the theatre world. Drawing on previously unseen material (such as the Kenneth Tynan archives) first-hand testimony and detailed research, Shellard tackles several long-held assumptions about drama in the period. He questions the dominance of 'Look Back in Anger' in the 1950s, arguing that much of the theatre of the ten years before its premiere in 1956 was vibrant and worthwhile. He suggests that theatre criticism, theatre producers and institutions such as the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company have played particularly key roles in the evolution of recent drama.

And he takes a fresh look at the works of Joe Orton, Alan Ayckbourn, Terence Rattigan, Harold Pinter, Timberlake Wertenbaker and other significant playwrights of the modern era.

This book will be a valuable resource not only for students of theatre history but also for any theatre enthusiast.