Partners of the Imagination is the first in-depth study of the work of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy, partners in writing and cultural and political campaigns.
Beginning in the 1950s, Arden and D’Arcy created a series of hugely admired plays performed at Britain’s major theatres. Political activists, they worked tirelessly in the peace movement and the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, during which D’Arcy was gaoled. She is also a veteran of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace camp. Their later work included Booker-listed novels, prize-winning stories, essays and radio plays, and D’Arcy founded and ran a Woman’s Pirate Radio station. Raymond Williams described Arden as ‘the most genuinely innovative’ of the playwrights of his generation, and Chambers and Prior claimed that ‘The Non-Stop Connolly Show’, D’Arcy and Arden’s six-play epic, ‘has fair claim to being one of the finest pieces of post-war drama in the English language’.
This study explores the connections between art and life, and between the responsibilities of the writer and the citizen. Importantly, it also evaluates the range of literary works (plays, poetry, novels, essays, polemics) created by these writers, both as literature and drama, and as controversialist activity in its own right.
This work is a landmark examination of two hugely respected radical writers.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
One: A Yorkshire Boyhood
Three: An Irish Girlhood
Four: The Aspiring Actress
Five: At the Royal Court Theatre
Six: Towards Collaboration
Seven: Festivals of Anarchy
Eight: A Playwright Without His Breeches
Nine: Alternatives in Politics and Theatre
Ten: Cartoons, Archetypes, Slogans, Theatre
Eleven: Looking and Seeing
Twelve: An Activist Theatre
Thirteen: A Mighty Bust-Up
Fourteen: Ireland Once Again
Sixteen: Pinpricks and Follies
Seventeen: Unperson – New Person
Eighteen: ‘If You Are Beaten Down, You Just Rise Again!’
Nineteen: Artists for Freedom
Twenty: Pirate Woman
Twenty-one: Undeviating Paths
Twenty-two: The Ink Horn Not Yet Dry
Twenty-three: Loose Theatre
Twenty-four: ‘This Was Not History. It Has Not Passed’
Robert Leach is a theatre director as well as an academic. Educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he has taught at Birmingham and Edinburgh Universities. He has published many books on theatre-related subjects, most recently from Routledge the two-volume Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance.