First published in 1985, this book examines how workers theatre movements intended their performances to be activist — perceiving art as a weapon of struggle and enlightenment — and an emancipatory act. An introductory study relates left-wing theatre groupings to the cultural narratives of contemporary British socialism. The progress of the Workers’ Theatre Movement (1928-1935) is traced from simple realism to the most brilliant phase of its Russian and German development alongside which the parallel movements in the United States are also examined. A number of crucial texts are reprints as well as stage notes and glimpses of the dramaturgical controversies which accompanied them.
Preface; Acknowledgments; Introduction: theatre and politics; Part 1 Theatre and socialism in Britain (1880-1935) Part 2 The Workers’ Theatre Movement (1926-1935) Part 3 The Yiddish-speaking WTM Part 4 The debate on naturalism Part 5 Proletkult: a view from the Plebs League Part 6 Some origins of Theatre Workshop Part 7 The political stage in the United States; Index
First published between 1975 and 1991, this set reissues 13 volumes that originally appeared as part of the History Workshop Series. This series of books, which grew out of the journal of the same name, advocated ‘history from below’ and examined numerous, often social, issues from the perspectives of ordinary people. In the words of founder Raphael Samuel, the aim was to turn historical research and writing into ‘a collaborative enterprise’, via public gatherings outside of a traditional academic setting, that could be used to support activism and social justice as well as informing politics.
Some of the topics examined in the set include: mineral workers, rural radicalism, and the lives and occupations of villagers in the nineteenth century; working class association; the development of left-wing workers theatre and the changing attitudes to mass culture across the twentieth century; the changing fortunes of the East End at the turn of the century; the position of women from the nineteenth century to the present; the miners’ strike of 1984-5; the social and political images of late-twentieth century London; and a three volume analysis of the myriad facets of English patriotism. This set will be of interest to students of history, sociology, gender and politics.