This special issue of Humanities will focus on British dramatic narratives and performance from 1968 through the contemporary period with the goal of assessing the public place or social function of drama in contemporary British society. The issue aims to assess the key continuities and discontinues in the relation between dramatic narratives and the British public sphere since the theatre revolution of 1968. More contemporary indicative topics include: the extent to which drama has been relegated largely to the private sphere and revalued as one of many forms of entertainment for which consumers may opt, the extent to which drama contributes to the public sphere today, how the relation between dramatic representational narratives and the public sphere has developed in different directions among the nations and diverse communities that comprise contemporary British society, the state of political theatre in Britain today, challenges/strategies relevant to sustaining a drama that challenges popular preferences, the extent to which drama retains the power to persuade and offer a model for social action, the impact of ‘austerity’ on British theatre, and drama post-Brexit. The editor welcomes contributions on other topics related to British drama and the public sphere.
The issue will build upon some of the frameworks developed for exploring the relation between theatre and the public sphere, most notably Christopher Balme’s 2014 study, The Theatrical Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press), as well as Arpad Szakolczai’s Comedy and the Public Sphere (Routledge, 2015), and Janelle Reinelt in “Rethinking the Public Sphere for a Global Age,” Performance Research, 2011. In contrast to these publications, it will focus on contemporary drama and performance in Britain, and, while the issue will respond to Habermas’s definition of the public sphere, it will encompass a wide range of definitions of the public sphere.
Dr. Mary Brewer