Conduct unbecoming : Noel Coward, censorship and the fallacy of inconsequence.
This thesis is based on material from two sources : the
drama, criticism and autobiography of Noel Coward (1899-1973),
and the manuscript collection of the Lord Chamberlain's
correspondence files on play censorship (1900-1968), currently
held at the British Library.
The critique proposes a common advocacy of anti-realist
representation for the British public stage, particularly
during the interwar period, and relates this characteristic
form to the possibility of value production.
Chapter One associates anti-realism with power, economy
and advantage, but from the diverse perspectives of Coward's
satire and censorship policy. The discussion is topical,
comparing Coward's critiques of artistic and socio-cultural
value with censorship criteria, and the function of stage
censorship by a Lord Chamberlain.
Chapter Two regards only the censorship correspondence on
plays banned between 1900 and 1930. Files are presented to
show the sponsorship of unrealistic ideals and suppression of
subjectively social realism, which might `become' value; also,
peculiar areas of `special' permission, or 'extra' licence,
produced by censorship reasoning. This provides an historicalpolitical
precedent, against which the radical import of
Coward's interwar plays is traced in Chanter Three.
Finally, Chapter Four applies the critical findings from
the interwar, Coward-Chamberlain comparison, to the contention
between the Lord Chamberlain and the Royal Court Theatre in
the mid-nineteen sixties, concentrating on specific methods
and consequences of reclaiming realistic representation.
Appendix One lists plays banned 1900-1968, according to
the censorship collection; Appendix Two lists private
productions mentioned in the files.