Howard Brenton : a critical study of the plays.
The subject of this thesis is the plays of Howard
Brenton, published and unpublished, from 1965 to 1973.
The period is identified as the writer's "apprenticeship".
An Introduction provides a short biography of the
writer's early life and accounts of his first, now suppressed,
works for the stage.
Chapter One examines his involvement with the Fringe
theatre of the late nineteen-sixties. The short plays
produced for the Brighton Combination and Bradford University
are considered in the light of how style and form evolved
largely out of practical circumstances.
Chapter Two describes the impact of contemporary political
unrest on Brenton's attitude to his work. The plays Revenge
and Christie in Love are discussed with reference to their . -
production by the Royal Court Theatre and by Portable Theatre,
which are identified as key agencies in furthering the
Chapter Three deals with more Fringe work, charting
the playwright's growing doubts about the efficacy of such
work, and his increasing assimilation of new political
In Chapter Four, Brenton's increasing desire to write
for the bigger stages and audiences of the established
theatre is discussed. The chapter concentrates heavily
though by no means exclusively on Hitler Dances as both
a summary of the Fringe work and the progenitor of the
later, full-scale, "epic" plays.
Chapter Five is concerned with Magnificence as the
first of those plays and the first to be ~roduced on the
main stage of a mainstream London theatre. Particular
reference is made to its troubled production history.