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Title: The absurd state : political satire and black comedy in British drama, 1964-1974
Author: Cramer, Steven L.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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It has become a critical commonplace of recent years that the current period of political drama started with the upheavals of 1968. It is often stated that before that year, playwrights of the post 1956 generation generally held liberal views which were broadly critical of British society's major institutions, but stopped short of criticising such bodies as the Labour Party. My aim will be to reassess this view in the light of the black comedies of the period 1964 to 1974. These plays held in common a number of stylistic characteristics and thematic obsessions, and were particularly notable for their close reference to contemporary events and political crises. In attempting to establish a continuity through this period, I will try to reappropriate to the modern canon a number of playwrights, who have been marginalised or forgotten since the mid seventies. I also deal with several of the 'major' works of the period, with specific reference to their relevance to contemporary events at the time of their initial productions. This will necessitate a certain amount of detailed historical background. The thesis is divided into two halves, comprising three and two chapters, respectively. The first part examines the premierships of Home, Wilson and Heath in that order, with particular reference to the way in which the politics and character of each were reflected in black comic satire. The second half of the thesis considers three black comic stereotypes, each of which mirrored the leading social themes of the day. The figure of the meritocrat, the 'classless' individual who rises to prominence on the strength of his or her own abilities, a particular political creation of our period is lampooned mercilessly throughout, although in different ways, depending upon the historical circumstances. Doctors and Policemen are also characteristic figures of the period, and I consider the way in which the latter group, in particular, provided a succession of stock characters which would be moulded to address particular public scandals in the immediate wake of their occurrences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available