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Article Title

Is everything history?": Churchill, Barker, and the Modern History Play

Abstract

Leading off on the question why no full-on history plays have been written by British dramatists in the last thirty years, the article compares two such plays written by radical playwrights of the 1970s and early 80s: Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire and Howard Barker’s Victory. The article explores the social, political and theatrical contexts against which those plays were written, with particular reference to their settings in the English Civil War and to the ideological conflicts surrounding the interpretation of that watershed period in English history when the two modern plays were staged. Both plays are seen to be, though diametrically opposed, equally serious investigations of the problem of what cultural artifacts can do with history; how they can represent it as living on into the shaping of the present.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.

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