The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage

The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage

The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage

The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage

Synopsis

The Royal Court Theatre is one of the primary forums in the development of postwar drama. Under the title of the English Stage Company the theater produced some of the most influential plays in modern history, including the works of Brenton, Churchill, Bond and Osborne. In this account of the theater, from 1956 to 1998, Philip Roberts draws on unpublished archives and a series of interviews with people prominent in the Court's life. The book also includes a Foreword by the former Director of the Royal Court, Max Stafford-Clark.

Excerpt

I recall attending an academic conference at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the early eighties which took the history of The Royal Court as its subject. A number of us had been flown in at considerable expense to the heart of bayou country.

After three days of genial bickering and disagreement about almost every aspect of the Royal Court's provenance and history, one of our gracious hosts asked if there was any aspect of the Royal Court we could agree on. It turned out that there wasn't, so the requirement for an objective and comprehensive history of this important theatre is well due.

It is hard to write about such a passionate theatre in a dispassionate and accurate way, but Philip Roberts' rich account, which covers the history of the Royal Court from its inception in 1956 to the end of the millennium, is invaluable to anybody interested in theatre, and is intriguing for those of us who had the pleasure of playing some part in those events.

No other theatre in England attracts more passion to itself than the Royal Court. Several generations of writers and directors have held the mirror up to their society and defined their times on its stage. In 1993, the year I left, it was called both 'Europe's most interesting theatre' by the New York Times and 'a dump' by our own Sunday Times. I hoped that both statements contained an element of truth.

Many directors, writers and actors feel they have left the best part of themselves at the Court. The youthful idealism and best hopes of several generations are somehow caught up in its walls. In the dayto-day running of the Royal Court it is easy to forget this, but when . . .

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