George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre

George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre

George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre

George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre

Synopsis

A biographically based study of George Bernard Shaw and his milieu, this book offers a non-laudatory reading of Shaw's economic practices and theories, augments feminist and postcolonial critiques that preoccupy the study of literary history in the 1990s and provides a long overdue revisionist reading of Shaw for an undergraduate readership. It traces the theatrical and political influences on Shaw from his earliest days in London, tracks his interest in socialism as an activist and author of tracts, novels, and plays emphasizing certain polemical traits, and follows his career as a major literary figure into the mid-twentieth century. The overarching themes of theatre and politics are narrated in relation to attempts by Shaw and his contemporaries to identify an audience and aesthetic for socialist theatre. The bibliographic essay that concludes the book is particularly helpful for student readers who can benefit from a manageably-sized orientation to the mountain of Shavian scholarship.

Excerpt

This book stems from the Greenwood Press series Lives of the Theatre. To facilitate use in college and university courses, some volumes have been selected to appear in paperback. This is such a volume. Lives of the Theatre is designed to provide scholarly introductions to important periods and movements in the history of world theatre from the earliest instances of recorded performance through to the twentieth century, viewing the theatre consistently through the lives of representative theatrical practitioners. Although many of the volumes will be centred upon playwrights, other important theatre people, such as actors and directors, will also be prominent in the series. The subjects have been chosen not simply for their individual importance, but because their lives in the theatre can well serve to provide a major perspective on the theatrical trends of their eras. They are therefore either representative of their time, figures whom their contemporaries recognised as vital presences in the theatre, or they are people whose work was to have a fundamental influence on the development of theatre, not only in their lifetimes but after their deaths as well. While the discussion of verbal and written scripts will inevitably be a central concern in any volume that is about an artist who wrote for the theatre, these scripts will always be considered in their function as a basis for performance.

The rubric "Lives of the Theatre" is therefore intended to suggest both biographies of people who created theatre as an institution and as a medium of performance and of the life of the theatre itself. This dual focus will be illustrated through the titles of the individual volumes, such as Christopher Marlowe and the Renaissance of Tragedy, George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre . . .

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