Academic journal article About Performance


Academic journal article About Performance


Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes "strike-through" in the original text omitted.)


Dear Baz,

Thank you for sending us your article for the Playing Politics issue of About Performance. The biopoligraph is a great invention and it is already making Paul and me feel a bit nervous about how it might react should we be tempted to wield the editor's blue pencil. It goes without saying that we would be delighted to include an article dealing with such a seminal figure as John McGrath, whose work has been sadly neglected during the decades of neo-liberal, neo-con ascendancy.

Before submitting the article to the peer review process, we would be grateful if you could confirm a couple of points about its genesis so that we can consider any potential copyright issues. Could you confirm that the text you've submitted to us began life as an oral presentation that you gave at the symposium convened by David Bradby at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Spring 2002 shortly after John McGrath' s death?

Could you also confirm that the biographical essay on McGrath to which you refer in the text was written while McGrath was still alive and was published in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 233: British and Irish Dramatists Since World War II (Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2001, 198-9), edited byjohn Bull. You also mention a photograph of McGrath in New Zealand that Professor Bull was either unable or unwilling to publish: could you let us know if the photo attached below is the image in question?

Please let us know if you would like us to include the image, assuming we can obtain the necessary authorisation from the copyright holders.

Paul and I look forward to hearing from you.



Dear Gay and Paul

I'm delighted that you are interested in publishing my article on Biopoligraphy and thank you for the kind words about the Biopoligraph(TM). You have nothing to fear from it, though, as it only kicks into action in the vicinity of outright tyranny.

An earlier draft of the text you are kindly offering to publish in About Performance was circulated to delegates attending the John McGrath Symposium at Royal Holloway that Bradby convened, and I said a few words about it as a member of one of its panels. Very sadly, John had died on 22 January 2002,1 between the call for papers and the event itself- which made the Symposium an especially charged event.

Regarding my Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) essay; during 1998 John read and generously corrected and commented on its various drafts before I submitted the final version to John Bull. It was published three years later with some major changes to the text that were made by the in-house editors of the Dictionary.

Yes, the image above is the one I mentioned, which appears on the back cover of John's The Bone Won't Break (McGrath 1990). But John Bull, who had agreed to the text of my final draft, would not have been able to submit this picture to DLB because its editors work to rules that exclude 'ideological endorsement' of its subjects. Hence, amongst many other significant cuts, they excised the first paragraph of my short biography of John, which described this moment of his life in positive terms.

This story of editorial power didn't end there, though, as following the Royal Holloway event David Bradby was keen to include a more developed version of the Biopoligraph(TM) paper in Freedom's Pioneer, a collection mostly based on the symposium papers (Bradby and Capon 2005). That volume is part of a University of Exeter book series, the Editors of which considered the resultant article inappropriate for a celebratory-valedictory collection and so withdrew it from publication. Economics were also involved in that decision: I was told the publishers could not afford the typesetting costs of the experiment.

Anyone who knew John McGrath could easily imagine the wry grin with which he would have greeted that news, had he been around to hear it. …

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