Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

4
A GUIDE TO SELECTED DYSTOPIAN DRAMA

INTRODUCTION

As a whole, the genre of drama tends toward more direct engagement with contemporary political issues than does the novel. The presence of an audience already lends drama a potential for political statement that is difficult to achieve in the novel, and the element of live performance also makes the drama inherently more difficult to censor than the novel and other printed genres. Much modern drama has, in fact, been highly political. It is not surprising, then, that there is a strong dystopian current in modern drama, despite the fact that the great defining texts of dystopian literature have been novels like We, Brave New World, and 1984. From the expressionist drama of Georg Kaiser to the epic theater of Bertolt Brecht to the absurdist plays of Eugène lonesco, drama has offered some of the most interesting and innovative dystopian statements in all of modern literature. This section summarizes some of the more important examples of dystopian drama, selected to indicate the range and variety encompassed by that genre.


EDWARD BOND: LEAR (1971)

In his author's preface to Lear Bond explains that the graphic violence in the play is intended as a criticism of the violence that informs modern society, a violence that for him results not from human nature (as for Freud), but precisely from the fact that human beings in the

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