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You are here: Home Courses Middlebury-CMRS Course List ENAM 0565 Modern British Drama

ENAM 0565 Modern British Drama

At the end of the nineteenth century, theatre dominated the performing arts and encompassed a great variety of forms. Rapidly evolving stage technologies, and the development of film, radio and television have fundamentally changed the role of theatre in society and the kinds of works written for it. We will explore the nature of these changes and examine the unique aesthetic power of live performance. We will also consider television and radio drama, which (especially in the first thirty years of the BBC) was often intended to be live and not recorded.

This course consists of six broadly chronological strands and the course can be tailored to draw exclusively or mainly from one strand or be a combination of several.

Strand A. Early twentieth-century theatre

For example:

  • JM Synge: Playboy of the Western World
  • RC Sherriff: Journey’s End
  • Modernist theatre: TS Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
  • Auden and Isherwood, The Dog Beneath the Skin; The Ascent of F6.
  • Christopher Fry: The Lady’s Not for Burning
  • Noel Coward: Private Lives; Blithe Spirit


Strand B. The theatre of the Absurd

For example:

  • Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape; Happy Days
  • Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; Travesties
  • Heathcote Williams: AC/DC
  • Harold Pinter: The Room; The Birthday Party
  • David Hare: Slag


Strand C. The post-war stage and musicals

For example:

  • Joe Orton: Loot
  • John Osborne: Look Back in Anger
  • David Storey: Home
  • Simon Gray: Butley
  • Harold Pinter: The Caretaker, ‘Night’, No Man’s Land, etc
  • Peter Shaffer: Equus; Royal Hunt of the Sun
  • Lionel Bart: Oliver


Strand D. Television drama

For example:

  • Armchair Theatre, The Wednesday Play, Play for Today
  • Ken Russell: Debussy; Always on a Sunday; Dante’s Inferno
  • Ken Loach: Cathy Come Home
  • Mike Leigh: Meantime
  • Dennis Potter: The Singing Detective


Strand E. Theatre since 1990

For example:

  • Keith Waterhouse: Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
  • Tom Stoppard: Arcadia
  • Caryl Churchill: A Mouthful of Birds; Serious Money
  • David Hare: Skylight
  • Sarah Kane: Blasted; Cleansed
  • Mark Ravenhill: The Cut
  • Jez Butterworth: Jerusalem
  • Mike Bartlett: Earthquakes in London


Strand F. The role of theatre

For example:

  • Peter Brook, The Empty Space
  • Howard Barker, ‘Arguments for a Theatre’
  • Shakespeare, the RSC, the British Council and the National Theatre
  • Student theatre
A life-changing experience
My semester at CMRS was a life-changing experience. With the backdrop of the beautiful and historically-relevant Oxford, I read, wrote, and learned mo...
Jason Martin, Spring Semester 2011, Albion College