British theatre in the Great War : a revaluation


British theatre in the Great War : a revaluation

Gordon Williams

(Continuum studies in drama)

Continuum, 2005, c2003

  • : pbk


British theatre in the Great War : a re-evaluation

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Originally published: 2003

Bibliography: p. [340]-342



British Theatre in the Great War deals with a theatrical phase customarily dismissed by those charting twentieth-century developments. What becomes clear is that assessment by unsuitable literary criteria has masked the importance of the war years in British theatrical history. In avoiding a texts bias, the book reveals a period of unsurpassed prosperity in which the stage's substantial contribution to the war effort is only one notable feature. That it also saw the commercial theater's absorption of Continental avant-gardeism by way of revue, the last great epoch of music hall, the rise of the Old Vic with a project in opera and Shakespeare, and the unprecedented popularity of opera everywhere--this was surely the most fruitful period of Thomas Beecham's theatrical career--is compelling argument for revaluation. In his reassessment of this period, Dr. Williams extensively examines scripts and press coverage, providing a comprehensive overview from popular pantomime to the specialist work of the private stage as well as discussion of such issues as working conditions and censorship.


  • Introduction
  • Musical Comedy and Musical Anarchy
  • Pantomime and Tradition
  • Variety on the Halls
  • War and the Legitimate Theatre
  • A Classic Theatre?
  • Fashionable Audiences and the Opera
  • Conclusion

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