By Dan Rebellato

It truly is stated that British Drama was once shockingly lifted out of the doldrums by means of the 'revolutionary' visual appeal of John Osborne's glance again in Anger on the Royal court docket in may well 1956. yet had the theatre been as ephemeral and effeminate because the offended younger males claimed? used to be the period of Terence Rattigan and 'Binkie' Beaumont as repressed and closeted because it turns out? during this daring and engaging problem to the acquired knowledge of the final 40 years of theatrical historical past, Dan Rebellato uncovers a distinct tale altogether. it truly is one the place Britain's declining Empire and lengthening panic over the 'problem' of homosexuality performed a vital position within the building of an everlasting fantasy of the theatre. by means of going again to basic assets and carefully wondering all assumptions, Rebellato has rewritten the historical past of the Making of recent British Drama.

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The most famous expression of this is in Archie Rice’s fleeting analysis of his own emptiness: You see this face, this face can split open with warmth and humanity. It can sing, and tell the worst, unfunniest stories in the world to a great mob of dead, drab erks and 30 THE POLITICS OF VITAL THEATRE it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because—look at my eyes. I’m dead behind these eyes. (1998, 66) We can see the avoidance of explicit politicizing in this light; tending to the withering ‘inner self is, for many, more urgent than any public political cause.

But in a letter to Butler in December 1941, Keynes admitted himself ‘in only limited sympathy with the [Council’s] principles’ (quoted, Leventhal 1990, 305). However, he was reassured by the exit of the Pilgrim Trust and by the presence of Mary Glasgow, who by this point was firmly in Keynes’s camp. Furthermore, the ambiguity of CEMA’s constitutional position (both a government body and independent) meant that he actually had considerable freedom to impose his stamp on its operation and, in particular, exploit the ambiguity of its early statement of aims.

Keynes made funds available, but in doing so reduced funding for touring activities. Williams remembers him negotiating down an ‘Art for the People’ request for money, and ascribes it to his new passion for ‘acquiring historic buildings or homes for the arts’ (1971, 22). Amateur work was the link between ‘standards’ and ‘distribution’. Once CEMA had stopped trying to encourage people to practice the arts themselves, tours simply meant moving professionals around the country. And since there will only be a finite number of professionals, this resurrects the claim that CEMA is spreading the arts too thinly.

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