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					                     Contemporary British Theatre Reading list 2010/11

                                      A summer suggestion

     If you have time, why not go to the theatre? If you are 26 or under there are lots of
     offers you can take advantage of, including free tickets for many shows. The plays I
     would particularly recommend as giving you a sense of what’s going on in
     contemporary British theatre are Sucker Punch at the Royal Court (until 24th July), the
     short monologue The Experiment at the Soho Theatre (21st – 24th July), Earthquakes
     in London at the National Theatre (July 28th- 21st August) or any of the three parts of
     The Great Game at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn (23 July - 29th August). Go to the
     theatres’ websites and see what’s on offer.

     This course encourages in-depth engagement with the contemporary British theatre,
     concentrating in particular on the ways in which dramatists have sought to represent
     and address pressing issues in society.

     In term 1 we will explore social realism and confrontational drama starting with Look
     Back in Anger and A Taste of Honey (classics from the 1950s) then looking at a
     selection of plays addressing social themes from the period 1993-2010. In Term 2 the
     focus is on more experimental modes of playwriting, before moving on to consider
     plays from the last decade which respond to the war in Iraq and related issues.

     Four of the plays that we will discuss, and which you will be able to write about in
     assessed coursework and in your exam, will be seen in the theatre as an integral part
     of the course. Details of which shows we will be going to will be made available over
     the course of the summer or at the start of term; if you bring cash to the first class you
     will stand a strong chance of getting tickets!

                 Texts for term 1                                  Texts for term 2

John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (Faber)           Martin Crimp, Attempts on her Life
Shelagh Delaney, A Taste of Honey (Methuen           (Faber)
       Student Edition)                            Sarah Kane, Cleansed (Methuen)
Jonathan Harvey, Beautiful Thing (Methuen)         Caryl Churchill, Far Away in Plays:
Mark Ravenhill, Shopping and F**king                 Four (Nick Hern)
       (Methuen Student Edition)                   debbie tucker green, random (Nick Hern)
Joe Penhall, Blue/Orange (Methuen)                 Caryl Churchill, Drunk Enough to Say I Love
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Elmina’s Kitchen                   You? in Plays: Four (Nick Hern)
       (Methuen)                                   Gregory Burke, Black Watch (available as a
Roy Williams, Fallout in Plays: Three                text from Faber or as a DVD)
       (Methuen)                                   Roy Williams, Days of Significance in Plays:
Mike Bartlett, Cock (Methuen)                        Three (Methuen)
Laura Wade, Posh (Nick Hern)
A good textbook: Michael Billington’s book State of the Nation gives a full account
of British theatre since 1945. If you can read some or all of it before term begins you
will have a valuable head start on this course.

Money-saving tips:

      The campus bookshop is offering a discount of £2.00 off all Methuen
       playtexts, which could potentially add up to a saving of £16.00.

      Cock, Posh, random and Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? can be bought
       from the Royal Court Theatre bookshop for £3.00 each (mail order requests
       can be made on 020 7565 5024 or email

Generally speaking, single volume playtexts are expensive, so consider buying second
hand where possible (for instance via the University bookshop or ‘used and new’ at, use the library and consider sharing the cost with other students
on the course.

                                                                 Harry Derbyshire
                            ; 020 8331 9953