By Theodore Shank (eds.)

Contemporary British Theatre surveys the advanced and dynamic theatre of the eighties and early nineties reflecting a rustic that's multicultural, multiethnic and multinational. The participants - artists, students and critics - supply insights into the original varieties of theatre functionality devised to precise the tensions and pressures of our time. For the paperback version a brand new preface has been written, together with numerous updating items from person contributors.

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The pl~y does not chart a route to a new Utopia but, rather, suggests there might not be one after all. A younger playwright, Gregory Motton, responding to Brenton's comments, has no investment in the social-issue focus of the older generation. ' He decries the 'moralistic tone' with its 'hollow Victorian ring'. And the playwrights are politically impotent. Audiences go to the National Theatre to see a play by Hare or Brenton 'but they don't grasp what they are watching ... ' Writers whose consciousness is formed by what they read in the papers are writing plays somewhat less stimulating than journalism, less penetrating than the biographies and factual books they depend upon.

It is fortunate for the theatre as an art that there is a continuous stream of young artists who do not carry the baggage of the past, artists who can look anew at our world and tell us what we didn't know that we knew. REFERENCES Arts Council. Press Release, 29 November 1991. Barclays New Stages. Programme for the Festival of Independent Theatre, 18 May-6 June 1992. Billington, Michael. 'The Colour of Saying', The Guardian (London), 1 November 1990. Brenton, Howard. 'Poetic Passport to a New Era', The Guardilln (London), 7 April 1992.

A gangling British Rail guard, a stocky Mediterranean police-chief, a dwarf and a pop-eyed citizen wearing odd socks stumbled, jerked and inanely gestured up and down the platform as imaginary trains whizzed by. But the grotesque, always lurking beneath the surface of this humour, was exposed when a train stopped and a small woman descended. She was supported by attendants in cream-linen suits and shades. Her green ski-pants covered an artificial right leg, her black gloves a prosthetic left hand.

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