Coming to Terms with the Seventies: Fusions

  • John Bull
Part of the Macmillan Modern Dramatists book series (MD)


The Churchill Play (1974) and Fanshen (1975) will serve to signpost the end of the first period of post-’68 political theatre. They represent a change of direction not only for the two writers, but also in the essentially ‘fringe’ tradition in which they had developed. From 1974 on, the term ‘fringe’ is used less and less, as the concept of an alternative theatre, working alongside and, largely, in opposition to the mainstream gains credence. Transfers from the alternative to the mainstream are not uncommon, but in practice it is always possible to point to the distinction. The development of an alternative circuit depended on three chief factors — apart, that is, from an audience interest: the growth of less casually organised touring-circuits, the creation of permanent or semi-permanent company-bases, and the increased accessibility of the larger subsidised theatres to alternative productions. It is important to note that the commercial theatres play almost no part in this development.


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  1. 1.
    Clive Barker, ‘From Fringe to Alternative Theatre’, paper delivered at the Conference on British Drama and Theatre in the Sixties and Seventies, Wilhelm Pieck University, Rostock, Sep 1976; published in Zeitschrift für Anglistick und Amerikanistik, vol. 26, no. 1 (1978) p. 62.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Sandy Craig, ‘Unmasking the Lie: Political Theatre’, in Craig (ed.), Dreams and Deconstructions: Alternative Theatre in Britain (Amber Lane. 1980) pp. 30–1.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Richard Seyd, ‘The Theatre of Red Ladder’, New Edinburgh Review, Aug 1975.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trs. Ben Brewster (New Left. 1971) p. 204.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Howard Brenton, ‘Messages First’, Gambit, VI, no. 23 (1973) p. 26.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    John Arden, To Present the Pretence: Essays on the Theatre and its Public (Methuen, 1977) p. 158.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Bull 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Bull
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldUK

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