I have been asked to chair, and essentially curate, a debate for the Institute of Ideas at this October's Battle of Ideas event. http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/
The blurb for the event reads:
Political theatre: political animal?
In the seventies and eighties British political theatre was a byword for uncompromising attacks on the Thatcher regime, capitalism, sexism and homophobia; it preached radical social change and revolution. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism, the defeat of the Conservatives, the rise of New Labour, 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror, where does political theatre now stand?
Actors perform a selection of extracts from plays covering the last thirty years to illuminate the development of, and relationship between, theatre and politics. Is political theatre the snarling political animal it once was, or has the beast been tamed? Is a fresh injection of politics needed to enliven British theatre, or might political theatre serve to enliven politics?
As this suggests, the debate will kick off with about half an hour of "clips" from relevant texts performed at the event by actors. This, by necessity, will pretty much preclude using company-based devised work or physical theatre. While such work will, and should, figure in the discussion, since they want clips performed by the same small group of actors (and short clips at that) my current list of suggestions is:
Romans in Britain - Howard Brenton (1983)
Masterpieces - Sarah Daniels (1984)
Serious Money - Caryl Churchill (1987)
Some Explicit Polaroids - Mark Ravenhill (1999)
Stuff Happens - David Hare (2003)
Drunk Enough to say I love You (2006)
My Child - Mike Bartlett (2007)
This is obviously a very partial picture of 'political theatre' and wholly ignores non-text-based and non-explicit political texts as well as revivals such as Hytner's Henry V, which, while politically freighted in production would just be Henry V if we were to do an extract, if you see what I mean.
The extracts should take up the first half hour of an hour and a half discussion, and should succeed in raising enough interesting points to at least launch a discussion which could take in the methodology, intent, and formal change and innovation in the "British Political Play".
If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.