Whether you’re a fan of the Henry Horniman or the restoration, British theatre has something for you. The ‘Royalty Theatre’ fought against the Theatrical Licensing Act, calling itself a private club and charging subscriptions to its subscribers. In the process, it won a battle against censorship. Shaw’s play was controversial, criticising patriarchal society, women’s working conditions, and sexual double standards. The working class will soon be replaced by robots and a patriarchal society is threatened. The racial divide is highlighted, but not everything is positive in the play.
The contributions of Henry Horniman to British theatre can be traced back over a century. The benefactor of the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester was the daughter of a wealthy tea merchant, and he recognised the importance of German repertory companies for cultural enrichment. In 1903, he put up money to create the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester. These latter venues produced over 200 plays in ten years, before closing down in 1917 due to financial difficulties.
The Lilian Baylis Theatre opened in 1988. It was a relatively simple, box-like structure, with a small lobby and bar. It was originally built as a staging ground for amateur productions and educational groups. However, financial constraints prevented its early use. A new theatre was constructed in its place, and the company began to present large-scale productions. A time capsule was buried under the new structure on Valentine’s Day, 1998.
There has been considerable public discussion of in-yer-face theatre in Britain in recent years, and there has been ostensible outrage over the performances. In this study, Aleks Sierz investigates the theatrical aesthetic of controversial plays, including those about drugs, sex, and violence. It identifies common themes and styles of in-yer-face performances. This study offers a valuable introduction to the burgeoning genre of British theatre.
During the Restoration of British theatre, female actors made their debut. Women often played roles for the males and, in a way, sexual titillation was a common practice. Playwrights such as Davenant and John Dryden added female characters to works like The Tempest. While Shakespeare used boy actors for female roles, actresses sometimes played male parts. This was known as a breeches part and was meant to display an actress’s legs. She would usually be covered with a gown.
Feminist theatre companies
Since the 1970s, British feminist theatre companies have pushed the boundaries of traditional theatrical roles for women. Founded in 1974, the Women’s Theatre Group (WTG) was an independent, feminist theatre company that produced works reflecting the equal rights struggle. In 1990, the group renamed itself as the Sphinx Theatre Company, which reflected the need to move beyond the barricades into mainstream theatre. Its first production was The Roaring Girls’ Hamlet, followed by the plays Every Bit of It and Playhouse Creatures. This was the start of the modern feminist theatre movement.