Re: The Politics of Modern Art

Regarding Scott's art post below, an article in this week's edition of the Economist made a similar point:

MICHAEL BILLINGTON, the Guardian newspaper's chief theatre critic, says he has spent more than 8,000 nights at the theatre. This exhausting qualification enables him to take a long view of British theatre since 1945, and, on the whole, he gives it an excellent review. He recalls most vividly a memorable golden age in the late 1960s when he argues that the scope of British writing for the theatre was unequalled since that of William Shakespeare and his colleagues in the first Elizabethan age.

This is not absurd. The list was extraordinary: Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Peter Nichols, Sir Tom Stoppard and Sir Alan Ayckbourn. With Alan Bennett, Caryl Churchill, Mike Leigh and Sir David Hare waiting in the wings, and Samuel Beckett sending an occasional contribution over from Paris. Moreover, Mr Billington declares that the British theatre had acquired a decisive new role—“a more or less permanent opposition to whichever party was in power”. Since he is an admirer of the state-of-the-nation play, he approves of this development, and his principal criticism of the post-war era is that the theatre has sometimes failed in its duty to define exactly what is rotten in the state of Britain.

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