Write a short note on Royal Court Theatre.

Art & Culture Literature Society

                                                   Write a short note on Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre is the name of a theatre that has existed in Sloane Square, London, since 1871. The first outstanding period of its history was between 1904 and 1907 when the works of new writers such as G.B. Shaw and Galsworthy were presented as well as works by Euripides, Ibsen, and Maeterlinck. Since 1959, when Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger” was performed by George Devine’s company, the English Stage Company, the theatre has consistently supported the work of new writers such as John Arden, Edward Bond, Christopher Hampton, and others.

Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger” was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre where it immediately made a major impact. Jimmy Porter, the protagonist of the play, lives in cramped conditions with his upper-middle-class wife Alison. Alison’s friend persuades her to leave Jimmy only to fall for him herself. When Alison has a miscarriage, her friend obligingly makes the way for her to return to her former husband. The story and the subsidiary characters are really a vehicle for Jimmy’s tirade against the class-ridden nature of British society in the Post War Period and established the Royal Court as a venue for the drama of social protest.

John Arden’s three plays “ The Waters of Babylon” (1957), “Live Like Pigs” (1958), and “Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance” (1959) were produced at the Royal Court Theatre. The last-named play attracted much attention among critics, though it was not a popular success. “Sergeant’s Musgrave’s Dance” is a play about an army sergeant who deserts with three soldiers from his unit which is stationed in a colonial territory. They come to a mining town in the north of England with the mission to inspire people with a hatred of war. They seek an alliance with the miners who are against the mine owners. The play ends in tragedy without a solution to the problems. No dramatist since Shaw had used the theatre for such a thorough exploration of political and social ideas.

Edward Bond was one of the new left-wing writers to establish themselves at the Royal Court Theatre during the 1960s. His plays have often aroused controversies; the early play “Saved” (1965) created a furor for its scene of a baby being stoned to death. His “Early Morning” was banned for depicting Queen Victoria as a lesbian. He has written plays regularly on a wide range of subjects and is recognized as a leading modern dramatist. In his “Lear” (1971), a rewriting of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, but even more provocatively cruel than the original work, Bond inveighs against the heartlessness of modern society. Bond seeks to show us it is appalling and meaningless cruelty. Behind Bond’s play lies a recognition of the collapse of old structures of order, but also an awareness of the continuing grip of the past on the present. Christopher Hampton was another product of the Royal Court Theatre. Hampton’s fame rests mainly on “Les Liaison Dangereuses” (1985). It is a dramatization of a novel by Choderlos de Laclos shout sexual combat and power in France just prior to the revolution of 1789. The play does not deal explicitly with politics, though it provides a witty and vivid insight into a world of decadence and ruthlessness on the brink of collapse. His other works include “Total Eclipse” (1968), “The Philanthropist” (1970) “Savages” (1973), etc.

Last but not least, the feminist dramatist Caryl Churchill enriched the tradition of plays produced at the Royal Court Theatre. Her works include “Light Shining Buckinghamshire” (1976) and “Civil War” She used an imperial context to examine sexuality. Analysis of sexual stereotyping within a clear political is characteristic of Churchill’s plays.

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