State of the Nation

Michael Billington
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ISBN 9780571210497 Format Paperback
Published 05/11/2009 Length 464 pages

About Book

State of the Nation: British Theatre since 1945 looks at post-war Britain from a theatrical perspective. It examines the constant interplay between theatre and society from the resurgent optimism of the Attlee years to the satire boom of the Sixties and the growth of political theatre under Tony Blair in the post-Iraq period. Featuring detailed evaluations of writers from J. B. Priestly and Terence Rattigan to Alan Bennett and David Hare, Billington is continuously insightful and incisive.

As Britain's longest-serving theatre critic Michael Billington is uniquely placed to offer an authoritative overview of modern British theatre, and the book offers a passionate defence of the dramatist as the medium's key creative figure. Controversial, witty and informed, State of the Nation offers a fresh and challenging look at the vast upheavals that have taken place in British society, and the theatre which documents and challenges it, in the course of sixty turbulent years.

'[Billington] views his subject as a "vehicle of moral enquiry" and brings to bear wide experience, astute opinion and diligent research to write what for many might become the definitive book on theatre in the period between the departures of Churchill and Blair . . . This book should be a must for Christmas stocking of anyone interested in theatre in this country. It will give readers hours of pleasure and in many cases, the odd splutter of indignation as a forthright opinion does not fit in with their own. That is the mark of a good critic and Michael Billington is one of the very best.' British Theatre Guide

  • About Michael Billington

    Michael Billington has been theatre critic of the Guardian since 1971 and of Country Life since 1986. He is the author of biographies of Harold Pinter (newly revised in 2007) and Peggy Ashcroft, of critical studies of Tom Stoppard and Alan Ayckbourn, of a celebration of Ken Dodd and a collection of reviews, One Night Stands. He has also edited Directors' Shakespeare: Twelfth Night and Stage and Screen Lives selected from the Dictionary of National Biography.

    He frequently lectures and broadcasts on the arts, teaches drama for the University of Pennsylvania and is a Visiting Professor at King's College, London and an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford.

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