The period of 1956-1965 was a defining moment in post-war British theatre history, in which new possibilities arose for a contemporary and engaged drama. Drawing on a range of sources, Stephen Lacey argues that the new theatre should be seen in relation to other developments in post-war culture and politics, including social science, the novel and cinema.
The new theatre was regarded as a realist theatre, dramatising the social experience of a working-class under threat from the new prosperity. However, despite the currency of the term, 'realism' in the period is imperfectly understood and often crudely applied. Arguing that realism is both a tradition of representation and a critical prespective, Lacey examines the connection between particular plays and productions, and the assumptions about theatrical form and oppositional politics that shaped the way that this theatre was valued by its contemporaries.