Chapter

Performance for imagined communities: Gladstone, the National Theatre and contested didactics of the stage

Anselm Heinrich

in "Politics, performance and popular culture"

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print February 2016 | ISBN: 9780719091698
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781526109989 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719091698.003.0006
Performance for imagined communities: Gladstone, the National Theatre and contested didactics of the stage

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This chapter focuses on William Gladstone’s political and personal commitment to education and the arts, and education through the arts. One of Gladstone’s most lasting visions for the British society was one of social cohesion, in which the ‘working man’ played an important part. The working man would still remain a working man–Gladstone did not advocate social reform–but he would be rewarded by ‘enriching his mind.’ Gladstone displayed a theatrical taste which included (even championed) popular forms of entertainment and a performance tradition which remained sidelined by the protagonists of the National Theatre movement: melodrama, Pantomime, burlesque, even circus. His vision of a National Theatre, therefore, seems less focused on presenting a canonical repertoire of established masterpieces for the ‘leisured theatre-goer’–in fact it seems more inclusive and less patronising. This suggests that current thinking on the National theatre needs to be modified and nuanced.

Keywords: Gladstone; National Theatre; education; imagined community

Chapter.  6538 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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