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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The much-touted ‘New Drama’ defies easy categorization as it straddled—and indeed obliterated—the line between popular and avant-garde theatre, encompassing ‘a huge range of theatrical activity’. Through examples from such as George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, Elizabeth Robins, and Susan Glaspell, this chapter shows that social reform and aesthetic innovation were not mutually exclusive but could go hand in hand. This in turn has profound implications for definitions of modernism that have tended to privilege exclusivity and rupture as the prime requirements for inclusion in the modernist canon. A deeper exploration of the theatre of this period breaks down the binaries of ‘new’ and ‘old’, high and low, ‘mainstream and coterie’ and reveals that ‘bold stylistic experimentation coexisted with active social engagement’.

Keywords: New Drama, George Bernard Shaw, Elizabeth Robins, Florence Bell, Harley Granville-Barker, theatre and modernism, early modernist theatre, Susan Glaspell, Court Theatre

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