Immigration and Contemporary British Theater

Finding a Home on the Stage

by Victoria Sams (Author)
©2014 Monographs XXIV, 126 Pages
Series: Postcolonial Studies, Volume 13


Immigration and Contemporary British Theater: Finding a Home on the Stage analyzes how contemporary British theater has responded to post-war immigration to the United Kingdom through its depictions of home and domestic life. Bridging literary analysis, theater history, and migration studies, the book examines the ways that immigration to the United Kingdom has reshaped British theatrical culture and inspired new conceptions of Britishness and of communal belonging. Furthermore, it examines how immigrant theater artists from widely varying backgrounds (geographical, educational, cultural) have worked within and around existing theatrical institutions in Britain.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Illustration/Photo Credits
  • Timeline
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Finding a Home on the Stage
  • A Note on Terms
  • Chapter Two: Narratives of Immigration and Theater in Postwar Britain
  • Dueling Perceptions of Immigration
  • Floods and Waves and Rivers, Oh My!
  • The British Bulldog Is a Mutt
  • Narratives and Numbers
  • Chapter Three: Journeys and Arrivals
  • “Gold in the Streets”: Myths of “Mother England” and the Shock of Arrival
  • Cold in the Streets?
  • Homeward Bound: The Dream of Return
  • From Foothold to Bolthole
  • Chapter Four: Patriarchy in Crisis
  • Chapter Five: Different for Girls
  • Social/Sexual Trauma and the Pressure to Be “a Good Girl”
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Finding a Home on the Stage
  • Chapter Two: Narratives of Immigration and Theater in Postwar Britain
  • Chapter Three: Journeys and Arrivals
  • Chapter Four: Patriarchy in Crisis
  • Chapter Five: Different for Girls
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Reviews/Reports/Interviews
  • Index


To those who have made me feel at home wherever I am in the world, I owe an unfathomable debt, especially to my famously vast extended family, who truly make me savor life. I am particularly grateful for my brother and sister, and for the family they have added to ours. My mother’s compassion, curiosity, and encouragement are a source of strength and an example to me. I hold the memories of my father’s humor, insight, and humility close to my heart, and miss him more than I can say.

Much love and gratitude go out to the longtime friends who have sustained my spirits across any distance: Mike and Vicky Callen, The Oakleys, Clovis and the much-missed Hala Maksoud, Aida and Roy Karaoglan, Alexandra Ossipoff, Kathleen Cedergren, Tris Anne DeSalvio, Marisa Nightingale, Tiffany Smink, Marina Moskowitz, Eric Steadman, Tiffany Holmes, Maia Mulligan Kaz, Laura Kreutzer, Judy Kramer, Samantha Levy and Jason Deutsch, Reggie Tindall, Suze Fowle, Jenny Backus, Laura and Bob Foose, Anna Lürbke, Alexi Daher, Paola Moscarelli, Lloys Frates, Kris Over, Tammy Ho, Kelly Jeong, Matt Christensen, Antonia Couling-Dini, and Robert Sargant. I am also deeply grateful for the friendships formed a mere “kick of the ball” from my door in Carlisle with the likes of Pauline Cullen and Brian McKenzie, Ebru Kongar and Mark Price, Cotten and Clare Seiler, Becky and Dave Richeson, Heather and Vince Champion, Rachel Boggia, Lucile Duperron and Marc Mastrangelo, Suzanne and Dave Kranz, Emily Lawrence, and Andy and Circe MacDonald. Amy and Alex Bates, Ashley Finley, Rennie Mapp and Rafael Alvarado, Francesca Amendolia and Ed Webb, and Sarah Skaggs all made life on Pomfret even sweeter.

Huge thanks go out to the mentors and comrades who have taught me so much about intellectual excitement and community: to the teachers who first taught me how to research and write (Ellis Turner and Bob Thomason); to my guide through the deepest waters of comparative literature (Emily Apter); to the wisest of advisors on dissertations, academic survival, and so much more (Jenny Sharpe); and to my research group mates at Dickinson College—led by the fabulous and inimitable Sharon O’Brien—Peggy Frohlich, Elizabeth Lee, Patty ← vii | viii → van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy, Jerry Philogene, Regina Sweeney, Andy MacDonald, and Antje Pfannkuchen. Another dear friend and colleague, Amy Wlodarski, deserves thanks for her insight and encouragement on my writing.

The best parts of this book are indebted to the knowledge and generosity of the scholars and artists whose work has inspired and aided mine: Sarah Dadswell, Giovanna Buonanno, Christiane Schlote, Jatinder Verma, Kristine Landon-Smith, Dominic Hingorani, Dimple Godiwala, Valerie Kaneko-Lucas, Mustapha Matura, Felix Cross, and Nicolas Kent. Thanks also to all the theater companies and to the R&D Committee of Dickinson College for providing me the means to pore over production files and travel to conferences. I had several wonderful homes away from home in London during many research trips, for which I am deeply grateful to my family and friends who are family. I am thankful as well for the sharp eyes and thoughtfulness of my dearest readers: Bill Truettner, Alison Steadman, Pauline Cullen, Ann-Lloyd Hufstader, and Lisa Sams. Jackie Pavlovic and Heidi Burns at Peter Lang deserve hearty thanks.

For another important form of sustenance that fuelled the writing of this book, I thank Naomi and Robert Pham (and their lovely children) for all the Issei deliciousness.

For all they did to sustain me in stomach and spirit, and for all they taught me about immigrating to a faraway country with courage and style and a sense of humor, I thank and miss my Sittou Hajar and Sittou Adele always.

A final note of profound gratitude for the friendship and example of a remarkable mentor, teacher, and translator: Michael Henry Heim, who has left the door open to so many beautiful literary worlds.

Illustration/Photo Credits

The image on the front cover of the book is by illustrator Jane Laurie and was commissioned for Tamasha Theatre Company’s 2013 adaptation of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. The photograph on p. 53 in Chapter Four is from the program for Tamasha Theatre Company’s 1996 production of Ayub Khan-Din’s East is East. The photograph on p. 84 in Chapter Five shows the London home of Tara Arts, and was provided by its Artistic Director, Jatinder Verma. ← viii | ix →



XXIV, 126
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (April)
immigration literary analysis theater history
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 126 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Victoria Sams (Author)

Victoria Sams is a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has taught humanities, modern and contemporary drama, and English literature at UCLA and at Dickinson College. She received her PhD in comparative literature from UCLA and is editor of The Random House Treasury of Favorite Poems about Cities Around the World (2004).


Title: Immigration and Contemporary British Theater
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154 pages