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Immigration and Contemporary British Theater

Finding a Home on the Stage

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Victoria Sams

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.
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Introduction

Extract

To let. A valuable site at the cross-roads of the world. At present on offer to European clients. Out-lying portions of the estate already disposed of to sitting tenants. Of some historical and period interest. Some alterations and improvements necessary.

—Alan Bennett, Forty Years On

After more than a half-century of post-war devastation and reconstruction, recession, and recovery, and even prosperity, Britain’s major cities, especially London, entered this millennium as cosmopolitan centers. They were no longer the direct beneficiaries of imperial expansion and colonial enterprise but have continued to draw immigrants seeking economic or political refuge in a relatively prosperous and politically stable Western Europe. These cities have been forced to redefine themselves under new conditions and within an interdependent regional and global economy. As a post-imperial metropolitan capital, London in particular acts as the center of new versions of national identity for an England and a Great Britain poised between Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. While the flow of migrants and capital has been most heavily concentrated in London, it directly involves multiple locations within and beyond London as well, within a landscape of powerful local ties and complex regional and transnational affiliations. Furthermore, devolution has helped to make these locations the centers of newly imagined communities. Cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, and Leicester have generated active “glocal” economies and cultural production and contain their own long histories of migration as well.

As the epigraph above suggests, the metaphorical link between...

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