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Battering rams at the Bastille: Rewriting "the Drama of the New" in Gordon Bottomley's Gruach

Morra, Irene 2020. Battering rams at the Bastille: Rewriting "the Drama of the New" in Gordon Bottomley's Gruach. Modern Drama 63 (1) 10.3138/md.1068r
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When Gordon Bottomley’s verse play Gruach (1918) was first published and staged, it was met with unanimous critical praise. Like Bottomley’s earlier, equally praised King Lear’s Wife (1915), Gruach built upon its Shakespearean inspiration (in this case, Macbeth) to reimagine its central female protagonist. In its dramatization of a forceful heroine confined by social and aesthetic conventions and in its emphasis on female sexuality, expression, and agency, the play aligned itself with some of the central themes of the New Drama. It also distanced itself aesthetically from neo-Elizabethan verse drama and Victorian and Edwardian commercial approaches to the staging of Shakespeare. In Gruach, Bottomley engages critically and aesthetically with some of the central tensions that characterized definitions of the modern drama at the time. He does so, however, by insisting on a contemporary imperative to defy social realism and argumentation and to return “poetry” – through language, stage design, and narrative – to an audience starved of beauty and the representation of putatively timeless, essential truths. In Gruach, the last of his dramas for what he would later term a “theatre outworn,” Bottomley engages with his Shakespearean inspiration in such a way as both to articulate a distinct dramatic aesthetic and to address prominent contemporary themes. In so doing, he also provides a significant, overlooked manifestation of an alternative vision for the modern stage.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
ISSN: 0026-7694
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 September 2019
Date of Acceptance: 17 July 2019
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2020 21:12

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