Howard Brenton's Transmutation from Political Theatre to Absurd Theatre
Journal of English Language and Literature
Of all the contemporary dramatists, Howard Brenton is surely the most prolific, marked by breadth and variety,his plays mainly tackling moments of great political upheavals of the time. Many of his plays are turned out at speed as quickresponses to events in public life. Brenton, as a man of political conviction, exposes contemporary consciousness. The theatreserves as a platform for his political revolt expressive of disillusionment at the failure of socialism. Following the trend ofBrechtian
... trend ofBrechtian Epic Theatre, Brenton used the basic principles in matters of setting, characterization, empathy and dramaticstructure and the techniques of socialist realism creating a fable with characters capable of change showing the light ofdawn in the darkest night. He evolved a large-scale 'epic' theatre dealing in complex political issues, an attempt to constitutea British Epic theatre. Since 1965, Brenton committed himself to a career as a playwright with his first play Ladder of Foolstill the recent play Drawing the Line (2013), he has widely moved through different phases of his career as a politicaldramatist with the portrayal of England in terms of a violent political landscape. But of late, there is transmutation frompolitical theatre to absurd theatre. In his recent play Drawing the Line Brenton faces an epic task himself in distilling theturmoil of India-Pakistan partition into two hours on stage. He makes the audience realize the absurdity of decisions made bythe intelligent principled political leaders that end up in tumultuous violence and conflicting demands.