Tuesday, 3 May 2016

social realism and the kitchen sink drama

The 'Angry Young Man' erupted on British audiences in the late 1950s:
Angry young men - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The play that started it all is sixty years old:
BBC Radio 4 - Radio 4 in Four, David Tennant in Look Back in Anger
BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Tennant Looks Back at Osborne

This was part of a wave of 'social realism' films:

British New Wave
50s-60s films which reinvigorated cinema
Main image of British New Wave
Britain today is still a society in many ways defined by class, but in the 1950s divisions were far more rigid. The 'new wave' films and the sources that inspired them gave a voice to a working-class that was for the first time gaining some economic power.
Previously, working-class characters in British cinema had largely been used for comic effect or as 'salt of the earth' cannon fodder. Here we see their lives at the centre of the action. That action, such as it is, details everyday dramas - hence 'the kitchen sink' tag. We see events through the emotional journeys of the characters.
Interestingly, only Room at the Top (d. Jack Clayton, 1958) and Look Back in Anger (d. Tony Richardson, 1959) look directly at conflict between working-class and middle-class characters.
The later films concentrate on conflicts within the working-class contrasting 'rough' (the very poor, unskilled, criminal and hedonistic - represented by characters like Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (d. Karel Reisz, 1960) and Colin Smith and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, d. Richardson, 1962) with 'respectable' (skilled, aspirational, educated and 'moral' - such as the heroes of John Schlesinger's films: Vic Brown in A Kind of Loving (1962) and the life that Billy Fisher in Billy Liar (1963) appears to lead).
The debates around class are complex. There is recognition that social change and affluence will make the system more fluid. There is also an understanding that the essentials of power will not change - the mindset that reinforces divisions is still very much there.
Phil Wickham

BFI Screenonline: British New Wave

Also known as 'kitchen sink' dramas:
Oh Do Shut Up! 10 Classic British Kitchen Sink Dramas
Kitchen sink realism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Which is similar to 'social realism':
BFI Screenonline: Social Realism
Social realism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's a very useful set of lesson plans for using this theme in the EFL classroom:
Look Back in Anger: As a Dark Comedy | Learn English, IELTS, EFL,ESL Public Speaking, Grammar, Literature, Linguistics by NEO

No comments: