Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: Banned Plays (LLLG07103)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe playwright Sarah Kane famously told a critic that 'there isn't anything you can't represent on stage' but this has not always been the case. This course looks at some of the key theatrical texts which were banned by the Lord Chamberlain's office up until 1965. We will look at plays which are now stalwarts of repertory theatre but were originally banned like Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge as well as drama which still disturbs an audience like Ibsen's Ghosts and Bond's Saved. We will also explore how accepting audiences are of challenging plays in contemporary theatre.

Course description A student on this course can expect to explore the history of theatrical censorship through plays which have been banned from the nineteenth century up until the last play to be banned in Britain in 1965. We shall consider contemporary responses to the banned plays and discuss the Lord Chamberlain's rulings in their historical and social context. Where possible, we shall watch excerpts from the plays in order to try and experience their challenges as if we were in the theatre. We shall be thinking about these plays very much as pieces of performance as well as texts for close reading.

Students will be asked to consider why Ibsen's Ghosts is still seen as relevant, exploring through it themes of repression, morality and hypocrisy as Ibsen presented them in the 1880s. Similarly, we shall consider the treatment of vulnerable women in society, through Shaw's commentary in Mrs Warren's Profession. We shall study two American plays, The Children's Hour and A View from the Bridge, and examine reactions to their first performances, at a time when homosexual acts were still criminal. Students will explore the challenges of staging drama that shocks, no more so than in their reading of Bond's Saved.

A lecture providing a contextual overview of each play will be followed by guided group discussion, close reading of the plays and viewings of filmed productions. The practicality of staging, as well as issues of casting and directing will be covered and students will explore the history behind the Lord Chamberlain's role and of censorship more generally.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate knowledge and understanding of the nature of theatre censorship ;
  2. Construct clear and original arguments about the way in which the playwrights present challenging themes, and the language they use;
  3. Assess and analyse secondary material, including theatre reviews, and articulate knowledge of literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts;
  4. Analyse written and performed drama and apply critical and stylistic terminology.
Reading List
Ibsen, Henrik., 2008. Four Major Plays. Oxford: OUP.
Shaw, George Bernard., 2012. Mrs Warren's Profession. London: Methuen.
Hellmann, Lillian., 1988. Six Plays. New York: Random House.
Miller, Arthur., 2010. A View from the Bridge. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Bond, Edward., 2000. Saved. London: Methuen.

Recommended further reading:
De Jongh, Nicholas., 2000. Politics, Prudery and Perversions. London: Methuen.
Sova, Dawn., 2002. Banned Plays: Censorship Histories of 125 Stage Dramas. New York: Facts on File.
Roberts, Philip., 1999. The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage. Cambridge: CUP.
Eyre, Richard and Wright, Nicholas., 2000. Changing Stages: A View of British Theatre in the Twentieth Century. London: Bloomsbury.
Shellard, Dominic and Nicholson, Steve., 2004. The Lord Chamberlain
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing challenging literature
Ability to assess secondary texts
Ability to articulate knowledge coherently
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information