‘Into the Future Tense’: Stewart Parker's Theatre of ‘Anticipatory Illumination’

Richards, Shaun (2012) ‘Into the Future Tense’: Stewart Parker's Theatre of ‘Anticipatory Illumination’. Irish University Review, 42 (2). pp. 351-365. ISSN 0021-1427

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/iur.2012.0037

Abstract

Stewart Parker described his final play, Pentecost, as one appropriate to his own generation, ‘making its own scruffy way onto the stage of history, and from there to the future tense’. This article argues that it is this concern with entering ‘the future tense’ which allies his work with the writings of the messianic marxist, Ernst Bloch, and his belief in ‘anticipatory illumination’. Read in this way Parker's plays are liberated from the negative reading of them as informed by ‘sentimental piety’ and ‘a species of liberal humanism’ and sees them as creating what Bloch termed ‘concrete utopias’ which ‘imply a real future’. In his John Malone memorial lecture of 1986 Parker asked ‘should plays aim to instruct?’. His answer to this question, which informs all his work, was an uncompromising ‘Yes’. His work, like that of Brecht with whom he shared a belief in theatre as an ‘entertaining’ means of social transformation, merits serious consideration for producing what Stephen Rea termed ‘a vision of a harmonious possibility on the other side of violence’. In Bloch's view ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at’. Parker's drama provided - and provides - just such maps by which the future can not simply be dreamed, but realised.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Stewart Parker: Pentecost
Subjects: 800 Literature & rhetoric > 822 English drama
School/Department: School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Catherine O'Sullivan
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2013 14:23
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2013 14:23
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/603

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