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Liberal dramatics

The arrival at the National Theatre of David Hare's new play about Iraq appears to seal the idea that "political theatre" is back. But whereas the "political" once entailed counter-cultural dispute, it is now part of the mainstream. Political theatre, in its many different forms, has come of age

By Michael Coveney   September 2004

In 1966, at the height of the Vietnam war, the Royal Shakespeare Company staged a play, US, at the Aldwych Theatre in London that became a part of the protest movement. Peter Brook’s production involved the pacifist poet Adrian Mitchell, a fine cast (including Glenda Jackson), much documentary reportage, improvisation, songs, speeches and a history of Vietnam in tableaux vivants. At the end, an actor opened a box, took out a white butterfly and threw it in the air. Then he extracted and released a second butterfly. He held a third in one hand while he produced a cigarette lighter…

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