Friday, 26 June 2015

Angry young men (Theme)

"The "angry young men" were a group of mostly working and middle class British playwrights and novelists who became prominent in the 1950s. The group's leading members included John Osborne and Kingsley Amis. The phrase was originally coined by the Royal Court Theatre's press officer to promote John Osborne's 1956 play Look Back in Anger. It is thought to be derived from the autobiography of Leslie Paul, founder of the Woodcraft Folk, whose Angry Young Man was published in 1951.
Following the success of the Osborne play, the label "angry young men" was later applied by British media to describe young writers who were characterised by a disillusionment with traditional British society. The term, always imprecise, began to have less meaning over the years as the writers to whom it was originally applied became more divergent, and many of them dismissed the label as useless."

"The playwright John Osborne was the archetypal example, and his signature play Look Back in Anger (1956) attracted attention to a style of drama contrasting strongly with the genteel and understated works of Terence Rattigan which had been in fashion. Osborne's The Entertainer (1957) secured his reputation, with Laurence Olivier playing the protagonist Archie Rice. Osborne was a successful entrepreneur, starting his own film company along with Tony Richardson.[1] In addition to being seen as archetypal, John Osborne was claimed to be one of the leading literary figures of the Angry Young Men 'movement'. This 'movement' was identified after the Second World War as some British intellectuals began to question orthodox mores. Osborne expressed his own concerns through his plays and could be relied upon to provide controversial “angry” pronouncements, delivered with an immaturity compared to impatient youth.[1]
Some critics ridiculed Osborne for a lack of maturity in his statements, and fuelled a debate about his politics and those of the 'movement'.[1] Osborne also had consistent and often sarcastic criticism of the British Left.[2] In 1961, he made public headlines with "Letter to my Fellow Countrymen" that represented a "damn you, England" mentality.[1] and protested against Britain's decision to join the arms race.[1] Osborne strongly expressed anger at what Britain had become at that time, but also at what he felt it had failed to become.[2]

Look Back in Anger[edit]

John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger was the monumental literary work that influenced the concept of the Angry Young Man. Osborne wrote the play to express what it felt like to live in England during the 1950s.[1] The main issues that Angry Young Men had were "impatience with the status quo, refusal to be co-opted by a bankrupt society, an instinctive solidarity with the lower classes."[1] Referred to as "kitchen sink realism," literary works began to deal with lower class themes.[1] In the decades prior to Osborne and other authors, less attention had been given to literature that illuminated the treatment and living circumstances experienced by the lower classes. As the Angry Young Men movement began to articulate these themes, the acceptance of related issues was more widespread. Osborne depicted these issues within his play through the eyes of his protagonist, Jimmy. Throughout the play, Jimmy was seeing "the wrong people go hungry, the wrong people be loved, the wrong people dying".[3]
In post-World War Britain, the quality of life for lower class citizens was very poor; Osborne used this theme to demonstrate how the state of Britain was guilty of neglect towards those that needed assistance the most. In the play there are comparisons of educated people with savages, illuminating the major difference between classes. Alison remarks on this issue while she, Jimmy and Cliff are sharing an apartment, stating how "she felt she had been placed into a jungle".[3] Jimmy was represented as an embodiment of the young, rebellious post-war generation that questioned the state and its actions.[3] Look Back in Anger provided some of its audience with the hope that Osborne's work would revitalise the British theatre and enable it to act as a "harbinger of the New Left".

1 comment:

  1. This is the right information to be looking at, and you include the source. However, you need to get into the habit of writing about the research that you have found rather than simply copying and pasting. You need to include comments which show how the research is going to affect the way that you play the character or stage the scene.