Thatcherism, and the Spectacle of Politics: Hanif Kureishi’s Theatre
This article focuses on the impact of Thatcherism, especially of Margaret Thatcher’s ideological construction of politics in images, on the British cultural and artistic context of the end of the ‘70s and beginning of the ‘80s. Specifically, the article aims at showing the way in which thatcherite policies and ideas, which were for the most part hated by the intellectual circles, were opposed through forms of open political dissent such as fringe theatre. The ‘fringe’ had the purpose not only to represent politics, but also to turn the recurrent – and thatcherite – trope of ‘politics-as-performance’ into ‘performance-as-politics’, and thus to become a means of social transformation. As an example, this study analyses Hanif Kureishi’s 1983 drama Birds of Passage. In the work controversial issues such as Thatcher’s repressive policies about immigrants, the welfare state, and social protests are the focal points of a discussion which stems from an understanding of popular culture, and of theatre, as a contested terrain. Within the theoretical framework of Cultural Studies – whose methodological approach is mainly adopted in this study – theatre is in fact conceived by Kureishi as a place of negotiation and defiance of hegemonic paradigms and meanings.
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