This pioneering work is a theatrical chronicle of the First World War, told through the songs and documents of the period, was created in 1963 by Joan Littlewood’s London-based group,Theatre Workshop. It was ground-breaking, not only for its blatant denounciation of the incompetence of political leaders during World War I, but also for its unusual theatrical style and development. Created organically through a process of improvisation which was then scripted, Oh What A Lovely War is a colorful and innovative exercise in ensemble theatre and acting.
It recalls the horrors of World War I through the humor and frivolity of a seaside pier show, mixing famous British war songs (often with alternative words) with gags and dances, and sets hilarious clowning against shocking factual documentation of the war’s casualties. An exhilarating ensemble piece, Joan Littlewood’s theatrical creation is a lesson in Brechtian theatre, in its self-conscious theatricality, and uses humor to present human tragedy.
It received the acclaim of London audiences and critics. It won the Grand Prix of the Théâtre des Nations festival in Paris that year and has gone on to become a classic of the modern theatre. In 1969 a film version was made which extended the play's popular success. This new version of the play, as edited by Joan Littlewood, returns the script to its original version.
Includes a new photo section of the original production, and an Afterword by Victor Spinetti.
Publisher: Methuen Drama