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Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

Editor-in-Chief: Middeke, Martin

Ed. by Berns, Ute / Wallace, Clare / Wald, Christina


CiteScore 2018: 0.11

Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.597

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2195-0164
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Going Straight: The Politics of Time and Space in David Eldridge’s Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness

Sarah Grochala
Published Online: 2014-04-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2014-0011

Abstract

Amelia Howe Kritzer states that a contemporary British play is commonly thought of as political if it presents “a political issue or comments on what is already perceived as a political issue” (10). Since 1989, however, the economic and political system in the UK has become increasingly monologic. In such a monologic political system, Shavian dialogic forms of political theatre, which present a dialectical discussion of a social issue, lose their efficacy. As a result, some British playwrights have moved towards more interventionist strategies of political engagement, which involve our lived experience of social structures through their dramaturgy. These plays re-order normative representations of social structures, so offering a symbolic re-ordering of social structures within their form. As such, their form presents what Adorno terms, “an analogy of that other condition which should be” (194). David Harvey argues that in late capitalist society, our experience of time and space has become increasingly compressed. Consequently the temporal axis of succession, which constitutes the fundamental organising principle of Shavian drama, no longer reflects our lived experience of time in the world outside the theatre. Therefore, plays that re-order structures of time and space have political efficacy in that they expose a gap between representations of time and space as linear and concrete and our lived experience of time and space as compressed. This essay argues that David Eldridge’s Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness articulates a complete breakdown in the temporal axis of succession in its structure. Its dramaturgy reflects the experience of time-space compression. Thus, it is a highly political play, not on the basis of its content, but in terms of the way in which its structure mediates and negotiates our lived experience of social structures under the pressures of late capitalism.

Keywords: David Eldridge; Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness,; time-space compression; lived experience; spatio-temporal structures; crisis of representation

Works Cited

    Primary Literature

    • Eldridge, David. Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness. London: Methuen, 2005.Google Scholar

    Secondary Literature

    • Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory. Ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann. Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.Google Scholar

    • Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Malcolm Heath. London: Penguin, 1996.Google Scholar

    • Berkowitz, Gerald. Rev. of Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness, by David Eldridge. The Stage, 19 May 2005. 26 May 2011. <http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/7850/incomplete-and-random-acts-of-kindness>.

    • Bourdieu, Pierre. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: CUP, 1977.Google Scholar

    • Carlson, Marvin. Theories of the Theatre: a Historical and Critical Survey, from the Greeks to the Present. Expanded Edition. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1993.Google Scholar

    • Castelvetro, Lodovico. Castelvetro on the Art of Poetry. Trans. Andrew Bongiorno. Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1984.Google Scholar

    • Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.Google Scholar

    • Howarth, William Driver. French Theatre in the Neo-Classical Era, 1550–1789. Cambridge: CUP, 1997.Google Scholar

    • Kritzer, Amelia Howe. Political Theatre in Post-Thatcher Britain: New Writing: 1995–2005. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.Google Scholar

    • La Motte, Antoine Houdar de. Oeuvres, Vol. 4. Paris, 1754.Google Scholar

    • Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.Google Scholar

    • Lessing, G. E. Hamburg Dramaturgy. New York: Dover, 1962.Google Scholar

    • Taylor, Paul. Rev. of Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness, by David Eldridge. The Independent 24 May 2005.Google Scholar

    • Toffler, Alvin. Future Shock. New York: Random House, 1970.Google Scholar

    • Weinberg, Bernard. A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance, Vol. 1. 2 vols. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1974.Google Scholar

Primary Literature

  • Eldridge, David. Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness. London: Methuen, 2005.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  • Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory. Ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann. Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.Google Scholar

  • Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Malcolm Heath. London: Penguin, 1996.Google Scholar

  • Berkowitz, Gerald. Rev. of Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness, by David Eldridge. The Stage, 19 May 2005. 26 May 2011. <http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/7850/incomplete-and-random-acts-of-kindness>.

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: CUP, 1977.Google Scholar

  • Carlson, Marvin. Theories of the Theatre: a Historical and Critical Survey, from the Greeks to the Present. Expanded Edition. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1993.Google Scholar

  • Castelvetro, Lodovico. Castelvetro on the Art of Poetry. Trans. Andrew Bongiorno. Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1984.Google Scholar

  • Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.Google Scholar

  • Howarth, William Driver. French Theatre in the Neo-Classical Era, 1550–1789. Cambridge: CUP, 1997.Google Scholar

  • Kritzer, Amelia Howe. Political Theatre in Post-Thatcher Britain: New Writing: 1995–2005. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.Google Scholar

  • La Motte, Antoine Houdar de. Oeuvres, Vol. 4. Paris, 1754.Google Scholar

  • Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.Google Scholar

  • Lessing, G. E. Hamburg Dramaturgy. New York: Dover, 1962.Google Scholar

  • Taylor, Paul. Rev. of Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness, by David Eldridge. The Independent 24 May 2005.Google Scholar

  • Toffler, Alvin. Future Shock. New York: Random House, 1970.Google Scholar

  • Weinberg, Bernard. A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance, Vol. 1. 2 vols. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1974.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2014-04-16

Published in Print: 2014-05-01


Citation Information: Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 145–158, ISSN (Online) 2195-0164, ISSN (Print) 2195-0156, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2014-0011.

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