‘We cannot all be masters, nor all masters/Cannot truly be follow’d’: Joe Orton’s Holiday Camp Bacchae – matters of class, genre and medium in The Erpingham Camp

Bull, John (2017) ‘We cannot all be masters, nor all masters/Cannot truly be follow’d’: Joe Orton’s Holiday Camp Bacchae – matters of class, genre and medium in The Erpingham Camp. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 37 (2). pp. 205-220. ISSN 1468-2761

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/14682761.2017.1303291

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Abstract

Joe Orton had an equivocal attitude towards television, yet three of his seven plays first appeared there. His desire to be both popular and recognisably avant-garde was largely played out through the conflicting demands of television and the theatre. Director Lindsay Anderson, moving towards the realisation of If, a film which enacts a revolution in a British public school, suggested to Orton the possibility of a holiday camp Bacchae which became The Erpingham Camp, an enactment of a successful proletarian uprising in a British holiday camp. The location allowed Orton to satirise the minutiae of consumer culture, and construct the camp as an outpost of a Britain in no longer appropriately imperial guise. Earlier drafts of the play reveal a more anarchic vision, but reinforce the sense that, in his account of the ‘revolution’, Orton draws playfully from more truly theatrical epic sources – Shakespeare and Brecht, in particular. Orton found the quotation in my title in Othello and related it to The Erpingham Camp. It suggests a much more serious questioning of authority than the television play as screened did. By looking at its history, it is possible to reposition this play, and to re-open the debate about what Orton was moving towards theatrically.

Keywords:Joe Orton, Drama, Television plays
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:25817
Deposited On:13 Jan 2017 15:01

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