“The Crisis of Utopia” in Edward Bond's the War Plays: Red, Black and Ignorant, The Tin Can People, and Great Peace
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The aim of this dissertation is to explore how Edward Bond’s (1934- ) trilogy, The War Plays (1984) – comprising Red Black and Ignorant (1984), The Tin Can People (1984), and Great Peace (1985) – reflects the transformation of utopianism throughout history. To this end, Zygmunt Bauman’s (1925-2017) classification of the historical transformation of utopianism is chosen to reveal Bond’s scrutinisation of utopianism. Each of these three plays, with its eclectic dramaturgy combining elements from agit-prop, Bertolt Brecht’s (1898-1956) epic theatre, and naturalistic theatre, criticises one form of utopianism through emphasising the devastating outcomes and consequent failure of it. The first play of the trilogy depicts a dystopian consequence that arises from a solid modern utopian philosophy, which prioritises progress and promises a flawless society through advanced scientific and technological innovations. The second play depicts a transition towards a postmodern and liquid consumerist utopian ideology, which elicits dissatisfaction among people owing to the emergence of a novel dystopian environment. The final play prompts inquiries into the plausibility of establishing a novel and just society in a post-liquidised world, which is scrutinised through a discussion on the loss of mental integrity because of a desire to turn back to old forms of being which Bauman called retrotopia. After the analysis, this study concludes that the trilogy in question can be categorised as an example of contemporary British political drama, which reflects the historical evolution of utopianism and scrutinises the feasibility of a utopia in the present-day post-liquidised, vaporised world, drawing upon Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity and his ideas concerning the transformation of utopianism.